Archive for the ‘blogger relations’ Category

Blogger relations – you’re doing it wrong

I don’t usually write posts outing other PR folks, but a pitch I received this morning from another PR agency roused my blogging tendencies from their slumber.

Here’s how it read:

From: [...]@gmail.com
Sent: Wed, Aug 15, 2012 at 3:02 AM

PR Firm [...] Sends Small Businesses to the Top of Social Media for $790 Per Month

On Monday, August 13, [PR agency] announced three new SEO / Social Media / Press Release Packages starting at $790 per month, bringing an affordable solution to businesses needing a strong online presence via Facebook, Twitter, WordPress blog and press releases. The smallest package which includes a number of posts, tweets, articles and press releases each month, costs little more than sending one press release through a service.

To view this release on PRWeb, click the link below:

http://www.prweb.com/releases/[...]

______________________
If you would rather not receive future communications from [...], please go to [...].
[Address]

Let’s see…

  1. Pick your audience: If this person had done any research they’ve have known from posts like this or this that I’m not a fan of spray and pray tactics or services. If I’m going to write about something like this, it’s not going to be in a positive way, and I’ll firmly argue that $790 per month will not get you to the “top of social media”. It’s not going to get you to the top of anything, in fact.
  2. Don’t spray and pray: They sprayed and prayed. At least I was in the “to” line, but there was no effort whatsoever to address me personally – even a “Dear Blogger”, which still triggers the “delete” button for me, would be a step up from this. There’s  absolutely no customization, either, or even an effort to do anything beyond copy/paste the first paragraph (I assume – I didn’t click through) of the release.
  3. Offer a call to action: I have no idea what this company wants from me. Do they want me to write about their announcement? Do an interview with a spokesperson? Try it out? Offer a trial? It’s not clear, which means most people will do nothing.
  4. Avoid free email services: The email came from a Gmail account; one with the word “guru” in the account name, no less. You’re a PR agency and your pitches are coming from a Gmail account? And one with the word “guru” in the account name, no less?
  5. Don’t make me opt-out when I didn’t opt-in: How did I make it onto this list of yours? Why do I need to say “no, I don’t want to automatically receive your pitches”? If you were researching and tailoring the emails to me I’d be much more open to it, but signing me up for your automatic spam? No thanks.

This really is the worst kind of PR – the kind that actually makes me angry about people who claim to work in the same space as me. It’s lazy, it’s unprofessional and, if it’s anything like the way this company goes about conducting PR activities for its clients, it’s not a great testimonial for the firm.

Dx3 Presentation: Blogger Relations – Getting the Insiders Onside

Last week I had the pleasure of presenting a revised approach to blogger relations, to a packed room at the inaugural Dx3 Canada digital trade show.

Following the presentation, several attendees reached out to me asking that I post the presentation online. So, here it is.

Key points from the presentation:

  • The blogger relations process is broken. It focuses on transactions between bloggers and PR people, and is overly adversarial both due to its nature and the way that companies have gone about it.
  • We should think about blogger pitching in terms of a relationship, not a transaction. Key elements of this:
    • The first time you reach out to a blogger should not be to pitch them – the process should start with listening and engagement
    • The pitch should be the middle of the process, not the end – follow-up to ensure questions are answered and feedback is given in both directions
    • The LEAF framework (listen – engage – activate – follow-up) summarizes an ongoing relationship-focused process
    • There are realities to a shift like this. Shifting to this approach means taking a new approach to budgeting and planning outreach programs that involves more time, different people and an longer-term commitment
  • If bloggers want to work with companies (and that’s a big “if”), they can benefit from approaching interactions on their side differently too.

I had a great time during the presentation – the crowd reacted well to the ideas and the interaction in the Q&A was great. Let me know what you think, too.

Content Is King At BlogWorld

I’ll be speaking at BlogWorld LA in a couple of weeks, along with my good friend Jeremy Wright, on the topic of blogger relations – how to identify people, how to approach them and how to avoid the mistakes of others.

