Blogger Outreach vs. Media Relations

I’ve seen a lot of buzz for blogger outreach lately. Next to social media marketing strategy development, it’s the number one social media offering for public relations agencies (and driving much of the increase in PR spending this year). Is blogger outreach really a new service offering? I don’t think so. I think it’s just a different way to say media relations. All blogs are media, therefore, targeting blogs for coverage is media relations.

To support my argument, here are some media relations basics that can be easily transferred when targeting any media:

  • Identify Your Target Audience – who are you trying to reach?
  • Formulate Your Message – what do you want to say? How will your message vary across channels?
  • Develop Your Delivery Strategy – how will you reach your target audiences with your message (in this case, which blogs will you target)?
  • Which Blogs Are Most Influential – prioritize your target blog outlets (offer your story to the most influential one first) – but be realistic, target the best blog most likely to write about your topic?
  • How Will You Coordinate Efforts to Maximize Impact – after your top target, how will you scale the rollout of your program to build momentum? What sharing aspects have you incorporated to push word-of-mouth for you message?
  • How Will You Measure Results? – how will you track coverage and sharing of your content on and off the Web?

While there are some general rules of media relations that work when targeting blogs, here is some advice specific to blogger outreach:

  • Blog Targeting – research the right blogs for your need – do this way in advance. If you’re working in a particular industry, you should already be reading the top blogs and know what they DO and DON’T write about. Don’t pitch bloggers that don’t write about your type of news. Where is the best place to research blogs? Try a blog aggregator like Alltop or Regator, use Google Blog Search or read the blogrolls (blog suggestions) on other blogs you like.
  • Branch Out – it used to be the norm for a blog to have one contact. While that’s the case with a lot of blogs you will come across, a lot of blogs have staff equal to or greater than mainstream magazines. You’ll want to apply your traditional media relations skills to target the right blogger with your story. Don’t overlook freelance bloggers who write for major blogs on a regular basis – they could be easier to reach than the main contact at the blog.
  • Not All Blogs Are Pitchable – I recently reviewed a blogger outreach list that included a dozen or so bloggers that would never write about a company pitched to them. I only know this because I read the blogs. The only way for you to really know whether or not the topic you want to pitch would be of interest to the bloggers you are targeting is to read their stuff. If you’re pressed for time, at least read the about page to see what the bloggers write about and what their affiliations are. In some cases, you’ll be surprised to learn you’re trying to get a competitor to write about you.
  • Write Your Own Blog – if you really want to appreciate what bloggers (and all journalists) go through on a daily basis, start writing your own blog. After a few months of consistent posting, you’ll make your way onto blogger outreach lists (eh hem – media lists). You’ll start receiving pitches and press releases on a daily basis, most of which have nothing to do with what you write about. This will shed additional light on the previous bullet above, and if you didn’t get it already, you finally will.
  • Be a Real Person – don’t sound like a robot with your pitches. Have some personality. If you’re confident that your story is a fit for the blog (because you really, really have read all the posts and have subscribed to the blog’s RSS feed for years), than you should be able to write in a conversational tone and actually capture the blogger’s attention. A good rule of thumb is to keep your pitch to three sentences, not three paragraphs. Imagine you’re pitching the journalist on an elevator ride between floors. You only have a few seconds to get them interested. Just be yourself and be honest.
  • Follow Up – it’s okay to follow up on a pitch, but there is a difference between being persistent and annoying, which varies by blogger. I’d venture to guess that half the stories that appear in blogs as the result of a blogger outreach program were pitched over and over again. Sometimes pitches get lost in the cracks. If your pitch is really good, don’t forget to follow up. From my experience, it’s always better to get a “no, I’m not interested” than a “no response.”
  • It’s Not a Program – a program sounds like something you start and stop. Blogger outreach should be a daily task for you. Track your outreach and interaction with bloggers on a daily basis. It’s fairly common for PR professionals to pitch bloggers and never log the notes in a system. I’ve done interviews with 100s of PR pros and the most common feedback I get is they don’t want to give a leg up to their peers.
  • Bonus Tip – More is More – while a trending story on Mashable could be nirvana for your PR team, the thrill fades fast and the referral traffic trails off. On the other hand, being included in 20 blogs most people have never heard of can have MORE impact than the Mashable piece. While you should try for both, don’t overlook the ‘long tail’ effect to targeting B (and sometimes C level) blogs.

