Successful Blogger Outreach – What to Do and What to Avoid

This week at Affiliate Summit West, I definitely learned some great things from the sessions, and I thought I would share one that is pertinent to my audience: blogger outreach.

Blogger Outreach for Businesses
Blogger outreach – a powerful way to connect! Photo Credit

Blogger outreach, when done correctly, can be a powerful way to get your name or product out into the blogosphere and in front of your target audience. Done incorrectly, however, and it can really annoy the heck out of other bloggers and put you on their crap list.

Ways NOT to Do Blogger Outreach

As the recipient of a lot of really, really bad emails from businesses and PR agencies looking to get some publicity for their products or their client’s, here are some examples of things that will make me put you in my “PR People” filter which goes into a Gmail label that will rarely, if ever, get checked. I only keep it as something to help me if I am searching for emails about something specific – if a bad PR pitch is the only info I have on it, I might resort to it.

Anyway, here are the big two no-no’s when it comes to reaching out to bloggers to help spread the word about you, products, or services.

Mass Emails

It becomes glaringly obvious, once you’ve received a few of these, that someone is using some cut and paste template or software that is sending one blanket email to thousands of people on a list while just replacing the name and website information. It’s worse if your template sucks and the email comes through as “Dear {First Name}” I have visited your website at “domain.com” and think it would be a great fit…

Off Topic Pitches

Another thing that is noticeable is when a blogger receives a pitch for something that does not fit their audience. I have seen some that are so far off base, I just wonder if they used an automated keyword search, found that I mentioned NFL once in passing, and then let then decided my site must be a great fit for a sporting goods store.

So now that you know what NOT to do, let’s look at what you should be doing.

How to Do Blogger Outreach

These are some great tips from the Blogger Outreach session at Affiliate Summit West with Chris Brogan, John Chow, Eric Schechter, Greg Rollett, and Jonathan Volk. Enjoy!

Research

Take a little time to research the blogs you are considering reaching out to. Look at their latest posts, archives, comments, and social engagement. Check out their blog on Postrank to see what topics get the most engagement.

My Tips: Want to know another way to see what a blogger’s community wants? Setup a search for their @username mentions in a Twitter management tool like HootSuite. This way you can see not only what is getting retweeted, but what things a blogger’s community is asking them about.

Between the tweets and reading the blog’s comments, you should get an idea of something that the blogger’s audience wants, and may be able to give value to your pitch by saying that the item you are trying to promote will help the blogger’s readers with their questions about XYZ.

Interact with the Blogger Before Reaching Out

Don’t make the “Hey, can you write about my product” email the first communication that a blogger receives from you. Instead, try to become a part of their community by engaging with the blogger and their readers in the comments, sharing their posts on Twitter, or becoming a fan of their Facebook page and interacting there. This will show the blogger that you are interested in their content and providing value to their audience.

Make Your Pitch Personal

When it comes to your pitch to the blogger, it shouldn’t be something that could be sent to every blog in that particular niche. Make that blogger know that the pitch is just for them.

My Tips: Be sure that the customization of your pitch is evident in the first sentence / paragraph of your email reaching out to the blogger. That’s generally about all I read of email campaigns, so if I see something like “I just read your post on HootSuite for Bloggers and think that your readers would also enjoy learning about XYZ” then I know you’ve actually been on my blog and I’ll probably continue reading.

Don’t Make Every Communication a Pitch

This one should be relatively obvious, but try to mix up your communications with bloggers so that every email you send isn’t “Do this for me, do this for me, do this for me.”

My Tips: If you have gotten to know your blogger through research and interacting with them on their blog and via their social networks, you will know what things interest them and what doesn’t. Maybe send them occasional emails or tweets of things that have nothing to do with your pitches, such as “Hey, just read this post on XYZ – thought you might like it.” In my case, since I have a weekly roundup, I am extremely grateful to those who send me a heads up to something that would fit well in one of the topics I cover.

Give the Blogger Benefits

Overall, you will want to make sure that you are giving your blogger benefits. I don’t mean paying for posts (because while some bloggers expect it, others are against it). I mean making sure that the content you are asking them to promote will generate a positive response from their readers. If possible, give the blogger something to give to their audience. Promote the blogger on your own network. The blogger is helping you, so be sure that you are helping the blogger as well!

Blogger Outreach and Guest Blogging

Blogger outreach is not just for businesses. Do you contact other bloggers about guest post ideas? Then you are doing some blogger outreach of your own by pitching your guest post ideas.

Keep the above tips in mind, as researching a blog is essential to making sure you are not sending a blogger something off-topic that they and their audience is not interested in. Look at the blog’s level of content – if they write for a more advanced audience, they are probably not going to want content geared toward beginners.

Your Thoughts on Blogger Outreach

I’d like to hear from both bloggers and business / PR people on this one. Bloggers, if you have received amazing or atrocious pitches, share your experiences. And businesses, what challenges do you run into when doing blogger outreach? Share your thoughts in the comments!

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Comments

  1. says

    Hey Kristi,

    I’ve recently got a few emails form people to GP on my blog or visa versa. But I always pay the most attention to the people who I’ve seen around on Twitter, have posted a comment on my blog, and have otherwise interacted with me. It doesn’t have to be to the point where it’s like, “Hey, we’re best blogging friends!” but just to the point where it’s clear you both share the same interests, both are dedicated to really learning and/or teaching similar topics, and seem like they’re there to stay.

