As traditional media continue to downsize and the boundaries between social and traditional media continue to blur, communications professionals are increasingly turning to blogs for exposure. For those that are in PR or marketing and pitch the media on a regular basis, this may come as no surprise; however, I’ve read, seen and heard more than a few bad pieces of advice recently, regarding pitching bloggers. Here are a few of the demands that I’ve responded to or heard lately and my thoughts on them:
We need a list of the top blogs so we can send them a press release.
There are so many things wrong with this request! First, if the blogger is not a member of the press, then why would you send a press release? Second, what defines “top” blogs to you may not be the same as the requestor. Third, this assumes that blogger outreach, as a tactic, supports your overall PR strategy.
Back in 2007, Jeremiah Owyang wrote, “Consider not pitching a press release or announcement at all; why not point me to relevant blog posts from the client (non marketing ones) that I’d be willing to add to my blog. Always remember that I’m thinking of my readers first, so if the content is not going to help them, I’m not going to point to it – think backwards.” Even though he wrote it more than three years ago, it’s still sage advice.
We want to send a blast email to the (blogger) list.
Really? A “blast” email of the same pitch to multiple bloggers? No. You really don’t. Bloggers are unlike the media in that they do not have a “beat,” their “outlet” doesn’t necessarily dictate they write on certain topics, and, often, they are not bound by geographic limitations. You need to research each and every target and customize the pitch accordingly. (BurrellesLuce Media ContactsPlus is one solution that can help you connect and engage with bloggers individually.) If possible, find a connection with the blogger (e.g. boating enthusiast, horse lover, same alma mater, etc.) and leverage it. Follow but don’t stalk.
Case in point: Heather Whaling (aka @prtini) received this reply from a blogger after receiving her pitch not long ago: “I really appreciate you taking the time to know a little bit about me before you emailed me. You have no idea what a difference that personalization makes. Or, maybe you do. But in case you don’t hear it enough, good job!”
PRBC co-founder Marie Baker, recently coined the term “blogger bombardment” to describe this paradigm shift. And Last week, an AmericanExpress OPEN Forum post replied to the argument, “But that means I can’t send out a mass email to hundreds of BCC’d recipients.” With this analogy…Exactly. It’s like getting a hand-written envelope via snail-mail; the recipient is much more likely to act on it if it’s personal and relevant to her blog.
I don’t want us / you to spend a lot of time on this.
<Sigh> I can’t say it any better than the guys over at The Bad Pitch Blog did: “Does this read like a lot of work? Well as the definition of a media outlet morphs, so must our approach to engaging with them. And as more and more bloggers extend the olive branch, the price of a bad pitch is increasing — less coverage, whiny bloggers, angry clients and amused competitors.”
Bottom line? If your news doesn’t warrant this caliber of effort, then you shouldn’t be pitching it at all!