Four (of the) Worst Practices for Pitching Bloggers

by Tom Pick November 23, 2015
November 23, 2015

Influencer marketing has become a key component of PR and web presence optimization. Brands that are successful at pitching their news and stories to bloggers increase their online presence, gain credibility, and score those coveted “earned” backlinks that Google values as a factor in search rankings.

Worst practices in influencer marketingIt’s also challenging to do well. Unless you’ve got one of those brands (like Apple, Zappos, TOMS Shoes, or Southwest Airlines) everyone loves writing about, it’s hard to stand out amid the clutter. A-list blogs such as TechCrunch and Mashable can get hundreds of news releases and pitches each day.

B- and C-list bloggers receive fewer (though still not an insignificant number) of outreach emails, but also are typically written by part-time bloggers who cover fewer stories.

Best practices in blogger outreach, social PR, guest blogging and related topics have been covered here previously. Many of the top experts in PR, blogging and social media have written about influencer marketing strategies and tactics.

Yet bad, even horrible, blogger pitching practices remain common—because they are easy.

Establishing relationships with influential bloggers and developing an understanding of what they care about takes time and effort. But PR software and influencer databases make it easy to send out poorly targeted (or flat-out untargeted) messages in bulk. The fastest and easiest way to do outreach is a “throw it against the wall and see what sticks” approach.

It’s just not very effective and definitely not good for a brand’s image. Want to have your pitches ignored (or worse) by influential writers? Then follow these four all-too-common worst practices in blogger outreach.

Don’t Even Pretend You’ve Read the Blog

I recently received a pitch that began:

“Hi, I am a regular reader of your blog. ”

Perfect! Don’t bother using the blogger’s actual name, or the name of his/her blog, or referring to any specific piece of content. Keep it totally generic. That’s bound to make a great first impression and spark the blogger’s interest.

Just Send it to Everyone

Sure, you could actually do your homework and filter your outreach list to focus only on topically relevant bloggers, but…that’s a lot of work.

Plus, that’s hardly “thinking outside the box,” now is it? How do you know food bloggers won’t be interested in your pitch about industrial lubricants? Or that blogs focused on investing won’t pick up your story about dietary supplements?

The spray-and-pray approach to outreach seems to be gaining in popularity. For example, this blog is focused on B2B marketing. But the topics of pitches I’ve received recently include:

  • New healthcare discoveries
  • The most expensive cities in which to hire a personal trainer
  • New international statistics about flowers and plants
  • The end of McDonald’s Dollar Menu
  • BMX pro rider videos
  • Luxury hotels in Ireland
  • Top 10 cities for yoga teachers
  • International training in protocol and diplomacy
  • The new Star Trek series
  • A clever new hair styling tool

Those PR “pros” certainly didn’t let themselves be limited by conventional thinking!

Include Unsolicited Large File Attachments

Nothing demonstrates your consideration for a blogger’s time, bandwidth, and potential mailbox storage limitations like sending huge unsolicited file attachments. Why send a link to a video or PDF when you can just send the original 5 or 10 GB source file?

Follow Up Aggressively

A PR professional trying to follow actual best practices would send out a targeted, carefully worded pitch, then send a follow-up note 3-4 days later if there’s been no response. If there is still no answer, he or she would presume the blogger is too busy to pursue the story and move on.

Aw, that’s for wusses! Instead, be aggressive. Send multiple follow-up notes, starting just a couple of days after your first email. Make your tone increasingly demanding. I mean, you deserve to have a blogger you’ve never bothered building a relationship with take time to investigate and write about your off-topic story pitch, right?

Using these four worst practices will leave your messages ending up in spam folders. Most of the time. But unfortunately for the industry, even the worst outreach practices seem to work once in a while—and so their use continues.

What awful outreach practices would you add to this list?

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