Blogger outreach: 5 best practices when writing pitch emails

Earlier this week, a student sent me a note and posed the following question: What do you consider an effective blogger outreach effort?

Good question. We talk so much about what blogger outreach *shouldn’t* be–but maybe we should be talking more about what it should be, with specific examples.

Over the last year or so, I’ve received my fair share of what I would term questionable pitches. And, sadly, I’ve received very few solid pitches. But, I did receive one pitch earlier this fall that stood out from the crowd. Not surprisingly, it came from a rep of the Social Media Club.

Now, it’s important to keep in mind that the initial “pitch” is just one stage in the blogger outreach process–but it’s an important one. Let’s break this down best practice by best practice, graf by graf:

* Get right to the point. Look at the first sentence here–they get right to the point. We’re hosting an event we thought you might be interested in attending. They give me the name of the event, the date and the location. Perfect.

Hi Arik,

I don’t know if you’ve seen this yet, but Social Media Club is hosting an event on Social Media + Family on Wednesday 9/22 in Minneapolis and I’ve been put in charge of reaching out to the prominent moms and dads who blog about parenting in your area.

* Demonstrate you know who I am and what I write about. In the second sentence of the pitch, they almost immediately demonstrate they’ve read my blog and know what I care about (my family/kids). Personally, I would have mentioned a few specific posts or a specific client I work with (YouthLink), but this works just fine. You don’t need much to cut through the clutter. If you can demonstrate you’ve read the blogger’s blog and know what they care about, that will go a helluva long ways.

From the feedback we got at the Atlanta event last week, and from what I’ve seen on your communications blog and your work with local youths, I think you would enjoy participating if you can get away for the evening (a recap of the Atlanta event, including video is here: http://socialmediaclub.org/blogs/from-the-clubhouse/social-media-family-atlanta-recap).

* Provide direct links to online/social outposts and easy ways to share. SMC’s pitch was full of links to their local chapter Web site, Eventbrite page and Facebook page. Might seem like a no-brainer, but you have to make it easy for bloggers to find your information online. Don’t make them search for your Web site, Twitter account or online community–give them direct links and highlight them. And be sure relevant chunks of information are shareable, in case they’re so inclined.

In addition to the local members of Social Media Club [http://socialmediaclub.org/chapter/minneapolis], we’ve invited a number of moms and dads who blog to join us for a conversation about the social media family, discussing the issues concerning parenting in today’s connected world. This includes social media policies for older kids, dealing with privacy issues around photos/names, whether to friend those crazy uncles that no one really talks to anymore, and other issues about being a part of the broader parenting community.

Chris Heuer will be hosting the event with a few local parent bloggers who will be announced shortly. Chris is the founder of Social Media Club.

Social Media + Family will be held on September 22 at 6:00 pm at Le Meridien Chambers at 901 Hennepin Avenue. You can get more info on the event and location on our Eventbrite page (http://smf2010minneapolis.eventbrite.com) and on Facebook Events (http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=127362993977841).

* Make me feel like I’m part of the inner circle. By our very nature, bloggers are driven by ego. So, why not play to that a bit? Everyone wants to feel “special.” Like they’re part of something unique. SMC handled this beautifully in the pitch. Invite me to an intimate lunch. For free. With people like me (dads who blog locally ). I ended up not attending the lunch because of a schedule conflict, but I was looking forward to an intimate setting where I could talk about issues that relate to my family and others like me here in Minneapolis.

Additionally, one of our team members, Albert Maruggi, suggested that you may be interested in attending a casual lunch that we’re having with dad bloggers at noon on the same day of the event, also sponsored by the 2011 Chevy Cruze. This lunch would also be free for you, meal provided, and would be a great way to meet other local dad bloggers before the event. Space is limited, so please RSVP if you are interested as soon as you can: http://dadswholunch.com/request-an-invite

* Show you’re here to help–don’t tell me what to do. This one seems obvious, but you just want to demonstrate you’re a resource for the blogger. You’re here to help. You don’t want to tell them what to do. Sure, the client may have things they want the blogger to write about or showcase, but it’s your job to manage those expectations. So, manage them. When working with bloggers, much like working with the media, you want to position yourself as someone who can help them write a post that will generate traffic for their blog. In this case, it was a simple, but effective, statement to close.

I hope you can make it out! Your participation would be greatly appreciated. And of course, if you have any questions, I am here to help.

Note: Photo courtesy of Jorge Quinteros via FlickR Creative Commons.

3 comments
700R4 Transmission
700R4 Transmission

I'm not finished read this yet, but it's so fabulous 'n I'll back again when I was finished my job :D

ecairn
ecairn

Thanks for the great post. I would add this:

- you need to target. Bloggers with influence get 10's pitches a week/day and unless targeted, you can't expect any response
- you should build the relation upfront, not the day before you do the outreach. (we do this using our own software)

At my company we record and measure when we participate in conversations. I can tell you that my team has commented on your blog on June 30th, July 6th, July 21th and August 24th. ( me 3times ;-) and one of my colleague once).

We outreach people when we believe that we feel we're ready and we review our past conversations before reaching out.

Best

Thanks Arik - glad our email was so well received.

In regards to your point about mentioning a few specific posts when trying to demonstrate we read your blog, I personally have just received so many blogger outreach emails that did that in a way that just felt too forced. Maybe because it was the only part of the communication that was personalized and/or that it was written by someone other then the person who wrote the main communication component. Regardless, I felt it was best to not get that specific, though we easily could have.

Anyway, the one closing point to make is that blogger outreach is real, earnest work. You really do need to invest time into the research and make decisions about who you want to include and who you don't. I was very fortunate to get one of my former colleagues from The Conversation Group (Keane Li) to work on this project who I originally trained, but who grew well beyond my modest early teachings back in 2007/2008. He ultimately invested around 140 hours in just this component of the program, and in total with my time and the hours invested by another contractor, the effort was over 200 hours in total to reach just over 250 mom and dad bloggers in 5 cities.

Of course, it goes without saying that the majority of the work was research, and finding out which cities mom and dad bloggers call home was no easy feat, with many great bloggers not receiving communications because they didn't list their hometown on their bio or talk about it often in their writing.

In this case, social media was once again much more art then science.