In college I was a bit awkward. I remember one night in particular. There was a beautiful girl at an outdoor party. After many hours and draft beers I worked up the the nerve to approach her. I took the direct, honest and sincere approach.
“Hi, my name is Bill. I’m not cool or smooth, and I won’t use a line on you. But I would love the chance to just talk and get to know you,” I said as my mullet blew in the Bowling Green night air.
“No! I won’t have sex with you!” she screamed and every head at the party turned.
I sulked away. Five minutes later, she approached me. I asked why she had yelled what she yelled. She explained that she was a psychology graduate student and was doing research on how males responded to embarrassing situations.
“What do you mean for $200??!!” I called out at the top of my lungs.
If you’ve ever pitched a blogger (or reporter) this story probably hits home. What you say to a blogger is important. What she says to the world is even more important. Bloggers are writing for their readers, not for your marketing department. What does this mean to you?
- Don’t over complicate your pitch. Even bad bloggers get flooded with pitches. They aren’t going to read your brand guidelines, they aren’t going to dig in deep on product specs. Think of your most important three points and stick to them. Keep your pitch brief and on target. The final pitch should make you cringe with its brevity. The branding police should be bothered by the lack of marketing language in it. The project manager should give you hell over the 12 features you don’t mention. The executives should be bothered that you didn’t include an “About Statement.”
- Offer up lots of ways to contact you if the blogger wants more information.Your phone numbers, email and Twitter handle should all be in the pitch. Close with a genuine invitation to connect: “If you’d like more information, or to speak with our president (designer, doctor, executive director) please contact me by phone, email or on Twitter.” Respond to requests from bloggers immediately when they do reach out. You know when you get a media relations person’s voicemail they close with, “If you are a member of the media, please call my cell phone and I’ll drive to your house even it’s 3 am?” That should be how you treat bloggers too.
- Accept the fact that the blogger doesn’t report to your marketing vice president. You get the pickup! The blogger reaches every hospital CFO on the east coast. Leads come flying in. And your boss storms over angry because the post doesn’t include a link to the product page, waving a printout of the blog post for dramatic effect. Bloggers aren’t on your payroll. Provide them with great, relevant and accurate content. Make yourself available. But don’t expect them to follow a script.Expect an honest review of your product that may include criticism. Expect that your branding and messaging guidelines mean nothing to the blogger. Expect omissions. But get your initial messaging right, get a good pickup in front of the right audience, and expect good things to happen.