Blogs. To pitch or not to pitch? Well, it depends on your definition of pitch.
I've received a ton of irrelevant pitches since starting Strategic Public Relations more than two years ago. Just yesterday, someone posted a press release as a comment to one of my posts. Can you say DELETE?! Luckily for the individuals pitching me, I usually just delete them and move on.
Well, Tom Murphy gives us a great (read: embarrassing) example of why you should pitch blogs with caution.
With journalists, a bad pitch usually just means no editorial placement. With bloggers, a bad pitch can get you negative attention. Blogs are changing the media relations landscape in this regard. Hopefully this phenomenon will increase the number of good, customized and relevant pitches. A successful media relations approach resembles one-to-one marketing, not a mass mailing.
Some professionals will tell you not to pitch blogs at all. But I disagree. We just need to redefine the concept, and the desired outcome, of pitching a blog.
Push-button publishing does not mean instant results. You need to build a relationship with the blogger over time. Since blogs are online, everyone seems to take an Internet-speed mindset when it comes to pitching us. This is incorrect. It takes time.
Engage the blogger. Post a substantive comment to their blog, or send them an e-mail adding your thoughts onto a post. This shows them you are reading the blog and have a relevant opinion to contribute. This also means your comment or e-mail needs to be more than a "me too" or "right on" statement.
Look for a Relevant Link. Now, most folks would assume that once you have engaged the blogger, you can pitch them at free will. Wrong. Continue to read their blog. If a pitch or piece of news you have corresponds with something the blogger is writing about, send them a link to learn more as an FYI.
Pitching a blogger should be a continuation to a conversation you have already started with the person. Better yet, send them a link to an article you already placed. To me, I think the best opportunity with blogs for media relations is bringing more attention to traditional publicity efforts.
Who are we? What are we? We can call bloggers all kinds of things from citizen journalists to evangelists to @#$&^%!. But at the end of the day, good bloggers are people with opinions on a specific topic. As such, consider them industry influencers and work with them accordingly.
Tom has me convinced. PR bloggers need to start calling out bad pitches as a rule. Not to sound dramatic, but maybe it will help raise the quality of media relations overall. Not to sound negative, but I doubt it.