No matter what your business, product or service, with more than 180 million blogs online there is bound to be someone with a blog who is interested in what you do.
Blogs are often overlooked in favour of either traditional media coverage or social media sites like Facebook or Twitter, but a positive review by an influential blogger could actually have a much bigger impact in terms of both brand awareness and sales.
‘Blogger outreach’ is something which I think PR companies are starting to branch out into more, but sadly not everyone who is doing it is doing it right, and some are getting it very badly wrong.
As a blogger myself, I would say that the number one mistake you can make when making contact is not being personal. Within the first few seconds of scanning an email, you can tell if it has been written for you or if you’re just another nameless, faceless email address BCC’d in with hundreds of others.
I know that typing out a hundred different emails would be incredibly time consuming, but even if you copy and paste the body of the email the least you can do is find out the name of the person you’re emailing.
The top giveaways of a mass email are the opening lines ‘Dear journalist’, ‘Dear blogger’ or perhaps the worst, ‘Dear Sir/Madam’.
Just saying ‘Hi’ is also rather suspicious, unless you are a particularly secretive blogger and there’s no way they could have found out your name.
If you really are too busy to make your emails personal, you at least need to make sure the blogs you are contacting are relevant to what you are trying to sell – don’t just go by the name of a blog, actually read it.
Some bloggers state quite clearly on their blog that they don’t do reviews – if that’s the case, asking them to review your product is only going to irritate them.
There is no ‘one size fits all’ with blogs. You might find a database of fashion bloggers and think “great, I’ll email them all about my client’s latest range of dresses”; but as well as the blogs that would be interested in that, there will also be some which are only interested in menswear, some which are all about shoes, and some just about celebrity fashion faux pas. If you send a generic email to these people, it will be blindingly obvious that you haven’t even glanced at their blog.
I think part of the problem with blogger outreach fails is that a lot of people have the attitude of “oh well, even if only 5 of the 100 bloggers I contact are interested, what harm can it do?”
The problem with that is there is the chance one of the other 95 will find your email so irrelevant, ridiculous or even offensive that they will take to their blog to vent their frustration. I’ve seen plenty of examples of bloggers posting entire emails from companies which can completely discredit their online efforts and quite frankly make them look stupid, so the answer to ‘what harm can it do’ is, actually, quite a lot.
Working for a PR company and maintaining a personal blog, this is something I’ve seen from both sides. Having experienced being sent impersonal, totally irrelevant email pitches, I now know what to avoid doing.
I received a fantastic email this morning, offering me ‘free gourmet meats’. They said that “having looked at your blog, I think it would be an excellent place for you to honestly review your thoughts on the value and quality of the pack?”
Yes, my blog is about food, but you don’t have to read very far through it to see that I am a vegetarian and therefore not very likely to be interested in your packages of meat. I’m not quite sure why their opinion was punctuated with a question mark either…
If my ranting hasn’t completely put you off wanting to contact bloggers (who in general are a lovely bunch, really!) then these are my top tips for blogger outreach:
• Do your research – make a list of blogs to contact which actually focus on your product or industry
• Read the blogs first to make sure they are suitable to avoid embarrassing yourself
• Try and find out the name of the person you’re contacting, and if you can’t find out then at least mention the name of their blog in your email
• Keep an eye out for pages called ‘press’ or ‘media’ which will actually tell you how they like to be contacted
• Don’t send mass emails – keep it personal!
If any bloggers are reading this, what do you think? Are there any things that really irritate you when people contact you promoting their products of services? Let me know!
Posted by @natblachford