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Gini Dietrich

How Do PR Pros Pitch Bloggers?

By: Gini Dietrich | September 30, 2010 | 
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It’s time for the Arment Dietrich Facebook question of the week! Beatriz Alemar asks, “How do PR pros pitch bloggers?” I answer her in the following video and would love to know your tips, as well.

I mention the newsletter in the video. You can find the subscription page here and you can see what I’m talking about by reading the latest issue.

If you’re receiving this in your RSS feed and can’t view the video, click here and it’ll take you to YouTube.

About Gini Dietrich


Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, a Chicago-based integrated marketing communications firm. She is the lead blogger here at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro. She is the co-author of Marketing in the Round and co-host of Inside PR. Her second book, Spin Sucks, is available now.

25 comments
Nikki Stephan
Nikki Stephan

Very relevant topic, Gini. I agree with many of the commenters here.

I agree with David Spinks' thoughts that media and blogger relations differ, but there are some similarities. Just as with traditional media, when reaching out to bloggers, do your homework first (spend time reading previous content before you even think about reaching out), make sure the news/info you are sharing is relevant to his/her readers, sound like a human being in your email versus a corporate talking head who is spewing off jargon and make sure there is solid value to what you are sharing.

I do wish there were better tools for tracking down the right bloggers that we want to reach. Existing tools and sites like Technorati and Alltop each serve an important purpose, but each also have limitations.

Nikki Stephan
Nikki Stephan

I'll definitely get on the launch list. Thanks!

Gini Dietrich
Gini Dietrich

Nikki, you're exactly right! One blog post and one comment at a time, I hope we can change the perception of our industry. Get yourself on the beta launch list of BlogDash. If it does what I think it's going to do, blogger relations will be much easier.

Beatriz Alemar
Beatriz Alemar

Gini -

Thank you so much! Finally got a chance to view your answer in its entirety (so much travel)!

Great tips! Love hearing about the different sides of the coin since you deal with both. You go through everything from finding them (inexpensively) and building a relationship.

I'm very excited for @davidspink's new BlogDash tool coming out soon. We'll have to add it to the list next year!

PS - I really like the QR codes. They are so underused. Will be on the lookout for it in the next newsletter!

Edward M. Bury, APR
Edward M. Bury, APR

Hello: Can't be much help here since I haven't pitched a story in a long time -- to a blogger or a journalist. But I fancy myself as a blogger -- http://prdude.wordpress.com/ -- and I'm ready to be pitched.

Gini Dietrich
Gini Dietrich

EB - get ready to understand how blogger relations works with BOMA. And congrats again!!

Danny Brown
Danny Brown

Ha, I'm not that "nice", Gini :)

Coming from a bit of a PR background myself, I've spoken a few times now at PR colleges (or colleges where comms is a big part of the curriculum), and a lot of it sadly comes down to dicks that run PR agencies.

They tell the junior execs which bloggers to reach out to based on subscriber count, and who cares if they're relevant?

I actually got into a nice stand-up argument with one such agency boss in one of the classes I was speaking in front of (he wanted to see what he was paying for).

I basically called him lazy and that his clients would only suffer, and he still said that bloggers should be grateful for the extra visibility his company was gracious enough to give them.

So I asked him a question. I asked if he had ever tasted sushi. He said no. Then I asked if he had ever tasted haggis. He said no. I asked if he'd ever tasted bread and butter pudding. He said no, and lost his patience and asked me if there was a point to this conversation, as it sounded irrelevant to him.

I smiled and said, "Thank you - your pitches are the conversation we've just had when you think the way you do."

Never got asked back to speak in front of that class, but I think I made my point. ;-)

As for tips, check out the likes of SocialMention.com and Surchur.com for free tools that show blogs and conversations across the social web in your industry, and Alltop.com as another.

And then don't try and be a sushi salesman...

Danny Brown
Danny Brown

Ha, me, actually. I just can't stomach (no pun intended) the idea of raw fish.

Gini Dietrich
Gini Dietrich

Danny, you ARE that nice...in a cynical, snarky way (which is why I love you). But I have a question. Are there people in this world who have really never had sushi?

Darryl Gregory
Darryl Gregory

Gini - I'm glad that I ran across you video via Twitter - This just reinforces what I've been practicing - relationship.

I'm a singer-songwriter and as such I am my own PR person. In order to get my music reviewed on podcasts AND blogs I feel I need to 1) find a compatible blog/podcast; 2) read and listen to them; 3) comment and build the relationship

I have an on again off again podcast for indie musicians (www.unsignedunderground.net) and I would get PR solicitations all the time. The ones I paid attention to were the ones that were personal and even cited some previous episode of my podcast.

Perhaps "PR Pros" need to hire interns to just sit there and read blogs all day since, like David Spinks said - "...much of it is still a very manual process for PR pros."

Thanks again for the valuable info!

~ Darryl Gregory
Hard edged country ~ with a soft heart...

Gini Dietrich
Gini Dietrich

Darryl, thanks for the thoughtful comment about how you're going about pitching bloggers. You'll be hugely successful because of it!

David Spinks
David Spinks

It's still a very interesting debate because there are so many changes going on...

Bloggers are becoming bigger sources of news. They're gaining traction and credibility.

There is such a wide variety of bloggers, from personal to professional to literally any topic someone might be interested in.

PR professionals have to learn about all these different kinds of blogs and approach them accordingly.

PR pros are used to pitching traditional media. It was easier because usually, traditional media posts content more often, and they have a formal process for pitching them.

