Last week, I talked about how blogger outreach is scary, and I talked about why this fear exists for most people before they start talking to bloggers. In great measure, these fears exist because of the horror stories that have resulted from wrong-headed approaches.
In the five years that we’ve been reaching out to bloggers, we’ve learned just as much about how not to pitch as we’ve learned about the right ways. The main thing to keep in mind is how you feel when you are on the receiving end of a misguided PR pitch. If you just stick with that mindset, you’ll avoid the lion’s share of pitching mistakes.
I have been getting pitches for my blog, Because the Medium is the Message, since 2004 or so. Now, Marketing Conversation gets loads of pitches as well. Some of the insulting things that abuse me to no end include sending your pitch to “Dear Blogger,” or to “Abraham” when my name is Chris Abraham and my partner’s name is Mark Harrison and there is no one named “Abraham Harrison” in my company. I can generally tell when a compliment is hollow: they’re either too general or way too recent and specific. It is very easy for even the least sophisticated of my fellow bloggers to sense sucking up or kissing up, especially if you haven’t done any homework or any research at all.
Also, if you don’t have your formatting sorted and it looks like you obviously copied and pasted back and forth and I can make out weird spacing and a strange mixture of fonts and sizes, I can tell you’re probably cutting corners and doing things carelessly and without concern for how I will perceive it — as though half-assed is all I am worth since I am not a Mashable or TechCrunch. People don’t like it when they can obviously tell that you’re going through the motions until something else better comes along. Bloggers will always call you out if they sense you’re just calling it in.
No, I also don’t blame the agents too much. They’re often understaffed, juggling too many balls, have insufficient experience, or lack technological skills and are just doing their best. The agencies are why these agents are oftentimes coming up short. And, at the end of the day, many agencies have given up on earned media because earned media can be risky and it can oftentimes be an all or nothing venture. Outreach failure is easily possible when there is very little cultural awareness and understanding of how best to appeal to these thousands and thousands of very real people who wield very real power and influence over popular consensus and perception.
A meaningful PR campaign is not about link-farming
Don’t come away from this article thinking that you need to hire me or Socialmedia.biz to get some of that white-hat link-farming SEO love. Let me warn you: it doesn’t work unless you spend a lot of time, money, energy and creativity to actually put together a plausible and meaningful PR campaign.
Bloggers did not fall of a turnip truck. If they don’t see the value in the pitch, they won’t post. If they fancy that you’re just asking them to post because you want to vampire bat on their Google juice, then you’re likely to be in a whole lot of #fail and possibly a whole lot of pain. The white-hat link-farm organic SEO pwn effect is only secondary if you are, the entire way along, a total Mensch and have amazing assets, viral-quality video, a great pitch, an accurate target, and a gentle, kind and generous follow-through.
It is sort of like dating. You need to remain present during the entire date and not even get angry or resentful — or hostile — if you are not invited upstairs for a night cap. If you’re caught just calling it in and going through the motions, just being on the date because you’re hoping to get lucky at the end of the night, you’re likely to end up either hurting someone else’s feelings or destroying your reputation. Enjoy the company, enjoy the date, enjoy the diversion, enjoy the desert, enjoy the wine, enjoy the walk in the park, enjoy the play, enjoy the coffee, and then be surprised and appreciative when and if you’re invited upstairs for a night cap.
If you are truly present in blogger outreach, and what you do is driven by what’s good for the blogger as well as what’s good for you, you might be pleased with the results.