Companies and PR Firms: Here’s the Golden Rule of Pitching Bloggers

by Mack Collier

Your job is to make my job easier.  Do that, and I’ll give you coverage here every single time.

Let me give you an example:  A couple of years ago my friend Kaitlyn (Note the ‘my friend’ part, PR peeps) at Ogilvy pitched me on an idea she had to get some more exposure for one of Ogilvy’s clients, Ford.  She was attending the 2010 Paris Auto Show where Ford CMO Jim Farley would be, and she pitched a small group of bloggers on this idea:  Give me a question you’d like to ask Ford’s CMO, and I’ll get him to answer you on video.  Hello!  Of course I wanted to be a part of that!

So my question to Jim was:  “Are there any areas that Ford can point to where social media has either lowered business costs, or improved existing processes?”

Jim answered the question, and said that social media had resulted in cost savings of up to 90% versus using traditional advertising in some cases (such as with the Fiesta Movement campaign).  This post also led to Scott Monty jumping in the comments and adding another nugget: “We had a higher level of awareness for the subcompact than for vehicles we had in the market for 2-3 years; we collected over 125,000 hand-raisers who indicated they wanted to learn more when the car became available; and the conversion of reservations to sales was 10X higher than our traditional conversion rate.”

I just checked this blog’s stats, and that post has over 9,300 pageviews and going by pageviews is the fourth most popular post ever on this blog.

And it happened because Kaitlyn was smart enough to position the pitch with the blogger’s needs in mind.

When you are pitching bloggers on your story idea, keep these things in mind:

1 – What topics does the blogger write about?  Actually READ the blog, look at the categories used, or if they have a list of their Most Popular Posts, see what those posts are about.

2 – Look at your story idea, does it jive with the topics that the blogger writes about?  If you’re on the fence as to whether or not its relevant to the blogger, think about what topics the blogger writes about, and how your story idea could tie into the areas the blogger focuses on.  For example, if you have a story idea on how Michaels is using Pinterest to build traffic back to its site, I might not be interested.  But if you tailor the pitch to me and point out that Michaels is activating its brand advocates to use Pinterest to drive traffic back to its site, then my interest in the story increases dramatically.  Always think about how you can make your story idea relevant to the blogger you are pitching.

3 – Don’t follow up repeatedly with the ‘Hey Mack, just wanted to check and see if you somehow missed my story idea the first 10 times I emailed you about it?’ email.  If I don’t respond, there’s at least a 95% chance that it was because I wasn’t interested in covering the story you pitched me on.  If you DO want to email me to followup, you should ASSUME that’s why I didn’t answer you.  You could say something like “Hey Mack, I just wanted to circle back with you on the email I sent on Monday about how Company A is Using Social Media Site B.  Is this something that you feel your readers would be interested in learning more about?  If you don’t think that story would be relevant to your readers, are there any particular areas of social media marketing that you are looking to cover?  My firm represents hundreds of companies that are producing successful social media marketing results, and I’m sure that in the future I could find some examples that you feel would be of value to your readers!”

This approach at least gives me the opportunity to spell out to you exactly what areas I am looking for.

4 – Check to see if the blogger has any guidelines on how they want to be pitched.  Many do, including me.  This alone will save you a ton of time and help you do a better job for your clients.

 

But overall, just think about how your pitch will benefit the blogger you are pitching.  Simply doing that will greatly increase your success rate.  If you’re a blogger that’s gotten pitched before, what’s some great examples that you can share?

{ 7 comments }

Yvette Pistorio February 28, 2012 at 8:54 am

Great advice Mack! I might pay more attention to the pitches I get if they were tailored more to me and what our blog covers. It’s a good idea to add guidelines to help out those pitching us as well and something I’d like to add to the blog I write for. Love the example you have…it’s nice to read about who is doing it right. There are so many posts out there of what NOT to do, I love the reading the posts about what TO do! Thanks :)

Mack Collier February 28, 2012 at 9:34 am

Thank you Yvette ;) Yes I love what Kaitlyn did, 99% of the pitches I get are totally off-topic for me, and it’s obvious the person contacting me has never read my blog (a lot of the emails are addressed to ‘Mark’ or ‘Dear Blogger’ ;))

Jen @ Yellow Bird Blogs February 28, 2012 at 10:21 am

#4 is really critical–I’m always amazed how often I get pitched for my personal mom blog by someone who’s obviously been to the site (because they found my email address) but has not paid much attention to it (because they have either not read, or completely ignored, the very complete guidelines under “submit a guest post”). There are few ways to alienate a blogger faster than wasting their time in this manner!

Mack Collier February 28, 2012 at 10:31 am

Jen I agree completely. I mean if you’re a PR person that’s contacting a blogger to begin with, we have to assume it’s because you believe they are good at what they do. Which means you also have to assume they are BUSY, so why do anything to waste their time?

Sadly, the bar is set so low for good pitches that if you follow even the most common of courtesies when reaching out to bloggers, you’ll look like a star.

Sue Spaight February 29, 2012 at 8:27 am

Great, really helpful post as always. Mack. Thank you. I’ve shared it with some colleagues. Point three is critical…so often people just get lazy and send another reminder email instead of doing the legwork to find out what’s really relevant. VERY important reminder. Sue

Mack Collier February 29, 2012 at 9:30 am

Hey Sue, I hate the ‘just following up on my previous email’. Almost all of the bad pitches I get are due to simple laziness. Just take a few minutes to better understand the bloggers you are pitching, and your success rate will go through the roof. Yes, a bit of work is required, but doesn’t that beat wasting time by sending out pitches to bloggers that have no interest?

Laura Click March 2, 2012 at 7:54 am

Fantastic tips, Mack. I’m constantly amazed how many PR practitioners get this wrong. I came from a traditional PR background and the same skills and practices you use to pitch reporters are needed when pitching bloggers. It’s amazing how many pitches are not relevant to the blog or blogger. You’ve GOT to think about how your story is relevant to EACH blogger you pitch. Fail to do that and you’ll never get covered.

Why do you think so many folks struggle when pitching to bloggers? Do you think it’s because bloggers are often more accessible?

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