Here are two basic facts you should know by now:
1) The majority of the world is obtaining new information and news from the internet; 2) Unlike traditional media, today’s blogs and internet publications have an infinite number of pages to fill. This means that bloggers are always looking for quality content to publish or write about. That’s where you and your business come in. One the brightest and nicest people in PR, Andreea Ayers, says ” Getting your content featured on other blogs is not only a great way to get your work noticed by a new audience, but it also helps out bloggers immensely by providing free, relevant content and saving them time.” From a bloggers point of view, more content leads to more readers, which leads to higher bids for sponsorships and ads for the publication. It’s a cycle from which you and your business can start to benefit today.
It’s extremely important to know how to relate your business to a blog’s core content and establish yourself as an authority on a particular subject. But first, if you don’t understand how modern blogging works or how to get your foot in the door, there’s no reason to generate content. In other words, you have to know how to play to win.
First off, blogging is all about small ball.
Small ball is a common baseball term that refers to a strategy of scoring involving smaller hits and plays that add up to runs and, in turn, victories. When it comes to producing PR and publicity victories for your small business, this is exactly the type of game you need to start playing. Sure, we would all love to be on the cover of internationally-distributed newspapers and magazines, but getting there overnight is not feasible. It takes a solid foundation — a pyramid of work with smaller publications to reach larger, widely read publications. Blogs are how you are going to get there. Here are 4 steps you need to consider when pitching:
1. Know your blogger(s).
If you are pitching 10-15 blogs in a day, it’s hard to know something about all of them. That said, do your research. Sure, research is about as fun as spending Saturday night at the library, but it’s the most important step in the process. Take the time to read through each blog and learn about all the contributors. Read their bios. Find out if there are any other publications to which they contribute. Do they have their own blog? If so, it probably speaks to their passions and can give you further insight into what piques their interest. Take the time to read several of their articles so you can mention their thoughtfully in your approach. This step is vital to sounding like a human being and not a publicity bot.
2. Pick the most accessible person, not the king pin.
It’s about getting through the door, not through the “best door.” Some people write to the editor, which works occasionally, but make a relationship with a contributor or someone who is more accessible before approaching an editor. Plus, down the line, it’s the contributors who work for multiple publications that can provide priceless insight into what publications are seeking with regards to content. They are often unbiased, easy to work with and are out in the field writing more than anyone else. If you can give them something great that they can present to the editor-in-chief, everybody wins and the contributor will be more likely to come back to you looking for more quotes and stories which means more opportunities to tell the story of your business or product.
Similar to a traditional networking event where you sip cocktails and talk face to face, it’s important to be genuine and memorable when networking via email with bloggers. The key is to approach with genuine interest in the blog’s content and mission statement. Here is where you take what you’ve learned from step one and put it to use. Compliment the writer on a recent article you enjoyed. Do you share the same viewpoint on a certain topic? If so, talk about it. It’s also important to weave in yourself and your business, but refrain from doing so in the opening line. If you can, always compliment their work before you pitch or even mention yourself. We all loved to be flattered first, engaged second. However the most important thing you need to do in your opening email is…
4. Convey your exclusive content.
Blogs don’t want a nice write-up of a syndicated column or a press release you posted on your website days before. That’s old news. Exclusive content is material that has never been published anywhere else. It’s gold in the blogging world. Make sure they know that you specifically selected them to get the first crack at your breaking story or never-before-seen series of images.
To avoid letting it go to waste, sometimes you’ll find yourself pitching the same content to multiple bloggers with the hope that one of them will want it. Although this sounds mischievous, don’t be afraid to use this approach. Experienced bloggers know that exclusive ideas have an expiration date. Out of courtesy, give them a set time to inquire. If they cannot make that time limit, they will understand that they lost out on the opportunity because of their slow response. It’s just how the game works.
5. Offer to help out.
Most serious writers and bloggers will want to take your raw story idea or information and create their own article, as they should, but others scrambling to publish will want you to “gift” it to them. That said, make the offer to write a guest post for their blog. Once you’ve confirmed they accept submissions, find out how many words the average post is and mention your knowledge of their editorial guidelines in your email, i.e., “Would it help if I put something together around 700 words?” Even if they do not accept your offer, it still conveys that you will be responsive and helpful during the writing process. They might take you up on it down the line!
Keep in mind, these are just a few of the things to consider while pitching bloggers. If you want a comprehensive look at why publicity and PR are important for your business and how to get as much for free as possible, check out Andreea Ayer’s free course on creativeLIVE.