Bloggers can play a fundamental role in helping your business gain brand awareness. But the truth is many businesses struggle to outreach to them. Instead treating bloggers as second-class citizens rather than the content creators they truly are.
Bloggers are (without even a hint of irony, here) people, too. It sounds a little patronising to have to remind anyone of that, but when it comes to PR people and digital marketers, it’s a fact that’s often overlooked.
Sure, some bloggers will proudly tell you that this is their business, their website is quite literally their bread and butter. But instead of approaching them like some sort of business deal with formalities and impersonal touches, just remember that it’s their very personality (or the internet version of it, at least), which they were able to make a brand of. To make a website full of traffic and readers. To have metrics high enough to be of interest to your clients. And that’s basically all you need to concern yourself with, after all.
Instead of separating the blogger from his or her metrics, you need to see the bigger picture. The face behind the brand, as it were. Outreaching on behalf of clients with a generic (and horrific) spam-esque message really isn’t going to give you many happy returns. Why? Well, here’s why.
Put Yourself In Their Shoes
You receive an email. It’s a press release. The name field hasn’t even been filled… in fact, it literally just says [name field] or something, still. It reads overly formally, there’s no attempt to indicate they’ve even seen any blog – let alone your pride and joy – before. Are you going to reply to this poorly thought out mass communication talking some random rubbish about something you or your readers don’t care about? No. Obviously not. Now imagine you’re a blogger. It works the same way.
Put their damn name where you can!
You Haven’t Even Tried To Put An Angle On Your Outreach
Press releases are for the press. If you’re writing to the press, knock yourself out – use them. Just make sure they’re spelled correctly and are actually interesting – otherwise it’s straight to the bottom of the pile for you, my friend! Put a spin on the situation, do their work for them, and voila, hopefully you’ve drummed up a smidgen of interest which may then translate to a nice mention or even a link back to your client’s site. You can even be formal here, too – why not?
When it comes to bloggers, the principle is slightly different, but you still need an angle. They potentially don’t actually care about your new product, I’m sorry to say. Sending out a ‘Dear Sir…’ with a copy/paste carbon copy email won’t wash. However, if there’s an incentive for them or their readers (aka their traffic…) then you potentially have yourself a winner. Use a template, that’s fine, but personalise, personalise, and yeah… personalise. Just make sure you have the right thing to hook them in, and show them the benefits for them and their site. If this takes a little more research, so be it!
If you want something from someone in a shop, I hope to God you don’t just point and expect people to run after you. When you’re outreaching, you have to use the same principles, you can’t just click, figuratively point and hope for the best! Take time to read their stuff, pay them compliments, and tailor the email not just to them, but their readership. Perhaps even start tweeting them or commenting on their blog posts a while in advance, without pitching in the slightest – you don’t want to embarrass yourself. Start the ball rolling in their mind of how the post or items you’re outreaching may well fit in really nicely with the great work they’re already doing. Be friendly, natural and on the blogger’s level, both tone wise and otherwise.
Even if you abide by all that, and then a blogger does something out of line, you have to find a way to deal with it which doesn’t tarnish your reputation. Yes, some bloggers are sarcastic or rude themselves, it’s part of human nature that some people do have a bad day! It’s often completely uncalled for and yes, they should be more understanding. However, they get requests left right and centre and may take their annoyance out on you (the person who’s probably funding their attitude, but hey, ho…). You just have to have a thick skin. You need to have respect at all times – after all, you wouldn’t start effing and blinding at a rude customer if you worked in a supermarket, would you? (Clue: I hope not!). There’s no excuse for you to resort to their level – remember, you’re at work, not on the playground. If you really must, be extra nice, to prove a point!
You’re Fake, And Transparent
I know, I know… it may seem contradictory. You can’t be rude, but you shouldn’t be fake… what’s that all about? Webmasters are not your best friends, but Digital Marketing and outreach tactics are essentially PR, and so you need to become an expert at being polite but also appearing genuinely interested in what a blogger has to say. Basically, have some common courtesy.
I’m not saying you should read everything a blogger has ever written (you have a job to do, after all), but don’t pay them a compliment about something you literally have no idea about. For example “I loved your most recent post about X, Y and Z”. Did you? Or was their post from last month about A,B and C way better, and something you could have displayed a genuine passion for? They’ll know whether you actually bothered finding out more about them, or if you were just another tick off your list.
Now, you have to be transparent in that you have to be honest about the nature of your email. Cut to the chase, that’s why you’re in contact at the end of the day. But that isn’t to say you have to make it look entirely like a chore.
You’ve Not Done Your Homework
In addition to all of the above, some bloggers will clearly state what they do and do not accept. They’re really unlikely to change their mind, so if they say they don’t accept sponsored posts, be prepared to be ignored, at best. Disclosure policies and PR information are a great starting point – as we’ve now discussed at length, not all bloggers are the same, and whilst some certainly are in it for as a many ‘opportunities’ (read: freebies) as possible, some really don’t want you invading on their space. Check what kind of stuff they accept, and try and work a way around it with them in mind.
This also encompasses things you can read from the subtext. Does a nineteen year old beauty blogger want to be placing content about living with arthritis? Probably not, unless she’s an activist for it or something. Speaking to someone on the same page as them is a really good starting point.
You’re Treating Them Like A ‘Job’
Not everyone’s world revolves around you. Your job may be to speak to them, but theirs isn’t actually to speak back. Take time to work on quality, instead of quality. It’s true that the greater your outreach numbers, the more you’ll convert. Yet, if you look for common ground, take a little bit of extra time out of your day, and actually build relationships with bloggers, you’re more likely to get results using less volumes. The internet is huge, but you do sort of run out of sites eventually. As they say, you never get a second chance to make a first impression!
So, if you’re lazy and skipped right to the end of this piece in hope of enlightenment, I’ll give you this. In a word, it’s ‘relationships’ that’ll increase your outreach conversions. If you don’t like talking to people as though they’re people, perhaps you’re in the wrong line of work, and perhaps that’s why your outreach isn’t converting.
Or maybe, just maybe you just have to keep on trying, see what works and what doesn’t, and appreciate that it won’t always be the same.
If you need more help and support engaging with bloggers and influencers contact our team at Trusted Media to discover how we can help you build lasting relationships.