As I shared yesterday, I am putting up recaps from the various sessions I attended at Type A Parent Conference last week in Asheville, NC. They aren’t fully edited and not my usual posts, but they contain lots of good information, and this is a great way for me to try to recall and retain at least some of it! Each post will have the session name and who presented so you can also contact them.
(The drumming circle that meets with anyone invited every Friday night in the square of Asheville)
Blogger Outreach That Works moderated by Cecily Kellogg from Uppercase Woman @CecilyK, with speakers Jessi Langson of To Kiss the Cook @tokissthecook, Ana Roca Castro of Premier Social Media @anarc and Jenn Fowler from Frugal Upstate @jennfowler.
The majority of the below is information and opinions expressed by the moderators both to PR firms who pitch bloggers, but also to bloggers receiving pitches from and pitching to PR firms.
How to Pitch Bloggers
To PR firms: Don’t send pitches on “content that you could write about” – especially for an event that is happening 700 miles from our homes. The general consensus is that it treats us as though you think we don’t already have enough to write about and tends to be insulting to bloggers. – from Cecily
Many PR firms now love the outreach via Twitter first – I have a pitch on this topic that pays this much. @ someone first to gauge their interest. By the time she actually emails someone, her conversion rate is really high. How many bloggers get tons of pitches and simply delete them. DM someone after you @ them. Get to know someone before you approach them. Attend conferences and events because people know that it’s a good fit and they know you, so they’re more likely to open it.
Worst mistakes have been made by inviting people into projects without getting to know them. Then DM, phone them. – Ana Roco-Castro
Jenn Fowler uses email. She has too many people to follow so many people. She does always go to the blog, read a few posts to see how they write. Most importantly, she makes sure they haven’t ranted against the brand previously and makes sure they are interested in doing reviews/giveaways. She starts with a quick email first to generate interest – get the quick details fast to see if they’re interested so they don’t delete it before they get to the info on what’s in it for them. “Hi, name is Jenn Fowler, blogger too, 10 second pitch, if interested in more, contact her.” Maybe send a follow up a week later, then drop it if no response. Also will have catchy title like “Quick Opportunity for $50 sponsored post”
How To Pitch PR Firms
Jessi – also gets pitches from bloggers. On least favorite front “To whom it may concern, really love your product. Would love to get some of your product.” v “Hey, I remember when we met at X. I remember you work with Brand X. I’m doing a series in about 2 months that focuses on Y that fits with your brand because Z” It gave enough lead time, it had a tie in, she knew where it fit, she remembered the brands worked with. When doing wrap-up – I counted Twitter followers before, counted Twitter afterwards and saw a jump. Know not the whole thing is attributable to me, but there was an impact. This is a great example of how to have something summarized that can be packaged to a client easily.
The bigger the blogger, the harder to make them comply with the project – per CecilyK. Likes to work with Bloggers who are in the 2, 3, 4 page rank range. If they turn it down, no worries, but they are easier to work with than the page rank 5 and above who she tends to have to hunt down a lot. You can’t know every blogger to start. You don’t want to work with the same people all the time, so have to try to expand the list over time.
When she searches for a brand name or a topic, keeps reader with a few thousand people in it so that there are good results coming up in the search. Some of it is going to be a leap of faith, but you look also at the community – who is following that person, do they engage with their audience, too? – per Jenn
Ana – uses geek coin (look it up) to manage campaigns. She suggests people make sure a brand puts the money in an escrow account or elsewhere so that you don’t have to wait five months to be paid. This has been an issue with her getting burned in the past. It isn’t always feasible or possible, however.
Jenn uses an engagement document for every project with bloggers over around $50 or so. It has all the details of what is included, required, etc so that it is very clear what is expected and it seems to increase the obligation of people to complete the project, as well. If it’s an email, it turns out to be a little less reliable. Also is a big believer in a campaign document with resources, pictures, links, verbiage suggestions, information about product so don’t have to search through multiple tabs in the website. It’s their post, and they can include the information they want – but it makes it easier for everyone.
Blogger and Brand bill of rights
Bloggers – what they have right to expect from the brand
Professionalism – deserve to be treated like professionals. We are not hobbyists. We do this for a living and deserve to be treated that way.
Access and communication – respond to us when needed
Clear terms – no mission creep. State what you’re doing and stick to it. if more is being asked for, state that the project is for X. I can do Y that I am interested in, but it’s outside the scope of what we’ve agreed to. Let’s begin a new engagement and project. Or state that you aren’t comfortable with Y if you aren’t.
Understanding of Values – meat project for a vegetarian, for example, no no
Clear instructions – see above, plus: Reiterate what the expectations are at the end of the communications back and forth if there isn’t a mission engagement document so that it’s clear that you are in agreement and can point to it later if there are any issues.
Prompt payment – within reason. The bigger the brand, the slower the payment. Up to 60 to 90 days with approvals and accounting and more and more. 45-60 days is normal. It’s fine to ask when.
Disclosure – It’s a requirement by law to disclose relationships with sponsors. The blogger can get in trouble if they don’t. Don’t ask bloggers not to.
If you are signing a document, you are absolutely within your rights to amend the contract – or ask to do so – and ask questions about the restrictions like content or photo ownership. You don’t have to simply take what is sent you, especially for larger projects. They may drop you, but that may have happened in the end anyway. It’s a risk you may want or need to take.
Brand rights to expect from bloggers
Professionalism – they have the right to expect that from us
Access and communication – need to be able to reach us, let them know what’s happening
Deadlines met – this is critical
Unique and original content – just for them and not regurgitating information they sent or what you can get elsewhere, or for that matter, what you’ve posted for other projects
Measuring results – they have the right to do this
Reports – if agreed upon, they have the right to ask you for analytics on your part
Disclosure – we must be disclosing what we do
You are so much more interesting than cutting and pasting a PR press release. Make it your own content. Plus, it hurts SEO of the company and SEO of the blogger, which benefits no one. Better to say why you love the article and then link to the press release on a site somewhere – something to suggest if it’s something that you want to post.
You will get requests that are totally inappropriate. If you think on your feet, you can turn that around to some other opportunity. I do consulting on the side. If you need bloggers for an event, I am happy to tap into my network for $X. Don’t simply send out your contacts when approached (a current pitch for an event for a brand that I received, as well). Also ask if they are the right person to talk to. Marketing, social media, PR, SEO, etc are not on the same page or team and often have different budgets and may not be on board with what others are doing.
Discussion on Blogger Trips
Bloggers tend to enjoy them, but they have to be well run. There has to be an agenda, people need to talk about the brand with a passion. You need to convert the bloggers into evangelists. A badly run trip is worse than no trip at all. Because they are bloggers coming from a different background in many cases, you need to take care of them a little bit more than you do for a typical press junket. Press are not going to become evangelists for you. They will talk about you in one article, but bloggers will become your evangelists and talk about you forever.
Give warning about trips – need time to plan for things at home. IF there is provision for childcare / food delivered to home / etc, it makes things that much easier and a more positive experience for the bloggers – especially mom bloggers. Also make sure that there is follow up after the event. Don’t just go radio silent afterwards. For brands, check out the calendar to make sure that there aren’t other major events going on at the same time – it will impact your attendance, especially for bloggers you want to attend. It’s all about knowing your audience.