As a member of a minority group of PR pros who are on “both sides of the fence,” I get pitched often for my blog and send out pitches on behalf of my clients. It’s interesting to see what works, what doesn’t and how we, as PR pros, can be more proactive in ending the emergence of more and more PR “blacklists.”
Following are ways that I’ve found in my work and in conversations with others to be effective methods for identifying bloggers by topic and maintaining relationships with them.
Just Who Should I Reach Out To?
â–¶ Check out your competitors. If you’re at an agency, who does your client compete against? If you’re internal, who are your top competitors? Check out the blog rolls on those company’s blogs. Do a quick Google or Technorati search for those companies. What blogs are they showing up on?
â–¶ Use free tools. To find bloggers by the subject matter they cover, visit www.technorati.com/blogs and search by topic. Check out their “authority.” The higher, the better, meaning the blog has more traffic, inbound links, etc. Another excellent resource is www.alltop.com, which aggregates all of the top blogs by topic.
Maintaining Ongoing Relationships
â–¶ Put yourself in their shoes. Does a blogger want a 30-minute phone briefing to discuss your clients’ new software version 9.2? Probably not. Would they want a link to a short video with your client and a customer showing how the software works and the benefit it provides? Possibly. Would they want a short, bullet-point-filled e-mail pitch that clearly states the news value and links to multimedia content such as high-res images, a press release with pull quotes and audio/video? Definitely.
â–¶ Need for speed. You’re not pitching a monthly magazine here. A blogger asked for a quote from your CEO? If it’s a story you want to be in, you’d better get it to them fast, or they’ve already moved on to the next source.
â–¶ Don’t just e-mail when you need something. A great analogy, and one that I’m borrowing from Edelman’s Phil Gomes, is the “family member with a big van.” When do they get called? It’s always when someone in the family is moving and they need to borrow the van. To that end, don’t just get in touch with bloggers when you need something. Do you have a great tip that has nothing to do with your client, but may be a great scoop for that blogger? Send it their way. Or you can send a simple e-mail such as, “Hey, what are you chasing today?” This may be more for bloggers that you’ve already established a rapport with, but nonetheless it shows that you understand the game and aren’t just reciting talking points off a press release.
â–¶ Make it easy. Another tactic is to identify any recurring or weekly posts and pitch content for that specific post. For example, at PRNewser we post “Spin the Agencies of Record” once or twice a week, which highlights agency account wins. If someone mentions this in their pitch, we’ll likely save it in a folder and include it in the next roundup.
â–¶ A blogger’s job is the opposite of yours. A PR pro would love it if every blogger wrote the same glowing review of their client’s product or initiative. A blogger, on the other hand, is looking for compelling or exclusive content that drives page views. What can you give them that fits this definition? Maybe the marketing blog will get the only interview with your CMO, while the financial blog can speak with the CFO. One recent example I saw was an indie rock band that created exclusive videos for the top three music blogs they wanted to get into. Sure enough, they were featured in all three. If they would have pitched the same video to the blogs, chances are they may not have received the trifecta. It was three times the work, but also three times the exposure.
â–¶ There are few rules, but many guidelines. Ask 10 different bloggers how they’d best like to receive information and you’ll get 15 different answers. While there are certainly guidelines to follow when conducting outreach, there are very few rules or absolutes. One rule may be, “Don’t send a 5MB attachment unless you’ve been asked by the blogger to send it.”
But besides obvious e-mail etiquette points such as that, it’s up to you. This is still a new world for many of us, bloggers and PR pros included, so get out there and get your hands dirty. PRN
This article was written by Joe Ciarallo, a senior account executive at the Horn Group and an editor with mediabistro.com’s PRNewser. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.