Now they have to deal with bloggers who each have their own individual preferences, and don't have nearly the amount of traffic that a mainstream publication holds.

It's still debatable whether or not the amount of time it takes to do all the research and engagement is worth the results. The tools for blogger outreach are limited and much of it is still a very manual process for PR pros.

I think a lot of things will change in 2010.

David, BlogDash

Gini Dietrich
Gini Dietrich

Or 2011?!? I mean, Spinks, 2010 is over. Some foreshadowing is right! LOL!!

Tim Jahn
Tim Jahn

"I think a lot of things will change in 2010."

Ohhh, do I smell some foreshadowing? ;)

Things will change, because of awesome professionals like yourself who care about making change.

Keep on rockin' in the free world buddy.

Tim Jahn
Tim Jahn

This is becoming a hot topic for me, as I am increasingly getting pitched for companies/stories/people that I should interview for my site Beyond The Pedway.

More often than not, these pitches are sent by the company/story/person's PR firm and are REALLY long, don't have my name (or have my name as Jim), and have little relevance to what I produce on Beyond The Pedway.

To be honest, I've been losing respect for the PR industry (or the small areas I interact with it) on a daily basis. From my point of view, these people are spammers - nothing more. If the story makes sense and I feel it will be something worth going through with, I'll probably connect with the PR person regardless of how crappy their pitch is. But this happens very little.

I said yesterday that Mike Pilarz (@MikePilarz) is one of the few PR people I trust anymore. Why? Because he's a friend. We've had lunch, we've chatted at Social Media Breakfasts, we've emailed a bunch. In fact, I didn't know he worked in PR originally.

And one day at lunch, we were chatting about Beyond The Pedway and he mentioned a cool company he knew of that I might like. He gave me a quick idea of their story and I was hooked. That became one of my new favorite stories on Beyond The Pedway.

To me, THAT's how it's done. No emailing spammy crap. No generic pitches.

Friends. Lunch. Awesomeness.

I can 100% see why people post lists of PR people they hate now. I've almost got enough names to start such a list....

:)

Gini Dietrich
Gini Dietrich

Tim! How did Mike know you commented about him?? Does he read Spin Sucks?!?

Mike Pilarz
Mike Pilarz

Thanks a lot, Tim. I assure you there are plenty of other respectful, intelligent PR pros out there, but I can understand how it doesn't seem that way when your inbox is bombarded with crap every day.

It's a problem our industry desperately needs to fix if we intend to stay relevant.

Gini Dietrich
Gini Dietrich

Well this was a fun little debate between Tim and Deanna!

Deanna
Deanna

True, SOME (emphasis on some) just don't put thought into pitching and just throw words into a document. This irks me when I get spammed with people looking for jobs. So I guess it's PEOPLE, not just PR people.

I think our industry needs to realize no two bloggers (or journalists, etc.) are alike and it all comes back to knowing who you're pitching.

Thanks for your thoughts back and thanks, Gini for a good post!

Tim Jahn
Tim Jahn

I find a majority of my sources on my own (always have). I don't rely on PR people to find them, for some of the reasons I stated above (mostly, they usually don't bring relevant sources to the table).

I'm not calling all PR people spammers - just most. Mike is a great example of someone who is anything but a spammer.

And I bet there's plenty of other Mikes out there. I guess they just don't interact with me much or I don't seek them out enough.

Anybody can paste crap into an email and hit send. How is that "trying"? Trying would be spending a few minutes researching my site, who I am, what I stand for, what sorts of stories I'd be genuinely interested in.

Personally, I don't care. I've survived before PR spammers started sending me crap and I'll survive after. As I stated above, I don't rely on the PR industry to give me sources currently. Maybe I will more in the future.

Deanna
Deanna

Let me ask you this "Jim":

How would you find sources if there *weren't* PR people? Bet you'd spend a lot more time digging. Also, calling all of us spammers as a whole is completely ridiculous.

Mike sounds like a great PR pro. And you know what? There's tons more of us just like Mike out there. Trying to form relationships, be genuine, and KNOW who we're pitching. Sometimes, our stories might not fit 100%, but if we don't try, how are we going to know what's interesting/compelling?

Shamekko
Shamekko

Thanks for posting this video Gini. I'm still relatively new at pitching, but it totally makes sense to customize an email to a blogger, journalist, etc.

Gini Dietrich
Gini Dietrich

Shamekko - It will also make your phone calls and emails SO much easier when you feel like you know the person you're pitching. Commenting on blogs and articles is the easiest way for a reporter or blogger to get to know you. And then they'll pretty much do whatever you ask!

Erik Hare
Erik Hare

Good stuff, thanks!

The lack of personalization in a pitch is a bit unforgivable. I regularly look for bloggers who are off the beaten path when I'm promoting books for a small publisher - usually bloggers who have written about a similar author or work that I think will like what we're selling and will give us at least some good feedback as to whether a pitch to their fans will be successful.

When I offer them a review copy, I write a quick note and include at least three XXX sections where I can personalize it - their name, the name of their blog, and the particular entry that caught my attention. It's not a lot of extra work at all to just fill in the XXXs with the right info and send it off to them. I get a high rate of return with just that little extra work.

It means I've already done my homework, of course, but a targeted pitch that I know will hit and get our books out to people that I think will like them is worth far, far more than some mass book site where we are lost in the shuffle!

Gini Dietrich
Gini Dietrich

Erik - I actually love the way you take the pitch and personalize it in certain places. I know if I received something that showed the person had been reading my blog, I'd be more apt to respond. Even if it was to say no.

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