I had a chance recently to chat with DJ Waldow, who recorded this video about our session and about why I keep coming back to BlogWorld.

If you’re interested in attending BlogWorld LA, you can use the code BWEVIP20 to get 20% off the registration price.

Why Paying Bloggers For Posts Changes The Game

There’s been a lot of debate back and forth around bloggers (generally mommy bloggers, although they’re certainly not the only ones) receiving direct payment for posts over the last little while. The latest post to catch my eye was a controversial piece over at Mom Blog Magazine entitled Why PR People Get Paid And You Don’t.

I’ve shied away from this topic in the past, but after some interesting conversations I’ve had over the last few weeks I’m ready to weigh in.

A quick note up-front: I’ve been writing here for six years now. Over that time I’ve built this site up from a static site, that I coded by hand in Notepad, to a blog with 40,000 views each month.

While I’ve never accepted monetary payment for posting, I generally get several requests to incorporate ads each week. I get the attraction – it’s a lot of work to maintain a blog – and I don’t begrudge anyone from monetizing their site.

With that out of the way, on to the crux of the matter…

To put it simply, bloggers accepting (or demanding) payment for posts changes the game for them in several ways:

  • You shift from earned to paid media
  • You shift from content creator to service provider
  • You need to compete for budget

Let me explain further…

You shift from earned to paid media

If we break online communications into different spheres – owned, paid, earned and social media – PR has traditionally played in the “earned media” space. When PR people pitch a journalist on a story, we’re trying to “earn” that coverage.

Earned media brings with it lots of advantages. It’s highly credible, it’s long-term (it lives on) and it increasingly plays a role in product sales. On the flip side, though, earned media is near-impossible to control – in terms of quantity of coverage, of tone of the journalist/blogger’s coverage or of the content of the coverage. However, the benefits have traditionally outweighed the risks (hence PR people have jobs).

To journalists/bloggers, that means that when a PR person approaches them, they have control of how they react to the ask. They can turn it down entirely and write nothing, or they can write a positive, neutral or even negative piece if they so choose. That’s fine, because they’re producing editorial content. PR people accept that risk when they pitch.

When money exchanges hands, the situation changes. Suddenly you’re no longer playing in the “earned media” space. Now you’re in the “paid media” space. That changes the expectations. If brands pay for placement, they have different expectations to when they just pitch for coverage. Not only do they expect the post to appear, but they also have different expectations around control of content.

Update: Paid media also suffers from a draw-back of being less trusted than earned coverage. (thanks to Jen Zingsheim for noting this in the comments)

It’s not a black-and-white situation in reality – mainstream media is now adopting more of a pay-for-play model – however, brands do get control over key messages within those stories.

Simply put: you earn coverage; you pay for ads. You can’t have things both ways. If you accept payment, expect different conditions.

Your role in the situation changes

The earned/paid distinction also plays into the second of the key factors in this debate.

On the earned media side, the PR person is looking for a win-win situation – they’re looking to win through favourable coverage; meanwhile they’re looking to provide value to the blogger through content opportunities that fit their needs (so they’ll publish not just this time but also down the road).

Once we’re dealing in the paid media space, the situation changes. Suddenly, you’re not just the recipient of a pitch, who gets to decide what to do. You’re a person who wants payment to provide a service. That means you need to demonstrate value to the party that’s looking to purchase that service.

This means a shift in roles. The PR person becomes a client, just as someone buying ad space is a client of the publication selling the ads. Meanwhile, you (now as a service provider) have more of an obligation around quality.

This leads into the last key factor here…

You need to compete for budget

When companies allocate marketing budgets to PR, advertising, interactive and social programs, they make a decision on how to allocate those resources to get the best results.

When PR agencies come up with their plans, they consider how to get the best results for the budget they have. Sometimes that will incorporate a blogger outreach program. They make the decision that this is the best use of their budget.

When bloggers require payment in order to write a post, they add another decision point in the budgeting process. That isn’t, by itself, an issue. However, the result is that the blogger then finds themselves competing against other options for budget.

