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If You Want to Pitch A Blogger Successfully, DON’T Do This

The email below arrived in my Inbox this afternoon (click to expand):

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It was sent in the hope of garnering some press for the company’s website, that helps students connect with potential employers. Great – nothing wrong with that, and here’s to more companies helping students get a great start in life.

The problem is, the approach is all wrong and will probably put off every blogger they reached out to (and there were some big names in there). Here’s why:

The message header and the opening line don’t gel. The message header is great – “I enjoy reading your blog” is always an ego-stroke guarantee for a click-through. But then you get the generic “Dear Blogger” salutation. Bah.

Mass email, baby! As you can see, the email was sent to quite a few addresses and, better still, this was via open cc’d. This meant what should have (probably) been a private list now gave other people access to email addresses that the owner may not have want shared.

Lack of relevance. At no point in the email (apart from the standard opening blurb about being useful for the blog) is there a cohesive point made on why the company’s site would be relevant for my readers (or that of the other bloggers that were emailed).

A confidence-building domain… When I clicked through to the domain of the email sender, I was greeted with the image below.

click here

Now, it may be that the coolest website on the planet is due to arrive at the domain – who knows, even cooler than Chuck Norris! But for now, it raises alarm bells as to who’s behind the email and how well they’d serve the students they’re looking to help.

Simply put, it adds the finishing touches to an email that means well but does pretty much everything that goes against a solid blogger outreach program.

What They Could Have Done
Now, it may be that it’s a small company looking to get awareness and a foothold in the space, and they feel that bloggers with a certain audience reach can help. Or, they’ve heard blogging is the new advertising and it costs less money too.

Nothing wrong with that – most bloggers love to help promote something that’s relevant to their audience. The problem here is that the pitch fell flat at the first hurdle due to the approach.

What they could (should) have done is:

Ignore the mass email approach. Bloggers are generally busy people. If they feel a pitch isn’t truly targeted, they’ll ignore and move onto the next one. Try and really personalize the approach – use the blogger’s first name and a little overview of your understanding of the blog and audience. And, if you must use mass email, make it a BCC…

Use examples of relevance throughout. You don’t need to suck up to the blogger to get their attention, but maybe drop in 2-3 references to past posts that correlate to your service. Each reference builds your case – build the case and your job’s almost done.

Make sure you’re ready for investigation. Bloggers are successful because they’ve built trust with their audience. They won’t ruin that by not doing due diligence, and the first thing they’ll do is check you out. Make sure you’re ready for that – if your website isn’t built, don’t share your domain.

These are just really short suggestions based on this particular email and where it went wrong. To really run a great blogger outreach program needs a very cohesive approach.

It also helps if you’ve been some part of the blogger’s audience beforehand – a tweet here, a blog comment there, etc. Awareness of you means a better chance when it comes to sharing awareness of your product by the blogger in question.

Contrary to popular belief, bloggers do want to share your content – we just need a reason to do so.

Note: In his comment about this post, Frank Strong (who I respect immensely) questioned my outing of what may be a junior person at a PR agency. To clarify: this would never be a goal of mine.

If you try Google the name, nothing comes up. Nothing. Same with the company on LinkedIn. Which makes me think it’s a front for the “client” they’re pitching, which I did blur out.

Additionally, the blogger names that were on the email were all over the place. Two PR agencies; a sports blog; two tech blogs; a mobile phone blogger; a car forum and more. There was no rhyme or reason – it was just a blind pitch with a bunch of names thrown in for good measure.

With all that in mind, if someone is so indifferent that they don’t “exist” and are blasting out a generic message, then perhaps it makes no difference to blur or not.

About Danny Brown
Danny Brown is co-founder and partner at the SRM Group, offering smart marketing and social media business solutions with a socially responsible twist.

His blog is featured in the AdAge Power 150 list as well as Canada’s Top 50 Marketing Blogs, and won the Hive Award for Best Social Media Blog at the 2010 South by South West festival.

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