In the fast-paced world of media, it’s becoming increasingly obvious (and mainstream) to try to get products, services, and news launched on the internet before anywhere else. Bloggers hold the power of instant press with big impressions. A cosmetics company hoping for long-lead media like glossy magazines might wait as long as 6 months to get published (if they even get published), or 3 months for a TV placement to come through. That sucks, especially because most TV and print media sources are owned by giant companies with strict editorial rules and allegiances to the biggest companies in the world rather than the smaller and medium sized companies with great products (advertising dollars make the world go round, after all). Bloggers spread the word quickly, efficiently, offer huge SEO potential that print never can, and often the readers are way more loyal and dedicated than any reader of a glossy found in a doctor’s waiting office. So why, oh why, aren’t PR people and brands learning to pitch us properly? I can think of at least 10 major magazines with ANNUAL circulation lower than our MONTHLY readership, and the same goes for most of my friends in the blogging world. Successful blogger-relations are sort of like dating, and I’ve compiled a list of do’s and don’t-ever’s with the help of some of the best bloggers out there:
1. BE CLEAR. “Get the the point of the pitch and then either attach more information or include it in the bottom of the email.” -Lara Eurdolian, PrettyConnected.com
2. USE MY NAME, PROPERLY! Being referred to as “There,” or “Blogger” isn’t acceptable. Try “Hey Bryce,” (instead of the oh-so-often “Hey Bruce” even though you managed to spell my name flawlessly in the email address).
3. BE POLITE, AND HAVE A PERSONALITY. Any high-traffic blogger gets thousands of copy/paste emails a week, literally. We sort through them diligently and hope to find the products and information that’ll really excite us and our readers, and it doesn’t hurt if you’ve got a warm, endearing personality. I can fondly recall a PR-newbie pitching me on a nail product that might not’ve been exciting to me about 4 years ago, but her email made it so obvious that she’d actually read my site several times that I couldn’t help but like her. 4 years later, I’ve published her clients endlessly on TheLuxurySpot.com, taken them on national TV shows, included them in a variety of other local morning shows, and introduced them to other bloggers like myself.
4. REMEMBER WE WRITE MORE THAN BLOGS. You know what’s pretty great? Bloggers are the new face of, um, everything. I personally also write for the digital side of one of the biggest magazines out there, and most of my blogging friends are the behind-the-scenes editors at all the major TV networks, magazines, and radio stations. Like, if you’re really nice and loving with us and your products really do work, we’ll likely throw your clients a bone and include them on TV or in a glossy. And wouldn’t your client just love that happening in under a few months, as per the usual?
5. REALIZE WE ARE NOT SECOND RATE HUMANS. Bloggers, until recently, have been the Rosa Parks of the editorial community- forever at the back of the bus. Since we command just as much traffic and more, we’d love the same respect as print editors. You know, simple things like not rushing communication. “Our business is all about communication and connecting and sometimes I think that’s forgotten in the rush to get hits either for your website or for your client.” -Alison Blackman, AdviceSisters.com. Basically, it wouldn’t kill anyone if we got occasional “how are you?” or “totally fell in love with that nail art round-up you posted last week!” notes. Things that give us the impression you care. The PR gals that pull this off are the ones we go to drinks with, show up at every event, and make sure we follow up on new launches for. It doesn’t matter if you’re based in Tuscon and we’re in NYC- we’re happy to know you and and excited to actually pay attention to your pitch if you leave us with a fuzzy feeling.
6. GIVE US SOCIAL LOVE. Loved our most recent post about your client’s newest line of contemporary home furnishings? Well, tweet the link for your followers to see. Or share it on Facebook. Heck, go wild, do both. Scratch our backs and we’ll probably remember you that much better. If your client isn’t down with that for some insane reason, follow us personally. Interact with us. Retweet us. I can think of a certain gal who was over at a makeup company rhyming with “ay-bell-een” with a history of doing this particularly well.
