Business post: A guide to pitching – how to contact bloggers

Hello all. Waaaaay back in April I wrote a post on the differences between PR and advertising. In the post I briefly mentioned pitching to bloggers, but I think it’s such an important skill (particularly as blogs are becoming one of the most influential forms of media) that many people sadly lack – it deserves its own post.

Here is a typical email I receive on almost a daily basis. If you’ve sent emails like this in the past, please don’t be offended, hurt or beat yourself up about it, but take this as an opportunity to improve your success rate with bloggers.

Hi,

I’d like to tell you about my business selling X. I do this that and the other. Please could you write about my business?

Or it will be something along the lines of:

Hi there,

I’m running a competition with a totally unrelated media channel to you. Could you write a blog post about it and promote it?

So why aren’t bloggers replying and how can you fix it?

The name game

To start with, most bloggers make it very, very easy to find out what their names are. If you’re really, truly interested in a blog and want to be featured on it, start by going to its “about me” page (unless the blog is anonymous, in which case you can be forgiven) and finding out the name of the blogger.

This isn’t necessarily an egotistical thing, it’s a matter of logic. If I receive an email that’s asking me for something that requires my time and attention and the sender hasn’t bothered to spend thirty seconds looking up my name (HINT: MY NAME IS IN MY EMAIL ADDRESS) it makes me take the whole thing less seriously. It makes me reluctant to spend time researching this person’s business and helping them to promote it when they don’t have a clue who I am – it makes me wonder if they’ll have a clue who my blog readers are too.

Unfortunately, in an extremely competitive market, there will usually (unless you have the best business idea ever) be hundreds of other vendors who do just what you do – and if they make more of an effort they will get further with publicity than you – so don’t be left behind by neglecting something as easy as a name.

The difference between blogs and magazines is that blogs aren’t faceless. While magazines might have their features writers or well-known contributors, blogs are all about the person writing them, from the personality in the articles, to the choices of images featured to… well, everything. If you don’t know the person behind it, chances are you don’t know the blog very well.

Are you selling yourself?

So you sell jewellery. Or decorations. Or you’re a planner. What’s different about your service? Why would readers of the particular blog you’re pitching to like it?

I get so many emails from people asking me to look at their work, with no description of why their business is any more suitable for Under the Vintage Veil readers than the next.

It can be really uncomfortable, bigging yourself up, but the bottom line is, if you don’t believe in your own brand and product (sounds like random buzzwords, but honestly it’s  true) then bloggers won’t either. There’s a fine line between confidence and arrogance, agreed, but the best businesses I’ve come across are run by people who believe in what they’re doing and aren’t afraid to tell you all about it.

Don’t let your self consciousness be mistaken for a lack of passion, don’t let a perfectly good business or product go unnoticed because you’re afraid to shout about it – if you’re asking someone else to promote you, promote yourself first. Sell it – so they can sell it to their readers.

What are you offering?

“Please write about my business.” How do you even respond to that? Lots of bloggers will just respond with a media pack, some (on a VERY off chance) might be already working on a piece that corresponds, but most will find scrambling for a response too much of an effort and chances are you won’t receive a reply.

You’re asking for free publicity – but what’s in it for the blogger? Precisely nothing – unless you genuinely have the most unique product out there that their readers won’t have heard of before.

So how do you get featured if you have a small budget? The following ways are great in placing yourself as an expert in your field and securing a complimentary blurb about what you do:

Write something of interest. This takes time and research. If you’re pitching to a wedding blog you’ll need to be writing something brides are interested in. You also need to write about things the blogger is interested in. Then you need to combine the two and write for that blog’s specific audience. It’s not hard to get the idea though – look at what the blogger has written about previously and think about where your knowledge could fill a blank. If the blog doesn’t address certain topics, don’t go there. If they’ve recently addressed an exact topic, don’t go there either.

Send in a real wedding. If you’re not a photographer, check with the photographer and the couple respectively that it’s OK to share the images and pull together a list of credits for all the suppliers.

Send in a styled shoot.

Exclusivity

You may be thinking “what was wrong with the second email? Brides want to know about good competitions.” True. But blogs are also often businesses – and when you send us something from a rival publication and ask us to promote it, or you send us a piece of copy or real wedding that’s already been featured elsewhere, it’s counter-intuitive to our business interests.

If you can’t offer exclusive content, be realistic about what you can expect from the blogger. For example, if the competition is just to die for, they may be willing to share it on their Facebook page or social media, or even a round up of other blogs posts from the week, but don’t expect a full post to be dedicated to it.

Some dos and don’ts 

ALWAYS do your research. Names, what the blogger is interested in, what they usually write about, whether they do sponsored posts, what their readers are into – if you’re prepared you’re much more likely to get somewhere.

NEVER send blanket emails to multiple addresses.

ALWAYS offer something exclusive and appropriate.

NEVER approach a blogger by asking them to like your page on their Facebook wall / begging for a retweet. An email is much more appropriate and puts bloggers under much less pressure – you don’t want to look spammy.

ALWAYS be confident and friendly – you’re selling yourself and your business and first impressions count.

NEVER be afraid to send a follow up email. I’m literally writing this blog post as fast as I can because I have a break from being at the hospital with a loved one. Many amazing people have sent me emails since this crisis started that I know I need to reply to. A polite follow up will usually give me a friendly reminder that something needs doing or replying to, even if it’s me forwarding it on to a team member – it’s totally our responsibility to get back to you but we’re only human after all!

Don’t be disheartened if, despite all of this, you don’t receive responses from everyone – you never know what’s going on behind the scenes. But I guarantee you’ll have a much improved success rate all around if you stick to these guidelines and ditch the one-liner emails. For further reading, have a look into why your work isn’t being featured.

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