A few members of our Push-n-Pull team went to Social Fresh Baltimore – a social media conference – this week. Between networking and hearing some experts speak, the conference was a success. It also helped reinforce what we do here at The Cyphers Agency (and that we’re doing it right).
Specifically, Chris Barger spoke in depth about how to work with influencers (and more importantly, how to not piss them off), and since blogger outreach is something we implement on a regular basis, it was good to see we were following all of his rules. It also reminded us of how important it is to really build and sustain relationships with bloggers or influencers. It’s amazingly easy to be lazy (and bad) at communicating with this group of people, but really taking the time to invest in a long term relationship can be returned many times over. So while we’ve written about blogger outreach before, we thought we’d give you a little more insight into how we continue to do it successfully.
1. Do the “leg work” yourself.
We rely only on ourselves to find the perfect bloggers. Sure, there are some tools that can help, but it didn’t take us very long to realize that we had to do the work ourselves to create a database of the types of bloggers we wanted. When we are ready to start communicating, we take our time to get to know them. After all, nothing turns a blogger off quicker than an impersonal pitch.
So how can you do this? Avoid form emails and take time to research the person you’re pitching. Read their blog beyond the first couple posts. Read their “about” section. Do they have kids? Are they married? Are they more formal or hang loose? Build a little profile of the person and use that to guide your communication. Pay attention to the details. Write the blog name how the blogger does, even if the spelling/capitalization/spacing is odd or technically incorrect. Make sure to pick little specific things out of a post to include in the email as a way of subtly demonstrating that you do, in fact, actually read their blog. This may sound like a lot of initial leg work, but in our experience it makes bloggers feel appreciated and catered to. It also helps us cut through all of the other clutter (or other pitch emails) they might be getting.
2. Don’t be overly promotional, for God’s sake!
Once you’ve gone through this initial step of communication, it’s important to establish and grow the relationship. One way to not do this is to ask for something right off the bat. Build the blogger up. Give them something that will benefit them. Provide information that will be important to their readers. Don’t just do this once, do this twice. Thrice even. Become a reliable acquaintance. They’ll be more willing to help you, when the time comes.
When you do ask for that help that you might need, or that article you want written, ask nicely. They’ll be much more willing to provide you with something of value if you’ve already been in communication a dozen times. Don’t just stop after you receive what you want, either. Be sure to say “thanks” – it goes a LONG way. Positively call them out on your social networks to give them a little more visibility. Follow up every few days or months, too. Shoot over more valuable information as you see fit. Really think of each communication as a step towards a long term relationship.
3. Don’t get too big for your britches (and know the consequences of your actions).
A lot of folks get stuck in the old-school mentality of public relations when approaching bloggers, and that’s a big mistake. While traditional media often relies on their established relationships with PR pros and marketers for both timely content and advertising dollars, bloggers don’t. As Chris Barger said, they built their audience without you. While we think our clients have plenty of value to offer bloggers and their audience, we keep a healthy sense of humility and realize that bloggers hold plenty of cards in this game. Like we said earlier, showing some respect for a blogger and their work can go a long way. And you don’t need to go far to find examples of just how wrong it can go when you don’t take a blogger and their power seriously – like this example [beware, there’s some salty language!].
Blogger outreach can do so many things for a company or brand, but it’s bigger than just a pitch email. Know your bloggers, help them out, and realize their importance (they have the Internet as their soapbox, after all). Once you do realize these things, you can start to patch together a strong blogger outreach program.