You’re working for an agency that wants to get the word out about this cool new product/app/website that your client is releasing. Here’s what you do:
1 – Google “(industry your product/app/website is in) bloggers”
2 – Get contact info of X number of bloggers based on Google search results and those ‘The 50 Best X Bloggers” lists.
3 – Cut and paste contact info into your database/spreadsheet/doc, etc.
4 – Cut and paste press release and send to each blogger, asking them to please email you with a link to their new article promoting your client.
5 – Sit back and wait for a flood of new posts from some of the most influential bloggers on the planet, all gushing about your client.
Any blogger that’s been pitched more than once knows there’s zero exaggeration to the above. At least 90% of agencies and company’s pitching something to bloggers do this, and it never works. The only good thing about this from the agency’s point of view is that they have been doing it for so long that most bloggers don’t even bother to publicly shame their crappy pitches.
Here’s why this strategy never works:
1 – You start off by building a list of bloggers that you don’t know. It’s impossible to know every blogger, but uninvited pitches from agencies a blogger doesn’t know isn’t very endearing to that blogger.
2 – You target the most ‘popular’ bloggers. These are the ones getting the most pitches, right? So by default, you are setting the bar pretty high for your pitch. When you simply cut and paste a press release, you are ensuring that your pitch goes straight in the Trash.
3 – You shouldn’t collect contact info to pitch bloggers, you should be collecting contact info to study those bloggers. Actually read their blogs! Try to learn a bit about who they are and what they do. And most importantly, why your pitch would be relevant to them.
4 – Never pitch a stranger then ask them to please let you know when they have written their article promoting you. That’s the fastest way to get your email posted on Facebook for public ridicule.
If I had to pitch bloggers today on a story, here’s the steps I would follow:
1 – Start with my own network. Is there anyone I know that would be interested in this story?
2 – Start researching the space for X bloggers. I’d do the same Googling as Step #1 at the top, but I’m not looking for the ‘A-List’ bloggers. I am looking for B-List bloggers that appear to have a strong community on their blog. These are bloggers that aren’t getting as many pitches as the A-List, but their strong connection with their readers shows that those readers trust them. Plus it indicates that they will eventually become A-List bloggers, so it’s better to get on their good side now.
3 – Assemble my list of bloggers I want to pitch, then invest time reading each of their blogs. I want to take the time to get to know who they are so I can determine if and why my pitch is relevant to them. Yes, this is time-consuming. And yes, it can be tedious work. It can also be the difference between having a 0% response rate, and a 50% response rate.
4 – Once I have culled down my list to only the bloggers that I think would be interested in my pitch, then I start emailing them. I tailor every pitch to that blogger, zero cutting and pasting is allowed. I refer to them by their first name, not ‘Dear Blogger’ or ‘Dear Webmaster’ and for pete’s sake not ‘To Whom It May Concern…’ Oh and I make sure I call them by their correct name, as someone that gets pitched constantly as ‘Hey Mark!’, this matters.
5 – I make my pitch as short and relevant as possible. I point out the nature of my pitch, and how it aligns with the focus of their blog (Which I know, because I took the time to read their blog). If possible, I reference any posts they have already written about the same space or industry that relates to the story I am pitching.
6 – I end the email by thanking them for their time, and give them my contact info if they have any questions I can help them with. I don’t ask them to write an article and place no expectations for them other than reading my pitch, and then I thank them for doing so.
And to be completely honest, my response rate is still going to be really low. It will be much better than yours, but the cold, hard reality is that you have been sending crappy pitches to bloggers for so long that most of them have tuned out ALL pitches. I get up to a dozen a day, and I delete 99% of them without even reading.
But if you are willing to do some legwork and actually give a damn about your job, it’s very possible to successfully pitch bloggers. This is the best pitch I have ever gotten in 10 years of blogging. Here’s what Kaitlyn did that made this pitch so great:
1 – She only targeted a handful of bloggers that she knew personally.
2 – She only targeted bloggers that covered marketing on their blogs.
3 – She made her pitch unique and creative. She didn’t cut and paste a press release, she gave us a chance to ask the CMO at one of the world’s biggest brands a question and have him answer our question on video. Gold!
4 – She created a pitch that was so useful to the bloggers she reached out to that they dropped everything to be involved.
5 – The pitch created insanely useful content for the bloggers, and free publicity for the client. A huge win-win. In fact, the post I wrote (linked above) ended up being one of the most popular posts I have ever written because the CMO gave me a huge nugget in his answer that created a story in and of itself. Click the link to see what he said that was so interesting.
The bottom line in pitching bloggers is that your response rate goes up the more work you put into making sure your pitch is relevant to the bloggers you pitch. Yes, that means spending some time reading blogs and actually attempting to learn something about the bloggers you pitch. You’ll thank me when your response rate is 10X better than the competition.
UPDATE: Just checked my email, 1 min after I published this post, I received an email from someone I’d never heard of, all the email contains is a cut and paste of a press release. Flagged as Spam.