Influencer Outreach And The Importance Of The Pre-Pitch Process
Alright. Welcome to this session of Influencer Outreach: the Importance of the Pre-Pitch Process. Most people are very familiar with what it means to pitch, whether you’re pitching a journalist, broadcaster, reporter or nowadays a blogger. What is a pitch? Just in case you’re not familiar, it is generally a letter, email or phone call generated to introduce a story idea to a member of the media.
Now, if you look at this Google search, you’ll see so much information about how to pitch. It gives you tons of information about how to draft the pitch, how long it should be, if you should use a press release or not, if you should reach out over social media or not, et cetera. There’s no information about what you should do before you send a pitch. That’s what I want to address today. What I’m going over today is actually quite simple. It’s going to have easy, actionable insights and take aways that you can do simply. All you’ll have to do is plan ahead.
If you’re looking at the typical pitching process that most companies go through, they define their goals and objectives. Basically, determine what it is that you want to pitch, what kind of story pickups you want, where you’re hoping to get them, et cetera. Then, you go about building you list of finding influencers which are the people you’ll reach out to. Once that list is refined, most PR practitioners go about doing their research and seeing what that publication has most recently written about. Then, you tie it in and personalize a pitch.
When an individual is doing this whole process, they’re in it for a while and seeing it all. To the person who’s receiving a pitch, all they’re getting is the pitch. It’s like a cold call, essentially. They’re not seeing the background that goes into this and understanding why you care so much about this pitch being picked up. What I’m going to do is show you these recommended steps that will allow you to basically have a warm call or warm pitch to a blogger, influencer, reporter or whoever it is that you might be reaching out to. It will include the same steps but add a few more.
As you can see, the ones in blue are the ones that have been added. They’re quite simple, so it’s following and engaging in social media, commenting on their blogs and sending an introductory email. This last step is not pre-pitch, it’s actually post-pitch. It’s about sending thank yous and follow-ups. If you’re going to continue a relationship with this blogger that you’re reaching out to, these follow-ups will become a cyclical process. In this case, they’ll keep allowing you to have a warm pitch. Eventually, these things in the last step become the warm up process as well. I hope that makes sense. You’ll see in a minute when we get into this.
As I’ve mentioned, these steps are not hard. They’re just often overlooked or people aren’t confident about how to go about doing them. We’ll walk through them together here. The first thing I want to touch on is the timeline. Generally, in the typical process of pitching, these types of things could be done in a week. If you wanted to you could do it in a day or two. When we’re building a relationship with the blogger first, it will take a bit longer. You’re going to have to plan ahead to adjust your timeline accordingly.
With this new timeline, it’s definitely going to require advanced planning. Instead of planning about one week, I’m going to suggest you plan several weeks if not a couple months for you to start building the authentic relationships first. Actually, let’s go back real quickly. I’m not going to start with the blue steps. I’m going to start with finding influencers and work our way down. I’ll spend the majority of time. Most of the new information will be in the blue steps.
The first one is finding influencers. You need to determine what tool or tools you’re going to use. Then, create your lists. At Internet Marketing Inc., we use GroupHigh to find the different niches of bloggers or social influencers that we’re going to reach out to. We’ve also started using BuzzSumo. BuzzSumo is a tool we use to find people on social media channels who are talking about something relevant that we want to target. Once we created our GroupHigh list, let’s say we’re a water bottle company and we’re going to pitch about this new, innovative water bottle that we created.
We’ll go to GroupHigh. We’ll make our list. Perhaps it will be lifestyle bloggers. If the water bottle is ecofriendly, maybe environmental or green bloggers will be our group. Maybe mom or parent bloggers will be our group. Maybe review bloggers or lifestyle bloggers will be our groups. In BuzzSumo, we would go to the website to search for something relevant like ‘best water bottles.’ It will pull up a list of different types of content that’s been posted online. This could include blog posts, infographic videos, guest posts and you name it. It’s going to show us which one has the most Facebook shares, LinkedIn shares, et cetera.
You can click on a link here or a button that will show you who shared these articles. That’s a goldmine of information for you there. Once you click on that, it will take you to a list of Twitter users who shared this. Now, you know these Twitter users are probably interested in information on water bottles. I recommend pulling that list up into GroupHigh, cross referencing in that tool and you will have a very comprehensive list of bloggers or social influencers to reach out to.
I would recommend starting this about three months out. I know that sounds really far, but you’ll see why shortly. Again, you’re going to be doing your research. Here we go into GroupHigh. If you’re familiar with GroupHigh, you can easily see the most recent posts that bloggers have written about. An APR practitioner will tell you that it’s very important to be familiar with the beat of the journalist, reporter, blogger or whoever you’re reaching out to. This is essentially allowing you to do so. I highly recommend spending time doing this as well. It’s going to allow you know some things when you get to the pitching and pre-pitch process that I’m about to speak to. You need to know really well and be super familiarized with what these bloggers are talking about so you can engage in authentic and serious conversations with them.