Is blogger outreach the same as media relations? It’s really a question of semantics. It’s still about building relationships with influencers – whether those influencers are bloggers or print journalists, it’s still media relations. Is it media relations when somebody sends me their press release, suggesting Journalistics’ readers would be interested? That’s a question for another post.

What do you think? What are your keys to success in blogger outreach?

Additional Resources:

Want to learn more about blogger outreach? Here are some other great blog posts about blogger outreach:

•    How To: Add Blogger Outreach to Your PR Plan (Mashable)
•    Does Blogger Outreach Still Work? (WebWorkerDaily)
•    Six Steps to Running a Successful Blogger Outreach (Danny Brown)
•    PR and Blogger Outreach Practical Tips (Webiquity)
•    Social Media Today “The Very Basics of Blogger Outreach” (Social Media Today)

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.

12 Comments

  1. BANG ON! Thanks Jeremy – I will share this with my team.

    I’d add one tactical piece of advice: ‘Remember the retweet’: Retweeting bloggers’ content on Twitter is a great way to build relations. Bloggers tend to be digital savvy folk who understand the power of sharing and appreciate you doing so. Retweeting (and talking to them) via this channel can lead to future scores. As you said, starting WAY in advance of when you need coverage is the key.

    Well done sir!

  2. Excellent advice, as always, Jeremy. You said in the beginning that the message may vary across channels, true. In blogger relations, your message may vary slightly across different blogs, too. As you point out, the only way to know this is to READ and study each and every blog you plan to pitch. Worse than not sending at all is sending an inappropriate pitch to “the blogosphere” IMHO. 🙂

  3. Another great way to establish relationships with bloggers is to leave comments and participate in the ongoing conversation on the blogs that you plan to pitch to in the future. Being genuine and making friends prior to trying to get them to write about you takes time, but can go a long way.

  4. As a digital strategy leader at IBM, I come across this on daily basis. I’ve devised full fledge blogger outreach programs and one key point has always been — keep it personal. Your message should resonate with the blogger of your choice. But only when there’s a relationship. Build your relationship and watch them do your work.

    That’s how I’ve been able to capture competitive keywords, gain network reach and much much more. We even crowd sourced a worldwide campaign through our bloggers.

  5. Good points, undermined by a silly spelling error:

    “The only way for you to really know whether or not the topic you want to pitch would be of interest to the bloggers you are targeting is to read there stuff. “

  6. Agreed and disagreed.

    Without getting into the semantics of “media”, I think what the distinction really is, is between mainstream media and the rest.

    The methods used to identify and ultimately contact a blogger may be very similar to how you would identify and contact a writer for say, the New York Times. The manner in which you approach them can differ greatly.

    One thing you can be sure of with “mainstream” media is that they are open to pitches, and that they’re approaching their publication with a professional mindset. This isn’t always the case with bloggers and so you need to approach them accordingly. As you said, some bloggers don’t accept pitches at all.

    It’s also a matter of scale. The audiences of a mainstream publication will drawf even the most popular blogs. Blogs are more targeted, but in order to reach the same amount of people that you would with mainstream coverage, you have to pitch a lot more bloggers. It’s the low-hanging fruit concept…

    So yes, there are many similarities in how you can approach blogger outreach and mainstream media outreach…but it’s still a completely different beast.

    David, BlogDash

  7. How about automating this process. First, start relations with bloggers and online publishers who already have interest in you, and later expand your reach. We built Publishedin.com to connect businesses (companies, marketers) with online publishers (bloggers, site owners).

    Publishedin transform links between publishers and businesses into connections automatically.
    Our patent-pending technology makes it simple for businesses to increase quality traffic from online publishers, and publishers to earn cash rewards from their online content.

  8. This is really interesting, Youre a very skilled blogger. I have joined your rss feed and look forward to seeking more of your magnificent post. Also, Ive shared your site in my social networks!

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