Blogs have leveled the playing field in the media business. On the production side, blogs make it possible for anyone to publish content. Meanwhile, for those seeking coverage, blogs have developed into an ecosystem where there are hundreds of thousands of specialized media outlets, creating unprecedented opportunity to get your business’ story in front of the right people.
Moreover, if you’re seeking coverage, there is no longer a need to employ an expensive PR firm to pitch your story (though as I’ll explain, it can be a helpful shortcut). However, bloggers can be a particular bunch, and at highly trafficked blogs, the amount of stories to choose from vastly outnumbers time in the day to write them. Without further ado, here are some of the top strategies of highly effective do-it-yourself story pitchers:
1. Identifying the Right Blogs: It seems like common sense, but you’d be amazed at the amount of untargeted, unsolicited pitches that arrive in blog editors’ inboxes. Unless you’re completely new to the blogosphere, you probably already have a few outlets in mind, but to find more and build a list to contact, try Technorati, Google Blog Search, or Icerocket.
2. Establishing Yourself in the Community: One big difference between blogs and traditional media is the community that often develops in the comments. Commenting on the blogs you read and eventually plan to pitch gets your name and face (upload a photo) in front of the author, and will make them more apt to dig into your story when it arrives.
3. Interacting on Social Networks: Another way to get your name in front of a blogger is to interact on social networks. The easiest and least invasive way is to follow them on Twitter, and reply to some of their tweets. LinkedIn and Facebook are other options to consider, but since these are reciprocal friend networks and some bloggers are more private than others, it’s not right for everyone.
4. Following Each Blog’s Submission Guidelines: If a blog has a submission form for press releases, use it, even if you’ve found a blogger’s personal email address or phone number. Likewise, while interacting with bloggers on social networks is a good thing, don’t use them to send your pitch, unless a blog explicitly tells you to do so.
5. Personalizing the Pitch: If you’ve been following the instructions to this point, this part should be a breeze. In your pitch, be sure to note a recent interaction you’ve had with the blogger elsewhere, and if applicable, reference a story that they recently published that you found insightful or relevant to your own pitch.
6. Getting to the Point: Brevity is your friend when it comes to pitching blogs. You should be able to establish why what you’re pitching is newsworthy within the first few sentences, and add supporting details in the form of either links, attachments, or inviting the blogger to call or email you with questions.
7. Making the Blogger’s Job Easy: Take note of the way the blog you’re pitching formats its articles. Do they like to include a company logo? Pictures of the company’s founders? Embedded videos that demo the product? By making these elements a part of your pitch, you make the story that much easier for the blogger to write.
8. Setting an Embargo Time: If you’re not pitching your story exclusively to one blog, it’s often wise to set an embargo – a specific date and time that you’re asking the publication to honor before publishing a story. Blogs depend on breaking news first in order to get traffic, and if you’re not working with them exclusively, they’ll at least want the news at the same time as everybody else. Along those lines, sending them the news after other publications have already written about it is poor form.
9. Putting the Press Release on the Wires: Finally, once your embargo time has passed, you can send the press release out on a PR distribution service like PR Newswire or Businesswire. Bloggers still monitor these services for stories in their interest areas – for example, I monitor PR Newswire feeds for topics like “social networking” and “social media.”
Sound like a lot of work? It is – building relationships with bloggers takes time, as does getting to know how to craft an effective pitch. That’s where PR agencies come into play, as they should already be actively implementing all of the strategies above on an ongoing basis. But, many of them are not, so be diligent in deciding who you hire, and make sure they have expertise and contacts relevant to your niche. Nonetheless, doing it yourself is entirely possible, rewarding, and in the long-run, a big money saver.