This post is by Bridget Jewell, Media Relations Specialist for the Mall of America. She focuses on pitching stories to the media, coordinating live media, social media, community management and serves as editor for the Mall of America blog.

Blogger relations continues to be a hot topic among advertising, marketing and public relations professionals. A bad PR pitch can be dangerous. At best, they’re ignored and at worst they can become unintentional blog fodder, should a blogger decide to create a post bashing a company that reached out to them.

Maybe the problem is that these bloggers don’t have a clue what they’re being asked for or why they are being asked for it, said Jason Falls during a recent session at the BlogWorld Expo in New York City. Falls has worked for a national advertising agency, won awards for his work as a social media strategist and now serves as a corporate social media consultant in the field of social media marketing. On top of this, he is a blogger himself which allows him to speak candidly for both sides.

Falls said that the rules governing PR relationships are changing before our eyes. He explored how brands can do a better job when pitching to bloggers:

  • Understand the power of the niche. Realize that while a blogger may not have the number of impressions you are looking for, they may have the most influential people in that niche reading and commenting on their blog, which is just as important.
  • Make all outreach relevant. Sending a blast e-mail to a BCC’d list is spam. You need to tailor your pitches. Read the blog, know what the blogger talks about and is passionate about before you make contact.
  • Know and respect that every blogger is different. It’s not the same as pitching a reporter. Bloggers have opinions of their own and each one has their own way that they like to work. Find out what their requirements are and respect their wishes.
  • Have a plan for advertising asks. If a blogger responds to your pitch with the suggestion that you buy an ad on their site, you can’t just brush them off. You need to be prepared to give a thoughtful, reasonable response.

Bloggers can do their part to improve the relationship as well, Falls said. Here’s how bloggers can make PR painless:

  • Teach brands how to handle you. If a PR pro pitches you and its irrelevant, take a minute to tell them why. Then they will hopefully either tailor the pitch so that it’s relevant or stop bugging you. It’s a win-win.
  • Ask for the media buyer. If you want to talk about having the brand buy an ad on your site instead of you writing a post, don’t ask the PR person who contacted you. Instead, ask them to put you in touch with the brand’s media buyer and ask the media buyer what they look for when choosing places to advertise. Then make a case for why your blog is a good fit for the brand, including as much hard traffic data as you can muster. Maybe you don’t have 500,000 views on your blog a month but maybe the views and comments you receive are from the influential people in your community and that makes it extremely relevant to the media buyer.

“As a blogger, I don’t want you to make the same mistakes as the horror stories we have heard, and as a brand/pr/marketing person I want to help you understand bloggers because in the end we should all have a mutually beneficial relationship,” said Falls.

As a blogger, what are you doing to build relationships with advertising/marketing/PR professionals? As a professional in the industry what do you find makes for successful blogger relationships and outreach?

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6 Responses to “From BlogWorld Expo: Make blogger PR outreach painless”

  1. Bridget Jason has always had a simple common sense approach that we all enjoy. He brings business experience to the table that frankly many times is missing when discussing social media and blogging.

    (Just had 2/3 my comment erased when I login to leave comment WAH, not enough time to rewrite so I will leave it short.)

    Establish your working boundairies both as a blogger and as a PR person so you create a true partnership. Bloggers can't be mad if they do not give PR guidelines and PR can't be upset if they do not get results when they do not personalize.

  2. MightyCasey says:

    Treating bloggers any differently than, say, the EIC of a magazine or daily that you pitch is counterproductive. Bridget's points are as useful for pitching traditional media as they are for bloggers: niche is key, relevance is critical, make your pitch personal, be prepared to talk quid pro quo.

    It's not a one-for-one exchange, $s-for-editorial, but we're all here to make a living. Free doesn't make for sustainable PR businesses, and it doesn't make for sustainable media outlets either. Bloggers are the kings & queens of niche, with good ones delivering terrific eyeball value.

    Thanks for the good advice, Bridget ;)

  3. Great timing for me. I am both a blogger and an individual helping my friend Lianne realize her dream, organizing an annual Awakening Festival. The date: June 18, 2011. I was recruited mid-stream (late stream) and my role is to help with the social media promotion.

    I agree it can be challenging to identify the bloggers to contact and how to approach them. And it is especially important to represent Lianne and her event with integrity. And I am still learning.

    I have done some research to get more familiar with this specific blogging niche and reached out to members of my social network to ask them for recommendations, noting that we wanted to offer free tickets to the event to local green lifestyle / health and wellness bloggers to attend or give away to their community. As some may have children eligible for the "Kids Program," I would include their family in this offer also, as family participation is a special element of the Festival.

    Am going to follow the directives outlined in the article and plan to continue learning and improving to be a more valuable asset to the Festival next year!

    So my thanks to Jason Falls, and to Bridget Jewell for this effective summary.
    My recent post Festival Offers a Unique Fusion of Wellness- Ecology- Spirit- Community and Culture

  4. @BoGowan says:

    Couldn't agree with MightCasey more. The more things change, the more they stay the same…all these guidelines are great, but are things that should be considered best practices for "traditional" media as well.

    One additional suggestion, the first time a blogger (or editor) sees your name shouldn't be when you are pitching him. Whenever possible you should engage via comments and other means leading up to the situation where you are pitching…I think that generally yields better results.
    My recent post <a href="http://www.ciena.com/r?19=961&43=729734&44=122486024&32=13104&7=747459&40=http%3A%2F%2 Fwww.ciena.com%2Fcorporate%2Fblog%2FAbsorbing-all-the-data.html” target=”_blank”>Absorbing all the data

  5. BzzyBee says:

    We've been working on word of mouth for quite some time, professionally.
    What we have learnt is that it takes time and credibility to reach out and establish a relation with bloggers. You cannot just blast them with an email and expect co-operation from them. How would you like it if someone approaches you, out of the blue, and expects you to talk about them? You need to treat bloggers with respect and have something to offer in return, which adds value to their blogs.

    Note:If you are in India or would like to reach out to bloggers based out of India, we have a blogger network called the SureBlogger Network. It's basically a community of bloggers who would like to post interesting and blog relevant information about products, services and brands.
    We take the pain out of reaching out to bloggers and the fear of getting a backlash post. For more details contact us at info [at] surebzz [dot] com

    Happy Bzzing!
    My recent post Mothers Day Contest! Free 8″x12″ photo print

  6. @djysrv says:

    As a blogger with a niche, and 300,000 page views a year, I get email blasts all the time from people sending me pitches that aren't even remotely related to my topic (nuclear energy). I don't have time to patiently explain to 10-15 of these people a week why their release about gardening, green buildings, or electric cars isn't going to be posted on my blog. I'm just hitting the delete button.

    Worse, a lot of these pitches come from ad agencies and not the brand itself. You'd think their clients might want to know their money isn't being wasted on pitches to the wrong blogs.

    As for advertising, yes, I send people my rate card because it is expensive to handle ads one at a time. I run four ad networks on my blog. They're all business related. If you want ad space plug into one of them.
    My recent post Modeling meltdowns in reactors and the media