What’s the Best Way to Pitch Bloggers?

What’s the best way to pitch bloggers? That’s one of the most common questions I hear from PR professionals and one of the most popular story suggestions from our blog readers. I think that’s the wrong question to ask though. There is no best way to pitch a blogger (or any other media for that matter). For me, pitching any journalist or blogger really comes down to common sense and a lot of legwork. I’m confident I could land a story in any media outlet if I had something relevant and newsworthy to offer, if I invested the appropriate time and energy it takes to effectively target a writer, and if I conducted myself as a professional. So could you. It’s really not rocket science.

First, the Common Sense Part

What’s common sense is not always common practice. I’m not sure where I heard that quote, but it’s appropriate here. I think most PR professionals know the right and wrong way to pitch a blogger, but they don’t always make the right choices. They take shortcuts, mass distributing template pitches, cutting and pasting contact information, and playing the law of averages in hopes of some response from somebody on their target list. Here are some gentle reminders of the common sense stuff you should know when pitching bloggers, but you might forget sometimes:

  • Read the Blog. Don’t just scan the last two articles; read the blog. Subscribe to the RSS feed. Read the posts. Read the comments. Study the outlet, its bloggers and its tendencies. Don’t rely on the pitch tips from your media database. If you do this step alone, your pitches will improve dramatically. Don’t pitch stories that the blog doesn’t cover. See, I told you it was common sense.
  • Join the Conversation. If you’re reading the blog enough and you’re genuinely interested in the content, then join the conversation. Share your thoughts on a post. Engage in dialogue with other readers and the author. This is the best way to develop a positive relationship with the blogger. This is what blogging is all about. Do it not because you want them to write about you, but because you’re genuinely interested. If you’re not interested, then how will you be able to deliver a compelling pitch? And, don’t pitch your story in the comments or post a shameless plug for your client or products. That’s a big no-no.
  • Bloggers Will Call You Out. If you botch a pitch to a newspaper or magazine, you’ll rarely see it appear in print. If you screw up on a pitch to a blogger, chances are good they will blog about it. I know you’ve seen examples of this, so I won’t re-hash those “when pitches go bad” examples now. Don’t give a blogger an excuse to discredit you or the client you represent.
  • Be Creative. Be Casual. Most bloggers are pretty laid back. Blogs are a platform for conversations. Don’t use the same old boring pitch tactics you’ve been using for years. If your story is interesting and compelling, make sure you can communicate it that way. If you don’t get excited after reading your pitch, then don’t send it. Your initial reaction to your pitch should be “this pitch is awesome.” It may sound corny, but you really need to be excited about what you’re pitching. Genuine enthusiasm goes a long way in pitching.
  • Keep it Short, To the Point, and Relevant. Don’t pitch on Twitter, but think in those terms. Can you boil your pitch down to a sentence? Here’s an example: “You’ve been writing a lot about X lately. What do you think about Y as a fresh angle on this topic? If you’re interested, then give me a call.” It sounds pretty basic, huh? This casual tone has resulted in more call backs for me than any full-page pitch I’ve ever sent. Try it, you’ll be surprised (no, don’t use that sentence as a template). One more point on the example, notice how I’m asking for his/her opinion? You want to know what they think about your suggestion. If you do this often enough, you’ll learn to develop increasingly better pitches.

Now, The “A Lot of Legwork” Part

As an extension of the Common Sense points above, here are some points on the legwork I believe you should put into your pitch preparation for every single individual you plan to pitch.