That’s right – you’re competing for budget. That competition means:

  • You need to demonstrate your value, and “well you want my coverage so I’m valuable” isn’t an appropriate response.
  • Your asking price needs to be based in reality – on the value you can provide. How can you demonstrate your influence? Again, on the earned side the PR pro needs to do that research to satisfy the client; once you become paid media the onus is also on you.
  • You’re up against paid media with established CPM and/or CPC figures, with stated audiences and at least a ball-park number of impressions an advertiser can expect.

Again, is this bad? No. The reality, though, is that when you ask for money for your service, that needs to come at the expense of something else. Your value is therefore going to get compared to other investments. This can be a tough dose of reality for some bloggers, especially those with small audiences, who are used to getting the VIP treatment from brands.

Payment changes the situation

The bottom line here is that, when you ask for payment in order to write a post, the situation changes. You’re no longer just a blogger/journalist from whom a company is seeking earned coverage. You’re  a media property from whom they’re buying coverage.

Bloggers who decide to go this route need to understand that this is the situation. There’s nothing wrong with seeking to monetize your site, but if you’re not ready to deal with this reality then you could be in for a cold, harsh wake-up call.

There are plenty of different sides to this, of course. What do you think?

Why Spam PR Pitches Won’t Go Away

Yesterday morning I received an email pitch. Nothing particularly exciting about that; it wasn’t the first pitch I received yesterday and it certainly wasn’t the last. It wasn’t tailored and it wasn’t addressed to me but it was on topic. I noted that it was for an ebook on social media marketing and set it aside to read properly later.

Spam

Very quickly, though, I began to see replies to that pitch. And then more replies. They kept coming. As it turns out, the sender of the pitch had created a mailing list and had emailed that list using the ‘To’ field in the address bar.

Over the next eight hours, I received 27 replies to the original email from people on the list. People who, apparently, like the ‘Reply All’ button (which, I think, should have an “are you sure” prompt when you use it). Emails getting increasingly irate at the original sender. Emails from well-known social media types like Mike Driehorst, Jennifer Leggio, Om Malik and Francine Hardaway.  Emails from reporters at the WSJ, at AdAge, at AP and Newsweek. To make matters worse, everyone began getting copied on support tickets about the removal requests.

Emails after a spam pitch

All told, we received 45 emails over an 8-hour period.

Spray and pray worked

One telling point, however? The first reply in the email chain was from someone who wanted to review the book. So was the fourth, which raised the possibility of a Blog Herald review.

Sadly, spray and pray was getting results. From a short-term perspective, the spammy pitch may have actually worked. It got two responses. Perhaps, were it not for the mailing list disaster, it might have received a few more.

In the long-term, however, the pitch did nothing to impress those of us on the list who viewed it as spam. It built no relationships and it certainly destroyed plenty (numerous people noted they have blacklisted the sender).

This is part of the volume/customization trade-off that PR people face. Some agencies will continue along this path – despite the people they alienate, they will land coverage for their client.

Other agencies (ours included) will choose to take a more targeted approach. We’ll pitch less people, choose our targets and personalize our approaches. We’ll aim for a high return from a smaller number of pitches.

Like it or not, both tailored and spray-and-pray approaches can work. However, one of them builds relationships in the process while the other damages them. I choose the former.

What do you think?

Public Relations People And Bloggers Can Work Together

Blogger relations is not a win/lose tacticMarketing Vox featured a thought-provoking post yesterday entitled “PR Blackout Challenges Mom Bloggers to Return to Basics.” To boil the post down, it summarizes a call by mommy blogger community MomDot for a PR blackout this August. As they put it:

“…our site, and many others, are inundated with hundreds, if not thousands, of product requests each year resulting in massive obligations and deadline stress equivalent to what the General Motors CEO must feel every time he drives into work.”

I reacted fairly strongly to the post. Not because I disagree with the idea of a week without PR-pitched products, but because it appears the situation for some people has deteriorated to the point where this kind of statement is necessary. Blogger relations shouldn’t be a win/lose game.

