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?

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