So last night we had a fabulous #Blogchat discussion on blogger outreach with Sheila. At one point we were discussing doing an outreach that involved a product, such as asking bloggers for book reviews. Many of the #blogchat participants said that they would like to be pitched books to review, so I wanted to talk about that here.
Here’s what worked for me: Start reviewing books. Waaaaay back in 2006 I had a blogging buddy ask me if I would review his new book on my blog if he sent me a copy. He did, and I did. Almost immediately, other marketers with books coming out started contacting me asking if I wanted a copy of their book in exchange for a review, and it continues to this day.
So if you are a blogger that wants to be pitched on getting books and other products to review, here’s what I would suggest you do:
1 – Write a Pitch Me page on your blog. I have one here, and it basically outlines how I want to be pitched. And as you can see I mention that I don’t do book reviews and rarely do. That’s mostly there because most of the books I am pitched to review I have no interest in reading. In fact most of the pitches I get are completely irrelevant to what I cover here. Which is why this whole getting pitched business is a double-edged sword: Those that have never been pitched typically wish they were and those that are pitched typically wish they weren’t! It’s definitely a ‘be careful what you wish for’ deal.
2 – Review the type of products you want to be pitched on getting and write about the type of stories you want to be pitched on. If you want to receive review copies of books, then start reviewing books on your blog. But make sure you are reviewing the type of books you want to receive. If you want to be sent review copies of marketing books, then you don’t want to review 50 Shades of Gray on your blog.
3 – Fall in love with any PR person that actually sends you relevant pitches. Seriously the good ones are harder to find than a member of Congress that’s doing his/her job right now. They are so rare that I wrote about one I loved in my book. I have been known to proactively email my favorite people and BEG them to tell me what they have that they need coverage on. I do this because the good ones understand who you are and what your audience wants and they will only pitch you on relevant content.
Now, part of last night’s discussion was how to get bloggers to review your product. I wanted to write about how I’ve done this with Think Like a Rock Star. This is simply how I did it, this is not a one-size-fits-all way to get bloggers to review your product, especially if it’s a book. I’m simply offering this as an example of how I did it, and hopefully it will help some of you.
First, I needed a plan. I asked and answered these questions:
1 – Who did I want to review the book? I wanted people that believed in the idea of the power of a brand embracing its fans to be the people that reviewed this book. These people would be the ones that would realize why the book was so valuable, and as a result they could give better and more in-depth reviews of the book.
2 – What type of reviews did I want? Surprisingly, I wanted Amazon reviews more than blog reviews. I think blog reviews have enormous value, but I preferred Amazon reviews because all the reviews are in one place where people do their book shopping. When you are considering buying a book, do you Google the book’s reviews on the web, or do you go to Amazon to read the reviews? If you’re like me, you go to Amazon first.
3 – How would I select who I wanted to review the book? One of the things I talk about in Think Like a Rock Star is that your fans will self-select, or raise their hand and reach out to you instead of you hunting for them. So when someone reached out to me and identified themselves as a fan of the book, I asked them to please review it on Amazon!
I am pretty thrilled with the results from this strategy. Think Like a Rock Star is one of the best-reviewed social media/marketing/business books available. On Amazon it has 48 reviews after being on sale for 6 months, and the star average for those reviews is 4.9 out of 5 stars (85% of the reviews are 5-star). On GoodReads its star average is 4.45 out of 5-stars. This is an incredibly high average for that site, in fact I could not find a single social media or marketing book that had a higher star average on GoodReads.
The one thing I did that really spurred reviews was to aggressively engage with readers of the book. This seems like common sense, but whenever I saw anyone mention the book on Twitter or Facebook or ANYWHERE I connected with them and THANKED them for reading the book or for even considering it. You would not believe how many people thanked ME because I reached out to them and thanked THEM for promoting my book. Unbelievable. I am incredibly lucky to have anyone mention TLARS, and I made sure they knew it. THEY are the real rock stars to me, and I did my best to treat them as such, and I think most people appreciated that!
When I engaged someone that mentioned the book, if they then told me that they enjoyed the book THEN I would ask them to please review it on Amazon, and I would include a link directly to the page on Amazon where they could write the review. Not everyone did, but many people reviewed the book and told me they were happy to do so. But the key is, I only asked people to review the book who first communicated to me that they enjoyed it. They were self-identifying as being fans of the book and those were the people that I wanted to review it. Yes it took a lot of time to engage with each fan/reader of the book individually, but it was so worth it.
So Think Like a Rock Star might not be a New York Times Bestseller yet, but it sure is better reviewed than most books that make the bestseller lists, and I have the book’s fans to thank for that. Which is as it should be