Last week, I received an email pitch from a PR agency looking to feature their client on my blog. The pitch was friendly enough, but had one glaring error. Here’s the pitch:

Hi Danny,

Thanks to social giant Klout, Badgeville gamification customers can now associate a numeric score with social interactions.

Bottom line: companies will find it a whole lot easier to influence the behaviors of their customers.

Badgeville will leverage Klout’s influence-ranking technology to help enterprise leaders increase online engagement. The partnership will allow businesses to pinpoint which customer/employee carries the most influence and provide key analytics to score social influence.

I’d be more than happy to put you in touch with Badgeville and/or Klout to discuss what this means for social business. Please let me know if you are interested.

Thanks and Happy Friday!

Like I said, the pitch is friendly enough and offers a quick, punchy overview of why I might be interested, which is always a bonus. It sure as hell beats some of the pitches I receive!

But, as I also said, there’s one glaring error – the sender of the email clearly isn’t aware that there’s no chance in hell I’ll write about Klout in any way that promotes them.

As I’ve mentioned a few times, my opinion of Klout is that they’re unethical, they ignore user concerns, and issue pat responses to criticism. Simply put, I think Klout is a joke.

Unfortunately, the fact I was sent the pitch demonstrates another example of how pitching needs to adapt, and PR agencies would do well to have either a blogger or someone that truly understands blogger outreach as a core promotional outlet versus just another medium.

Bloggers Aren’t Special, Just Different

It used to be really easy to promote a client’s story. Grab some quotes, some images, meld into a news release, and send out to the wires. Newspapers and trade publications would run features, and clients would be happy with the exposure.

NB: For my friend Gini, I know there’s a lot more to PR than news releases and publicity – I’m just using as an example here.

Then along came bloggers, and their taking over of the media as the perfect news channel. Since they weren’t (usually) limited by editorial, nor were they necessarily baised to brands or products, they offered a great alternative to traditional print media.

They also offered excellent SEO juice, as well as a captive and trusting audience in the blogger’s community of readers and subscribers. The problem was, the strengths and attraction of a blog were also its sore points, at least as far as PR agencies were concerned.

Because of the trust and non-bias bloggers could offer, they had to be approached differently.

Instead of blind pitching to a publication, where there were scores of journalists a pitch could be dispersed to, blogs are very often solo-driven. Sure, you have your Techcrunch’s and your Mashable’s but more often than not it’s individual bloggers with engaged communities that are approached.

And they need to be approached very differently.

Blogger Outreach – It’s Not That Hard, People

The difference in approach is exactly why you’ll hear good PR agencies (and marketers, and strategic advisors) talk about blogger outreach programs, and how they tailor their approaches and make sure the blogger is a fit for the client.

The reason for this is simple: a blogger’s key currency is their audience, and there’s no way a good blogger will ever risk that for a story that doesn’t fit and is clearly promotional.

If I suddenly started writing great things about Klout based on the pitch I received, my readers would call me out for double-standards, and rightly so. The same goes for any blogger, and emphasizes the point about the outreach hitting the right targets, which this one missed.

The thing is, blogger outreach is actually pretty easy – if you let it be:

Take the time to research the blogger.

Seriously. That’s all it takes. (Okay, it takes a wee bit more to build a great blogger program, and these six blogger outreach pointers from Monica O’Brien are great guidelines to help you with this.)

But as an example of knowing your target, all it would have taken was for the PR person that emailed me to use the search box in my sidebar, and type in Klout.

That would have shown my opinion of Klout and that I wouldn’t be interested, which would save the agency time and negate the need to tell the client why they didn’t get editorial placement on certain blogs.

Because, ironically enough, bloggers (mostly) do want to help PR agencies share their clients - especially if it helps benefit their community and let the blogger share early news about an awesome and relevant product or service in their niche.

So, PR folks. It’s simple. If you don’t have a blogger outreach specialist as part of your make-up, it’s becoming increasingly important that you do.

Blogs aren’t going away any time fast – but your clients might if the coverage isn’t there because your outreach wasn’t researched…

image: bamalibrarylady

154 comments
JayB2B
JayB2B

Great article Danny. As someone who lives and breathes Blogger Outreach, I'm consistently alarmed at how little attention some companies give towards this process. I'm in talks right now with a large, well funded startup whose entire sales model will be built on top of their Blogger network, and it's truly alarming to see the lack of knowledge by the "execs" they have brought in to design it.

