Blogger Outreach Guidelines V1

2012 October 8
by Grace Boyle

I innocently started this blog in 2008 without an inkling of the breadth and business opportunity it would bring and plunge me into. Today the concept of brands connecting with bloggers and influencer marketing keeps evolving.

Alongside starting my food blog almost two years ago, I’ve had my share of pitches and opportunities. Since I have worked alongside bloggers and online publishers for the last five years with the two startups I’ve had the pleasure of being part of, I also am able to see it from both sides of the line. I’ve seen so many brands miss the mark and if you’re a blogger, you’re familiar with the impersonal, irrelevant pitches you’ve received.

After speaking on this topic a few times, I realized I’ve never actually written about it so without further ado.

V1. General blogger outreach guidelines (from my personal experience);
V2. (To come) A sampling of piss-poor pitches I’ve received in addition to highlighting wonderful, personalized outreach I’ve received

The Low Down:

  • Number one, ensure the email or outreach is personalized. It takes a little bit longer, but that two minute extra effort makes a difference. Even if it’s just one sentence that you add to your boilerplate outreach email, it helps. Huge points if you’ve read through my blog, listen to me on Twitter or just generally know what I write about and what I stand for. Most blog/bloggers are public, it’s not that hard to decipher.
  • Be concise and clear. Typically, most bloggers have other jobs or work alongside their blog. Be clear in what you’re asking for, don’t beat around the bush, don’t be vague and keep it short. We can dive into details if something moves forward after. In short, tell us [bloggers] what you’re looking for and/or need from us.
  • Offer and encourage ethical disclosure. Just understanding that it’s the right thing to do by stating the relationship with a brand, blogger, etc. means a lot when it comes from an agency or brand. Even providing language you prefer for disclosure can’t hurt, it means you’ve been around the block.
  • Be transparent. Occasionally I’ll get a pitch from an agency that can’t disclose who they are or who the client is. I need to know that kind of information to see if I even want to be part of the campaign or program.
  • Respect the relationship. Bloggers are traditionally more lax. I often joke, “Bloggers don’t have phone numbers.” As in, who puts their digits on their blog? That said, be professional, nurture the relationship, create a friendship (without being too pushy or weird) and it could potentially mean we work together many times together in the future. We’re people too and the more humanizing of a relationship, the better.
  • Don’t ask for a lot, without offering nothing in return. This is something I see most often. A brand or agency requests to be written about/featured with a sense of entitlement and provides the blogger nothing in return. This is a business relationship and increasingly the bloggers who are influencing your content, sales or engagement, are a powerful tool. Monetary compensation is becoming quite the norm, especially in a partnership capacity. It’s not required and other potentials are: sending product, providing traffic/engagement to the blogger in return, hosting a party, inviting them on a trip, etc. Just consider what both parties can offer each other, but since you’re requesting something, be clear in what you can provide in return. There’s no right or wrong in what you offer, but understand it’s a good thing to grasp in the sea of pitches.
  • Requirements. Depending on the relationship or if there’s a contract involved, a blogger may agree to all the parameters you’re requesting or sign a contract (when applicable). However, you cannot require a blogger write about your event or new restaurant, just because. If I am floored, if I find a story I can’t wait to share or if I just plain love XYZ, then I always will. I actually have a privacy policy, disclaimer and review page on my blog that if there’s anything in question, I send to the PR folks I might be engaging with.
  • Don’t be pushy, but you can follow up. Occasionally we might miss an email. You have to recognize pitches come with high frequency for many bloggers. I always try to respond to everyone even if it means “No, thank you,” but things slip through the cracks. If you send a follow up about ~5 days after your first note, I think that’s well played. It always reminds me to get back in touch but being pushy beyond that, will not be well received.

Resources and Tools:

  • Social Media Explorer has a “How To Pitch SME” on their site. It’s really clear what they will accept and not accept and it’s a great example of a blogger being upfront, while also offering a resource to brands/agencies.
  • Oglivy has a blogger outreach code of ethics that they publicly share for consumption and education. Great example.
  • Ford has a fact sheet called “Rules of Engagement with Online Influencers” I think it’s something brands can take a look at.
  • Blue Glass has a blogger outreach synopsis that talks about planning before even reaching out and rules to abide by. I like their examples.
  • GroupHigh and Blogdash are blogger outreach and management systems. You can search for blogs by topics, manage their metrics and also outreach from the system. Worth checking out if you’re doing something from scale or don’t know where to start.
  • Rapportive is one of my favorite apps that integrates into my email and when I start to type in someone’s email, it pulls up their photo, social networks, information, etc. This is also useful when needing to gauge a bloggers email if it’s not readily available (be scrappy)! You can guess on email strings or combinations and if their image and info appears, you know it’s the right one.

Stay tuned for V2 on real life examples I’ve experienced over the years. This is just my thought process on being a blogger and working with brands, while also being on the other side of the fence as a brand that works with bloggers before. What would you have included here? Any thoughts?

 

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  • http://blog.forthmetrics.com Hugh Anderson

    Great post, Grace. The ‘low down’ is spot on and the links to the resources are all really helpful ones. If I could be so bold as to add one more: in July we published “The Best Practice Guide for Effective Blogger Outreach” which went down a storm – just google that or “inkybee” if you want to take a look.

    I’m also pleased to have found your blog – as a tech entrepreneur myself, I’m always interested in hearing similar stories from like-minded, passionate people. You are so lucky to be in Boulder – I read all of Brad Feld’s stuff and Boulder sounds amazing – one day I will definitely get there!

    Good luck with your blog and with Kapost – looks interesting.

  • http://www.smallhandsbigideas.com Grace Boyle

     Thanks Hugh, appreciate it! Ill take a look at the ebook, thank you!

    Brad works just a few blocks from me and has been an investor in the companies I’ve worked for. Boulder is a great place :)

    Thanks for the comment and support!

  • http://twitter.com/liz_kantner liz kantner

    I think being a blogger has really helped me succeed in blogger outreach for the brands I’ve worked for. These are some great tips and guidelines!

  • http://www.smallhandsbigideas.com Grace Boyle

    I agree. I don’t want it to be an “us and them” kind of thing but there is something to be said if you’ve walked the talk. In the end, the guidelines can be pretty straightforward so hopefully both parties are happy! Thanks for stopping by :) 

  • http://twitter.com/annajdey Anna Dey

    Thank you Grace!  Such great advice, and posted at such a perfect time :)

  • http://drewfrey.com/ Drew Frey

    Awesome post Grace. I couldn’t agree more with your first point: GET PERSONAL.

    Sometimes (for whatever reason) people forget that they are in fact talking to other people online. Keeping the pitch (or any form of conversation for that matter) not only relavent but also tailored to a specific blogger, is absolutely crucial. 

    Thanks Grace.

  • http://www.smallhandsbigideas.com Grace Boyle

     Welcome :) Glad to hear you liked it!

  • http://www.smallhandsbigideas.com Grace Boyle

     Thanks Drew! I always get the “Dear Sir” or “Hello” even though my name is clearly all over my blog, social media, etc. That’s an immediate turn off. I know it allows for mail merge and to be effective, but take that extra time because it probably will be worth it. Glad to hear you liked :)

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