We’re all in a rush. Sometimes, this translates into our attempts at human communication. At the same time, we’re all overwhelmed and have way too many things vying for our attention. This is the perfect storm of ways not to be seen. So, how can you improve your PR pitch’s chance of survival and how do you keep it out of people’s trash cans?
The RIGHT Influencers
I’m lucky enough to have a large audience. This somehow translates to most PR people as, “I should pitch him because he’s an influencer.” However, we’re not all the same. I’m not a mommy blogger. I’m not a tech blogger. I’m not a “personal” blogger.
You need the right influencer. Not sure how to tell who’s who? Read their last 10 posts. Browse the topic titles. If you don’t see your press release fitting in, don’t drop them a line. Swing by Alltop and find someone more suited to your needs.
Be Human and Realize The Balance
The other thing I get, often, is this sense that the PR professional thinks that sending me content is their favor to me. Maybe that’s how it is at most blogs. I really don’t know. But I have enough topics to last me 10 years without getting a press release.
Instead, see if there’s a way that you can find the blogger’s typical angle and craft your first paragraph or so to match it. I write about human business and how things can work or not work for sustainable, relationship-minded business. I don’t write about software unless it’s in the context of human business or marketing. I really don’t care about most software releases. That’s what techcrunch and gigaom and readwriteweb and mashable and the others cover. I write about people.
So find the storyline for the place you’re writing and pitch it DIRECTLY to them, instead of sending off these robot pitches where you copy/paste, and replace the name. There’s a time when you have to send mass emails, but I’ll tell you that it might not be in the pitch department, at least not if you really want to see a particular story placed.
There are two trains of thought: the two-mail system or the one-big-giant-mail system. I’d rather the third: the one really brief all-in-one mail. I recently pitched about 80 people asking them if they wanted to reserve professional speaking dates with me. In every case, the email was under 200 words, and the effort was spent to make sure they knew that I meant them specifically and not a puppy-mill approach. I had an assistant send out and manage the conversation, but I was on top of each contact.
To me, that’s a reasonable way to pitch. Short, brief, with links to support research, and with a really simple call-to-action.
Don’t Forget that We’re Lazy
I’m generalizing here, but bloggers aren’t always mainstream press and it’s not always our job to blog. Instead, we’re looking for ways to build and grow a community, and we’re looking for information (sometimes) that’s useful to them. If you make it hard for the blogger to do what you want done, then they might not be as likely to do it. You don’t always have to spoon feed it, but there’s perhaps a middle ground between making the blogger do all the heavy lifting and facilitating an interaction with the blogger and his or her community.
In this instance, I’m thinking of things like promotions and giveaways. I’ve done some that were really easy. I’ve done others that it was really difficult to complete all the things required. Hint: make it easy.
The Old Blogger Moaning Post
PR professionals see posts like this as the old blogger moaning post. It’s stock. It’s in there with “_____ is dead.” I’m approaching this differently. I’d rather find ways to help your pitch succeed. I’ve given you a few above. Here are a few others:
- If we know you from conversations on Twitter and elsewhere (like comments on our blog), we’re more likely to open the email in the first place.
- If you help us with something simple, like the occasional retweet, we might notice you, too (not as big for me, but others like that stuff).
- If you have a presence of your own, a blog, a personality, something that we can latch onto, we’re more likely to interact with you. You’re the media, too.
- Liz Strauss said it best: little bloggers grow up. If you want the real influencers, speak to more John Haydon types and fewer Guy Kawasakis. (No sleight, Guy.)
- If you sent the occasional “checking in” email without asking for something, we’re less likely to wince when you send us the pitch.
- The term “for immediate release” is awesome for mainstream press. For me, I have a filter that deletes these on arrival. It’s too impersonal. (Fight me on this, if you want.)
And Don’t Bash PR People in the Comments
PR isn’t bad. Bad PR is bad. You’re probably doing it right. Unless you’re doing it wrong.