By Stephanie Ciccarelli
March 4, 2009
Ever heard that the best things in life are free?
It's true, and that includes getting publicity for your business.
Discover how to find bloggers, introduce yourself, and how to build relationships that may result in the publicity and coverage you are seeking.
This article was inspired by a presentation at PodCamp Toronto 2009 entitled "Building Relationships with Word of Mouth PR Practitioners While Maintaining Credibility with your Audience".
I've been thinking about writing an article on this topic for months and was pleased to attend a session where pitching was discussed featuring a panel of people who were in a position to either provide publicity or acquire it for those desiring publicity.
Below, you'll find a summary of what was presented by panelists Eden Spodek of the Bargainista blog, Anita Clarke of the I Want I Got blog, David Jones of Hill and Knowlton, and Matthew Stradiotto co-founder of Matchstick.
Building Relationships with Bloggers
If you want to get publicity where everyone can see it, your best bet is to approach a blogger who will publish their content online and make it freely available for literally the entire Internet using world to see.
At first glance, you might think that an article in a paper publication would be better, and depending on which publication you're talking about, perhaps it is, however, being featured on a blog is potentially more effective in the long run than the fleeting prestige of having an article written in a paper which is available for a brief time and could disappear behind a wall.
Bloggers Share Best and Worst Experiences Getting Pitched
What Should You Do to Get Noticed and Considered?
You can liken these first encounters to a well-researched cold call, only this encounter is via email and can be rehearsed and executed to perfection in a carefully crafted proposal. The message you send should represent you in a respectable manner and you will be judged based upon that message immediately.
Bearing that in mind, good pitches can be formulaic.
Here are a number of ideas and best practices when pitching a blogger:
à¹ Good pitches provide relevant information and additional links to learn more
à¹ The information provided should be able to serve as the basis of an article
à¹ All communications should be personalized to the blogger
à¹ Your pitch should be relevant to the material they generally cover on their blog
à¹ Make information about your company easily accessible
à¹ Be prepared to answer any questions the blogger may have
à¹ The story you are pitching should ultimately add value to their audience
à¹ Provide an option to be removed from your mailing list
à¹ Respect and appreciate that the blogger's whole life isn't there to accommodate your client or you; realize that they might have other full-time jobs
Try to get to know the blogger and what they are about prior to sending them an email. This means take a spin around their blog to get a feel for what they typically write about, what interests them and who they are writing for (their audience).
Be sure to read more than just one article on the blog before contacting them as not all postings are indicative of their primary focus.
Once you've become more familiar with the blogger and their work, you'll be equipped to personalize relevant content that will be attractive to the blogger's interests when pitching them.
In a Nutshell, Your Pitch Should:
à¹ Be appealing
à¹ Include a personalized note
à¹ A short story
à¹ Easily identify the highlights
à¹ Provide links
à¹ Link to a social media news release if you have one
à¹ Give the option to opt out of future communications
What NOT to do: This is What Useless (and ignored) Pitches are Made Of
In general, not many people enjoy being solicited, especially when the solicitation is ill thought out and has no apparent goal or motive other than to get some indiscriminate press.
à¹ Are not personalized
à¹ Do not give any information in the email
à¹ Include spelling or grammatical errors
à¹ Do not include a URL (web link for more information) to visit
à¹ Are not researched and consequently irrelevant to the blogger and their blog
à¹ Leave much to be desired resulting in little to no interest... and no coverage
Something many bloggers hate is being told what they have to write. Don't send an email and expect that what you've included will be published verbatim. That was an extreme turnoff for the bloggers on the panel.
Bloggers have their own writing styles and what you've sent them may need to be tweaked or turned on its head so that becomes meaningful to their audience.
Another consideration to be aware of is that the majority of bloggers are not full-time bloggers and have other responsibilities. As was mentioned above, they are not there at your beck and call, but can be great allies for you if you treat them with respect.
Engaging and Building Relationships with Bloggers and other Online Influencers
How do you make sure that you're targeting the right people to write about you?
Sometimes the hardest part is finding the bloggers best suited to work with you who are also interested in your story.
Instead of seeking out and compiling a list of every single blogger who covers audio, advertising or voice over, realize that quality over quantity rules -- send out less pitches but make those emails better, more targeted and measured.
The key is to build relationships with top bloggers, and to do that, you need to know what drives the content behind the blog. Get to know bloggers on a personal level. This small effort will go a long way.
Don't forget that these should be mutually beneficial relationships built on trust. If you give bloggers relevant content to share with their readers, they will reward you with publicity and potentially more opportunities down the road.
It takes more time to pitch a blogger than traditional journalists but there can be a greater return. If a journalist is pitched and doesn't like it, they won't cover it. A blogger may regardless of their opinion.
Also, news stories in the media have a shelf life and disappear after about 15 days. Bloggers' posts live on indefinitely.
Someone said that the best blogger outreach happens by people who are out there and active in the space themselves. Essentially, the pitchers and now being pitched.
Note that bloggers like to talk about everything openly and transparently. PR firms realize this and leave the discretion in the hands of the blogger. When in Rome, do as the Romans do.
Changes in Economy Trigger Changes in Traditional Marketing
If you are a blogger, you might notice that there are companies approaching you to review their products, some of which may compensate you with a product in exchange for a review, whether positive, neutral or negative. In these cases, upfront disclosure of where a product came from and why you're reviewing it may be necessary.
Whenever I do a giveaway on VOX Daily, the items are generally donated for that specific purpose. As a bonus, and personal rule, I review the items prior to giving them away, many of which are posted for all to see as a means to provide greater value to my readers and also recognize the value in what is being raffled off.
Content - Influence - Long-term Relationship
If you get anything out of this article at all, be sure that when you approach a blogger, you are:
If you enjoyed this or found it useful, please let me know!
Â©iStockphoto.com/Konstantinos KokkinisRelated Topics: bloggers, coverage, how to, PR, publicity, radio, Siri