Blogger relations 101 — lessons from a pitching fail

Face palm: most employees handling social media just aren't trained by their own companiesSigh. Now I know how those bloggers feel when they are pitched by PR agencies.  And it doesn’t feel good.

A Weber-Shandwick AE just pitched me a story for my blog for her agency’s major, global client (cell phone holiday promo).

Trouble is, I write for eight blogs, and I co-moderate a few more.  So, which one is she targeting?  I have an idea which one would be best, but does she?

I guess I ought to feel flattered for being pitched at all — but wherever she got my name, one thing is clear: she has never looked at my blog. Any of them.

Does this inspire me to write about her client?  It does not. If I had been pitched with manners, I would have surely done it.  As it is, I am not lacking for content for that particular blog, so if she can’t go to the trouble to customize her pitch, why should I expend the effort to benefit her and her client?  After all, bloggers have egos; me more than most!

So now might be a good time to mention a few tips for pitching bloggers.  You’d think these  would be obvious — but evidently AEs at one of the most successful PR agencies in the WORLD don’t know these basics — so, a quick review.

Introduce yourself.  Who are you, Miss Lady?  I don’t know you! Just tell me who you are and what you do in the beginning of your pitch.  An email signature is not enough. I am far more likely to help you if I feel I know who you are, and why you are writing to me.  This impersonal stuff is a real turn-off.

Customize your email pitch.  You should at least mention the title of my blog in your pitch.  Come on!  And it was a little too obvious you just cut-and-paste the text of your email, as the “Dear Mary” opening was in smaller and different style font from the body copy.  Puh-leeze. That isn’t even trying.  At least make it look like it’s customized to me!  Otherwise, don’t even bother pasting my name.

Demonstrate that you have read at least one post on the blog.  Is that too much to ask?  After all, you want me to write one story.  You should at least read one story.  I think that’s fair.  To successfully pitch a blogger, you should familiarize yourself with the kinds of stories he or she writes about, their audience, etc.  When you don’t bother at all, you make me feel unimportant.

Convince the blogger this is a good idea, in other words: PITCH.  For this story and this particular blog, this would have been a piece of cake.  You could have even called me.  Make it easy for me to write about your story.  This happened to be an EXCELLENT fit for my blog, but it was pitched all wrong and the release was worse.

Blogs need visuals.  You MUST make a photo available — and ideally, also a YouTube video.  I don’t write a single blog post without a photo.  This particular story linked to a press release with no images at all — and it’s an image-rich story.  I could have used an image of the company logo, an image of the cell phone, and an image of the proposed activity, and included a YouTube video demo, as well.  With these assets, I would have done all that.  This pitch would have been a slam-dunk. Include images and YouTube video links in a multi-media release. It would have been well within the PR budget for this kind of client.

Say thank you.  You don’t have to “thank me in advance” because you don’t know if I’m going to write about this or not.  But you could close your email with thanks for considering it.  Or reading your email.  It would be an extra line but it might have closed the deal for you.

In a nutshell, effort counts, and courtesy goes a long way.

How have you successfully pitched bloggers?  What are your tips?

About Mary Fletcher Jones

Mary Fletcher Jones is a mom, teacher, and blogger. Her blogs include Autumn in Virginia, Cool Yule Blog and You Can't Make This Stuff Up, among others. She is also the creator of "Living Well With Autism," an online resource for caregivers of children, teens, and adults with autism and related special needs.

Posted on December 3, 2012, in Public Relations Tips and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Honest insight into what works with bloggers. A personalized pitch is always going to do better and in most cases, will build goodwill.


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