By Contributing Editor Jennifer Nastu
When approaching blogs for media coverage, many of the same rules apply as when you approach a more traditional form of media: do your research, understand the readership, pitch only appropriate stories.
But bloggers also have their own idiosyncrasies -- the main one being that, with a blog, anything goes. Anything you send a blogger, whether intended for publication or not, can be posted almost immediately. And the blogger is under no obligation to abide by journalistic guidelines.
"They can turn and bash something just as easily as they can promote the benefits," says Dana VanDen Heuvel of Dana's Blog.
We interviewed with 8 high-profile marketing bloggers to find out how they like to be approached. Here's what they said (in alpha order):Adrants
"Bloggers hate to get the typical press release," says Steve Hall, creator of Adrants. The blog reports on the brilliance and idiocy of the media and advertising industry. "I'm trying to cover stuff you wouldn't see in Ad Age or Adweek," Hall says.
With that in mind, Hall definitely does want to hear from people who have stories to pitch, and the best way to get information to him is to have it posted somewhere already.
"Ideally, a company would have their own weblog and their own internal PR people would be commenting on the goings on of the company," he says. "If there was something the PR person thought was of interest, they could send a two-sentence summary plus a link."
Barring that, send a link to the company or a link to a press release. "We love to link, we think of it as offering credit," he explains. "If they don't provide a link for coverage, it's like, why did you ask for coverage in the first place?"
Think of your relationship with a blogger as a conversation, he suggests. For example, one person sends weekly instant messages to Hall, always "the juiciest stuff," he says. "He sent me a lead on this scavenger hunt in New York City that Nike is doing. I scoured Google for news on it, couldn't find it anywhere, and had it on my site a week and a half before I saw it anywhere else."
The best way to contact Hall is through the form on his site: http://www.adrants.com/contact/scform.php Dana's Blog
email dana at danavan.net
If you've got an idea for a story that fits in the realm of internet marketing or sales technology, Dana VanDen Heuvel wants to hear about it. But make sure it's a good fit. "This is very personal, so it has to be something that resonates with the greater community," he says. He considers his blog as something he'd write to a friend -- if he's recommending something, he is at stake.
If your pitch is not something he would put in a positive light -- "half-baked software products", for example -- he won't use it.
Understand that there's just one person running the site (don't say "someone in your company," for instance), and don't think that if it's something everyone else is talking about, he will, too. "I don't troll through Web sites to say what everyone else is saying."
Like Hall, VanDen Heuvel wants links. "I've linked to sites, people's bios, even people's emails," he says. "Anything where they can somehow take action. My site is not the end. If it's not actionable, what's the point?"MarketingVOX
email tig at marketingwonk.com
MarketingVOX, the self-described voice of online advertising, is "part trade magazine, part blog," says blogger Tig Tillinghast. "We cover coverage, like when another book covers something, we make snide comments about it."
But they also cover new stories. "We do 10 to 12 top stories of the day that need someone to connect the dots, tell people what's going on in the industry. But we're not going to do your average press release," he says.
The best way to get his attention is to present a story focusing on how it relates to a particular trend, especially if you include data. "Stories tend to be extremely small, four to five paragraphs. We're looking for the basic stuff."
Indicate in the subject line that you're actually writing to him, not blasting a press release. For example, a successful subject line might read: Hey, thought MarketingVOX might be interested in X (as opposed to: Company X releases new product).
"We're not strict bloggers, we violate all conventions of blogging," he says. "We'd prefer to have a link with more information, but it won't prevent us from posting something that's useful."
MarketingVOX, more than other online pubs, likes to publish graphics, so if you have images, pictures, or charts that are relevant, let him know.
Oh, and no follow-up phone calls, please. Micro Persuasion
email steverubel at gmail.com
Rubel's blog covers how blogs and participatory journalism are impacting the practice of public relations. As a PR person, pitching a blogger is just common sense, Rubel believes. Make sure you're relevant and understand his bias. "It's different than media people, they don't have a bias or they don't show it," he says.
If you've got something relevant to his audience, send a quick heads-up email, no more than a paragraph or so. Work on building a relationship, but bear in mind that it's less formal than a traditional media relationship.
If you do it well, you can get a lot of blog coverage. "All this can synergize in a media relations program very well," he says. "If you are written about by a high profile blogger, the media will read about it and pick it up."PR Machine
email rhecht at hecht.com
"What I'm doing with PR machine is making it a resource for communications professionals, a dashboard for the marketing/communications director," says Robb Hecht.
"I like to define it for what it is not."
For example, he says, some PR firms ask if he'll post the fact that they're looking for new clients. "No. What I love to post are articles like case studies, leadership stories, or profiles of people who really help position PR as top-of-the-line management."
Because the PR industry is often looked down upon by other marketers, Hecht is trying to make the PR profession appear more strategic.Search Engine Journal
email lorenbake at yahoo.com
"It's good to get a line of communication open with me," says Loren Baker, Search Engine Journal's blogger. "I'm not doing this full time, so I don't have time to scour news search engines and wire services all day like other news sites may. It's best for PR people to contact me directly via email and start to form an informal, trusted relationship."
You can comment on his blog on behalf of your company and leave a link, but better yet, contact him directly at the address above and let him know your thoughts. "Today I printed a story about a NetRatings study on the growth of shopping search engines over Mothers Day," he says. "I forgot one of the search engines, and their PR person left a comment on the blog with a link."
That's great, he says, but they didn't email him directly to say, Hey, I'm so-and-so, you left us out, and in the future could you keep us in mind?
"It's kind of a courtesy thing," he says. Seth Godin's Blog
email sethgodin at yahoo.com
Godin writes about marketing, he's super well-known, and he needs to be on your radar if you're in the marketing or PR industry.
But don't try to pitch him, or even contact him.
"PR people should never contact me. It has never worked once. If they
do, I make it a point to never mention their client, ever," he says.What's Next Online
email blochman at whatsnextonline.com
B.L. Ochman writes about Internet marketing and PR. "I'm interested in case studies, and I'm trying to spot trends," she says. "I don't want a bunch of stupid press releases."
She's definitely out there looking for stuff to cover, and definitely wants to hear your ideas. Just tell her in the subject line: Perhaps something for your blog…
"In 600 or so emails a day, I don't read them very carefully. I read the subject line, see if something grabs me," she says. If a subject line says Press Release, "the world's most insipid subject line," she wouldn't read it.
For case studies, just give her a summary -- no big blobs of type. "Give me white space and subject heads," she says. "And I want decent writing."
Here's what she hates the most: "You *should* write about this," or "I'm sure you'll write about this." Also, attachments bug her. "I will never open an attachment unless I asked for it."
"There's something interesting about almost every company," she believes. "You just have to look behind the obvious."