How to Pitch to Bloggers
If you have been with us the entire time, then you should be about a month into your blogger outreach campaign. You should have a well organized media list with all of the bloggers that you have chose to reach out to, along with the bloggers contact information. In this media list, you should also have the progress that you have made with each of these bloggers in terms of the relationship you are trying to build with them. And if think you are ready to finally reach out to the bloggers with your pitch (or whatever else you wish to collaborate with them on), you should have the confidence that the relationship you have been trying to build with them is a solid one and you feel like proceeding will lead to a success. If you believe that all of these things have been successfully completed, feel free to continue.
Considering that this is the make-it-or-break-it moment after weeks of hard work, we put a lot of thought into how to organize this blog post. And after careful planning and consideration, we have come to the conclusion that when pitching to bloggers there are some things that you should always try to do, and some things that you should never to do. With that being said, I felt that would be the best way to organize this blog post as well. And although I didn't want this to be a typical best practices post, I have a feeling that is what it is going to become and frankly, that may be the best way to organize this information.
So, without further adieu, what you should always do when pitching to bloggers:
- Know how they want to be pitched. I have mentioned this a few times so you may already have this information in your media list. Otherwise, you may have to do a little digging on their site. If you can't find any mention of this, go with email, that usually garners the best results.
- Make it personal. Remember that you are pitching to another person, a person that wants to feel like a real person. So, greet them with their name, you don't want them to think that they are just one more person in a thousand blogger email blast. In fact, that is one of the worst things to happen as the blogger will most likely shut down at that point. BlueGlass suggests reading the pitch aloud after it is finished. If it doesn't sound genuine to you after that, chances are the blogger will feel the same way.
- Be honest & transparent. Don't even try to lie to the blogger. Really, just don't do it. It won't work. If you are part of an agency, let them know. If you are a marketing/PR professional for a brand, let them know. Or if you are just another blogger or owner of a website, let them know. Even if the blogger doesn't realize you aren't who you say you are at first, they eventually will. Additionally, remember that ideally this will be the beginning of a relationship that lasts longer than a single blog post or feature.
- Have a simple and to-the-point subject line. A simple subject line that doesn't sound sales-y and gets to the point is best here. One article, The Anatomy of the Perfect Pitch, even goes as far as saying that the best subject line is as as simple as "Pitch: _____."
- Begin (and end) politely. What would turn the blogger off quicker than a pitch that sounds templated and impersonal? A pitch that is polite, aggressive and arrogant. It doesn't matter if you are pitching to TechCrunch or a small blog with less than a thousand uniques a month, treat them all with equal respect and it will pay in dividends.
- Try to Micromarket as much as possible. Yes, we have already mentioned this a few times, but it is one of (if not the most) the most important things. Try and make the pitches as personal and customized for that specific blogger as possible. This is very important and anything that sounds remotely templated will be put in the trash quicker than I-don't-even-know-what.
- Remember to deliver value. Keep in mind that when pitching the blogger, it is not about you, it is about them. They are trying to be successful as well and chances are they care deeply about their blog. That means that they aren't going to want to engage in anything that is not mutually beneficial. You must be able to explain why what you are pitching is going to help their blog, deliver value to their readers, and make it a more awesome place to be on the web. If your content does especially well on social networks, providing the blogger with some social proof be a great thing to do here.
- Exhibit readership. If you have been reading the previous posts (and following the points made in them) then you have been actively reading the blogger's work. You know what they have written recently, you know what they like to write about, and you probably have some kind of opinion on their work. This is awesome. Let them know about it. Bloggers love to hear that what they are writing isn't just published and then lost in the noise of the vast interwebs.
- Make it easy for the blogger. The last thing a blogger wants to do is a lot of work for no reason. Remember that you are asking them to do something for you in your pitch. So make it easy for them! Provide them with any relevant links or articles or information that you mention and they might need. You might also want to consider providing them with something to share. Not only is this making it easier for the blogger, but you are also taking further steps to ensure that what you providing will create and deliver value.
- Be real. Though this is the last point I am making, it is certainly not the least important. As I mentioned before, it is very important to remain polite and it is also important to act professional. But that doesn't mean that you can't show a little personality. Not only will this help with sounding genuine, but it will help to differentiate you from the crowd, make a lasting impression, and prove that you aren't some boring robot cranking out outreach emails. And yes, I realize that may be redundant but I feel that point should be reiterated.
And those are all of things that you should always try to do when pitching to the blogger. Yes, I realize that the list is lengthy and that it may be difficult to do all of those things without coming off as overly loquacious, but the ability to be concise is an art and may take a bit of practice before you begin to feel comfortable and see real results. And if that wasn't enough, there is still one more part to this blog post, the things that you should try to never do when pitching to a blogger.
So, without even further adieu, what you should try to never do when pitching to bloggers:
- Begin with yourself. This is converse of point number seven above. You should never begin the pitch with yourself. Don't begin listing the goals that you have and how what you are asking of them will help your brand. Chances are the blogger doesn't care or has heard the same ol' song and dance from a dozen other PRs earlier in the week.
- Be arrogant. Sounding arrogant and acting entitled is a huge turn off for bloggers receiving the pitch. They are in the position of power and it is their blog that you want coverage on. If you sound entitled and assume that they will want to share your content, chances are they won't.
- Sound desperate. This is another good tip that we got from BlueGlass. You want to try to refrain from listing all of the possible ways that you could collaborate with them and how any publicity would help exponentially. Though you may be able collaborate with them in several different ways and it may be an incredible boost to your business, try and remain focused and under control.
- Have attachments. Okay so before you jump to conclusions about how this slightly contradicts point number nine realize that one, this is speaking more towards first contact with the blogger and two, there are other ways of giving the blogger something to share without using attachments. If you really must do it, use some links—but do so sparingly, overzealousness will not work in your favor.
- Be overexuberant. Though this should go without saying, the point still must be made. Any pitches that could be described as overexuberant most likely sound to sales-y, which is something that you don't want to do if you wish to sound genuine. That means that you should leave out the exclamation marks!!!, WORDS IN ALL CAPS, and the ~ overly cre8ive ~ subject lines.
I realize many of the points that are in the never category are common sense, but you would be surprised how many people forget them. With the advent of new SEO practices, there is a lot of talk that focuses on writing for your readers rather than only focusing on optimizing for search engines. Well the same applies here. Put yourself in the bloggers shoes. What would it take for you to actually take the pitch seriously and respond to it? Of course there are always going to be bloggers who shut down even the most trenchant inquiries, but for the most part, most welcome new opportunities.
Many of these best practices focus on putting the blogger first and delivering value. And that is the way it should be. If there is nothing in it for them, then why would they respond? Also remember that ideally, this is the beginning of a relationship that will be mutually beneficial for (hopefully) an extended period of time. So treat it that way. If you approach this digital relationship the same way that you would and in-person relationship, I'm positive that you will receive better results than you would otherwise.
That is all for this part. I hope you enjoyed it and gained something from it. And of course, best of luck in reaching out to your chosen bloggers. As always, be sure to stop by next week for the next part in the series. I promise it will be just as awesome as the others! Oh, and if you have any feedback, criticisms or any other additional insights they are more than welcome in the comment section below.