1. ASSUME A BLOGGER OWES YOU ANYTHING. “I mostly dislike when someone I’ve never met emails me and straight up asks for a review on my blog. There’s no asking for a review. I have to tell them to send products for editorial consideration with no guarantee of coverage or ask if they’d like to have my sponsored post rates.” -Amber Katz, BeautyBloggingJunkie.com We’re editors, too. We produce content that our audiences will love and trust, and if they stop trusting the quality of our content they’ll go back to dinosaur-magazines. If you’re not prepared to have real consideration and reviews, you might as well ask us to purchase a sponsored post. We do that, it pays our bills, and we use carefully elegant little disclaimers at the end. The good news is that we’re all usually pretty good about posting things we really love!
2. FORGET TO ACTUALLY INVEST 5 MINUTES IN FINDING OUT WHO WE ARE. “Personally what I hate is pitches that make it clear the person has no idea who i am or what i’m about. Like, ‘dear mommy blogger’ (lets face it, there’s no one LESS mommy than me), or even ‘dear blogger’ — I have a name, which if possible, i’d love to be spelled correctly! Also, if you pitch me for a site I havn’t written for in 5 years and say you love my work, I just may doubt your sincerity!” – Aly Walansky, Alittlealytude.com
3. ASK US TO MESSAGE OR SHIP SOMETHING BACK TO YOU AT OUR EXPENSE. Listen, if you want to send over some earrings or shoes or even a flaming cashmere cape for us to shoot and display to our loyal readers, cool. It’s your responsibility to deliver the item to us. And then, if for some reason you need it back (which if the item is under $100 is sort of in poor taste), you need to send a pre-paid shipping label WITH the package or arrange for a return messenger. It’s that simple. If you don’t do this, not only will we not be interested in writing up your cheap banana clips, we’ll be turned off to your extra-large PR company run by 18 year old interns. #simplemath
4. PITCH US AN AD. You may think it’s super great info to send us a release that basically says “here’s a consumer event located in this mall in Texas, and we’re offering customers free $5 gift cards with any purchase of $500” when you know darn well that we have a national audience. Obviously we’re not going to get great traffic from posting your local event, and if that was what we did, we’d all have websites with names like CheckOutMyLocalEvent.com. We don’t. For the most part, we cater to like-minded people spread across the nation. “Being pitched something that is obviously advertising and trying to push it as editorial is not professional, and is a huge no-no.” -Candice Sabatini, BeautyNewsNYC.com
5. FOLLOW UP 80 BILLION TIMES. OK, we got the eye cream 4 days ago. It takes at least a week or two to properly try a product out before recommending our readers rush out and buy a $90 product, right? Be mindful of the amount of time required for each product. Maybe a phone case is something we can try and shoot within a few days, a deep conditioner might wait a shampoo or two (maybe we don’t shampoo every day, jeez), and maybe the wool sweater you sent will just have to wait till the weather isn’t suffocatingly hot. Follow up 1-2 times in a week. If you prod us any more than that it’ll give us some kind of terribly Pavlov-esque response to your client, and no one wants that.
6. PITCH US ON THE PHONE. If you still think this is acceptable, I urge you to travel back in time to 1987. The internet doesn’t want you or your clients. Also, who gave you our phone numbers? Is that on Cision? Cision, please remove our phone numbers… we have enough stalkers.
7. ASK FOR OUR STATS. I think I can speak for most of the blogger scene when I say I’ve gotten a ton of emails like “Hey, can you share all your past google analytics with us from the past several years so we can determine if you’re worth sending 1 bottle of shampoo to?” No, I won’t. You should be professional and subscribe to a proper service, or be cheap and free and look us up on Alexa.com. If we aren’t ranking on Alexa.com, we are meaningless. If we rank under 1 million, we have some impact. If we rank under 500k, we’re pretty darn flashy around the internet and 1 bottle of shampoo is the least you should do.
8. ACT CATTY. Insulting us to other bloggers (we’re mostly friends, consider us an extended Girl Scout troop), acting catty, or being in an obnoxious PR mean-girls group won’t get you anywhere with us. We were mostly the smart chicks in high school- popularity games are lost on us. “I have MANY issues with PR people and the middle school like treatment.” -Misti Schindele, Entertainista.com
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