How NOT to Pitch a Blogger

As many in the public relations (PR) industry are aware, blogger relations is the new frontier. The days of writing a press release, spamming journalists, and incessantly pitching your story are slowly coming to an end. The PR of tomorrow is about building relationships with both journalists and bloggers and introducing them to ideas for posts and stories once a relationship is established. As a marketing guru and blogger, I have a unique perspective on this.

If you are a blogger who has any sort of traffic to your site, you have probably had the unique pleasure of being pitched either by a PR flak or a company spokesperson. One such pitch I received recently was what sparked this post. It went something like this (names have been changed to protect the guilty):

“Hello,

I have been an avid follower of your blog for past couple of months.
Recently, we have came up with a viral game for our company, which I felt
like sharing it with you. It’s a “viral game” devised for our poker portal,
where you get points on our portal by inviting people to play.

Can you kindly review this game that we have made for our company and
please mention it in your blog?

Thanking you in advance,

Ivan Awfulitch”

There are a couple things I would like to point out to Ivan (again, not his real name – but a painfully uncreative fake one). First of all, I have never heard of Ivan or his company. If he really was an “avid follower” of my blog, why haven’t I seen a comment from him on any of my posts or even an e-mail saying he enjoyed a certain post? Why is the first correspondence I receive from him asking for me to do something for him?

What too many people don’t understand about the blogosphere is that it is based on mutually beneficial relationships (read “I scratch your back, you scratch mine”). If he truly wanted me to even consider his proposition, I need to see a little love from him. For example, a trackback from his blog, a posting on his blog that links to mine, or even a comment on my blog. Any of those would have made his proposition infinitely more effective.

Secondly, if he truly was an “avid follower” of my blog, why would he send me information about a poker game? While he was mentally digesting every morsel of wisdom that shone forth from keyboard and sat at my feet (virtually, of course) supping from my brilliance, do you think he would have realized that I write about marketing and not gaming? But I do write about viral marketing, so that must be the connection, right? Wrong.

A little research would have been nice. Maybe he read a previous post where I highlighted a case study that he thought was applicable to his product. Maybe he had an idea on how his product can provide a unique viral marketing opportunity. Any insight other than “here is my product, please write about it” would have been nice.

The key to PR in the 21st century is the same as any other form of marketing – engagement. Mass communication doesn’t work any more. There is no BusinessWire for bloggers (and I would argue that it is becoming less valuable to journalists as well). You actually have to do your homework, target specific related blogs, and engage. Build a relationship. Write your own blog and reference them. Just as I said in the last post, you can’t be “efficient” with bloggers. You actually have to get your hands dirty.

What this means is you have to be much more focused about your approach. Rather than spamming a million bloggers that you have been “avidly following”, focus on a handful of targeted blogs and build a relationship. One great way to get several bloggers talking about you is to have one well-read blog write about you and have others read and comment. Work on getting coverage on a specific, targeted blog and send the link to other bloggers you are working with. Unlike journalists, bloggers like to cover what others are talking about. They are not as concerned about covering it first, only weighing in with their opinion.

Blogger relations is not like traditional public relations. It takes a non-traditional approach, just like everything else Web 2.0. Any other bloggers receive mildly amuzing pitches?

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