Daily Archives: April 8, 2013

Micro Approach Best in the Macro Blog World

Santheo/Flickr-CC

Santheo/Flickr-CC

The blogger world may be macro in terms of the scope of topics and the number of blog outlets, but the best way to reach out to bloggers is on a micro scale.

That is one of the key takeaways of “A Best Practice Guide for Effective Blogger Outreach,” a guidebook to effective methods to gain advocacy, publicity, and social sharing for a brand, product, company or campaign. The guide is published by InkyBee.com.

As there once were myriad journalists, there now are millions of bloggers, the guide reports. Regardless, a mass approach to reaching them may mean a massive failure. When it comes to conducting outreach, the best way to advance an initiative is to make relationships first – then with established connections, address bloggers in individualized, specific, and precise ways which relate to their interests, topics, and audience, the guide says.

The “old school” style of public relation is all wrong now, says the guide.  That concept is confirmed by Jenn Pedde, community manager for 2U, in her slide presentation on the subject. These too-direct tactics are bad form as blogger outreach, she says:

Jeffrey Doonan/Flickr-CC

Jeffrey Doonan/Flickr-CC

  • Sending announcements and press releases
  • Cold calling (blog style)
  • Lying
  • Pitching your service/product/company
  • “Write About Me, Write About Me” requests

The guide says bloggers are willing to be pitched, but only:

  • If you do so with integrity
  • If you have relevant, quality ideas that offer value to the blogger’s audience
  • If you have first matched your outreach to the blogger’s specific interests
  • If you have made your content easy to read through and share through embedded links, graphics, and SEO optimized words.

Of course, you shouldn’t attempt to pitch   a blogger before you’ve done the requisite research, assessing the relevance of the blog to your subject matter, the potential audience for your story, the degree of audience engagement with the blog/blogger, and functional details, such as the frequency of publication. While bloggers may not have the same restrictions as traditional journalists, they will have a set of standards. Don’t assume that because they are independent, they don’t approach their work like journalists do. A post from journalism blogger Jim Romenesko illustrates how a pushy pitch fell really flat because of the PR person’s poor-form approach.

TheKarenD/Flickr-CC

TheKarenD/Flickr-CC

I’ve got some personal experience with and context for these asssertions and affirmations.

  • I’ve worked as a daily news journalist who was pitched (badly) by gushing PR types.
  • I’ve been a PR type who knew better than to gushingly pitch reporters.
  •  I’ve lived and worked through the transition from old news to the modern journalism, to the world of blogging and opinion-based online information purveyors.

    Little-Orange-Chow/Flickr-CC

    Little-Orange-Chow/Flickr-CC

Today, I’m still pitching the media, but I’m doing it through social channels such as Facebook, twitter, and other means to build connections with, and then later coordinate recommendations and coverage, with media, news commentators and columnists, online content producers, bloggers, and news editors.

It’s a one-to-one world now. While the individualized approach takes longer and requiresmore up-front legwork, it’s well worth the effort when positive outcomes are achieved.

Blogger outreach and the establishment of community

According to Jenn Pedde’s presentation, blogger outreach is the act of extending services or benefits to the author of an online log, which contains their own observations, experiences, or knowledge relevant to a specific topic. Bloggers are generally considered to be experts in their field and have an established audience relevant to their topic(s). There are various advantages to engaging bloggers to be an active member of your community which include:

  • Additional Traffic from Their own Established Fan base
  • Potential ad revenue from additional traffic
  • Increase in social media exposure
  • Targeted audience

2971658475_e27d08f561_m[1]What NOT to do while reaching external bloggers

As Community Managers, we have a responsibility to represent our established community in a professional and respectful manner. While reaching out to any external parties, especially experienced bloggers, you need to ensure that you understand their goals and audience. Without understanding the author of the blog, you cannot relate to them and it often results in inaccurate communications being sent to them.