While the post does make a point of highlighting the work done by those at the other end of the public relations scale – those who do their jobs properly – the impact of the others is worrying, and once again casts a shadow over all of us.

Two aspects to this make me uncomfortable:

Public relations people shouldn’t pressure bloggers

I’ve written plenty of times about my thoughts on how to – and how not to – go about approaching bloggers. While my thoughts have evolved over time, one thing remains consistent: public relations people need to look beyond their own objectives and consider the other side. As I wrote to Stefania Butler in a Twitter conversation about the post (which you can check out here), good PR people should marry both sides of the equation by matching the vested interest of the client with the needs and wants of the recipients of pitches.

How do you do that? You build relationships. You don’t do it by spamming people. You certainly don’t do it by creating obligations and pressure for people who may be doing this for a hobby.

A few pointers for PR people:

  • Build relationships with the key bloggers you’re looking to reach (I agree with Beth Blecherman on this one)
  • Don’t spam people. With the first point in mind, find a balance between volume and customization.
  • Aim to help bloggers, rather than use them. This doesn’t mean fogetting your client’s objectives; it means finding a balance between the two.

Bloggers have a choice

Unless you make an income from your blog’s traffic (which I have nothing against) or post on a group blog on a schedule with others, there’s little to force you to adhere to others’ timelines (there are likely other cases too). These are valid pressures, but I highly doubt they cover the majority of mom bloggers. In most cases, bloggers can choose whether to write about public relations pitches or not. What’s more, they have control of the deadlines they write under.

With the exception of the cases above, you should feel free to publish under your own deadlines. If something comes up, or you don’t have time, or you just feel like taking a day off writing, then don’t post that day. The idea that bloggers are under “massive obligations” indicates a situation that requires fixing, and while we can (and I will) advocate against bad PR practices, bloggers have to take some of the initiative themselves to avoid putting themselves under this kind of pressure.

So, to mommy bloggers, I offer the following advice (and pleas):

  • If a PR person who pitches you pressures you, or does anything other than work with you, let them know you’re not comfortable with it. If they don’t, hit “delete.” If they continue, hit “spam.”
  • If you are putting yourself under pressure, ask yourself if it is necessary. What can you do to reduce it?
  • Remember: We’re not all like the bad apples.
  • Without doing anything onerous (because the onus should be on communicators to do their research), consider creating pitching tips or, as Butler has done via her blog categories, collect posts you’ve written relating to outreach together.

I’m not just a PR guy – I’m also a blogger. I receive plenty of bad pitches too. The fault usually falls on the side of the person pitching, and they need to get their act together. Still, if you feel pressured by PR people, there are things you can do too, if you choose to. The alternative is resorting to negative pressure – the same approach that upset you in the first place.

What do you think? I’ve had some fascinating conversations on Twitter about this, but I’d love to hear from people on both sides of the fence on this one.

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Update: CNET has a slightly different take on this issue here.

The Volume/Personalization Trade-Off

The trade-off between volume and personalization is an ever-present dilemma in public relations. If, as I do, you subscribe to the notion that one of the best ways to build loyalty is to develop a relationship with people, then you’ve likely hit the point where you have to make a trade-off between the number of people you can engage with and the quality of those interactions.

A couple of weeks ago I received a pitch about the upcoming launch of Gary Vaynerchuk‘s first book. The pitch wasn’t fantastic, but as I’ve followed Gary’s activities for a while and it was well enough targeted, I replied and moved on. Fast forward to this weekend, when I read an interesting post by John Cass about a similar (not identical) pitch that he received. Reading the comments (those on the original post and the re-post on Social Media Today are all worth reading), I started to really think about the optimum point along the scale/personalization continuum when it comes to pitching.

Volume/personalization extremes

Purists will tell you that you need to read 10-20 posts or stories from each person you pitch, and that you should completely tailor every pitch you issue. Meanwhile, some other people will argue that by reaching a large volume of people with your pitch, the law of averages says you will connect with enough people who do care that you will come out ahead.

I’d argue that there are downsides to both extreme, although I still favour one side over the other.

