Yes, dear readers. We’re talking about better blogger outreach this week.
I haven’t actually tackled this subject yet but lots of others have. Just Google “better blogger outreach” and you’ll get more than 3.4 million results.
So why make it 3.4 million + one?
Fact is, I got my first pitch a few weeks ago from a communications agency. It was pretty bad, showing little to no understanding of what I blog about.
Clearly there are still agencies out there who haven’t taken the time to learn best practices for online influencer outreach. As an industry, we have to adapt to the new reality. And we’d better do it quickly before we become obsolete.
If you work for a communications company, please read this post (it’s a condensed version of a best practice document we established for our consultants a few years ago) and feel free to adapt or borrow our ideas for your own practice.
We’ll be stronger as an industry if more of us are doing it right.
1. Find the bloggers that matter
If you don’t have the budget for formal monitoring tools there are tons of free resources to help you find influencers online:
- Search is a good starting point including Google, Twitter and Networked Blogs on Facebook.
- Blogrolls are a gold mine for finding like-minded influencers. These lists are typically found on the sidebar of a blogger’s home page with links to their favourite blogs. Once you’ve found a few bloggers in your target group, you’re likely to find a whole lot more by tapping into their blogrolls.
- Twitter lists are the best way to organize the people you follow—and a great way to find popular bloggers. They work the same way as the blogroll: Find a few bloggers on Twitter, check out the lists they’ve created and, voilà, you’ve just found loads more bloggers in your target.
2. Read their posts
We have a strict policy to read a minimum of five posts before we reach out to any blogger, PLUS their ‘about’ page and pitch policy. Many bloggers want to work with PR agencies, but others don’t. Don’t waste time on the latter.
Bonus tip: It’s not enough to just read the blog. Do a quick search on each blog for the topic or industry you’re planning to pitch (most blogs have a search button on the home page). Check out Danny Brown’s post on a pitch gone wrong that could have been avoided with a quick search on his blog for Klout.
3. Build a contact list
Create a list of the bloggers you’ve found including the name of their blog, their first and last name (this part is really important; see Bonus Tip below), blog URL, contact information (many bloggers have a contact form on their blog instead of providing phone and/or email) and their location.
Bonus tip: Only send customized emails to bloggers and be sure to address them by name, not “Dear Blogger” or “Dear Polaris B”. I don’t need to tell you why, do I?
4. Rank the bloggers
We’ve all got limited time and budgets these days. This next step helps prioritize your list so your time and your client’s money are well spent. But it can be a bit tricky to rank bloggers if you don’t subscribe to a service like Vocus that gives you access to their Unique Monthly Visitors.
Fortunately, there are more free tools to help:
- Klout score: I know, I know. A lot of you are groaning now and I completely get that Klout is not a great way to determine someone’s online influence. But it does give a sense of where a blogger stands compared to others. So we use it, along with a number of other criteria.
- Twitter followers and number of lists on which they appear: The number of followers someone has is not really a good indication of their influence. While we include it on our spreadsheet, we’re really more interested in the number of lists on which they appear.
- PageRank: PageRank is named for Larry Page of Google fame. It’s an algorithm that assigns a number from 1 to 10 to a web page to measure its relative importance.
5. Reach out
Start with ‘baby’ steps of engagement by leaving comments on their blog. It’s also OK to send a customized email introducing yourself, who you are, what you do, where you work and why you’re contacting them.
If the blogger wants to have a relationship with you, great! But move on if they don’t. Most bloggers don’t like to be pestered (who does?).
Bonus tip: Do not send news releases to bloggers, unless you have a customized pitch and are including the release for more information (same goes for traditional media).
Whether you wear a blogger or an agency hat, what other suggestions do you have for better blogger outreach?
Shelley Pringle |
Shelley has a knack for developing creative solutions that generate results, regardless of a client‘s budget. Some of her favorite campaigns include award-winning initiatives for Hallmark Canada, Cadbury Canada and Canada Life. Her experience covers a variety of industry sectors, but she‘s happiest when she‘s working on consumer products, including food, beverages and personal finance. She‘s got agency and client-side marketing experience having worked as a product manager for Unilever Canada and for multi-national PR firm Hill and Knowlton. Shelley is the quarterback for the Polaris team, running interference with clients, project deadlines and budgets.