  • Have They Ever Written About Your Topic? If yes, have they recently covered a very similar angle to the one you’re pitching? They probably won’t write about it again so soon. If not, have they covered anything similar that would feed into the topic you’re pitching? Maybe it’s been a while since they covered the topic, but you learn it’s something they’re passionate about. You should now have some fuel for your intro.
  • Have They Ever Written About How To Pitch Them? Most bloggers get a ton of pitches (even I have received pitches, and I’ve only been blogging for a couple of months). Since they get a lot of pitches, chances are they provide information about how to pitch them somewhere on their blog. Search for this information and read it. Most bloggers don’t mind pitches, provided you play by their rules and only pitch them relevant information.
  • Know Your Subject Matter. You should be able to write a blog post on your pitch. If you don’t know the material inside and out, don’t pitch it. If you are lucky enough to get a blogger interested, you’ll need to be able to provide all the information they are looking for. Learn your material, practice your pitch, anticipate questions and develop great answers.
  • Get Away From Static Lists. Most media relations pros manage a lot of contacts. If you’re not already taking detailed notes on all of your research and interaction with journalists and bloggers, start doing so now. You’ll want to be able to refer to those notes for every pitch. Having a good understanding of who your contacts are will make your job much easier. You can’t remember everything.
  • Get to Know Them. Reading the blog and commenting are a great way to get noticed by a blogger, but why not reach out to them and have a conversation? I can’t remember a blogger or journalist ever turning down a request like this. Most want to talk about the content they write and are happy to know people are interested in what they do. Journalists and bloggers are people too. Have a conversation with them and you’ll be in much better shape when you decide to call them with a pitch. You can learn from bloggers and they can learn from you. It’s a two-way conversation.
  • You Should Blog Too. The final (and most important) point on this list is to blog your own stories that you’re pitching. Write about your topics and you’ll build an audience. Case in point, I’ve already been included in stories on other blogs and in print publications based solely off the posts I’ve done here. Blog it and they will come. This also gives you an opportunity to build relationships with bloggers by linking to their blogs on related topics. This is the best investment in media relations you can make. Journalists and bloggers will find your information if it’s relevant to what they cover.

In summary, there is no right or wrong way to pitch a blogger, but you should put some effort into it. It’s disrespectful to send a generic, impersonal pitch to any journalist or blogger. If you put some time and effort into your pitch preparation, and you use some common sense and courtesy, you’ll have much more success. You’ll know without a doubt that your story is a good fit. That doesn’t mean bloggers will take you up on the offer, but I’ll guarantee you they’ll listen for a change.

Don’t just take my advice, there are dozens of other great posts on the Web about blogger relations. Here are a few that I liked. While some of them are a bit dusty, the information is still very relevant today:

Do you have suggestions on the best way to pitch bloggers? Share your advice.

(Image Credit: Venture Capital Wear)

About Jeremy Porter 214 Articles
Jeremy Porter has been passionate about the intersection of public relations and journalism since studying both Public Relations and Journalism at Utica College of Syracuse University in the late 90s. Porter launched Journalistics in 2009 to share his ideas and insights around both professions and how trends and developments in modern day marketing, communications, and technology impact those working in these fields. Porter also values the traditions and history of both professions and regularly shares his perspective in these areas - and related topics geared toward the next generation of journalism and public relations professionals.

14 Comments

  1. Blogs are a dead end unless you are one of the big boys , and if you look at their sites, they know it too.
    The bigger blogs usually branch out into other areas which become their bread and butter. If you want to pitch a story to a blog – choose a smaller one , an unknown or a lower traffic up and comer. They are dying to be the first to get a story so they can expand and become one of the big boys too.

    If you want a successful blog , you NEED something else, a service that will bring people to your site or vice versa, your blog can bring people to your service, it doesn’t matter.

    My blog has been up for 7 weeks . If you search any of the key words in the front page articles my site is in the top 100 in google, occasionally the top 10 , ( search “iphone vs palm pre ” or “HTC pros and cons” it will be there) that won’t last and I am a little guy so I will jump at any story to keep visitors coming and my ranks high. I do have a service attached which keeps people coming back though.
    I have the type of blog you should pitch, get in early with blogs like mine before they get big
    once they are big they get staff, regular tips and advertisers, regular visitors. They are not “hungry” anymore and your job becomes so much harder if not impossible.
    Because lets face it a “Pitch” is an advertisement to talk people into advertising for you.