I’ve written before about some of the issues involved with personalized blogger relations. The primary one, of course, is time. Even if you take just a minute or two per post you read, that time adds up quickly. To then tailor personalized emails takes more time. When you work for an agency, the process can quickly chew through your client’s budget.

Once you get to the kind of numbers that Gary mentions in his comments on John’s post, you’re talking astronomical amounts of time. That limits this approach to a very small number of recipients.

This brings us to the other extreme – mass communications. This is the approach that relies on building a large list, emailing out a standard (or mail-merged) email to that list and letting the law of averages do its work. Sure, you may annoy some people but you’ll also hit other people who will take the action you’re after. This is the “email marketing” form of pitching – the collision of the two tactics.

Is the sweet spot in the middle ground?

In an ideal world, every company would take the former approach. Unfortunately, we don’t live in that wonderful place – time is tight, budgets are tighter and we need to deliver results for our clients and bosses with less resources than we would like to have.

I wonder if the ideal solution, as with so many dilemmas, is somewhere in the middle.

The chart above shows roughly how I view the dilemma. At the top-left of the curve, you have the idealists who say you should completely tailor every word of every pitch you send out. Small, highly-targeted outreach also fits into this part of the curve. At the opposite end of the chart, you have the spammers who pitch massive numbers of people with the same message. They’re easy to spot – they’re the ones where you’re bcc’d, with no salutation or a “Dear Blogger.” They often lead with the words “For Immediate Release.”

I’ve worked for clients where their only targets are one or two highly influential blogs, and in that case you can function over  at the top-left of the curve. However, unless your target audience is an extremely small number of sites (or their readers), you may need to make some compromises.

Still, I am strongly (and often vocally) against untargeted spam pitches that hit everyone with the same email. Note that the potential “sweet spot” I suggest sits closer to the tailored, low-volume end of the scale than the other. Critically, it sits above the tipping point where the volume reaches the point where significantly less personalization is possible.

The reality of the “sweet spot”

In this sweet spot, for a new client:

  • You research the targets of your pitches – you read their stories or their websites;
  • You create a pitch template covering the key points you wish to communicate;
  • You tailor that template for every person you pitch;
    • That personalization includes, but isn’t limited to:
      • The medium you use to pitch them (if that information is available)
      • Your greeting
      • Your opening paragraph
      • The points on which you choose to focus
      • The supporting collateral you offer – do they lean towards video? Images? Interviews?
  • You keep some less-critical parts of the email the same, to save time and budget.

Time changes things

I say “for a new client” above because, as time goes on, I believe the line in the chart moves up – as you get to know the market and the media in that market better, you can reach more of them more effectively in less time, meaning more personalization, less time required and better use of resources.

Having worked on some accounts for a while now, I can reel-off the names of key journalists, how they like to be contacted, when the best times are to reach them and the types of information they like, without even needing notes. That makes the pitching process more cost-effective as time goes on – meaning the line in the chart has moved way up the Y axis.

Your thoughts?

I’m curious as to your thoughts. Does this click with the challenges you face?

Let me know what you think – I’d love to hear your feedback.

Rethinking “Influencers”

RipplesWho are the influencers in your market? Are they the top-of-mind attention grabbers, are they the lower-profile up-and-comers, or are they the long tail, the people with relatively few readers but who make up a good chunk of pages 2+ in Google’s search results and who, in time, could develop a sizeable following?

I ask because I’ve had a couple of conversations recently that have made me reconsider who I look at as “influencers” in client markets recently.

What’s an “influencer?”

I’ve always defined “influencers” quite narrowly. I’ve thought of them as the people who, when they speak on their key topic, make others sit up and take notice. I tend to define that group narrowly based on criteria like engagement, traffic, on-topic posts and so on.

I’ve started to wonder if I’m defining that group too narrowly. What about the people who have built up communities around their brand – people who are engaged in whatever that person writes about (for example Brogan who, despite his modesty, gets a lot of outreach because his voice online is LOUD)? What about the people who don’t have a large readership or engaged community yet, but who are starting out and may develop that in future? Do you consider them influencers in your market or not?

