September 28, 2011

How to pitch bloggers so they’ll post about you

http://mlblogsphilliesphollowers.files.wordpress.com/2009/07/lee.jpgChris AbrahamLast week I told you how not to pitch a blogger in your PR outreach, so it raises the pregnant question of what exactly should you do?

For about five years now we’ve seen an extraordinary number of clients and potential clients who have frankly been afraid of blogger outreach because of the poor practices of companies and brands that have stumbled in their attempts to engage the blogosphere. So today I wanted to walk through our process to show you how it’s done. Just how do you pitch a blogger?

First off, we see if we already know anyone. We know folks at the top tech blogs, so we give them first bite. By the time that shakes out, we’ll have a couple-few-thousand blogs to QA and sort out. While we’re seeing how the A-listers pan out, we develop a message model that is inclusive enough to not alienate any single blogger but specific enough that each blogger is completely clear as to who our client is and what we want from them (a post, a tweet, an embedded video, a review, etc). Continue reading

September 22, 2011

Either take your time commenting on blogs or get spamboxed

Chris AbrahamI must have impulse control issues. I posted the following on my corporate blog yesterday — Here’s how not to (spam) comment (spam) — because a comment spam broke by heart. The person who did it was 80% there, he just #failed where he could have maybe won me over (because my blogs don’t get a lot of comments and I am lonely and generally treat commenters — even shameless self-promoters — kindly since they’re all I have!)

So, while I have no problem spam-canning the really awful, clueless, ESL foreign and automated comments, this looked like it was at least copied and pasted by a human, “Raymond McLemore,” but then it just came off as too generic, too self-serving, and not nearly neighborly or generous enough.

He has nothing to add and the post wasn’t generous. It was dropped in with the single-minded aim at dropping a keyword link into my post via the comments, “Marketing Weekly,” using that as his Author name.

Continue reading

September 21, 2011

How not to treat bloggers and how not to pitch blogs

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_mbX7X5qGMrM/TTROLWnEGzI/AAAAAAAAAHc/t-wh7qZsGVU/s1600/angry-blogger-300x251.jpgChris AbrahamLast 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. Continue reading

September 15, 2011

Why are you so afraid of engaging bloggers?

Tips for how your agency or firm should do outreach the right way

http://milkandcuddles.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/Rosie_The_Blogger.jpgChris AbrahamUnlike a few years ago, today everyone at least pays lip service to reaching out to bloggers, the same way that PR people have always reached out to mainstream media. That’s what my company, Abraham-Harrison, does and lots of other companies try to do it, too. But I am still surprised that many companies don’t do blogger outreach, even today. My conclusion is that what is holding them back is fear. Simply put, blogger outreach is scary.

And it’s not a completely irrational fear. It is true that bloggers are unpredictable and we all know, thanks to posts by the Consumerist and the Bad Pitch Blog, that one false move and you’re public mincemeat. Publicly shamed, drawn, quartered and, finally, drummed out of the corps.

We all know this, except that it isn’t so. The biggest faux pas that most agencies commit when they test the waters with blogger outreach has less to do with the natural meanness of the bloggers  and more to do with the behavior of the agencies. In many cases, the bad experiences that many agencies blame on the rudeness of the blogger is square on the agency’s shoulders.

It is a case of the abuser blaming the victim, the blogger.

In truth, the blogger often has no context for a PR outreach, has never been part of the publicity machine, and often doesn’t know what’s expected, what proper and improper behavior is, and most often is just behaving naturally and not part of some insidious cabal aimed at defaming you or your brand or your personal reputation. Continue reading

July 27, 2011

How to add value through your blog

Strategies for standing out in a world without context

Chris AbrahamI am in the middle of guiding some new bloggers over at Marketing Conversation on how to blog most effectively. It is pretty exciting and instructive because there are many things I take for granted. One of the biggest trends I see is internal shorthand. What I mean is that my bloggers tend to write based on a lot of assumed context. When they write my company name, they might choose AH instead of Abraham Harrison; and, since that AH is on a corporate blog, they might forget to link it to the best page in the corporate website.

They simply assume that people who are reading content from Marketing Conversation or Because the Medium is the Message — or even an article on the corporate website — are in on the joke. That they grok the context.

Not only is that not true, but it is dangerous, because I am guilty of it myself. I would say north of 80% of the people I engage with on a daily basis online don’t know that I am president of a digital agency with over 50 staff and dozens of clients.  See, I make the same assumptions.

I assume that I shouldn’t be so self-referential because “they” surely know who I am by now, I have been branding for years. Pretty darn shamelessly if you ask me — at least I thought so.  Not so.

Brand perceptions don’t keep up with reality

And I have not even gotten to the most important part: Even if people know who you are, what you do, the company you own, and its products and services intimately, their brand perception hasn’t evolved at the speed of your business.  What I did in 2006 is quite a bit different than what Abraham Harrison does now, as a company.

Even worse, after we spend all of this time, resources, hours, money, and brain trust on creating insightful analysis and share it for free on our blogs and via Twitter and Facebook, we’re living in a Derridian world: “there’s nothing outside the text.”  Let me explain. Continue reading

July 20, 2011

Fire for effect when you can’t get a bead

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/c/c6/Neunpf%C3%BCnder.jpg/300px-Neunpf%C3%BCnder.jpgChris AbrahamI‘ve run a social media marketing agency since Autumn 2006 so Abraham Harrison is almost five years old. In that time, we’ve learned quite a lot.

One of my biggest learnings is that you can’t always get a direct bead on your demographic target — and that’s OK. We’ve worked for a broad spectrum in these five years, from health care and pharma to huge radio astronomy projects; from global nonprofits to very specific public affairs campaigns. Social media marketing and blogger outreach and activation can be effective for everything, though it isn’t always clear how. B2B seems to be the least confident that social can help them but I believe we have really sorted it out: What I’ve learned is that if you cannot target your dream customer directly, you can target everyone around him.

I call this “fire for effect,” which is a term taken from artillery for when you don’t quite know where your target is or your target is well-guarded or sheltered. So what you do instead is you fire downrange, doing your best to either step your shells closer and closer to the true target or to just use the shock and awe of incoming high explosive shrapnel shells going off everywhere else, distracting and engaging powerfully but indirectly. Continue reading