It's my goal for everyone reading this post to never be called out publically on Twitter for composing a horrible pitch.
The following "short stories" are stories I've gathered from both PR pros and bloggers telling me about their experiences with blogger outreach gone bad.
Read it. Take it in. These are examples of what not to do...
Bloggers Call Founder's Pitch "Worst Pitch They Ever Heard" on Twitter
Kyle James, Founder of Rather-Be-Shopping.com learned how to do blogger outreach the right way by first doing it the wrong way first.
He was running a campaign targeting mom bloggers and offered the bloggers an entry to win a $350 Amazon gift card if they wrote a post about his brand and how it could save her readers money.
Kyle says that the responses were "less than positive." In fact, he got more than one negative tweet publically criticizing his pitch one even called it the "worst pitch they ever heard."
Kyle realized that most influential bloggers like to be paid up front for a post and were offended that their post would only result in an entry in a giveaway instead of a guaranteed form of compensation.
Lesson to be learned: What Kyle was offering was laughable to the bloggers. Now, he has developed a legitimate campaign that focuses on "actual relationships." Meaning, he continues to engage with the bloggers he works with and wants to work with. He links to their content and shares it on his own social networks to get on their radar before pitching.
PR Team Doesn't Put Big Music Blogger on the Guest List
Hugh McIntyre is a music blogger for MTV and a variety of other music publications. He says he has a few examples of blogger outreach atrocities but one in particular (with names omitted) sticks out.
He was approached by a publicist who invited him to see the band that she was representing. She told him he could also have a +1, would be on the guest list and would be able to sit down and interview the band after the show.
Hugh then pitched the story to a big publication and wrote the date on his calendar. On the night of the show, he and his friend drove almost an hour to the venue and paid for parking. When he got to the door, Hugh found out that he was not on the list...
When he sent an angry email to the publicist, she said that he had been bumped for another writer since he is "just a blogger." Um, didn't she reach out to him? And then not bother to tell Hugh that he "was "bumped?" Needless to say he never worked with her or her agency again...
Lesson to be learned: This goes back to our preschool days. Be respectful of people and their time. Don't ever invite a blogger(s) to participate in a campaign and then tell them never mind...
Discount Shelf Content
Andy Crestodina does a lot of blogger outreach himself and also gets pitched a lot. He says that "a great way to look like a spammer is to write a whole bunch of articles, submit them all at once without any context or introduction."
He says he has gotten many emails that say something to the effect of "here is a list of 9 articles I've written about SEO. Would you like to publish these?"
Lesson to be learned: This type of approach makes it look like you're giving the blogger content from the "discount rack." It also shows that they are generic and not written with the blogger's audience in mind. Not to mention, no blogger wants quantity over quality. So.... Reach out and introduce yourself to the blogger before sending content, form a relationship and then ask them if they want to take a look at your content in the first place. Emphasize that you'll write something specifically and exclusively for their blog.
A Pitch That Did Everything Wrong
Maggie Patterson runs a blog that focuses on content marketing. One time she got a pitch from someone wanting to guest post about health on her site. What a horrible fit.
Not only did the offered post have nothing to do with her content but the pitch didn't offer a specific details and explained nothing other than the fact that the post would supposedly be a "high quality" article. As if this wasn't all bad enough, the pitch addressed Maggie as "dear blogger" when her name is clearly stated on her site, in fact it's the URL...
Lesson to be learned: Research is the key and actually reading the blogger's blog is just the right thing to do. So is taking the extra few seconds to find the blogger's first name if you want a response.
PR Firm Forgets Who They Reached Out To
After responding to a pitch she received, expressing interest in working with the brand or agency pitching her, Jen has had agencies respond by asking her what blog she wrote for even though they were the ones who pitched contacted her in the first place...
Lesson to be learned: This one is really quite simple. Keep track of who you've pitched and don't inconvenience an interested blogger by taking a step backward and making them feel like they weren't "handpicked..."
Agency Offers a Guest Post but Can't Even Compose a Pitch
Kevin Raposo from SimpliSafe says that one of the biggest things that shows up in pitches he receives on a consistent basis is poor grammar!
Just the other day he got a pitch that said "hello webmaster." Uh, don't do that... His email address is [email protected] so it's not like it was even a chore for this person to find his name... The person proceeded to write sentences that showed that she had poor grammar and then offered a guest post for his site. No thanks....
Lesson to be learned: Know who you're talking to and remember that your pitch is your virtual first impression. If you're offering a guest post, show that you can write. Proofread the email and put in something to personalize it!
Some Dude Sends Huge Block of Text
Allison Volk runs The Blog Babe and gets pitched regularly. Recently she was pitched by someone she hardly knew who CC'd her on a HUGE list of contacts asking her to "like" his blog post. The worst part was he didn't insert a simple link. He pasted the block of text in to the email which showed up as a huge block of text coming at the readers and it was impossible to get through.
Allison deleted it immediately because she couldn't read it, she didn't have a link to the post to "like" it if she even wanted to and he didn't bother to at least BCC the email let alone write personal email.
Lesson to be learned: If you want the blogger to do something for you, do something for them by writing a respectful pitch. Don't CC a bunch of bloggers at once and if you do, at least use the BCC function. Make it easy for them to fulfil your request by linking to all necessary assets. A little bit of respect can actually get you a long way.
Outreach Emails that Are Sales Pitches Fail Every Time
Danny Groner is the manager of blogger partnerships at Shutterstock. The biggest blogger outreach atrocity that he has ever come across is that people pitch bloggers and try to sell something out of the gate.
Though being direct and to the point can be a good thing, you don't want your pitch to mimic a sales pitch. After all, we're all skeptical about email requests.
Lesson to be learned: Establish a rapport with the blogger so they are comfortable working with you. Try introducing yourself before asking the blogger to write about you or work with you.
Now that you know what not to do, check out this ebook full of pitch templates that work in order not to find yourself a part of a blogger outreach horror story...
Do you have any blogger outreach atrocity stories to share? Do tell and let's collaborate on part two of this post! [email protected]
Photo Credit: Blogger Horror/shutterstock