Finite resources

One concern with defining a list of influencers too widely is that your resources are finite. You can define a core group of 20 or 200 influencers, but as the group grows, so the attention you can devote to each one diminishes.

If you define your group too narrowly you risk getting lost in the ever increasing noise out there. If, however, you define it too broadly then you become incapable of building the relationships you need with those people. Where’s the line?

If you think strategically, the answer to those questions depends on your objectives. Your goals for your communications, and the measurements you use to define success, will affect how you define your audiences and, through that, your “influencers.” If your objectives change, so may your approach to defining that group.

Despite those in social media who may say otherwise, when you get back to basics it’s a numbers game – your client needs to generate a profit. You need to meet your targets, whatever they are. How you reach those numbers can differ – though relationships with a few key influencers or a network of quieter voices. Still, the numbers never go away.

What do you think? Have you tended to lean one way or the other on this spectrum? How have you approached this in the past?

Image credit: Oranje

Rethinking Blogger Relations

ROIIs blogger relations worth it? Is the ROI sufficient to justify the investment?

I’ve written a few times in the past about blogger relations, from a range of angles – from the tactic in general to the practicalities of pitching bloggers to the results from a blogger’s perspective. However, I recently got to thinking about it in a different way.

I think it’s important to continually question what we’re doing – it’s the only way we’ll continue to improve over time. With that in mind, I got to thinking about whether blogger relations is really worth the investment in time and money necessary to do it well.

A little context

Here’s the issue: most people in the social media fishbowl, including me, will advocate a take-it-slow approach to engaging in social media. My preferred approach has three broad steps:

  1. Listen
  2. Engage
  3. Develop

For this to work, you need to put in a substantial amount of time up-front. That time is spent monitoring what’s going on, identifying influencers, measuring and analyzing trends and getting to know peoples’ preferences.

From an agency perspective, that can be a considerable investment up-front before you even begin to engage.

When you do begin to engage, blogger relations best practices (take Todd Defren’s blogger relations bookmark for example) require continued time-intensive work in both pitching and engagement.

Is that investment worth it?

Sure there are the TechCrunches, the Mashables and the ReadWriteWebs. However, most bloggers don’t have those audiences. Most bloggers don’t have a tenth or even a hundredth of that audience.

Given those low audience numbers, does the investment in time required for good blogger relations give the necessary pay-off?

A few arguments

Even setting aside the impact of corporate culture, there are a few factors to consider:

  • Initial time: If you add up the time you need to invest to get to know a blogger, engage with them before pitching, then tailor a pitch to that blogger, you’re probably looking at least an hour or two per blogger, if not more. 
  • Future time: Of course, once you’ve done the groundwork, the incremental time investment will be lower for future pitches.
  • Relationships: Established relationships have greater value than immediate outreach – future issues management, for example.
  • Search engines: Online content with a positive tone can help build companies’ reputations through Google search results.
  • Long tail: Audience size can be much bigger than stated reader numbers – the long tail of online content can be large over time.
  • Research: If you offer a product or service where purchase is research-based and you’re not engaging, then people are making decisions on purchases based on everyone’s voice but your own.
  • More than pitching: Blogger relations encompases more than just proactive pitching – it can also include both reactive engagement with people who talk about your product, company or industry. I’ve argued before that customer service is public relations; nowhere is this more true than online.

Conclusion

My conclusion, perhaps unsurprisingly, is that it is worth the investment. 

One thing to remember is that traditional media relations takes time, too, if done right. Researching reporters, tailoring your pitch, etc takes time while reporters for mainstream outlets are, in my experience, less likely to write about the story than relevant bloggers may be. What’s more, the long-term effects of building relationships with relevant people (both online and offline) can be substantial.

So, yes – the time investment is substantial, but so are the benefits – better relationships, more coverage, better coverage, SEO, customer service improvements and more. Still, the required investment makes measurement and analysis of results all the more important, which is why we’re putting a lot of effort into that right now.

