Blogger outreach is an exercise in customization. Each blogger writes about different topics in a different voice. There’s something for anyone, but blogs are rarely for everyone.
What does this mean for marketers and PR pros that want to include blogger outreach in their efforts? You need to be highly customized, and the only way to do that effectively is by completing in-depth research before you pitch.
At PR 20/20, we recently pitched a client’s customer case study to a handful of bloggers in the niche space of 3D CAD (computer-aided design) software. The story was picked up by several blogs as self-submitted guest posts, resulting in positive coverage of the company and deeper relationships with the important voices in their industry.
The experience holds several lessons for anyone reaching out to bloggers.
Find (the Right) Bloggers
Our client, 3Dconnexion, makes 3D mice, tools specifically designed make 2D and 3D CAD modeling easier and more comfortable.
A 3Dconnexion customer, Duratec Ltd, started using 3D mice in their custom bike frame design shop, and subsequently speed up their operations and become more efficient—a story we wanted to share with the industry.
Tools like Twitter search, Google News alerts, RSS reader Feedly, and relationships 3Dconnexion has built over the years have given us a solid database of target media and bloggers, and sifting through that asset helped us identify ideal bloggers for this particular story.
Get to Know Your Bloggers
You’re pitching to a blogger because they’re popular and trusted by a specific audience. They didn’t get that way by switching up their formula for success daily. Don’t expect them to change for you. Instead, tailor your content and outreach to them.
How? By reading their blog. A lot. Pull out topics and trends they like to write about. Note their tone, as well as likes and dislikes. Find out anything you can about the blogger’s style and interests to help you craft a highly relevant pitch.
Before pitching the Duratec case study, we re-read the target blogs, noting recent content and tone. Some tend to cover more business-like content, so for them we highlighted Duratec’s increases in productivity. Other blogs publish lighter content, so we talked up how Duratec’s design team built a 3D model of a flying bicycle in their free time using 3Dconnexion mice.
Develop Multiple Hooks and Angles
As the stories about productivity and the flying bicycle show, we had multiple story angles ready to pique bloggers’ interest.
Learn everything you can about your story. This is where many run into trouble. It’s tempting to shotgun a standard press release to dozens of email addresses. But it doesn’t produce results.
Your goal isn’t to have one great story to tell bloggers. It’s to have a grab bag of interesting stories and anecdotes about a client, company, etc. that you can mix and match into great pitches as needed.
Look at your story in a new light and dig deeper, supplementing with more research if necessary. For instance, a hard business story may have elements that, when pulled out, could turn into lighter stories that cater to a different subset of blogs. Or, secondary details in a story or press release can often be fleshed out into their own stories.
Duratec’s flying bike design has no bearing on their business, but it’s fascinating and fun. A blog that publishes fascinating and fun content relevant to the CAD audience is far more interested in the flying bike than in Duratec’s big productivity gains.
Build and Maintain Relationships
The pitch process isn’t a one-and-done email blast. Cultivating relationships with bloggers takes time, and once formed, those relationships should be maintained.
Elsewhere on the GroupHigh blog, Kristen Matthews offers important lessons on the value of a two-sided relationship with bloggers. Think often about what you can do for a blogger. If you do, they’ll think of you when the time comes.
And, most importantly, reach out to them when you don’t need anything.
Don’t Forget the Writing
If you score guest posts on one or more blogs, your work isn’t done. Be sure to ask about the little things, too, like:
- What formatting does each blogger prefer?
- Do they have a style guide or preferred grammar and sourcing conventions?
- Does the blogger have a word limit on posts? Are there standards governing pictures and links?
- How do they prefer document and photo delivery?
Basically, ask about anything that will make the blogger’s life easier. And, be sure to tailor each guest post to be unique for that blog. This is about starting and maintaining a relationship. They’ll appreciate the little things you do to streamline the process, and keep things relevant.
What are your best tips for successful blogger outreach?