My post from last Friday entitled "Your last contact cannot be your first contact" generated some really great commentary. The idealistic, best-case viewpoint I took with blogger outreach caused most of the concern so I want to use this post to touch on five keys to successful blogger outreach in the real world. I highly encourage you to add your opinions in the comment section so we can all learn and grow.
The following five steps should give you a leg up on your next outreach endeavor:
- Use a tiered targeting approach: Let's face it. Resource and time are finite things and not all blogs are created equal. At the outset of an outreach program, companies need to identify tiers of bloggers they would like to reach. The tiers should be ranked by influence and reach (these are not the same thing) within the niche(s) you're focusing on . Tier 1 bloggers should get the most attention, tier 2 should get a bit less and so on. This will ensure that time is being allocated to achieve the best impact.
- Build relationships over time: As you put bloggers into your tiers, you need to start developing relationships with them (this is where my last post comes into play). I'm talking about forming real, honest relationships. It's easy to spot people who are trying to manipulate you. Read the blogger's content, delve into what their interest are, see who they read and engage with them on their turf (comments, emails, etc.). Ask what you can do for them before you need anything from them. Try to add value to the community they've created. I know that's the fastest way to my heart.
- Create relevant messages: This is, as David Berkowitz pointed out in the comments, a crucial step. You can make up for not having a previous relationship with somebody by delivering a spot-on message that is relevant to their interests. The message needs to be to the point and tailored to the blog as much as possible. You can break through the clutter just by writing clearly and focusing on the value and relevance to the blog's community. (Don't fake this either, it's crystal clear to a blogger what is relevant and what misses the mark.)
- You only have one shot: This is another big point to make that I think newbies miss all the time. When you contact a blogger, you need to make sure that you have the right person with the right message at the right time because you only have one chance. You should never "follow up" with a blogger unless they ask you to. You have to assume they've seen your message and either ignored it or are holding it for later. Let them make the next move. Following up can be seen as annoying and pushy in this situation. It's important to note that the better your relationship with the blogger, the more flexible this rule is.
- Be prepared for follow up: I am often amazed, when I do follow up on a PR pitch, at how unprepared the rep on the other end is. Normally I get a "it's all in the release" or "there isn't anything else available". You should be able to readily follow up with more information including pre-packaged social media content including quotes, videos, photos and logos that are blog-ready (often in a social media news release). Remember that most bloggers are pressed for time and the easier you make it for them to write about you, the more response you'll get. I've passed on relevant stories that require me to do too much leg work.
What would you add to this list? What is your pre-launch checklist for outreach to bloggers? Is it different from traditional media or the same? Are the two converging for you? Drop me a comment!
BONUS - Take a look at Valeria's recent post and her top four good, and bad, pitches. She echos a lot of what I mention here and adds some great insights (as usual).