Any blogger will tell you that as soon as they made their first few posts, the pitches for coverage or product mentions came rolling in. There's good reason for that - a mention on a few popular blogs provides plenty of benefits including brand visibility and incoming links.
Here at Website Magazine, we get plenty of pitches - from story ideas to products, every day businesses hungry for exposure send us an e-mail or product to try. Some are very effective, while others are relegated to the trash bin faster than they arrived. A proper pitch requires planning and execution.
Know Your Audience
Nothing triggers the "delete" button faster than a pitch that begins something like, Dear blogger... On the other hand, using the blogger's name or the name of the blog usually keeps them reading. This personalization of the message not only engages the reader but shows that you value their time and their blog.
In the same way, do your research and know the blog's purpose and audience. It takes just a few minutes to read a post or two from the blog, and knowing the subject matter will show in your pitch. Nothing is more frustrating to a blogger than spending valuable time reading a pitch that is completely irrelevant to their audience. This is a common mistake and often results in a "blacklisting" of the person making the pitch - future relevant pitches risk never being seen.
Bloggers value their time. To be most effective, be upfront with your pitch. Tell the blogger what you want and why your product, service or announcement matters to them and their audience. If you haven't stated your purpose withing the first two or three sentences, chances of exposure drops dramatically. If a blogger is truly interested in what you have to offer, they will take the time to learn more, if needed. After all, if you pique their interest, chances are excellent that their readers will want to know more too.
Bloggers want readers. And one way to ensure repeat visitors and new readers is to give something away. Based on the blog's audience, offer something of value. It could be an online coupon, free product, free trial or free membership.
Also, tailor the offer to the specific blog via a custom coupon code or similar measure. The blogger wants to give readers the appearance of authority and value - by making your offer "exclusive" to the blog's readers, they feel validated and the blogger benefits by becoming a valued resource. Also, people like to share inside information, giving your brand and offer a better chance of being shared to a wider audience.
Provide Resources or Creatives
Researching and writing blog posts is time-consuming. It can be very frustrating to receive a good pitch, then have to crawl all over the Web looking for images, landing pages or other resources. Make sure your e-mails have everything the blogger needs - links, images, even verbiage.
If you're having trouble getting the attention of a particular blogger (or any blogs at all), don't be afraid to ask very direct questions. Find out what type of pitches the blogger wants.
- What type of products are important to his or her audience?
- How does the blogger prefer to be contacted?
- Are there particular topics of interest that the blogger would like to cover but lacks the resources to?
- Do they have an editorial calendar? If not, find out if the blogger writes any regularly-scheduled posts such as year-end wrap-ups or lists, seasonal posts, etc.
Finding the Right Blogs to Pitch
There are tens of thousands of active blogs out there - what are the ones you should contact? Start by simply searching your topic with keywords. Use search engines' custom search options like blog searches, related searches and Google's Wonder wheel. You will find people posting on your topics and related topics. Search for topics on sites like Digg.com - find those submissions with high vote totals to identify influential blogs. Look on social networks too, for bloggers with high numbers of fans, friends and followers. Also look for popular blogs on blog aggregator sites.
When you find a few blogs to target, check some statistics. One quick and easy way is to use Compete.com to find estimated traffic levels - some blogs are very good at SEO, but might not have a very large following.
By asking questions, you give the blogger the impression that you want to become a resource for them, not just a media hound. It is very possible that you can provide material for the blogger they might not otherwise come in contact with. Think like a partner.
About the Author: Mike Phillips is Website Magazine's Senior Editor