As a sort of farewell (for now!) to our readers, I’d like to draw upon my experience editing this site over the past nine months to leave you with a list of tips for pitching to bloggers like me. I write “bloggers” because that’s the field I know, and there are some differences between pitching to a site like PRNewser and a paper like The Wall Street Journal, even though the basics are the same. Anyway, here goes:
1. Do Some Research: I don’t mean that you have to read everything the blog in question has published over the past six months. You can probably just scan the content to get a general sense of what sorts of stories interest the blog’s editors, the tone they like to use in covering them, and the sort of audience they serve. You’d be surprised how many pitches I’ve received from people who have very obviously never read PRNewser. I don’t hold that against them, but it certainly makes me less likely to consider their stuff.
2. Get Your Contacts’ Names Right: I know you’re busy and that you’re not really too concerned when an editor leaves or joins a blog. But I’ve been here nine months, and a majority of the pitches I get are still addressed to my predecessor, Tonya. That’s not all: to this day I receive an embarrassing number of emails directed to Joe and Jason, the guys who started the blog — and it’s been almost three years since either of them worked in this office. That’s bad form, guys.
3. Write a Great Subject Line: You’ve heard this before, but it bears repeating — if the subject line doesn’t tell me why I’ll be interested in the story, then why should I bother opening the email? Trust me, it really is better to send a few well-tailored pitches than a bunch of generic ones that will go in the trash immediately. I don’t have time to read beyond the subject line if it doesn’t grab me, so use it to tell me why your pitch will be relevant for my site and the people who read it (key point there)!
4. Personalize Your Pitch: Don’t just forward me a press release and expect me to post on it. I guarantee you’ll get better results if you take a minute to write two sentences directed to me within the body of the email expounding upon your great subject line (see above).
5. Keep It Short, Include Links and Limit Attachments: I’m a long-winded guy, but even I know that shorter is better, so don’t post the press release in the body of the email unless you have a two-to-three sentence header summarizing why you honestly think I will care (see above). Also: it’s almost always better to send a link than an attachment if you have one. Wouldn’t you rather I hyperlink to your own site or your client’s site to push some extra traffic your way?
If you send me an embargoed release, follow up and forward me your own link when it goes live. That’s a little extra work, but it makes a big difference.
6. Don’t Bother Sending Awards Announcements: Awards are great, and I have no doubt that most firms that win awards worked very hard to earn them. But unlike new clients or big hires, they’re not really newsworthy to anyone outside the firms in question. It’s your job to publicize these announcements, not mine (unless someone from my blog is attending the ceremony).
7. One Follow-Up Is More Than Enough: Bloggers spend lots of time racing to find stories, and we tend to miss things sometimes. It makes perfect sense to follow up on a pitch if we haven’t replied for a couple of days. In an ideal world I would respond to every single pitch I don’t want to take with a polite “Thanks, but I’ll pass.” But if you send two emails and don’t hear anything, it’s time to move on. Nothing personal.
8. Don’t Call Unless You Confirm via Email: If I haven’t emailed you to confirm that I’m expecting your call then don’t pick up the phone. Again, don’t take it personally — but unexpected phone calls are extremely irritating to writers with deadlines.
Hope these are helpful. Just remember: we bloggers really do want to publish your stories — as long as they’re fit for our site and our readers. A truly great PR pro is one who knows, through a combination of instincts and research, which stories will work on which sites.
Thanks again for reading. And keep sending those pitches!