    I mean, one of my favorite things about blogging is the connections you get to make with awesome people! Why would you want to just call on someone with a “me me me attitude” when you can connect with someone that loves the same cool things you do!?

    Thanks for the resources! Will definitely delve a bit more into PostRank!
    - LAUREN
    Lauren Rains just posted You’ll Never Be Old and Wise If You Weren’t Young and Crazy

  2. says

    I am very glad you posted this. I hate getting pitches that are obviously geared toward Mommy Bloggers –diapers, sippy cups, and other strange things my audience isn’t interested in. Few garden product makers or PR firms contact bloggers with appropriate items, even though we are a growing market segment. Maybe they will pay more attention, now.
    Stephanie Suesan Smith just posted Care and Feeding of Garden Bloggers

  3. says

    These are good points to help bloggers engage their audiences, and they also represent things I don’t see everyone doing online. Good communication is a long-term process that requires as much creativity as consistently good content. Those who take the time to do it right and differentiate themselves find the most success online.

  4. says

    Hey Kristi, I liked this post for the one main reason, I haven’t read anything similar that I remember.
    I am also sick and tired of certain copy and paste sales pitches and I am amazed that people still didn’t get it! Or are there those that still buy from them!?

    I just want to say that it is great to know stuff like this instead learning them by trial and error.

    I am sure there are bloggers doing it only for money and those that would not take money, but a great approach is all it takes :)
    Brankica from Live Your Love just posted 10 ways to run your Facebook Fan Page into the ground

  5. says

    Hi Kristie, I think you do a great job with your blogger outreach and you really you should be leading those sessions instead of attending it. I thought you were going to link to some blog posts from those bloggers list instead of their Twitter accounts. Maybe next year they’ll get wise to you, like the rest of us already are. :)

    Btw – I left a post in CommentLuv that would be good for your next Fetching Friday in the Social Media or Twitter category. Check it out when you get a chance. Thanks!
    Ileane just posted The Best Chrome Extensions to use with New Twitter

  6. says

    Hi Kristi,

    I really don’t know that I am doing a blogger outreach since I read your post. What I am doing is I am emailing some bloggers out there and asking them if they allow some guest post to be published at their blogs. Some say yes, some say no and some say it depends. But honestly, this kind of reaching out is really a good way to keep in touch and getting to know more each other within the blogosphere.
    Ron Leyba just posted UFC 125 Resolution Frankie Edgar vs Gray Maynard

  7. says

    I get those emails too, I just spam them after I read the first sentence because it is painfully obvious that they are auto-generated. These are awesome tips and I am anxious to check out postrank! Thanks!

  8. says

    Ahh yes, I hate these emails. I’m more inclined to even read the message if it’s written in a personal way and I see that someone has taken time to read and understand the content on my blog. I also find myself much more inclined to help a blogger out if they’ve took time to comment and engage in the conversation on my blog. As much as I hate to say it, there does have to be something in it for me, but that can be as simple as having took time to engage in conversation on my blog.

  9. says

    Have you read the book Guerrilla Marketing? These tips match up perfectly with the philosophy in that book.

    I’ve gotten those requests for non-relevant reviews from advertisers too. It’s like they don’t stop to think about the fact that if you’re wanting a review on a blog, it should be to a targeted audience. What really cracks me up about the emails though is how they try to make it sound like such a great deal because they’ll give you a free version of their software. HA!
    TJ McDowell just posted 2011 State Of The Photography Industry

  10. says

    Kristi,

    I really enjoyed this post. You made some really good points what not to do in an email; however, do you have any tips on what really works. Specifically the difference between the greeting: “hey there” vs “Dear Editor” or even how to go about writing a good subject header that will get their attention?

    If you have already written a post that answers these types of questions, please direct me to them! I think you have really good insight.

    Thanks,
    Sylvia

    • says

      Hi Sylvia,

      The only thing that catches my attention is when someone uses my name. It’s plastered all of over my blog, so I can’t imagine it would be difficult to find, assuming that someone has actually come to my blog. Also, if people put in a title like “Blah blah blah, the app that bloggers love” then I’ll be even more intrigued because it’s something that will fit my audience. So my main tips are personalization and making sure the pitch will fit the blogger’s audience.

      • says

        Thanks!

        That’s a really good point about including the pitch IN the subject line. I’ve typically been explaining the pitch and why it would work for their audience within the email body. But I’m sure your way has a better retention rate.

        Thanks again,
        Sylvia

        • says

          I think the subject line is the most important. There are bloggers out there that are receiving a ton of emails daily who just don’t have time to open everything, so if they don’t know you and the subject isn’t intriguing, then they will never get to the body content.

  11. says

    Kristi, thanks for the post ‘and’ for the excellent discussion you have generated. I’m preparing to reach out to industry-specific bloggers for a client and – as the recipient of many ‘invitation-to-link’ spam emails – I am apprehensive from the start that many bloggers will think of my email as ‘spam’ while, in fact, we will be very selective about who we are contacting.

    The blog post itself and the resulting conversation has reinforced my goal that I will be particularly tuned-in to my message’s subject line and to the very first words and sentence of my note to specific bloggers.

    Thanks very much.
    Joanne Maly, Lincoln Maly Marketing, @JoanneMaly
    Joanne Maly just posted Yesterday … You Said Tomorrow Today is … ‘that’ day