How to pitch bloggers and whether to pay them will be an on-going conversation in the blogosphere for many moons to come, I think. Over at Build a Better Blog, Denise Wakeman's blog on blogging, a guest poster from a PR agency writes "Pitching to bloggers…the do's and don'ts of blogger pitching" to which I wanted to make some comments.
My comments are in green and reflect my personal opinion of the topic. Share yours in the comments.
Kristy Shaw of Punch Communications writes:
Research your blogger. There is nothing more frustrating for a blogger than receiving an email about children's toys when they're a food writer with no children.
How true! This is not only frustrating and annoying, it shows a lack of respect. Bloggers deserve respect the same as any journalist or expert being pitched. Generally, if we're good enough to pitch, we're good enough to learn more about. I, personally, resent it when I receive emails that do not include my name. It's there, on the blog, folks. Use it.
1. Press releases are not a bloggers best friend.
She feels we don't have time to read them and that a "tailored pitch is a much better way to approach a blogger". I disagree. I like press releases. They give me all the information I need to write my post, if I'm interested. And, they usually include links. Plus, they save me the trouble of misquoting. I take content directly from the press release and add my own thoughts, as I'm doing here.
2. Keep it personal.
Kristy points out that time is of the essence in a blogger's life. This is so true I would love to bold this whole section. If you do not show me you've read my blog and know what I'm about, your pitch ends up being deleted almost without being read. Or, it may end up on Facebook with a not so nice note about you and your company. My time is so valuable to me, I sometimes don't read past the first line because I can tell you have no clue who I am.
This follows from #2. PR agencies and brands that engage in the conversation are more likely to be viewed with favorable eyes. Certainly, if we follow you on Twitter or Facebook, you should follow back, when you can. I also enjoy it when folks bring lively but polite differences to the conversation. It's good to hear opposing viewpoints. I would add to this that brands and PR folks shouldn't take criticism personally but view it as a means to improve. And bloggers should always be polite, focused and truthful – don't jump on a bandwagon of hate or anger – save that for offline discussion.
4. Nothing is 'off record'.
Oh my! This is loaded advice! In reality, she's right. When you talk to a blogger, it's on the record. I have a fab T-shirt, sent to me by my BFF Toby Bloomberg of Diva Marketing, that says, "Caution! A List Blogger – You May Be Blogged!" Warning fair enough, yes? But, not everyone gets it. Kristy mentions "If you have an embargo to stick to, remember to mention it to the blogger"… which means, if the pitch is not ready for prime time, you, the blogger, need to respect that and wait for the embargo to lift before writing about it. My hope is that our bloggers will always use respect and discretion when dealing with brands or PR Agencies that… ruffle their feathers.
Remember, no one is perfect. Recently, I received a long pitch for my Lip-sticking blog all about the group pitching me. They did use my name and actually mention my blog, so I felt that they were at least familiar with me. However, the pitch was full of, "we believe" and "we think" and "we want" and I sighed as I read it.
Of course, I thought as I read it over a second time, you want me to do this that or the other thing, and you think it would be good for my blog. But, have you asked me what I think? No!
I did not write about that pitch. Or the topic of the pitch. Because, in the end, PR agencies and brands, it's really NOT about you. It's about me, the blogger, and what I can bring to the table. Woo me thoughtfully. Oh, and even when you pay me for my time (which is worth more than the price of the item you're pitching), I write what I feel. I don't write what you think I should feel.