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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    One of the great truisms of blogging is that bloggers' influence derives from their personal talents and hustle. Journalists' influence is typically derived – at least in part – from the gravitas of the media outlet that employs them.

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  • http://www.yuregininsesi.com yuregininsesi

    It's all more about people than pitching. Yet if the outreaching efforts carry some value, the blogger might be more than happy. Same with SMR's. Christina has been right in approach to emphasis on the virtues of the Eye Fi repeatedly and politely. Great post. Thanks.

  • Edith Yeung

    Excellent post! I am sharing this post to my entire team!

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  • http://twitter.com/costacinthia Cinthia Costa

    This article helps me a lot as a blogger. I have my own fashion blog and I am trying to build a relationship with other bloggers. It like a PR/blogger relationshiop, however I am also a blogger that is trying to have more fans, followers and visitors. I didn’t know where to start from, and the article will be exemely helpful for me. Thank you!

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    That is, if the first contact a PR person ever has with a blogger is the pitch, the odds of success are low. But if the PR pro has been following the blogger for a while on Twitter, commented on their blog, maybe asked or answered a question or two, and then sends a pitch – the odds of a pickup greatly improve.

  • http://onlinestrategy.ca Guacira Naves

    Great article – as usual. I reach out to bloggers on behalf of a client, and your advice was right on! It reassured me of some of the beliefs I already had, gave me a few more tips, and it showed that is perfectly ok if nothing happens the first time around. Thank you!

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  • http://twitter.com/postermywall PosterMyWall.com

    Nice article. I wanted to point out that sometimes its really hard to find bloggers via Twitter due to keyword spam. For instance, if I’m looking to find a blogger that writes about posters or reviews poster making software, I mostly see spam from Zazzle for the #posters hashtag and keyword.

    Nice tips overall though.

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  • Anonymous

     New ideas and new event for product launching strategy to build with good content, And share with provider resources. Always make new posting for successive with new events.

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  • http://twitter.com/kseniaoust Ksenia Oustiougova

    Love this. I believe in one very simple rule – GIVE. I try to give, never ask for anything, and it always pays back. Always. Thanks for the awesome blog post!

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  • http://twitter.com/elliotbaum Elliot Baum

    Fantastic article Chris. This will provide me the backbone approach I need to help reach out to bloggers.

    To share some if my past success on the point of persistence. I find if you reach out at the same time on the same day they almost anticipate your email due to the consistency.

    Will take on board these great comments as well thanks to all who have provided comments :-)

  • Aykut Karaalioglu

    This is very indeed

  • Dan Tanaka

    Thanks for writing this! I have bookmarked this page! This will come in helpful with upcoming projects. Commenting on blogs and social media posts sounds like a good strategy. Do you think it is best to comment as a user or as your business page?

  • http://www.ericagut.com/ Erica Gutiérrez

    Good article. And my favorite quote was, “relationships in this space run long and weird.” True story in many spaces. :)

  • Yan Hu

    Great post about blogger outreach. This is very helpful. Thank you. I really appreciate your saying stuff around before they’ll post for you, they should probably know you….yes. doing homework way ahead of when asking for help is worth it.

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  • http://lifemeanswhat.com Jeff

    Hi Chris, when trying to build a relationship with a blogger is it best to try and build the relationship through your brand, or through your personal accounts?

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  • Mccauta

    What I learned so far is that if you are trying to pitch an idea, you really have to know “who” you are pitching to. If they don’t know you and you haven’t taken the time to do the research, it is very likely your pitch will end up in the delete folder. This article will come in handy as I learn more about the blogging.

  • Nancy Whelan

    This is great advice! It’s really similar to what one does before making
    a business presentation or even walking into a job interview. Know
    where your story intersects with your audience’s story. Be well
    organized and prepare for your interaction in advance. Be prepared with
    intelligent questions. Follow up. Golden rules. Thank you too for the
    insightful nuances! Cheers!

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