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March 2, 2015 / Stephanie Vermillion

Blogger outreach: the inside scoop on working with influencers

Working with bloggers is without a doubt one of my favorite parts of PR.

Blogger OutreachWith all the research that goes into pitching, you basically come out an expert on XYZ subject that you (most often) knew nothing about before.

Then, once you’ve secured interest and start working with a blogger, nine times out of 10 you’ll actually become professional friends, in a sense. Be it sharing funny content or just keeping up with life happenings, you thoroughly enjoy and look forward to your encounters.

And when you do blogger outreach the right way (cough, no spray and pray, cough), those feelings will be mutual.

But, instead of me sitting from my PR soapbox and preaching blogger outreach best practices, I’m bringing in the experts.

Meet Brad Sams, tech blogger at Neowin, and Dorothy Beal, running blogger at Mile Posts and creator of I Run This Body.

I’ve worked with Brad and Dorothy on separate projects, but both fit that “extremely-fun-to-work-with” definition. (Especially when Brad disses the Patriots, and they turn around and completely smoke the Bengals. That was pretty fun, right Brad?)

They’ve been kind enough to share the inside scoop on how PR pros can best work with blogger relations. And hint: mass pitching is not included in their tips.

Q1:   What’s your biggest pet peeve when it comes to PR?

Brad Sams of Neowin

Brad Sams of Neowin

Brad: Sending a wall-of-text PR blast. The first step in getting me to write up your information is reading the email. If I open the message and it looks like it will take 35 minutes to read, there’s a 99 percent chance I’ll delete it.

My favorite types of emails are ones that have the announcement broken into a few bullet points; all I want to know is the exact bit of info that is new.

I don’t care about the fluff part or how it’s revolutionary (it’s my job to decide if it is /isn’t). Simply say what’s new, and move on. (Click to tweet!)

Dorothy: I cannot stand when male PR pros reach out to me and the first line is about how their girlfriend suggested my blog to them.

The takeaway? Keep it short. Don’t add in unnecessary fluff or jargon, but do show that you – not a significant other – read the blog. This can be as simple as pitching the right information to the right person.

Q2:   How can PR pros get your attention?

Dorothy Beal of Mile Posts

Dorothy Beal of Mile Posts

Dorothy: It sets things off on the wrong food when a PR pro doesn’t take the time to make sure they have the correct spelling on my name and/or my blog name.

I realize PR pros send out lots of emails but if you can’t be bothered to spend two minutes making the email personal and only sending it to me, then I can’t be bothered to read it.

Brad: I know who you are. I’m significantly more likely to read your email if we have met previously or worked together in the past.

The takeaway? Double check your spelling. Don’t fake being a reader. And build those relationships, whether through Twitter, IRL coffees or another tactic.

Q3:  What advice would you give to PR pros reaching out to bloggers for the first time?

Brad: Brevity. Every writer is different. For me, it would be best to not start off with a pitch. A quick intro email asking the writer what they want to have sent to them is helpful. I get about 50 pitch emails a day, which means there is no time to write everything up.

My mental checklist when I look at a pitch is

  • Do I like the topic/is it in my general coverage area?
  • Do I have time to write it?
  • Has it already been covered by a million other sites? Any time I am given advance notice of a post (embargo), it means it automatically passes items two and three, so all it needs to do is align to part one to be covered.

Dorothy:  Know the blogging world and put an effort into establishing quality relationships with key bloggers. Then these bloggers will talk about your product even when they aren’t being compensated in any manner. Readers trust these brand-loyal relationships more than they do blog reviews.

I also think blog reviews are on the way out and a more natural form of marketing is taking its place. (Click to Tweet!) Don’t underestimate the value of an Instagram picture over a full blog post about a product.

You want to analyze the whole picture of a blogger, not just their blog stats they send over to you. A blog is so much more than just page views.

The takeaway? Keep it brief. Give the blogger what s/he wants quickly (the sooner you share news, the better site traffic s/he will have). Consider an embargo. Look beyond traffic numbers (I personally think engagement is one of the most important metrics), and be open to new, creative blogger collaboration tactics.

 —

The best blogger relations centers on, well, relationships. And relationships that don’t benefit both parties have little to no future.

Dorothy shared a smart reminder to help PR pros understand the relationship side of blogger relations, particularly how to think beyond clients and determine how you can best help the blogger, too.

“It seems so rude when companies write me and the email is all about what they want me to do for them. What about including what you are going to do for me?

It takes time to write posts and promote them. My blog is now part of my business so if you want me to take your business seriously then you have to take mine seriously.

I think brands also lose when companies go for quantity rather than quality when it comes to bloggers. If I see a product on 30 different blogs in the same week you can bet I won’t ever buy that product.”

A *huge* thanks to Brad and Dorothy for their help with this post! If you have any other blogger relations tips (or pet peeves), please share in the comments below. And please note: There will be no posts for the next two weeks, as I’ll be on vacation with my family (woohoo!).

This post originally appeared on Stephanie Vermillion’s blog, PR State of Mind.

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