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.
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.
Last week, Danny Brown and Gini Dietrich led an interesting discussion in the “Start Blogging Now” (#sbt) chat around PR and blogger outreach. It was an interesting discussion and one that prompted Gini to throw down the gauntlet the next day in this post about treating bloggers like second-class citizens when it comes to outreach.
I have to admit, I agree with Gini to a large extent. When it comes right down to it, PR as an industry, is still missing the boat when it comes to blogger outreach. How we identify “influencers” and targets. How we “pitch.” And how we interact with bloggers.
I’m not just saying this as an observer–I’m saying it as an active participant.
I’ve received a number of pitches in the last few months. Some from large PR agencies. Others from reputable PR organizations. Most of which missed the mark (with the notable exception of one great pitch from the folks at Social Media Club).
On the flip side, blogger outreach is one of a number of key services my firm–ACH Communications–offers. So, I’ve led and organized a number of blogger outreach programs over the last year-plus. And, based on the responses I’ve received (both over email and in person), I hear more feedback about misguided and off-center pitches than I do ones that really resonated with bloggers.
So, as I followed the #sbt chat, I couldn’t help but think that we still have a lot of work to do to get smarter as a group about how we approach bloggers from a business perspective.
Here are 8 blogger outreach no-nos and what you can do instead:
* No-No #1: Don’t ask the blogger to write specific things about your brand. By and large, bloggers are fiercely independent, love thinking up new ideas and, as a rule, aren’t crazy about being told what to do. Treat them fairly and approach them as collaborators–instead of telling them what to write.
* No-No #2: Don’t ask the blogger to abide by set rules. Again, most bloggers don’t like to play by the rules. They’re outside-the-box-type thinkers. Instead of asking them to play by YOUR rules, ask them what they think. You can usually come to a resolution that helps meet BOTH your goals.
* No-No #3: Fail to reference at least one previous post in your initial email. First and foremost, your initial pitch to the blogger needs to be relevant. Put it through your BS meter. If it doesn’t pass, don’t send the pitch. If it does pass, make sure you read at minimum the last five posts the blogger wrote–and reference at least one in your pitch. It will prove you’ve read their blog and start building goodwill.
* No-No #4: Don’t ask the blogger to help “spread the word” about your brand or event. I can only speak for myself, but my blog does not exist as a platform to help your organization “spread the word” about an event, product or service. It does exist, however, as a way for me to express my thoughts and ideas on topics in PR/social media that interest me. I think it’s a safe assumption most bloggers feel the same. If you’re pitching a blogger about an event you’re promoting, why not give them exclusive access to the keynote? Or, better yet, give them a pass to the event. That instantly makes it relevant and involves the blogger from the get-go.
* No-No #5: Don’t lead with your product, service or company. Just like any pitch or sales letter, a good lead is crucial. And, when writing to a blogger it’s important to keep in mind that they don’t necessarily care two beans about you or your company. So, it’s important to lead by talking about THEM. How can you help them? Talk about a post they wrote that piqued your interest. Or, maybe a nugget you picked up in their Twitter stream the last 24 hours. Whatever the case, make sure you lead with them–not you.
* No-No #6: Don’t just focus on your industry’s A-listers. As I mentioned in the #sbt chat last week, a blogger doesn’t have to have 100,000 subscribers to be “influential.” Heck, they don’t even need 10,000. What they do need, however, is trust. How do you identify that? It’s not an exact science, but there are key indicators. Monitor blog comments. Check out the blogger’s Twitter stream. See what others say about the blogger online. It should all paint a pretty clear picture. The bigger issue though: Don’t get caught focusing solely on the thought leaders. You don’t need to be an A-lister to influence purchase decisions.
* No-No #7: Failing to follow up. Good, solid follow-up is critical in blogger outreach. Not only in making the initial pitch (figuring out how to be persistent, but not annoying), but also after you’ve partnered with the blogger. Make sure you follow through on your promises. If it’s a giveaway/contest you’re proposing, make sure you follow up and get winners what they’ve won promptly and professionally. Basically, make sure you’re getting the blogger what they need when they need it. You might be surprised how few people practice good follow through–and what a difference it can make.
* No-No #8: Don’t ask a blogger to delete or take down content. Might seem obvious, but I continue to hear stories of PR people asking bloggers to edit or delete language, words or phrases from their posts once they’re live. Unless the information is factually incorrect, you don’t have a leg to stand on here.
Any other No-Nos you’d add?
Note: Photo courtesy of ificutmyhairirelandwillsink (my favorite FlickR handle of the year, by far) via FlickR Creative Commons.