Shortcuts to Blogger Media and Publicity for Your Business

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Best practices may not be the most practical when it comes to getting coverage for your business. If you’re a small startup or a bootstrapped company, you probably don’t have the time or money to do all the right things. If you have to take shortcuts, can you still get bloggers to cover your startup without the relationship building many social media pundits suggest? Certainly, though it will still take some work on your part.

Best Practices for Engaging Bloggers

When I was first challenged with getting bloggers to pay attention to the startup I was with, I looked for the “best practices” for engagement. I found articles like this one from Chris Brogan, How to Build Your Brand Online. It’s a bit dated (though I think this was one of my early reference points) but the fundamentals are still valid.

For me, however, the key points made are below and I found I couldn’t fully embrace them.

  • Learn who’s talking about you (or your company, or the other keywords you put into your reader), and engage them in conversation on their site.
  • Make relationships with others before you need them on social networks.

Sure, you need to know who’s talking about your category or subject area. If you’re a tech startup, you want tech writers. If you make boutique pet collars and go after tech bloggers, you’re barking up the wrong tree (sorry about that). But I don’t believe you have to engage in the conversation on their site. It’s a “nice to have” but not a necessity.

You do, however, have to be aware of what they cover and how they cover it. That’s the key point. If you don’t have the credibility of a relationship, substitute respect. Respect will help you earn trust in a short time frame, even a single email.

Have a News Worthy Story

This will be the biggest time saver – if you don’t have a news worthy story, don’t bother. The easiest way to figure this out is finding what is “new” about the information you’re presenting. This sounds pretty basic, but we often get swept up with wanting to talk about any milestone we’ve achieved. That may not be enough for a blogger to want to share the story with their audience. In the best cases, you’re going to get a small percentage covering your story. Basically, I try to feel good about the story I’m sending. In the theme of respect, I may not hit the target for the writer on that particular day, but I probably haven’t burned any bridges either.

Understand the Blogger and Their Audience

When you’re building your list of writers to contact, you need to spend a little time on their site understanding what they write about and who they are. Fortunately, you can gather this quickly by scanning the Categories and their About text. Reading the About text will give you insights into the vision of the blog as well as personal information about the blogger. These are all easy ways you can build a connection. Acknowledge a shared passion, compliment past successes.

The categories are helpful because even serious blogs may have their off-subject topics like a Friday Grab Bag or random posts. This can create an opportunity for you to find a story fit even if it’s outside the blogs normal editorial focus – and you can call this out in your pitch to them.

This effort to personalize the pitch shows you’ve taken some time to learn about them. They aren’t just receiving an email template that you’re blasting out.

Keep Your Email to the Point

We’re all time strapped, and think how cluttered your mailbox is. Now imagine what it looks like if you’re a writer that lots of people want to cover their startup, company or product. Yeah, pretty scary. So get to the point.

Your first sentence should be the ask. Second, some compelling information about why this is so important. Follow those up with a link to where they can experience this brilliance themselves, and the CEOs direct contact info (if that’s not you) – email and cell number.

What I also tend to do is provide additional detail after the email signature. My thoughts are that if I’m trying to respect someone’s time, it doesn’t hurt to have the detail there as long as it’s optional reading. That’s why the first section is to the point and conveys all they need to know to grasp the pitch. If they’re interested, they can read more. If not, they can move on – but I know they at least got the essence of my story idea.

Where do I put that “personal” information I gathered when I was on their blog? That’s a call I make when I’m writing to that writer. Sometimes I lead with “I read your story on _____ and felt a natural extension is the work we’ve done with our product.” Or, I might lead with the pitch but follow up with something that personalizes the message. Try both and see what feels more natural to your own style.

I’ll continue this discussion in another post. I welcome feedback and comments about what works for you.

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