  2. I have firsthand experience with a blogger pitch gone wrong (I followed the instructions of senior staff even though it went against my gut instinct); learned from my mistake the hard way (blog posts about my pitch, as you said) and have really learned how to succeed with blogger pitches. Great post! Thanks!

  3. Good post with good tips. Pitching is hard work, and it takes time to do it the right way. It’s like the old engineering saying — I can do it fast, cheap, or well — but you can only choose two out of the three.

  4. This is a good list, but I think it’s so key to disclose your relationship for whom you’re pitching. For example, if you work for an agency representing Clorox, you should say right in the beginning of the pitch that you are contacting on behalf of that company. You don’t want to have your client called out for dishonest pitching.

  5. Nick Lucido and Gandalf are right – from a bloggers point of view. We are not usually idiots and we are hungry for that good idea or story.

    Reading here and at other sites it seems that you are trying to bullshit bloggers into thinking you care. We know you don’t. We know there is something in it for you or it’s your job.

    When you guys say a pitch went bad , that is a sign that we didn’t know at first , realized, and were then offended by the insincerity.

    As Nick Lucido said the key is ” to disclose your relationship for whom you’re pitching. For example, if you work for an agency representing Clorox, you should say right in the beginning of the pitch that you are contacting on behalf of that company.”

    And Gandalf was right “the type of blog you should pitch, get in early with blogs like mine before they get big once they are big they get staff, regular tips and advertisers, regular visitors. They are not “hungry” anymore and your job becomes so much harder if not impossible.”

  6. I get pitched by authors and editors all the time. First, realize that I blog on my own time and that, in my case at least, I make no money from blogging.

    Second, a $10 – $30 book does not come close to paying for my review. It takes time to read a book and then write the review. If a publicist had to pay me, I would charge at least $500 for each promotional piece. Since I don’t, a thank you would be welcome, especially if I wrote a rave review. You’d be surprised how many authors forget to do this.

    Third, you are not in a position to dictate to me and I’ll just ignore you. I actually had an author suggest word substitutions and then she requested that I write a book review on Barnes & Noble as well. I am not your personal publicist.

    Fourth, do not send me a cookie cutter PR release. That ploy might have worked with magazines and newspapers in days of yore when few people read both the NYTimes and Washington Post, but I take pride in the fact that my posts are original. As soon as I learn that the piece you sent me has been posted by even one other blogger, I will yank it off my blog and not promote your work again.

    Fifth, there’s a reason why I don’t hop to it. I have a life and personal considerations take precedence over promoting your product or your time table.

    Thanks for listening.

  7. Thanks so much for this post. There is a lot of merit in relationship building for the traditional PR world so why not online? Just because it feels impersonal doesn’t mean it should be. I would like to read more posts on this topic definitely.

  8. Great post–really helps me as I begin to reach out to bloggers and eventually begin blogging. The common sense part is easy…it’s the time factor that’s a killer. Any tips for that?
    PS–met you at the DMS meetup you organized..great job.

  9. This post and discussion are a good reminder that successful media relations practitioners are respectful and trustworthy in their conversations with bloggers, or any media, for that matter. This takes time and thoughtfulness, as it does to build and maintain any good relationship in life.

  10. Thanks for the article. Btw, in Indonesia, there’s a lot of mistakes when PR or Media Relations Officer pitch a story for Blogger. They tend to generalize blogger as same as media, they also invite them with the way they invite media. And the worst thing is they don’t do ‘a lot of legwork’ part.

    Good Post Jeremy! 😀

  11. I can agree with you, like thieving else it takes time. It’s best not to be fake and to have been an audience for the blog showing them you’ve interacted with what they’ve written before. Thank you for the post, I was able to add a bit more to my knowledge of pitching bloggers.

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