JayB2B
JayB2B

Great article Danny. As someone who lives and breathes Blogger Outreach, I'm consistently alarmed at how little attention some companies give towards this process. I'm in talks right now with a large, well funded startup whose entire sales model will be built on top of their Blogger network, and it's truly alarming to see the lack of knowledge by the "execs" they have brought in to design it.

Danny Brown
Danny Brown

Maybe Klout put the agency up to it for shits and giggles... ;)

Danny Brown
Danny Brown

Maybe Klout put the agency up to it for shits and giggles... ;)

Sean McGinnis
Sean McGinnis

Hahaha. That's just awesome. I remember a conversation with the amazing Tom Martin where we concluded there's a shit ton of money to be made by the person or people that finally solves this problem. Lots of ways to tackle it and yet nobody seems to be able to move the needle.

Sean McGinnis
Sean McGinnis

Hahaha. That's just awesome. I remember a conversation with the amazing Tom Martin where we concluded there's a shit ton of money to be made by the person or people that finally solves this problem. Lots of ways to tackle it and yet nobody seems to be able to move the needle.

SLoahSiegel
SLoahSiegel

Danny,

I am a junior college student who has just started following blogs this semester as part of a social media class and I have found the topic of Klout and this post interesting and informative. I know that before making any request or interviewing for a position, research is the best way to prepare and will lead to the greatest success.  Understanding your audience is key and research achieves this understanding.  Because it is so simple to find your opinions on Klout, the situation is quite ironic and humorous, but people make mistakes. I've enjoyed your blog, thanks. - Noah

SLoahSiegel
SLoahSiegel

Danny, I am a junior college student who has just started following blogs this semester as part of a social media class and I have found the topic of Klout and this post interesting and informative. I know that before making any request or interviewing for a position, research is the best way to prepare and will lead to the greatest success.  Understanding your audience is key and research achieves this understanding.  Because it is so simple to find your opinions on Klout, the situation is quite ironic and humorous, but people make mistakes. I've enjoyed your blog, thanks. - Noah

SLoahSiegel
SLoahSiegel

Danny, I am a junior college student who has just started following blogs this semester as part of a social media class and I have found the topic of Klout and this post interesting and informative. I know that before making any request or interviewing for a position, research is the best way to prepare and will lead to the greatest success.  Understanding your audience is key and research achieves this understanding.  Because you're opinion on Klout is so far from the request, the situation is pretty ironic and humorous, but people make mistakes. I've enjoyed your blog, thanks.

DannyBrown
DannyBrown

@SnglPrntRetreat Cheers Jacqui, glad you enjoyed :)

Claire Dunford
Claire Dunford

It frustrates me no end when people struggle with blogger outreach. As you say it's not rocket science, it's common sense: put yourself in the recipient's shoes.

How often does some junk mail land on your door mat for you to crumple it up and toss it in the bin without a second glance? A targeted piece of mail is more likely to get a relevant response - and bloggers often provide you with a window into their lives, with a depth of information for you to explore, readily accessible on the internet. Use it.

Claire Dunford
Claire Dunford

It frustrates me no end when people struggle with blogger outreach. As you say it's not rocket science, it's common sense: put yourself in the recipient's shoes. How often does some junk mail land on your door mat for you to crumple it up and toss it in the bin without a second glance? A targeted piece of mail is more likely to get a relevant response - and bloggers often provide you with a window into their lives, with a depth of information for you to explore, readily accessible on the internet. Use it.

Adam
Adam

Danny,

It's hard to argue with "you should know who you are pitching to," and there were a lot of great comments supporting it, so I guess I will play Devil's Advocate and ask this: how much research is reasonable before pitching?

I can see someone quickly googling you and not finding out your opinions on Klout. Of course, we all know them and despite them, have still learned a lot about sheep from your expertise :), but seriously, is there a balance at all between quantity and quality in this process? What level of due diligence does a pitch require?

Perhaps it depends on the goals of the pitch and whether the PR is trying to establish a relationship with a blogger. But I always think about how a rule applies to small businesses, where is the balance for a two person agency who can't afford a blogger outreach specialist?

Adam
Adam

Danny, It's hard to argue with "you should know who you are pitching to," and there were a lot of great comments supporting it, so I guess I will play Devil's Advocate and ask this: how much research is reasonable before pitching? I can see someone quickly googling you and not finding out your opinions on Klout. Of course, we all know them and despite them, have still learned a lot about sheep from your expertise :), but seriously, is there a balance at all between quantity and quality in this process? What level of due diligence does a pitch require? Perhaps it depends on the goals of the pitch and whether the PR is trying to establish a relationship with a blogger. But I always think about how a rule applies to small businesses, where is the balance for a two person agency who can't afford a blogger outreach specialist?