Your goal here is to understand the interests, tone of voice, PR friendliness and more. Again, this will start three months in advance when you’re building your lists. Now we’re getting into following and engaging on social media. I made an easy list here in green, yellow and red for where to follow people on social media and where not to. Definitely follow them on their Facebook, business page and their Twitter profile. If they have Google+, Instagram and Pinterest, certainly follow them there as well. Do not send a Facebook friend request or comment on an individual’s personal Facebook profile. Make sure to keep it towards their more public or professional channels that you’re reaching out to.
Now that you’ve followed them on these channels, you want to make sure they know you’re there and listening. Make them aware of who you are. Keep top of mind to them. You’re going to occasionally favorite, like or retweet their content. Perhaps they host or engage in Twitter chats. Make sure you hop into those ones as well with them. Do anything to engage with them on social media in a natural, organic way. That shows that you’re listening to them, that you care about what they’re saying and that you have general similar interests as a whole.
Correct. One of the goals here is that we’re going to be showing our general interests in this blog or in the community, but also you get to better understand their interests in PR friendliness. You can then craft the best pitch possible when that point comes.
This is super simple. This is like 101 here. So many people forget this. Comment on their blog posts. I recommend leaving thoughtful and non-promotional comments on their blog posts every couple of weeks. Make sure you’re checking back in here. See what they’re writing about. Comment as a human. It doesn’t need to be a blog post that’s relevant to what you’re going to pitch them about. For example, if you’re pitching them about the best water bottle, they don’t need to be writing blog posts about best water bottles or anything related. It doesn’t even need to be slightly related like reusable grocery bags.
Find things that strike a chord with you on a personal level. Leave some comments with thoughtful opinions, ask questions and get conversation going. You’ll definitely stand out to them if you’re commenting on their blog posts here and there, especially if they’re replying to you. [slight pause] Okay. I’m sorry. That should start about six weeks out. Do it every few weeks instead of continually.
The next step is sending an introductory email. Keep in mind that none of this should be promotional in nature. It’s definitely for relationship building. There’s different types of introductory emails you can send. The first one can be simple as sending a compliment to them. You can just shoot an email over that says, “Hey. Katie, I just want to let you know I’ve been following your blog for a little while. I find it super interesting, especially X, Y and Z. I just wanted to touch base and say hello.”
That’s very flattering to most bloggers. They’re likely to write back and know who you are, which we’ll get to in just a minute. Providing value is another type of introductory email you can send them. Even you’ve never sent them an email before, if you find an article online that you think might be interesting to them or specific facts that might be interesting to them, be sure to send that over. Let them know that you came across it and it looked similar to something they’ve written in the past. Again, this should have nothing to do with your brand or pitch.
Another thing you can do to provide them value is seeing if they have an interest in something you have connections in or know people that you could connect them with. It would provide value and benefit to them in that sort of way, so that’s a great thing to do as well.
Finally, ask questions. I recommend that you ask them more about the specific topic they’re writing about or ask about their opinions. You should always be transparent by letting them know that you work for X, Y and Z company and you’re interested in their blog. Let them know that you want to know how they feel about X, Y and Z or want to know what they get from brands if anything at all. This should start about one month out. Then, we hope it happens continually. Those aspects of providing value and asking questions happen continually. It doesn’t happen frequently but just every couple of months.
Alright. Here’s the big important part. You now send your pitch. I’m not going into detail about how to craft a pitch. That’s not what this topic is about. The great thing here is that after sending the introductory emails, they are more likely to open this pitch when it hits their inbox. They’re familiar with your name and email address. When they see something come from you they might think “Oh. This is So-and-so saying hi again. Perfect. I’ll open this up.” Now, you’ve gotten them to open your pitch. They’re probably going to read it and consider it because you’ve built a good relationship and genuinely shown that you care about them and their community or blog.
You’ve now increased the open rate opportunity of your pitches drastically. I want to make sure that even though this is not part of the pre-pitch process, you have reached out to them. Whether they picked up your article or not, make sure to send them a thank you for considering it if they say, “No. I’m not interested.” Also, send a thank you if they go ahead, pick up your piece and put time into it.
Follow-ups are a little bit different. This is where we get back into that cyclical process. Don’t let the relationship with them drop after they have completed your goal of posting information. Make sure that every couple months you are following up with that by sending pieces of value or asking questions about what they might be interested in hearing from you down the road.
At our company, we’ve done a lot of blogger outreach. There are some bloggers that hit it off so well. Every couple of weeks, I’ll reach out to say, “Hi. I saw what you wrote on the blog post. I’m really excited that your daughter had her first dance recital that went over great.” It’s just to show them that you still read their blog, still care and don’t just reach out to them to just get out of what you want to get out of it. Again, these thank yous and thoughts should not be promotional, but they should be relationship building. These will allow you to really get good with these bloggers and get more successful pitches in the future when you reach out to them.
Thank the bloggers soon after posting comments. Keep in touch with them. Continually provide value to them, even if it’s not about your brand. That’s it for what I have today. You can connect with me at@MsDevonVictoria or you can connect with my company Internet Market Inc. at @iMarketingInc. I thank you for sitting in and listening on this. Feel free to reach out on Twitter. Ask me any follow-up questions you might have. I am happy to answer. Thank you and take care.