Some Differences Between Pitching Mainstream Press and Bloggers

Media Makers

Meet the next generation of people who put stories out on the web. I say “next,” but blogging has been around for years and years. Some of us are making decent money at it, hiring and employing staffs, etc. Those types seem like mainstream press. But they’re not. One difference? We blog based on what drives our passion, plus in the case of some folks, what drives revenue.

Blogs have reach. Blogs don’t have as many barriers to cross before you reach the decision maker. Blogs don’t (always) require a PR agency to help you get access. Blogs always need good content, right? So it seems like a natural thing to just lob stories at a blogger, because more often than not, they’re going to be receptive, will run the bit if it fits their readership (viewership), and everyone wins, right?

Some differences.

Bloggers Often Write From Passion

Lots of us can’t NOT blog. We love what we do. We’re obsessed with getting information out into the world. Desperate to be useful. I’d say that we’re like news junkies, only we’re really interested in how we can contribute to making the news.

Bloggers Have a Bit More Ego Feeding Required

Try to disagree with me on that one, but when I just start rattling bloggers’ names down quickly, I can tell you that there are things you’ll want to do to reach out, and one is to know what makes a certain blogger tick. Want to get into TechCrunch or Mashable? Be sure you’re giving one the exclusive, and pick wisely. Want to get covered by Engadget? Don’t give it to Gizmodo on the same day. Go a few tiers down in blogs and what we want is to know that you know who we are, and what we cover. A pitch about something in my general area isn’t the same as noticing the kinds of things I write about and giving me something that fits.

Bloggers Like Free Prize Inside Experiences

If you want us to write about your software app or your new gizmo, give a few away. Nokia, Nikon, Flip, GM (Saturn), Garmin, and tons of other companies have given out gear on loaner programs (sometimes handled well, and other times handled a bit weirdly). And if it’s not something directly tangible, it’s something like getting invited to a pre-screening of a movie, or to a closed beta of an application, or something else that makes one feel exclusive. Still an ego play, and yet, very effective because once we play with your toys, we’ll be inclined to write about them.

Will we be fair and give opinions on the competitors like an official review site? Not always. Depends who it is, whether that’s part of their bailiwick, and whether they even know how to approach such a thing. I sure don’t. If I’m given something free to mess around with, I disclose it when talking about it, but then, my site isn’t a journalistic effort to review things fairly.

Bloggers Don’t Have To Be Polite

Though I prefer politeness, and try to be polite often (Sorry, Tom), it’s not required. And we don’t always do what you’d wish. It’s a little uncertain sometimes what you’ll get when you send a request to us. Wish it weren’t true, and I would prefer that we be polite more often, but we don’t have to be.

What Twitter Had to Say When I Asked My Friends

(That’s a hint, too. We’re far more networked. We talk to each other. We talk about YOU.)

Pitching ME

First, I have to say that I’m not usually on the lookout for a news story. If you read back through my posts, a great many of them deal with strategy and tactics that people can employ. I read about 1000 news items a day, plus I have a day job that isn’t professional blogging. So, I don’t always need news.

And yet.

If you’ve got something interesting about a new tool, a new way that someone’s using social media to build business or organizational relationships, a sense of what’s interesting to me and want to feed me something, here’s what you might do:

  • Be my Twitter friend.
  • Have read my last ten blog posts to have a sense of my flavor.
  • Give me links, pointers, possibly screenshots, and follow up in about 9 days when I still haven’t managed to get your story out.
  • Kindly understand if the story doesn’t fit what I cover (often).
  • Realize that I can’t always check out your website.
  • Understand that a “social network for ____” (dogs, lawyers, imaginary friends, ex-cons) isn’t really new unless they’re doing something REALLY new.
  • Write the first paragraph of your email as if you really did only send it to me (I get it, but pretend, okay?)

While We’re At It

Here’s what I *am* really interested in writing more about, and where you can help me, if you’ve got an interesting story:

  • Social media and network use inside the enterprise. (Spoke at Thomson/Reuters and IBM recently and was really impressed in both cases with what they’re already doing).
  • Specialized social network applications – things that make a network more valuable, vs just profiles, blogs, pictures, and friends.
  • Books about social media, social networks, next-generation PR/marketing, business, etc.
  • Business models that aren’t advertising-centric. (For instance, Sermo has a neat model. So does Gimp.TV).
  • Mainstream people coming into social media in a realistic and meaningful way.
  • Nonprofit and organizational experiences with social media that have made an impact.
  • Location-based tools and networking (for instance, I’m digging Yahoo’s Fire Eagle stuff)
  • Technology that improves business, that improves personal interfacing with the Internet.

I’m probably forgetting a few of my favorites in there, but let’s start there. If you’re pitching something like THAT, drop me a line. My contact info is in the sidebar. I’m easy to find.

Further Reading

Social media expert, Jason Falls covered an advertising professional’s view on this recently, and that’s worth checking out, too.

Edelman’s superstar, Leah Jones showed us how to talk to bloggers.

Your Thoughts?

Lots of people who come here are PR or marketing professionals, journalists, and the like. What do you think about what I’ve said so far? What are your tales of success with bloggers, or your tales of woe? Bloggers, am I wrong in my starting concepts about what might feel different about bloggers vs mainstream press? I’m eager for your take.

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