I used to run my own blog that centered on IT-related topics, such as software development, IT training, and business process improvement. During the time my blog was online, I received several e-mails from other reps from various online communities. These representatives sent generic e-mails requesting my participation for their .com, which generally involved adding my insights to their customer forums. The problems with these generic solicitations was that they were, in fact, “generic” meaning that they had no idea what I was doing with my own blog.

Why is this a bad thing? This is an easy question to answer… I knew that they had no investment in my blog, nor did they care about my success as a blogger in my field. A generic template being sent to a massive e-mail distribution list doesn’t help my enthusiasm with the Community Manager’s belief in my blog’s purpose.  Community Managers must read the blog and know what the author is attempting to achieve, all of which can assist with their “sell” of a bloggers participation in the community.

What should community managers do?

Community Managers need to invest time into researching a blogger’s material. Once the manager knows what a blogger is doing, they can reach out to them personally via e-mail. Making a personal connection with the author can achieve their buy-in to your community therefore enabling you to reap the benefits of the relationship.

Overall, reaching out to bloggers is a great way to further promote a community and can enable you access to a new audience. Relationships with the bloggers themselves are key to ensure their buy-in and active participation in your community.

Nailing the Pitch From a Blogger’s Perspective

I’ll admit up front that I’m not a very serious blogger, and I operate in a fairly niche environment. I’ve also never followed through with promoted content on my site, but I have received plenty of bad pitches in my time. Combined with our readings this week about pitching bloggers, I thought I might contribute my perspective with tips that would work for my blog.

I write about coffee, plain and simple. I’ve been a coffee enthusiast for years, I’ve started a few side projects around coffee, and I regularly inundate myself in the world and industry of coffee. As such, my writing is tailored to people who are also interested in specialty coffee, though they may have more or less experience than I do.

Coffee, being as large and varied a topic as it is, comes with its drawbacks. Even though I’d never in a million years review Keurig K-cups for a promoted post, that hasn’t stopped two separate requests from arriving in my inbox. I’ve gotten bulk e-mail pitches that were obviously not targeted to me or my audience, but were vaguely related to coffee so of course I must be interested. The only good one I’ve ever gotten was a product review for a monthly coffee sample subscription – which started as a “try us out then write what you think” pitch, but I negotiated to only write something if I actually thought the product was worthwhile. Well, I never wrote anything about them, but I did appreciate that I was treated like a human being.

Bad pitches make me Hulk out.

Bad pitches make me rage.

Here’s the thing about these pitches: not one of them seemed to be familiar with my blog at all. They may, at best, have seen that I write blog posts, and the keyword “coffee” shows up in them. But I don’t review products, nor do I make great attempts to expand my audience – I mostly write for me, and I write about other people or local events more often than I write about a company or a product. Every pitch I’ve received has automatically triggered my SPAM alarm, because they’re written for some other blogger, surely, but not for me. The one product pitch I chose to entertain was because these people had found me on Twitter first, then found my blog, so they knew more about me when they approached. They seemed to think they could be my first product review, which would be exciting for me and my readers, but I wasn’t so ecstatic about taking orders, so I made sure I was the one who laid the ground rules. In the end, my lack of coverage was better for them and for me than my writing a negative review.

So how do you reach somebody like me? For one, know the platform. You can’t reach out to somebody writing about their most passionate subject and not know what you’re talking about. You can’t come to a coffee enthusiast who roasts their own beans at home and ask them to review your stale pre-ground capsules, you’re in the totally wrong market.

If we can both benefit, sell me on it!

If we can both benefit, sell me on it!

Second, just as InkyBee suggests, take some time to make it personal. If you think this blogger relationship is really worth it, then you’ve got to show them it’s a mutually beneficial situation, and you’re not out to reap your reward and cast them aside. This is an alley-oop, it needs cooperation and understanding to be successful for both parties. You’ve got to make your intentions known right out of the gate, and work with them to make sure you’re both on board and compatible. If you wouldn’t hang out with this blogger over a few beers to talk business, you’re better off moving on.

Are you a blogger? What are the best ways to reach you with a pitch?