Let’s start with the basics.
What are blogs?
Blogs are networked environments of people with shared interests. A metaphor that we like at Boxcar Marketing is that if the internet is a big party, then bloggers are clusters of people having a conversation.
Who is blogging?
Everyone and anyone with something to say.
Why do we want to reach out to bloggers?
Because bloggers are journalists, and if our story is a good match for their blog’s audience, then we might have an interesting conversation with them and they might considering sharing some of that information with their readers.
There are two parts of Blogger Outreach.
1. Finding Bloggers
When finding bloggers, we basically search for them using any means possible. Google Search is our starting point. With well researched keyword phrases we can quickly suss out the top ranking blogs or lead bloggers in a particular niche. Even a general search for “[subject matter] + blog” will establish a strong starting point for your research.
Advanced Twitter search, Technorati, StumbleUpon, Ning, Bing and Google Blog search are other resources we use to reinforce what we learned from our initial Google searches. Even reviewing a blog’s blogroll helps to construct our understanding of the niche and the connections between bloggers.
When researching bloggers, it’s important to document your research in a useful, organized manner. For our own blogger outreach we create an excel grid that documents:
- Blog URL
- Contact name
- Contact details
- Bloggers’ Twitter handle
- Number of incoming site links (BacklinkWatch.com)
- Number of Twitter followers
- Other details that will be useful when pitching, such as a blogger’s defined pitching specifications or the URL of a specific blog post that relates to the story we want to pitch.
2. Pitching Bloggers
Once you’ve found the right bloggers to pitch, remember that pitching is like joining a conversation at a cocktail party. Here are the party rules:
- Use your human voice, not your marketing machine, monotone voice.
- Individual attention: do not send out the same spammy email to a lot of bloggers. They know each other. They’ll post your marketing spam. They’ll taunt you. They will know it’s the same email everyone got. You have to find a way to be efficient but still individualize the content.
- Hi Susan is better than Hello blogger. Hi Susan is also good if the blogger’s name is Susan, if it’s Sally, you’re in trouble. Get the name right.
- Be generous. Pitching is not about what you want, it’s about identifying why the blogger’s audience could benefit from the information you have to share.
- Show that you get it. Provide a link upfront. Be brief. Provide interesting information. Then get out of the way.
PRWeb, a press release distribution service specializing in online visibility for small business, has also kindly provided further tips on contacting bloggers.
- Do your research! Don’t send a press release or pitch to bloggers any information that they may not be interested in. It’s the fastest way to get blacklisted and you run the risk of having them blog negatively about you or your company.
- Before sending a press release or pitch to a blogger, get to know them on a personal level first. Have a casual conversation with them and offer helpful resources or tips. You can do this by commenting on their blogs and adding your opinion to their posts, providing insightful articles that follow up on the topic of a post they did, or point them in the direction of a source that might be able to weigh in on a topic they recently highlighted.
- Summarize your most important points. Try sending a clever, relevant and succinct pitch with a link to your press release instead of just sending the release. Doing so shows that you have taken the time to get to know the blogger, that you have personalized your news to their needs, and that you respect their time and right to follow up on the information or not. If your topic is compelling, they will click—and they will appreciate that you’ve distilled the relevant information they need. This is often preferable to sending the full press release with company boilerplate or cramming all the information into a long email that will likely get scanned then tossed.
Our colleagues at Capulet Communications offer the best tips for finding and pitching bloggers in their book Friends with Benefits:
See Chapter 4: “Netiquette: Miss Manners for the Web”
If you missed our post earlier this week, check out Social Media for PR: How To Write a Press Release.
PRWeb also has an upcoming webinar with Peter Shankman, founder of HARO (Help a Reporter Out) on big publicity ideas for small business success. Visit the webinar page for more information.
Coming up in our next post: Using Twitter for PR.