How Should PRs Pitch to Bloggers?
We like to get out and about here at Umpf and in a genius stroke of multi-tasking, last month we hit the big smoke to catch up with some journalists and attend a PR/Blogger Outreach Event organised by This Little Lady Went to London.
Hosted by Econsultancy’s Vicki Chowney and featuring a panel of three PRs and three bloggers, the event was designed to bring both disciplines together to discuss best practice and relationship building.
Having worked with a number of bloggers on recent campaigns (A Modern Mother, The Pink Whisk, The Boy Who Bakes), we were interested to hear what our peers had to say on the subject and pick up some more top tips from the bloggers themselves.
So what did we learn? Erm, that there are some really bad PR people in this world* (who honestly sends out blanket emails addressed, Dear Receiver?) That there are a lot of PRs who don’t understand the basic principles of working with bloggers – i.e. do your research first. And, that some people still don’t understand the differences between bloggers and journalists.
So whilst a lot of time was spent covering off the basics – much more for the benefit of the bad ‘dear receiver’ PR types who probably weren’t in the room – we did come away with some useful reminders of best practice:
1. Getting to know you – Don’t just have a quick skim-read of the blog, get to know the blogger a little bit too. Follow them on Twitter, reply to some tweets, etc, etc. That way you are already on their radar and you can be 100% confident that your pitch is well targeted
2. Quality not quantity – Remember that with a blog you are dealing with a much more targeted audience than the mainstream media. It is better to spend a bit of time with one or two bloggers getting some quality coverage, targeted very specifically to your audience than blanketing emailing a whole load of irrelevant ones and getting nothing. It goes back to the golden rule of ‘do your research first’ – making sure the blogger you approach is the right fit for your client and campaign will always ensure the best return
3. They like free lunches too – It’s no secret that the mainstream media like a bit of schmoozing, well it turns out those blogger types enjoy a bit of that too (doesn’t everyone?) Joking aside, as with journalists – a face-to-face with a key blogger every now and again gives you their undivided attention and you can have a proper two-way conversation about your ideas
4. Make it tailored – All of the bloggers on the panel agreed that they would never expect to be given an exclusive on a story but they would always appreciate being given their own angle which is specific to their interests or style – especially if the story is being sold-in to a number of blogs
5. Ask for their vital stats – The panel all agreed that bloggers should be transparent with their readership figures and the bloggers present would always be happy to supply this data so just ask
6. To pay or not to pay – Probably the most contentious discussion of the evening, should bloggers be paid for content and to run competitions. I think the majority of PR people would agree that there are times when it would be relevant to pay a blogger for their time if they were specifically working with you on a campaign that involved a lot of input from them or being used as an ‘expert’ commentator in media. The main issue was competitions and if bloggers should charge a placement fee. Whilst both sides have a point ‘it takes time for me to set up, run and promote the competition’ vs. ‘we are providing you with a prize of value which is helping drive traffic to your site’, it was the only subject that the two sides couldn’t agree on and in the end the debate could have raged on all night.
*we are not referring to the PRs on the panel!