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September 26, 2007

Blogs: Making Your Pitch - What Not To Do

By Li Evans

As a blog gets older, grows in audience and continues to put out content that proves it is an active blog, it's inevitable that the blog will get pitches about stories "they must" cover.  Coming from a PR background, I really wonder where some of these PR practitioners learned their trade, based on the couple of pitches SMG receives a day.

A few weeks ago Lee Odden at TopRankBlog posted a great list of "How Not to Pitch a Blog".  I'd like to add a few more bullets to the list, or give a different perspective or meaning to some of his bulleted points.

  • Blogging Investigate the Blog:   Learn everything you can about the blog, check out the "About Us" section, reader the bloggers profiles, find out if they even take pitches. 
    • Who owns the blog?
    • Is the owner of the blog a writer?
    • Do the contributing writers have their own blogs?
    • Can you contact the writers' individually?
    • Has the blog written about you before?
    • Has the blog written about your industry before?
    • Does the blog or blogger(s) subscribe to your service?
  • Don't Email Blast Your Press Release:  If you want to pitch a story, email the blogger.  Bloggers are rather unique individuals and like the personal touch.  To be honest, we hate the canned automated messages, especially ones that have "Error! File Name Not Specified". 
    • Pitch the blog before you mass email your press release
    • Make it personal - address the blogger individually, point out why you believe the story would be important to them.
    • Don't send the same message to all the members of the blogging team, especially if only one contact email is listed for the blog.
  • Don't Treat Bloggers as Just Another Press Release Outlet: Don't just email the press release.  Unless of course your Google, Yahoo or Microsoft, you will just annoy the writers, editors and owners of the blogs.  Again, it goes back to making it personal. 
    • Bloggers are not just another outlet to mass email your press release too
    • Unless the blog has a general email they say "send press releases to this address", resist the urge to add that email you see to your distribution list.
  • Take the Time and Email and Establish a Relationship with the Blog:  Yes, I know, this takes a bit of time. However, if you know anything about Public Relations, it's about establishing relationships.  A blogger can become an important resource for you, if you take the time and nurture the relationship.
  • Public_relations Remember, Bloggers can Tarnish Your Name, Just as Fast as They Praise It: Piss off a blogger with your email blasts about your boring product launch, and it's likely a blogger will out you, your client or company.  They might even dig for information on something your don't want to be reported.
  • Remember, Bloggers Talk to Other Bloggers:  Especially in niche industries that might not be that large, it is even more prevalent.  Like minded people like to bond over subjects they have in common.  It takes one conversation of "hey did you get that press release from WYZ Company?" and the bloggers discover they were both pitched in the same way.  That gets the ball rolling for other bloggers to just unite and possibly join against you and your PR Strategy.
  • Lastly, Don't Leave Your PR Blog Strategy to Interns: You may think, contacting bloggers is something so simple you can just pass it off to your interns to do.  Resist that urge.  Instead, have the interns do the research on which blogs you should contact and also the research on why you should contact the blog.  The relationship with the blogger should be established by the Public Relations professional within the company, as they are the most experiences about the services, products and reasons the story should be pitched.  Remember in one fell push of the publish button, a blogger can start a campaign against your company, rather than for it, and that could spiral out of control rather quickly.

Public Relations professionals really need to stop and think about their strategies when dealing with bloggers.  Bloggers are NOT your typical news outlet.  Bloggers, in most cases, don't answer to editors, or multi-million dollar conglomerate owners.  Bloggers usually have one boss, their own conscious.  Working with bloggers requires more time and investment, which involves cultivating a relationship. 

Taking the time to cultivate the relationship could possibly be your best break in helping to get your story out to the masses, so don't leave it to just an intern, canned messages or email blasts.  Invest the time and resources and you will find that your PR Blogging Strategy could be a your best bet when getting your story ideas covered.

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