February 15, 2008
Pitching bloggers isn't easy -- especially if they're considered among the best in their business. Their in-boxes can bulge with emails.
To have any chance of grabbing their attention, you should know many dos and don'ts of pitching them. And the pitch should start well before you write.
Before You Pitch
- Do think like a blogger. Yes, they blog because they enjoy the subject matter and want to share opinions and expertise. But there is another issue to consider: a little something called money. So, while newspapers think, will this story sell copies, bloggers reflect on whether the advertisers will be impressed with the traffic.
That thought translates to the more immediate reflection: will the post inspire readers to comment? Also, bloggers question whether their visitors would want to share what they read about with their friends and colleagues by linking to the blog or by pasting a portion of the post on their own sites with the intention of inciting discussion.
- Do check out the sidebars for content categories. Know in advance what is relevant to each blogger. In short, be familiar with what they like to write about.
- Do send your pitch in advance of your news happening or your product release. If time constraints are an issue, make sure the blogger understands and honors embargoes.
Craft Your Pitch
OK, so now you're ready to make your pitch.
Do follow these steps:
- Write a precise subject line.
- Briefly introduce yourself at the start and mention the blogger's name in the greeting.
- Explain why you have chosen the blogger as recipient of your pitch. If a blogger suspects you are merely crossing a name off a long list of contacts, you will probably be ignored.
- Reveal why you think your pitch would interest a typical reader. Be straightforward and secure in the importance and value of your news, but not overconfident. Keep in mind that objective descriptions work better than personal notes. Facts are preferable to flowing prose.
After Your Pitch
You've made your pitch to a blogger. Now what?
- Do consider time zones while awaiting a reply.
- Do give the blogger a chance to digest what you have pitched. Remember bloggers' overflowing in-boxes.
- Do more than simply ask if your pitch was received. If you get a reply from a blogger or if you follow up with a phone call, do provide some interesting information that your pitch didn't include.
- Do carry on a conversation, but remind yourself that bloggers are the ones with the final say. Besides being the creators, the bloggers are most likely authorities on the subject matter. Treat them with respect. Relinquish control unless asked to provide more input.
- Do be honest when answering questions. It's important to suppress the urge to exaggerate the benefits of your product and the positive aspect of your news.
-Do consider the nature of the site where your piece will appear and realize that the truth will eventually be revealed (think of all the fairy tales you read as a child). So, fess up any potential conflicts up-front.
- Do link to the blog you are pitching if you have a blog of your own.
- Do send swag. Bloggers like complimentary products that they often review, sometimes without having been asked. Exercise caution, however. Bloggers want to maintain their own credibility by remaining objective. So their reviews might not be positive when they offer an honest opinion. Before sending anything of value, in fact, contact the blogger to see if they are interested.
What Not to Do
Here are tips so you don't get on a blogger's bad side:
- Don't make the huge mistake of being pushy with a blogger. Bloggers are usually their own bosses; they are in charge. Dictating when you want your information to be blogged or by what date your product needs to be reviewed is a no-no.
- Don't pitch old news; keep it fresh. Move onto something else if your info has already been featured on popular blogs dealing with Web 2.0, social networking and content-sharing sites (e.g., del.icio.us, Facebook).
Remember -- bloggers like to be a step ahead of journalists. Otherwise, you will be wasting their time since most popular marketing bloggers receive their news via RSS feeds. If they see a stale pitch, they'll know you are not offering exclusive content. Bloggers all look for original material, not info that makes them look like they're jumping on a bandwagon.
- Don't include the entire press release in your email or attachments. Bloggers usually prefer a bare-bones pitch. Write no more than 50 words or so, but offer a URL that a blogger could include to direct readers who would like more information. That's particularly useful in instances where bloggers don't have the time or desire to cover your topic. Never attach a Word document, PDF or PowerPoint presentation.
- Don't flatter. If you don't read the blog on a regular basis and are not a huge fan, don't claim that you are. Buttering up a blogger to try to get coverage can backfire.
- Don't be exceedingly familiar. Even though personal information about a blogger may be readily available, try not to think of them as your acquaintances. They may be completely ignorant of who you are and turned off by the informal nature of your email.
- Don't leave advertorial comments. Be relevant and professional; otherwise, you're going to make a bad name for yourself. Why? First, your comments are probably moderated anyway. Second, you are looking to establish a solid relationship with the blogger.
- Don't put words into a blogger's mouth. Present your information without telling them they will just love the subject of your pitch. Asking for their opinion on how useful it might be for their readers is the way to go.
- Don't try to control the write-up. If a blogger bites at your tidbit, act as an assistant rather than as a director.
- Don't retaliate. You have done everything correctly, but your news still haven't been featured. Refrain from sending an angry email reply unless you want to risk being ridiculed in a post. Bloggers are not obligated to write anything; they are the masters of their own domains. Don't take their lack of interest personally.
- Don't violate someone's trust. If a blogger mentions your product or service, don't assume it's acceptable to use them in a future testimonial without their permission. You still need to ask. If you don't, you will lose a potential advocate.