In the last few weeks, I noticed a common topic popping up on my RSS aggregator. A few bloggers have been discussing views on “how to pitch to bloggers?”
Aaron has asked me to do an “interview” for the video show he has been putting together titled “Princessa and the little lamb” on the topic of blogger relations. My mad schedule lately delayed the discussion.
This post contains some readings and thoughts that I have gathered on the topic. I don’t have a personal list of 101 tips on pitching to bloggers but I am hoping to open this up for some discussions from PR folks and bloggers (especially those in Singapore and the Asian region).
Just last week, Ben Koe of Hill & Knowlton, Singapore wrote about why traditional media relations won’t work in the blogosphere in the Marketing magazine. Ben also gathered insights from some of our mutual friends like Walter, Ivan, Kevin and Coleman, a couple of them are “A-list bloggers” and currently working in the PR and communications industry. An interesting point that Ben highlighted in his article:-
“ At the end of the day, the best way to know the blogosphere is to be a blogger.”
I’ve noticed that a common question that every blogger I come across asks is, “Do you have a blog?” and being a blogger, I find myself asking that at times when meeting new friends. However, it is not quite possible for every PR consultant to start a blog in order to reach out to bloggers. I believe that blogging is not for everyone.
So, what do we do?
We do what we are trained to do in media relations and pitches. We find out about the target blogs, we read them, we learn about the bloggers – the topics they cover and the preferred communications methods. These are the basic (almost common sense) that every PR consultant should do.
I have a lot of media friends who complained that PR folks (esp. the younger ones) who called up the writers to pitch a story, not knowing anything about (1) the publication (2) the section they are pitching (3) the style and preference of the writers. While traditional media pitching methods might not all work in blogosphere, there are some fundamental practices that PR consultants should remember.
Jeremiah Owyang (one of the top bloggers in blogosphere) has this to say about pitching to top bloggers like himself, whose focus is web strategies:-
Don’t pitch me. Instead, get to know me, and build a relationship, leave comments on my blog, join the conversation. Find out what I’m interested in. Read my blog, examine the keywords, read the about page, my focus is on Web Strategy, find out what that means!
Definitely valid points there.
I have come to realised that pitching to bloggers is a very time consuming process. In one of my earlier posts titled The Affair with Bloggers, I mentioned that blogger-PR relations should be a two-way process. Bloggers, like journalists look for good content for their posts and the PR folks (especially people from agencies) often have alot of content. The challenge for PR people is to get those content over to the bloggers in the right way.
Bloggers should also not be ignoring PR pitches just because the PR consultant is (1) not reading every post on your blog (2) not commentor on your posts (3) not friends or have a prior relationship with you. I agree that we all don’t have alot of time to respond to every email but if a blogger see that an agency or a PR person (even though he or she might send a badly written pitch) has got some potentially good content that you can keep in mind for future posts… I say – drop a note back, say thank you for noticing and targeting your blog. Even if the pitch is not right for you at the moment, you can still keep in touch. What’s so difficult with doing that? Those few lines take less than 2 mins?
I also noticed an interesting comment on Jeremiah’s post by a CEO of a US/ Russian set up who believed that companies’ executives should handle the blogger relations themselves and not engage a PR firm to assist:-
Yakov September 9th, 2007 6:57 am
Being CEO of a US/Russian startup, I simply spend a significant amount of my time communicating to bloggers and started doing this. For example, I flew in from Moscow to London to join a pub tour with Uk bloggers and personally meet with Robert Scoble and Hugh MacLeod who led the tour. I joined FOWA last February to demo our new user interface to Michael Arrington of TechCrunch who agreed to exclusively review it when launch a few days later…
To some extent, I see great benefits for a company whose CEO is keen to do bloggers outreach himself. As a blogger, I would love to hear directly from the CEO of a company on his products rather than from PR folks. However, the reality is, not every CEO or the top executives have the time, the “bandwidth”, the right communications skills to do the outreach and thus, either a PR firm or the company’s internal communications team has to do it.
We have read and heard tips on the how to pitch to bloggers, let’s move on to the WHO to pitch to instead (a topic that is not widely discussed).
Here, I would like to also open up the following thoughts and issues I see in the Singapore blogosphere (and these are purely based on my own observations) for discussions:-
Unlike other countries where there are bloggers who write about specific topics, whether it’s technology (ie: Scoble’s), web strategies (such as Jeremiah’s), new media and PR ( like Brian Solis’), in Singapore, I often find it a struggle to pitch to local bloggers. There are alot of local bloggers but not many cover specific interests/ topics and those who cover specific topics tend to have smaller, niche group of audience. The ones who have larger readerships tend to write about (what I call frivolous stuff such as “what I have for lunch” and “is that celeb gay” type of posts).
If I have a premium tech product (to be launched in Singapore) to share with the local bloggers as part of my new media campaign, does it make more sense for me to target people like my friends, Ben and Kevin who often cover related topics or should I reach out to bloggers who might not be even tech savvy but have a bigger readership? (disclaimer: both Ben and Kev have great audiences reading their blogs, I am just throwing out an example for discussion sake).
Many blog posts I read about the topic of blogger relations are usually US-based, the Asian blogosphere can be quite different. I have been searching for bloggers in the region (english language blogs so that I can actually understand), so if you are one of them, drop me a note!
For more good tips and views on the topic of pitching to bloggers, here are some interesting reads:-
- The PR Lessons of a clueless blog pitch
- Ready to pitch a blog? Take this quiz first
- PR Tip: How to pitch a blogger
- Hidden Gems in comments: Blogger relations
- PR Tip: Pitching bloggers and journalists who wear many hats
- 7 Habits of Highly Effective blog PR
- Ogilvy’s Blogger Outreach Code of Ethics
- How to: pitch bloggers