There are plenty of posts dedicated to how to pitch bloggers.
I give Darren Rowse the gold for starting his commentary with the suggestion that you'd want to comment first and become a genuine and active member of that blog's community before pitching. Lee Odden assembled a great reading list at TopRank blog a couple of years ago - be relevant is what resonates to me most about his list.
Jeff Pulver stated that PR is not an industry for lazy people. It isn't indeed. Adam Singer broached the topic most recently and I must say that his final word of advice on doing your research first is solid advice. We are way, way past using a standard press release for bloggers' outreach.
I get my fair share of press releases every day - at the tune of 4-5 per day, in fact. The best word I can use to describe them by and large is unimpressive. "I think you're fabulous" may seem like a good idea for a subject line, but if you cannot tell me why, as in what about my work makes you say that, you're out.
That means you not only miss the mark on what I like to write about, you show lack of interest. It is clear I'm on a hit list, but there is no effort towards understanding why. The why is the reason your press release or pitch is going nowhere. Get that, and you will begin to have some success with bloggers' outreach.
The best pitch is no pitch at all. The best pitch is in fact a conversation. One in which the writer can find a unique story to tell. One based on an ongoing relationship with someone who writes about a specific subject matter. If journalists and editors need to think about their readers, so do bloggers.
Some of you at this point may start thinking about how great content can be compelling - it is only if we can add value to it for our readers and community. It's the same question Jeff Jarvis posed to journalists last week. It could be summed up with one quote by Warren Buffet: “Price is what you pay. Value is what you get.”
Given the diminishing number of publications, especially for trade, which is where B2B companies traditionally got coverage, PR agencies need to become more creative in the pitches they make. In some cases, given the media fragmentation beyond trade, it may take some work to research, discover, and reach new avenues.
I suppose if you're a start up and have no PR funds, or if you are in the business of servicing social media and pitch bloggers, you are somewhat in the environment you should be in. However, do you ask yourself a fundamental question about public relations - am I reaching the people I'd want to act upon the information I'm sharing?
In that light, all coverage is not created equal. It needs to pass the "so what" test. There is another confusing component in all this - going to bloggers in many cases means going direct to your public, without much of a filter. In this sense, it is unclear yet what PR’s role is in this new environment, which is probably one of the reasons public relations firms are ill equipped to deal with blogs as part of their media outreach program.
When is it a good idea to include bloggers in your media outreach?
- If you can pass the straight face test - this matters to their readers
- You have an integrated approach - part of the story fits the new media landscape like a glove and you have something unique to offer for that one media property
- Their traffic is your audience - chances are a blogger's traffic is much more targeted than a magazine's
- You intend to dedicate time and resources to being authentic - cutting-edge, leader, authority in whatever it is you do tend to sound fake to someone who writes for passion
- You're open to a two-way dialogue and accept that ideas may come back to you as a result of the conversation
One final piece of advice - words matter. Choose them carefully, be wise and considerate, and you will receive responses in kind.
[image from Australia Post campaign]