Speaking to a blogger isn’t a fine art, but it can go horribly wrong if you forget who you are talking to!
Blogger outreach has been one of those tricky tactics that PRs and SEOs mostly get wrong. They understand that bloggers are a very influential bunch and that they are slowly taking over magazine readership figures. What most PRs seem to easily forget is that the reason why bloggers and internet figures are so influential is because they are highly opinionated individuals who enjoy disseminating their personal views!
This means that you cannot buy them with advertising, a fancy lunch or (even worse) flattery. Bloggers, like any professional, want to be respected in the same way that you want to be respected in your field.
I have worked with bloggers for most of my PR career, and I know there are certain bugbears that bloggers are instantly put off by. I reached out to a few blogger friends on Twitter, asking them what they would recommend to a PR who is dabbling with blogger outreach. These fantastic bloggers (ok, a little bit of flattering might work) came back with these gems:
Do keep communication consistent
Chloe Borderick from Nine Grand Student tells of the one time a PR contacted her, asked her for her address and then never got back to her. This is common practice with PRs. They outreach to a number of bloggers, casting the net far and wide, and then, when bloggers reply, PRs do not repay the favour. This could be because the PR received too many replies, or got a response from a blogger on their gold list. Whatever the reason, PRs need to make sure their communication is consistent and that their outreach is targeted.
Do not send an email to every blogger on your list – offering reviews, invites or giveaways if don’t intend to follow through with your offer. Rather target the relevant bloggers on your list, who you would love to feature your product first, and then work your way down the list if need be. This ensures that all bloggers have a running dialogue with you – and that you don’t upset anyone in the process.
Don’t try and sound personal in a mass email
I have heard this bugbear from many bloggers and journalists about PRs. Sending to all, or a ‘Round Robin’, in PR speak is completely fine. This means you can get a press alert or an emailer for a client out to number of titles and sites at one go. What is a big no-no is PRs sending an email to a very large list with a failed attempt at sounding personal. PRs are fighting an endless battle to be liked and respected by press and bloggers. Do not send them a fake attempt at a personal email that has all of your contacts BCC’d in (they can tell!). Carla from London is for Living had this to say on the topic: ‘I don’t mind a mail merged press release, but when a PR pretends it’s a personal email and it isn’t, that drives me crazy!’
Do keep your contacts relevant
Each blogger has a theme that they stick to. In turn, they attract a following that will be only be interested in the topic that they write about. In other words, it’s not OK for a PR to ask a blogger to feature or review a steam cleaner if the blogger only writes about luxury fashion! Nor is it ok to expect a story about hand cream to be featured on a DIY blog.
As a PR, you need to know the bloggers on your outreach list well – well enough not to pitch them something that they’d never go for in a million years because it’s off topic. Do they typically write about updates on brands – or are they the type of blogger that wants to get their hands on the product? As Julie from The Fat Girls Guide To Running states, make sure when sending your press release or contacting a blogger that you having something newsworthy/interesting to tell them. It is very easy to think that a client press release is newsworthy – but take a step back and try and imagine the blogger you have in mind featuring it before you press send!
Don’t pitch and drop
PR stands for public relations. The latter word is the most important one to perfect. If you do establish a relationship with a journalist or blogger, you need to keep up the communication. This doesn’t mean consistently emailing them about your cat or what you are going to eat for dinner. It’s about keeping up that communication after pitching, especially if they have featured the client! As Kitty from Suggestive Digestive stressed, all bloggers have an edit option and if you begin to drop communication after you have gotten what you want, it is hard to claw your way back into their good books.
Keep it consistent.
Do keep your PR flexible
When dealing with journalists, you have strict deadlines to adhere to and the slight slowness to your PR can affect your client’s results. This is not the case with bloggers. As Ginger Hibiscus stated, most bloggers have a full time job and will either work far in advance, or will blog instantaneously. As with people, bloggers are unique. This is the very reason why you need to get to know the bloggers you reach out to and know their time scale. If you know a blogger that wants to get an exclusive, but know that they are time poor, keep this in mind. I used to send over samples to a beauty blogger that was a nurse who worked night shifts. I would email and send her products before any other blogger, not because she wanted the exclusive, but because this gave her enough time to test out a product and construct a decent review.
This also means adjusting your expectations – not every blogger will feature a PR story at the same time, especially if they have a busy schedule (as most of them do). No one likes a PR that pushes for a feature every day.
If Digital PR was a fine art, the steps to a PR masterpiece would be these key takeaways:
- The Golden Rule– treat journalists and bloggers the way you would like to be treated.
- Get to know the bloggers on your contact list – instead of spending time sourcing 100 mediocre blogs that are semi-relevant to your client. Get to know the ones you already have on your list. This will make pitching easier and reduce the risk of sending out irrelevant PR stories to the wrong people.
- Always reply – no matter if it’s a yes or a no, have the politeness to always reply back to an email a blogger has spent time sending you.