From an SEO standpoint, the blogosphere is a goldmine. It provides the opportunity for marketers to build targeted natural "in-content" links which are not only great for increasing search engine rankings, but also can drive significant amounts of targeted traffic.
Yet building links and traction within the blogosphere is a tricky process. There is a lot of competition. Bloggers receive dozens of requests for links and can choose to be very selective in what they cover and link to. Hence, as someone who has received hundreds of pitches as a blogger and built dozens of links as a marketer, I would like to share just a few of my tactics.
Unlike other posts on the subject that give a list of dozens of things you should make sure to do when pitching bloggers, I would like to take a different approach. I will go trough the process step-by-step giving pointers along the way.
It is very important that you make initial contact with a blogger before you ask them to talk about your products and services. The most crucial factor to pitching successfully is undoubtedly how well you know the blog/blogger and your relationship with them. Hence, before you make your pitch, send an e-mail to the blogger introducing yourself, sharing what you like about the blog, and/or asking a basic question. It is important that you get acquainted before you ask them for something. You need to have a genuine interest for this to work properly because bloggers have enough experience dealing with marketers to see through anyone with solely ulterior motives
After you have made initial contact and built a rep with the blogger, you can make your pitch. There is no magic format or template that will get your story published. Instead, you need to make sure that what you have is related to the blogger's niche and has some credible news value aside from marketing your company.
The initial pitch needs to be short and sweet with just the basic information. If they are interested, they will ask for more information. Unfortunately, a lot of pitches go unanswered so that it why it is important that you build a relationship first. People are more likely to ignore a random pitch then they are a pitch from someone they know.
Take a few lines to share who you are and a VERY brief overview of what you are working on and what you want covered. Make sure to stress the aspects of your project which relate to the blog's niche to show why it is relevant and why it should be covered. Stress the "news value" of your story. Pitch your story in such a way that it could easily be written into news articles you see in any major newspaper. If the blog has covered other products/companies in the past, see how these posts are structured and pitch your story in such a way that it could be easily turned into one of these posts.
A blogger's main goal with a new post is the value that it adds for their readers. Hence, it is your job to show the blogger what value such a post has for people who have no interest in purchasing your project as most of the time, this group will make up a majority of the blog's readership. Why would someone who doesn't want to buy need to read this post?
The overall pitch should be short, no more than six or seven lines. Like I mentioned before, bloggers get hundreds of e-mails and scan through them, not read them judiciously. Use small paragraphs and make the post as e-mail as scannable as possible (use headings if need be, short sentences, short paragraphs).
The other important aspect of the pitch is the subject you use for the e-mail. Again, try and keep this short (just a few words) and as descriptive as possible. For example, if I was pitching the launch of a new cell phone to a gadget blog, I would not set the subject to "Company X launches revolutionary cell phone with x, y, and z features". Instead, I would send something along the lines of "News Tip: Company X Launches Entry Level Smartphone"
Once you have made the pitch, its time for you to play the waiting game. All you can do now is wait for a response. If you don't get one within three or four business days, you can send a follow-up e-mail, but I advise you not to send more than two follow-ups. If a blogger doesn't respond, 9 times out of 10 they are not interested.
The key takeaways of this post are that it is very important to build a relationship (even if it is a small/short one) with the blogger before you make a pitch, to keep the pitch short and direct, and to avoid sending too many follow-up e-mails. Pitch a newsworthy story that relates to your company but adds value to readers not looking to pull out their credit cards and you should receive some positive responses.
Aditya Mahesh started his first business, a public relations firm targeted towards small business and web start-ups, in 2004 and has since started a number of online start-ups. He is currently founder and CEO of ZapPrep, a college admissions consulting company targeted to helping guide high school students through the application process.
Aditya currently teaches at an entrepreneurship course at UC Berkeley, UGBA 198 Entrepreneurship Crash Course: Starting a Business, and was the founder of the school's largest undergraduate entrepreneur association.
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