Your Copy Sucks: How to Pitch a Blogger

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(CC) flickr // websuccessdiva
(CC) flickr // websuccessdiva

Do you want to know an inside secret on how to pitch a blogger?

Oh man. Lean in close. No, closer. That’s it. Almost.

You have to talk to them like they’re a human being.

I know, it’s crazy. It doesn’t have much to do with the length of your pitch or the “Hi” instead of “Hello” in your salutation. It doesn’t have anything to do with how many bullet points you have and what Cool Blogger Slang you employ. You just have to talk to them like they’re an actual person, which, gasps all around, they are. (Another crazy fact: journalists are also people. Maybe you should give this a shot with them too?)

Just one rule: talk like a person, treat them like a person. Here’s how to do that.

You can read about a million different best practices or top 10 tips or top 20 tips on how to pitch bloggers, and they’re all correct. But I’m a simple person; I think this one rule is enough.

Here are some examples of opening copy I have had to rewrite for bloggers, with key words changed to protect the altogether innocent.

I wanted to bring your attention to a touching book called A Very Touching Memoir by An Author. With incredible wit, Author shares her humorous memories of touching stuff happening in an unlikely setting.

I changed that to this:

Hello John, I was looking at this blog post of yours [link] and that makes me think this new book would be your sort of thing. It’s called A Very Touching Memoir by An Author. Here’s some background on it, but if you’d like to learn more, here’s a link.

If there is no basis for thinking that John wouldn’t enjoy a this book, then I wouldn’t write to him, which is at the top of those top 10 lists. It’s just common sense: make your pitch more formal if the topic is academic, make your pitch longer if the topic is very involved and scientific, etc. Pretty much Business Writing 101.

My point is, you can’t act like a blogger is some strange, otherworldly creature. You just use the same set of rules you would use when speaking to a normal person, in normal conversation. If you’ve made it this far in your social life, you’re probably good to go. Maybe I’m going to sound like a whiny young whippersnapper for saying this, but all we need to do is retrain ourselves to speak like people and not like PR jargon machines.

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  • http://lynettecornell.com/ Lynette Cornell

    Spot on!

    By showing that you've taken the time to look at who they are, what they write about, and where their interests lie, you have shown respect for their time and are much more likely to get their attention. It's a small use of time up front but an investment in getting that pitch read and responded to rather than sent to the junk pile.

    In an industry where every press release is a bland, sterile announcement of facts and bloated opinions, getting a straightforward, down-to-earth pitch is a breath of fresh air.

  • http://hormonecoloreddays.blogspot.com/ kim/hormone-colored days

    “If there is no basis for thinking that John wouldn’t enjoy a this book, then I wouldn’t write to him.”

    My inbox (and my delete bin) would be a lot emptier if more PR folks followed that rule!

  • http://www.andreavascellari.com Andrea Vascellari

    Good point. Being 'personal' is always a must.
    Andrea

  • keithtrivitt

    TJ – Spot on with the post! And I know you and I have talked about this before, so this won't come as much of a surprise to you, but I would extend the “treat them like actual humans” to EVERY relationship and outreach we have in PR. That means, outreach with newspaper reporters, podcasters, wire reporters, and most definitely bloggers. In other words, shouldn't we be treating every touch point we have, everyone we interact with that we think would be a key influencer or is part of our client's target audience as an actual human being? It just makes sense to me.

  • http://twitter.com/tjdietderich TJ Dietderich

    Thanks, I'm glad you think so! But in defense of the flacks who don't do this, it is incredibly time-consuming. If only 10% of people respond to you (and that's considered a very healthy number), then researching all those blogs can be a big time-waster. But I still think it's better than spray and pray.

  • http://twitter.com/tjdietderich TJ Dietderich

    High five! I hear unfortunate stories from my fellow flacks about being forced to “hit their numbers” even if the people on the list aren't a good fit. That's just bad karma.

  • http://twitter.com/tjdietderich TJ Dietderich

    I think you can go even further and say you should just treat everyone in every aspect of your life nicely. You never know; that person you give a seat to on the subway might have a beat that you need.

  • http://alexaizenberg.wordpress.com/ Alex Aizenberg

    Oh i was JUST saying this to a jr staffer the other day… i pretty much put it like this. There is no 'blogger pitch' or 'new media pitch' there is just proper pitching, period (the 3 Ps?)… And if done right it's customized and personalized per target as well as courteous/professional (of course!), that's just PR 101.

    Great post, but also sad that this indeed HAS to be said in the first place. Well done!

  • http://twitter.com/tjdietderich TJ Dietderich

    I like it! 3Ps. I'm going to use that from now on. Phrase stolen!

  • http://alexaizenberg.wordpress.com/ Alex Aizenberg

    I'll take that as a compliment! Maybe we can also coin “It's the pitching, stupid” =)

  • Becki

    I love this! I sometimes find myself guilty of just copying and pasting a pitch over and over again just to get through a list, and I have to stop and remind myself to slow down and do it the right way. Thanks, TJ!

  • http://twitter.com/tressalynne Tressa Robbins

    Excellent advice, TJ. I wrote about Blogger Pitching last week for the BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas blog (http://budurl.com/fh3x). However, it took me a few paragraphs to say what you said in one concise sentence! I like yours better ;-).

  • kathycash

    Amen to this. This seems so intuitive but yet…..I think we all just need to slow down and think, will this person be interested in what I have to offer? And how can I bring this to their attention in a way that is considerate and genuine?

  • wintress

    Thank you! I think this rule goes for pretty much all emails that are written on a one-to-one basis. I just recently had a client who was trying to write an email to get a related business to refer his. I kept trying to pull the email back in the direction that you're suggesting, and he kept tell me…”but it sounds so personal, like something I would write a friend. It doesn't sound like a sales email.” I kept saying, “well, yes, that's the point!”

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  • http://ariherzog.com Ari Herzog

    I disagree with your headline. “How to pitch a blogger” stinks of copy. Rather, the headline should read, “How to pitch me.” Or, do you want the same copy as everyone else receives?

  • dipaolamomma

    Nicely put… from the Alien down the way (i.e. a blogger) HA!

  • http://lynettecornell.com/ Lynette Cornell

    Even a quick read-through of an about page or recent posts is better than an uneducated pitch into the dark.

    The key, I think, is finding valuable blogs that aren't timewasters to read, regardless of whether or not they reply to your pitch. There are a couple blogs I follow that I know the content will consistently be good and valuable, regardless of the topic. Those are the places I'd start with and then go from there to those blogs' “recommended blogs” lists.

  • http://lynettecornell.com/ Lynette Cornell

    Even a quick read-through of an about page or recent posts is better than an uneducated pitch into the dark.

    The key, I think, is finding valuable blogs that aren't timewasters to read, regardless of whether or not they reply to your pitch. There are a couple blogs I follow that I know the content will consistently be good and valuable, regardless of the topic. Those are the places I'd start with and then go from there to those blogs' “recommended blogs” lists.

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