Like many other marketing and PR blogs, we get a lot of inquiries from PR agencies and reps to write about their clients. I ignore about 80% of them.
Why? It’s mostly due to the pitch not being relevant. OMB is an agency blog with the purpose of promoting thought leadership for TopRank Online Marketing. It’s not a news site, it’s not a blog starved for ideas or in need to cover the latest software launch.
With blogger outreach, a lot of focus gets put on the hook or the angle of a pitch. Even if the message is relevant and compelling, I find a lot of those pitches still fail by leaving out one really important thing. Even if the pitch is only 90% relevant or if the hook wasn’t entirely compelling, including that one thing means there’s a good chance I’d act on it. What’s the one thing?
I’ll answer that question by sharing an example of a pitch that I recently received. It was a well written email, personalized, topically relevant, to the point, included data and bullet points and then the close just killed it for me. The classic:
“Are you interested in speaking to someone at [Company XYZ] who can talk about the big takeaways for marketers? I wanted to offer you the report before it’s released to the public Monday morning, so please let me know if you’d like me to send it over.”
Why does that close cause a sigh of disappointment from me? I get so many pitches and have so many other obligations besides being CEO of a fast growing agency, I really don’t have time to coordinate interviews with execs at companies promoting new research or products. I see this particular call to action so often, it must be what PR students get taught at University.
What could save the pitch? What’s the one thing missing?
Provide something to share.
PR has been in the content business for a very long time and now it’s even more important, because content fuels everything we do online. Along with the stats and bullet points for the research within the email pitch, an infographic or a link to a summary of the research plus suggested social shares would have provided something to take action on.
With a release on Monday, the suggestion could be made for Tweets and other social shares to be scheduled using Hootsuite or other social media management software. It’s so simple, I don’t know why more PR and media relations – blogger relations pros aren’t doing it.
When I first wrote about blogger relations in 2006, the focus was on being relevant, personalized and understanding the difference between a blogger’s writing style and that of a journalist. Make it easy for a blogger to cover your story and you’ll see a lot more positive responses. While the PR agency is trying to meet the brand client’s expectations, they must also empathize with the preferences and goals of the bloggers they’re pitching. An interview with a company exec vs. providing or linking to compelling content that’s easy to share or use within a blog post is like night and day for an actionable blogger pitch.
If you’re a blogger, what kinds of pitches and outreach do you find most useful? Do you find it more useful when the pitch includes links to resources or media that you can point to from a blog post or share directly with your social networks? Or do you prefer the executive interview?
By the way, I just received a copy of Deirdre Breakenridge’s new book, Social Media and Public Relations: Eight New Practices for the PR Professional, which I’m sure is chock full of great blogger relations advice. Be sure to check it out on Amazon or BN.com.
Jaye Burgin says
I am new to marketing but that makes sense. I think we get so hung up in the try to catch your interest and leaving you hanging to such a point that you are so curious you are bound to come and speak.
It’s important to create interest and then make it easy to take action.
shazia ahmed says
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nice blog for seo tips…..
Thanks Paul. I understand the apprehension and I’m thinking it’s not too different than what outbound sales people experience. They get around it by getting to know their prospects.
Journalists and bloggers that think they’re journalists probably do like to get pitches. But most bloggers i know don’t because they’re often just templated “spray and pray”.
But like anything, a pitch can run the gamut of good/bad relevant/totally off the mark.
I think it’s worth the effort for those who have an expectation to gain exposure through blogger relations to understand the difference in how bloggers create content and behave online vs. journalists. That bit of homework can turn into a win for everyone.
Thanks for the feedback Josh.
Dara Schulenberg says
A good reminder applicable to all influencer engagement efforts (beyond just bloggers). Same theory applies to lead nuturing. Know (not guess) your audience needs, give value first and EARN the engagement!
A pitch is a sales pitch whether to journalists, bloggers or prospects. It only makes sense that similar rules apply.
Scott Clark says
I’m a believer in breaking the ice with a strong blogger by becoming a longer-term productive member of their community – not just sending an email. The blogger should recognize (fondly) the person with the suggestion before even reading the pitch. Their “reputation” sets the tone.
Clients’ are not always ready to do this “non-scalable” solution. Spray and pray is still the “easiest” approach to those who don’t understand the larger economy of blog advocacy and its affect on rank, etc. Only with a lot of work am I able to employ these methods.
But in today’s Panda/Penguin/SocialSEO world, ideas and content must “deserve the share” as a pre-requisite to “deserving to rank.”
So how do you convince them to do the right thing Scott?
Faseeh Shams says
Very interesting post Lee. I must admit that I was missing a few pointers mentioned here and no wonder why I was not getting enough from my efforts. A reread of all the references just freshen up the approach.
Thanks for that.
I’m glad it was helpful Faseeh.
Matt Bennett says
A good post, Lee. Thanks for sharing. I’m not sure I understand this part:
“With a release on Monday, the suggestion could be made for Tweets and other social shares to be scheduled using Hootsuite or other social media management software. It’s so simple, I don’t know why more PR and media relations – blogger relations pros aren’t doing it.”
Are you saying that, through the release, the suggestion should be made to bloggers that they schedule tweets through Hootsuite?
Hi Matt, if an email pitch includes information “early” or under embargo, then it could suggest that the blogger use a suggested Tweet and schedule it using a tool like Hootsuite to publish the moment the embargo expires.
It’s an attempt to provide the blogger with something they can act on at the moment they’re reading the pitch vs. waiting.
Arik Hanson says
Couldn’t agree more, Lee. I get similar pitches (probably not as many as you 🙂 and the thing I marvel at (besides the utter lack of relevance for at least half of them) is how they don’t make it easy. Much like you, I have a full-time consulting business. I blog. I have a young family. I have zero free time. You HAVE to make it easy for me. Otherwise, you’re wasting your (and my) time.
The funny thing is, a lot of the low hanging fruit in marketing and communications is simply about making it easy for people to do what you want them to do. It’s a timeless lesson.
Ross Simmonds says
Couldn’t agree more with Arik on this one. The one kicker for me is when you recieve a press release about a business and there is no link, no video, nothing. Just a release and the expectation that you’re going to read through this content to find the key nuggets of insights that they want communicated for free. It’s mind blowing at times… Either way, I agree with you 100% – Marketers need to make it easy if they want bloggers to cover their content. Simple as that.
Muhammad Ayaz says
Certainly a great post and I prefer doing viral my blog post directly to social media and it also get by my most of the users as they now knew of about the new blog post timing.
Thank you for sharing
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