Nikki Little
Nikki Little

Even though it's oftentimes warranted, I appreciate that you take the diplomatic and educational route to remind PR pros (I cringe every time someone in my industry still needs reminding) that doing the proper research before contacting any blogger or reporter is so, so, so important.

Yes, some are totally rude and lazy and deserve to be publicly outed. However, I hope your and other bloggers' educational approach gets through to those "doing it wrong" just the same.

Nikki Little
Nikki Little

Even though it's oftentimes warranted, I appreciate that you take the diplomatic and educational route to remind PR pros (I cringe every time someone in my industry still needs reminding) that doing the proper research before contacting any blogger or reporter is so, so, so important. Yes, some are totally rude and lazy and deserve to be publicly outed. However, I hope your and other bloggers' educational approach gets through to those "doing it wrong" just the same.

Howie the InterGalactic Traveler
Howie the InterGalactic Traveler

Sigh

I would say some blanket statement here but it would piss off many of my PR friends that are really smart.

When I interviewed 6 PR people to help my Ice Cream Sandwich client only 1 Googled my client to see what PR/Publicity we had achieved so far. Ahem...what I achieved! Then 2 of the pitches were so far from what my client was about I felt they used a form pitch.

The question is who is teaching these people Danny?

Howie the InterGalactic Traveler
Howie the InterGalactic Traveler

Sigh I would say some blanket statement here but it would piss off many of my PR friends that are really smart. When I interviewed 6 PR people to help my Ice Cream Sandwich client only 1 Googled my client to see what PR/Publicity we had achieved so far. Ahem...what I achieved! Then 2 of the pitches were so far from what my client was about I felt they used a form pitch. The question is who is teaching these people Danny?

Ryan Hanley
Ryan Hanley

Danny,

This really comes down to the understanding that bloggers are still people. Yes, many bloggers especially bloggers of your ilk have built very nice businesses for themselves with their blog in addition to the others thing that they do... But still people.

Still a person with a reputation not a Corporate Board trying to leverage an asset (audience) for more black numbers...

Plus if you had written about Klout would your Audience necessarily be the right audience for that Article?

Probably not... Most of your readers probably feel the same way you do.

Thanks for bringing up a great topic.

Ryan H.

Ryan Hanley
Ryan Hanley

Danny, This really comes down to the understanding that bloggers are still people. Yes, many bloggers especially bloggers of your ilk have built very nice businesses for themselves with their blog in addition to the others thing that they do... But still people. Still a person with a reputation not a Corporate Board trying to leverage an asset (audience) for more black numbers... Plus if you had written about Klout would your Audience necessarily be the right audience for that Article? Probably not... Most of your readers probably feel the same way you do. Thanks for bringing up a great topic. Ryan H.

Keith Davis
Keith Davis

Hi Danny
"Badgeville will leverage Klout’s influence-ranking technology to help enterprise leaders increase online engagement."

Ooops!

You couldn't make it up.
You didn't make it up... did you?

Keith Davis
Keith Davis

Hi Danny "Badgeville will leverage Klout’s influence-ranking technology to help enterprise leaders increase online engagement." Ooops! You couldn't make it up. You didn't make it up... did you?

Jeff Esposito
Jeff Esposito

I got the same pitch... guess I am not special...

Jeff Esposito
Jeff Esposito

I got the same pitch... guess I am not special...

Danny Brown
Danny Brown moderator

I once read an article (can't recall where, unfortunately) where an ad company researched a section of a town based on demographics from the previous census. Based on that information, they sent out specially-tailored flyers to 300 homes, each flyer targeting the age and sex of that household.

The result? 92% success rate. Yes, it cost more than a standard flyer campaign - but it just goes to show that, with the right research and mindset, the return can be enormous.

Cheers, Claire!

DannyBrown
DannyBrown

I once read an article (can't recall where, unfortunately) where an ad company researched a section of a town based on demographics from the previous census. Based on that information, they sent out specially-tailored flyers to 300 homes, each flyer targeting the age and sex of that household. The result? 92% success rate. Yes, it cost more than a standard flyer campaign - but it just goes to show that, with the right research and mindset, the return can be enormous. Cheers, Claire!

Danny Brown
Danny Brown moderator

Hi there mate,

I guess it depends on the agency and client requirements. Whenever I do blogger outreach, for example, I never use a list of more than 100 bloggers (often less, so it can be more targeted and researched).

