Blogs and online news sites are increasingly becoming the first place that many people go to get their news, especially in niche areas and topics that aren’t covered by mainstream news.
These blogs and sites are communities in themselves, as they will often comment on the same stories, link to each other’s articles, and have conversations on other social networks and mailing lists.
As such, communicating with bloggers can be a vital part of any PR campaign you are running and can help to amplify the messages you are looking to spread.
There are also a range of hidden benefits, such as an increased SEO ranking on the terms you are discussing. So how do you find the blogs and news sites that are relevant to your organisation?
Google Blog Search
Start off with a simple Google blog search around the subject you’re interested in. You can sort by relevance to your topic or by date, with the latest topics first. You can even refine your search by region, if you’re looking for UK only blogs or elsewhere in the world.
Once you have sourced a good initial list of blogs in your area, you should be able to find more through the various links listed on their sites. Look at their sidebar – is there a list of blogs they read? Do they mention other blogs of interest in their posts? Are there other bloggers commenting on posts?
This should give you a few more blogs and by repeating this process you should have built up a comprehensive list to work from
What is the best way to pitch bloggers?
The first thing you should be doing is spending time reading the blogs you’ve found. What subjects do they typically cover? Are their posts long posts or short? Do they use photos or videos? What is the blog’s style and tone of voice?
Once you’re familiar with a blog’s take on a certain subject, then it should be much easier to tailor your content towards them. All this background research will help enormously when it comes delivering the right content, in the right way, at the right time.
Here are a number of things to consider when pitching to bloggers by email, most of which are common sense but all worth bearing in mind:
Comment on their blog
Bloggers will be more receptive to your pitch if you are a regular commenter on their blog posts. But don’t just leave standard “Great post!” comments – add value to the discussion and show your interest in the subject. This means your approach won’t be so much of a ‘cold’ pitch.
Personalise your pitch
Don’t use a generic email when approaching bloggers. Reference their name (and spell it correctly!), mention their blog by name, and show that you’ve read their blog by referencing recent posts that you liked or are relevant to the story you are contacting them about.
Make it relevant
Make sure the story you’re pitching is relevant to their blog and let them know why you think it is. Sounds obvious, but it’s better not to pitch at all than try to pitch with an awkward or forced angle.
Keep it short, sweet and simple
Rather than go into a lengthy email that they might not have time to read, ask your question or pitch your idea quickly – in three or four key bullet points if possible. More detail can be given in a follow up email or through a link to where the blogger can find more.
Include a call to action
You’ll have more success if there’s a clear call to action. Describe what you’re asking for and how it will benefit the blogger and their readers. Always have a single call to action, so the blogger is clear about what you would like them to do.
Be persistent, but don’t harass them
While a follow up a day or so later is polite, emailing a blogger multiple times in a matter of days won’t go down well. Don’t be afraid to send a reminder email asking if they got your first one – as many bloggers write in their spare time and will receive lot of emails, it can be difficult to respond straight away.
Overall, remember that bloggers are people writing about a subject they are passionate about – so keep it personal, polite and to the point!
How not to pitch bloggers
To finish off this guide, it’s great to look at a poor example of blogger relations.
The Bloggess writes for Good Mom / Bad Mom on the Houston Chronicle, a satirical sex column, a parenting column that will make you wish you’d decided to just stick with dogs and has a book coming out in 2012.
She’s also very dedicated to writing about PR pitches (both good and bad) and just this month she received perhaps the worst PR pitch of all time.
The Bloggess received a form letter email pitch (more than one, actually) about a Kardashian sister being spotted in pantyhose, which isn’t relevant to anything she writes about.
Ben Matthews is a Founding Director of BrightOne, who have just released their microvolunteering app, BrightWorks, which lets volunteers help charities with their PR and Marketing and a time and place convenient to them. You can also check out Ben’s blog at benrmatthews.com.