What do you think? Is the ROI on blogger relations worth it?

Anatomy of a Bad Pitch

Photo of a pitcher As time goes on and more people start to read my site (welcome!) I’m receiving more and more pitches from firms and other PR agencies. That’s fine with me – I’m in the business and I appreciate why pitching is necessary.

Unfortunately, many (most) of the pitches I receive are the kind of pitches that give our industry a bad name.

I recently received a particularly bad pitch – one bad enough to qualify for Kevin and Richard over at the Bad Pitch Blog. I almost hit “reply” with some pointers for the person pitching, but I thought I’d throw the tips out to everyone instead.

Bear in mind that these tips are based on my perspective. Judge for yourself whether they’re any good or not.

The original pitch

First, here’s the original pitch (with identifying information removed – I’m not into “outing” people):

To:

Subject: How social media saved a company millions…

Hi there.  I’m an avid reader of various outlets that focus on social media and thought you would find this case study interesting.  It shows how social media is more than just a trend, but how it actually translates to dollars and cents if done correctly.  [...], a $2 billion privately owned company and the world’s largest grower, manufacturer and distributer of [...] products recently shifted their entire marketing and distribution model to social media and the results have been incredibly successful.  By leveraging YouTube ([...]) and iTunes ([...]), the company immediately saved $110,000 in distribution in weeks.

As someone in the business of social media it’s always frustrating to hear about its effectiveness and see a lack of tangible of quantitative results. If you want more information including exactly how [...] leveraged social media check out the press release below.  I think you’ll find it interesting.  Thanks for listening.

Where the pitch went wrong

Here are a few of the ways I would improve this pitch. I’ll leave the overall structure and writing alone, as much of that is personal style.

  1. Send the pitch to the blogger. BCC = delete. It screams “mass mailing.”
  2. Sending the pitch to me allows you to also address the message to the blogger, by name (if possible). I like the personal touch.
  3. Show the recipient that you know what they write about. I don’t care that you read “various outlets that focus on social media.” Tell me up-front why I should care. Don’t bury it in the last paragraph.
  4. Make sure it’s news. The company immediately saved $110,000 in weeks? Bizarre grammar aside (immediately/in weeks?), the YouTube channel was launched a year ago. Oh, and I would think that a “YouTube channel that quickly became one of YouTube’s fastest growing [sic]” (from the press release) would have more than 17 subscribers.
  5. Include a call to action. What do you want from me? What are you offering to make it easier?
  6. Fix the typos. There’s just one here (distributer) but others in the release. Bonus point: Remember, MS Word’s spell-checker isn’t enough. “Scraped” (from the release) is a real word, but you meant “scrapped.”
  7. Sign your name. Trolls send anonymous messages. Good PR people don’t.
  8. Build a relationship. If you know a blogger-relations campaign is coming up, see if you can get permission to comment or otherwise get to know the bloggers in that community ahead of time, so the pitch doesn’t come out of the blue. At a minimum, try to read the relevant blogs for a while so you know what makes them tick.

A better approach

Here’s how I might have gone about pitching me (assuming the “news” was actually news):

To: davef [at] davefleet [dot] com

Subject: How social media saved a company millions…

Hi Dave,

I’ve been reading davefleet.com for a while and know that you’re interested in social media measurement and ROI, so I thought you would find this case study interesting. It shows how social media can translate directly to dollars and cents if done correctly, and speaks directly to the post you wrote some time ago about measuring success on YouTube.

In 2007 [...], the world’s largest grower, manufacturer and distributor of [...] products, shifted their entire marketing and distribution model to social media. They’ve just announced that by leveraging YouTube ([...]) and iTunes ([...]), the company saved $110,000 in distribution costs within weeks, and by this point they’ve saved over $[amount].

Please let me know if you would like more information – I’d be happy to arrange an interview with [name, position] for you. In the meantime, I’ve included a press release about the case study below.

Regards,

[Name]

What do you think? How would you have approached this?

(Photo credit: dkg)