For a couple of years, I was just a boisterous guy with an opinion. Then, something happened. I don’t know if I began speaking to people differently or if it was that new Paleo diet I was on, but it was strange — I got pitched.
The email took me on a trip down Amnesia Lane; I had completely forgotten what it felt like to receive a pitch. Back in the old days when I worked in media, I received pitches via phone … or even fax. This newfangled “email” pitch took some getting used to, but I didn’t respond well because the pitch didn’t relate to anything I could discuss, didn’t include my name anywhere, and only served to relay information about a specific product.
It should go without saying that this is not the best way to pitch. For those pros who spend countless hours trying to pitch bloggers, we have three tips.
1. Be Thorough. For example, do you know our editor’s name? He gets repeated pitches addressed to editors who haven’t worked here for four years.Every person in the media gets at least one email like that every day. PR people who do this skate by without repercussion because local media types have scruples. Try that mess with someone at Gawker, The Daily Beast, or Slate, however, and your name will make the rounds. It takes less than five extra minutes to learn about the mission of a given blog and the person in the cross-hairs of your pitch. (Oh, and his name is Patrick.)
2. Be (A Little) Personal. Enough with asking if we are well. Assume bloggers are, and move on. Show that you care about the blog by knowing about it, and can prove that by connecting your client to the blog’s focus. Do you have an anecdote about a previous post? Perhaps your client mentioned the blog in passing. Wave a little flag that says you know more than the fact that this blog could get you a gold star and pitch away. That means something to a blogger getting hammered with bad pitches all day. Show that you understand deadlines. Discuss what else you could share if there is interest. Get to know the blogger through his or her work. Anything that shows you aren’t pitching from a script.
3. Be Careful. There is a fine line between pitching and spamming. Unfortunately, flacks cross that line and rub it out with their foot on a weekly basis. There is another line between a good pitch and an excerpt from War and Peace: pitches should be brief, simple, thoughtful, and evocative. Show the blogger you are interested in their take on your client’s widget because you know that said blogger can offer a perspective that’s different than the one that the local news has. In other words, the rhetorical leash isn’t as long with bloggers. One mistake like, say, an anonymous “sext” could land you in the Hall of Shame.
Even though bloggers don’t have a byline in your paper or share a desk with an anchor, they’re people too.