From that list I'll drill down based on interaction with readers; presence and use of other networks; potential conflict of interest due to competitor ads; authority of subject, etc., and then approach the bloggers that are left after these filters.

Yes, it's a lot more work, but trust me - they know I've done my homework when I do reach out. And they're a lot more receptive to help me with my needs then. :)

As for the small business, think of the time spent researching things that would benefit your business. Do you to to trade shows; do you spend ads in the local press; do you try get news articles about you; do you spend time researching new products to sell in your store, etc?

Now, switch that around - how much research, "ad space", trade shows your blogger could report from on your behalf, etc, could you afford in place of the physical cost?

It might surprise you how much more effective a blogger or two can be as part of your armoury, regardless of business size.

Cheers, mate!

DannyBrown
DannyBrown

Hi there mate, I guess it depends on the agency and client requirements. Whenever I do blogger outreach, for example, I never use a list of more than 100 bloggers (often less, so it can be more targeted and researched). From that list I'll drill down based on interaction with readers; presence and use of other networks; potential conflict of interest due to competitor ads; authority of subject, etc., and then approach the bloggers that are left after these filters. Yes, it's a lot more work, but trust me - they know I've done my homework when I do reach out. And they're a lot more receptive to help me with my needs then. :) As for the small business, think of the time spent researching things that would benefit your business. Do you to to trade shows; do you spend ads in the local press; do you try get news articles about you; do you spend time researching new products to sell in your store, etc? Now, switch that around - how much research, "ad space", trade shows your blogger could report from on your behalf, etc, could you afford in place of the physical cost? It might surprise you how much more effective a blogger or two can be as part of your armoury, regardless of business size. Cheers, mate!

Danny
Danny

Hi there Nikki,

Thanks, miss. I admit, it's very tempting to "out" bad pitches - and I have in the past, I'll admit. But like you say, often it's more effective to hopefully help improve the next one. Hopefully... ;-)

Cheers!

Danny
Danny

Hi there Nikki, Thanks, miss. I admit, it's very tempting to "out" bad pitches - and I have in the past, I'll admit. But like you say, often it's more effective to hopefully help improve the next one. Hopefully... ;-) Cheers!

Danny
Danny

As I mentioned to Gini in my response to her, mate, perahps the PRSA should put less emphasis on crowdsourcing how PR should be defined, and more on actually training their members better...

Danny
Danny

As I mentioned to Gini in my response to her, mate, perahps the PRSA should put less emphasis on crowdsourcing how PR should be defined, and more on actually training their members better...

Danny
Danny

Hi mate,

The one thing I always used to drill into clients was that every blogger was as important as the other. Sure, there may be the difference in subscribers or visits, but at the end of the day, a "small" blogger with a truly engaged readership is far more preferable than an "influencer" with a small interaction ration.

Always make sure you get the balance right, because you never know when the new blogger will become the established one.

Cheers, mate!

Danny
Danny

Hi mate, The one thing I always used to drill into clients was that every blogger was as important as the other. Sure, there may be the difference in subscribers or visits, but at the end of the day, a "small" blogger with a truly engaged readership is far more preferable than an "influencer" with a small interaction ration. Always make sure you get the balance right, because you never know when the new blogger will become the established one. Cheers, mate!

Danny
Danny

I reread the email four times, mate, and I still don't know what the actual gist of it is... ;-)

Danny
Danny

I reread the email four times, mate, and I still don't know what the actual gist of it is... ;-)

Danny
Danny

I recommended you...

Danny
Danny

I recommended you...

rainbowclaire
rainbowclaire

@DannyBrown Shame you can't remember where you read that stat Danny - sounds like a really useful one!

Nikki Little
Nikki Little

I don't hold it against you for calling people/companies out by name because you're also making an effort to educate them. I have a problem with the ones who rant and complain, yet make zero effort to explain how to do outreach the right way. Sure, anyone can do a quick Google search and find plenty of content on the topic, but I'm of the belief that you shouldn't throw a fit if you're doing nothing to help make it right.

Nikki Little
Nikki Little

I don't hold it against you for calling people/companies out by name because you're also making an effort to educate them. I have a problem with the ones who rant and complain, yet make zero effort to explain how to do outreach the right way. Sure, anyone can do a quick Google search and find plenty of content on the topic, but I'm of the belief that you shouldn't throw a fit if you're doing nothing to help make it right.

DannyBrown
DannyBrown

@rainbowclaire If I recall, I'll ping the link your way. :)

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