A colleague recently suggested outreaching to media and bloggers has become one and the same, but I disagree. After years in the world of media relations, I’ve found blogger outreach opens new doors, creates opportunities and brings pleasant surprises. As I increasingly apply blogger outreach as a tactic, here’s what I’ve learned about the bloggers I’ve encountered:
- Bloggers command a personal approach and return the favor. Word is out that starting an email with Dear Blogger (instead of their name) is one of the best ways to burn a relationship at the get go. Similarly, a blogger wants a personalized pitch tailored to their interest, needs and format. In return, they don’t call you a “handler” and may even name you in their post. Being mentioned is not something I want but I met one blogger who did this as a part of her editorial style and I had to work with it. (Ideally you should pitch personalized opportunities to a traditional reporter but many tolerated generic titles and news releases for years.)
- Bloggers don’t always take the liner path. You may pitch via email but bloggers respond on Twitter, LinkedIn or another social channel but often not email. For this reason and to build a relationship before making the “ask,” I try to connect with bloggers and other influencers when I start work in their niche, by following them on Twitter, posting meaningful comments on their blogs or connecting on LinkedIn.
- Bloggers are positive and passionate about their topic. Not that I haven’t met pumped traditional journalists but let’s face it, most reporters are assigned a beat or role but bloggers usually create their niche and embrace it.
- Bloggers are objective but many are also notably humane and striving for a greater ideal. They seek content with substance but rarely at someone’s expense. In reviewing products, some bloggers will hold the review rather than trash an item that proves disappointing. This shouldn’t discredit covered products but rather raise a red flag on those omitted. In pitching a story on workplace tragedies, I found some print reporters wanted access to next of kin within days of losing loved ones; bloggers were content to profile older accidents with fresh insights on lessons learned that could prevent future tragedies. (I’m not suggesting all reporters are out for blood but we tell clients “nothing is off the record” for a good reason.)
- Bloggers like fun and rise to the occasion when given the opportunity to engage with a new curve. In pitching a book, I offered one copy to the blogger and one as a giveaway to their readers by whatever route they chose. One launched a contest to draw a winner from readers who tweeted the book’s hashtag. When offered a sample of a pet food not yet available in her state, a pet blogger offered to spark interest by running a contest instead. Traditional reporters can be fun but their creativity is often restricted by the medium, as well as their publisher and other watchdogs.
- Bloggers do recurring coverage within a short time span. After reviewing a pet food, one blogger referenced the food in later posts on travels with her dog. Bloggers embraced my book pitch by running preview posts or contest follow-ups with additional excerpts and references.
On the flip side, as bloggers own their time and often blog as a sideline. They may feel less pressure to quickly turnaround a post, if at all. Although reporters do drop stories, you generally sense an article will run once a reporter has clocked significant time and seems content with the way it’s evolving.
I still have a high regard and good rapport with traditional journalists but find these subtleties inviting.
I’m still learning about social media and how to best work with bloggers and other influencers but this is what I’ve found so far. Are my experiences unique or “one offs”? Did I miss any other key differences? Please tell me.