How to Reach Out to Bloggers

fishing Are you hoping to connect with bloggers and get the word out about your product or service? Are you hoping that you can find someone who’s interested in what your company is offering, and then share the pertinent details so that hopefully the blogger will write a decent story about you, maybe even include a few links? Have you felt frustrated by the varied and less-than-successful experiences you’ve had with your efforts?

Let’s talk about it.

Do Your Homework

All bloggers aren’t the same. Big numbers don’t mean big response. Just because someone writes about X doesn’t mean that your product is actually X to them. Bloggers can be fickle and often work to the beat of their own drum.

I get dozens of pitches a day. I delete almost all of them unread, unless I know the person, and then half the time, I delete those, too. The reason is that people aren’t considering what I write about before pitching to me. I rarely ever cover software here, so if you’re showing me a software story, it damned well better have a human angle.

The same is true for any of the bloggers you need to reach. Not sure where to find the bloggers you need? Use these resources:

Once you have a sense of who you might want to reach for your stories, it’s all about building relationships.

Be There Before the Sale

This is something Julien and I wrote about in Trust Agents, and it’s the first part of making your blogging outreach more successful. If you want people to write about you, they should probably know about you first. Quick ways to get that started:

  • Follow them on Twitter.
  • Comment on their blog posts.
  • Set up Google Alerts and comment on related articles.

Is this more work than just blanketing someone with email and hoping a few write about it? Yes. Is it worth it? Yes.

The trick is not to talk about your stuff. You should have started this outreach weeks and weeks before ever needing anything, and it should be genuine. Be interested in the people you hope will take an interest in you.

Make It Easy

People that I like in the outreach department work to find the people who she thinks make the most sense for the story. They deliver tons of information and preparation. They do lots of checking and double-checking (because bloggers can be fickle or forgetful). They make everything as seamless as possible. Some ideas:

  • Make everything dead simple.
  • (Tyler in the comments suggested) Be clear what you want the outcome of the outreach to be.
  • Provide URLs to everything, so that bloggers can refer.
  • Provide photos to go with the piece, or a video, or whatever other content.
  • Keep your outreach emails brief, and keep the details highlighted and bolded appropriately.
  • Make sure your FIRST email does nothing but get the buy-in to pitch the story.

Let’s pause on that last point. Some people disagree. They want the whole pitch in the first email, because two becomes a clutter. I’ve honestly seen it done both ways. I know that when Cathy sends me an email asking to pitch me, I’m going to ask for the pitch. I’ve seen others send me the pitch in the first email and it’s been okay, but more often than not, I prefer the two-email system. You can dispute this. Really.

To me, making the effort simple is a good thing.

Ask the Right Questions

I’m often given business books to review. I’m a voracious reader, and I like sharing the good ones with people. However, I also tell people who send me books that I don’t guarantee a review. Sometimes, the book is okay, but not my favorite. Other times, I really don’t like the book. If the people who send me the book ever push for a review, I usually explain that it might not be as positive as they’d like. As an author, myself, I don’t like giving bad reviews.

To that end, think about some questions that might let you have some guidance on how the blogger acts.

  • Can you tell me how long it takes to post from when you receive the product?
  • May I check back in a few weeks from now?
  • What do you do with negative reviews?
  • If you have disagreements or problems with the product, could you email me first to make sure you have all the information?

Questions like this and others can be really helpful to you setting your own expectations.

Above All Else, Don’t Push

If not this story, the next one. Believe me, relationships in this space run long and weird.

Christina Pacelli from Red reached out to me to cover the Eye Fi (a USB-to-wifi cool gadget) over a year ago. She sent me one. I couldn’t really get over my own techno-idiocy to make it work. A year later, Christina and team got smart and mailed me a new Eye-Fi (still have the old one, by the way) and a Novatel Mifi device (which acts like a wandering hotspot). Combined with BOTH, I’ll be able to use this product on the show floor at my next event and report back what I think of its benefits to various groups.

A year. Christina has been politely persistent for a year. And it will pay off. (Who knows? Maybe the links already make it pay off.)

Don’t push bloggers, and just accept that sometimes the story doesn’t hit. I’ve had a series of situations where things seemed right, and upon checking them out, I just didn’t feel good about blogging it, or wasn’t moved to blog it, etc. As the person pushing that particular product, I’m sure it doesn’t feel well when your push goes nowhere. I’m so sorry when I’m the cause. I imagine bloggers also have their own reasons and feel bad, too.

In most cases, it comes around to the better at some point. This is a long game for lots of us. Be patient. Learn who doesn’t work out. Move onward.

An Imprecise Science

There’s more to it than all this, but this is a good start. If you’ve questions, I can definitely add more. What do you think? What have you tried that’s worked? What else have I missed?

Photo credit 蓝莓兔子

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