There are some common mistakes that even seasoned PR pros make when pitching partnership invitations and content ideas to dad bloggers. Here’s a look at how to avoid them:
Lesson 1: Names matter. Before you even think about contacting a particular dad blogger, figure out what his name is. For instance, although my blog is called “Backpacking Dad,” a quick glance at the “About Me” page will tell you my name. I enjoy talking to people who use my name. I am OK with talking to people who call me “Backpacking Dad,” though this is a clear sign to me that my conversation partner has not put much effort into our relationship (which then bodes ill for our future). Some dad bloggers do not offer their name anywhere, but you’d better look first. Unless you’re one of my two children, don’t address me as “Dad.” And if you call me “Mom” in your e-mail, I will delete it without responding.
Lesson 2: Follow the rules. Some bloggers have done you a favor by offering a small message for PR pros. Mine is called “Make Me an Offer,” because I think I’m funny. I lay out some basic information there, nothing too detailed, but it is there. One item on that page is a test: If you send me an e-mail with “O Captain My Captain” in the subject line I will definitely read it, reply to it, and be immediately inclined to think well of you. This is not because you have flattered me with a phrase from “Dead Poets Society,” but because I can tell before I even open the e-mail that you have made an effort to find out some things. Good for you. Moreover, since this is a bit cheeky (again, because I think I’m funny), you will have proven that you are willing to engage on my level and not just treat me as another entry in a spreadsheet to be checked off. If a dad blogger has a PR page, read it. And play along.
Lesson 3: Make the dad blogger feel special. If a dad blogger receives a pitch and gets a sense that it is at all cookie-cutter, he will be turned off. If it seems like it’s not only cookie-cutter, but cookie-cutter and directed at moms with some small edits, it will end up in the trash folder. This happens all the time, with dad bloggers receiving afterthought pitches when someone realizes that there is another avenue of communicating with readers. As I said above, using my name is a great idea. Tailoring a pitch will also work wonders for you. It doesn’t take much time: “Hey Shawn, I see from your recent post that you just got back from Canada. I have a great travel product that I think you might appreciate the next time you go….” That was two sentences, and it required a short scroll down the front page of my blog, but it would keep your e-mail from getting deleted. And it will almost certainly get a reply from me. I don’t know that I would actually be interested in your idea, but I’d be willing to let you tell me some more about it.
Lesson 4: Know the audience. When you pitch to mom bloggers you have a built-in benefit: Most readers of mom blogs are women, and many of them are moms. Guess what. Most readers of dad blogs are women, and many of them are moms. This leaves you with a problem. When you’re pitching an idea to a mom blogger it can usually be assumed that if the blogger herself likes it, her audience, by and large, will like it as well. There is dissonance with dad bloggers: Many things we like we’re unsure whether our readers will find worthwhile, and many of the things our readers like we won’t find interesting. There is a large overlapping area, but as the PR pro you need to pitch within that area, or the odds are the partnership will not work. Sometimes, with a good relationship in place, a dad blogger will venture outside his areas of interest for the sake of entertaining or informing his audience rather than just amusing himself, but you can’t open with that move. Pitch within the overlap. Movies, parenting resources that are not mom-centric, toys, travel—topics like these are more likely to gain and keep a dad blogger’s interest than a riding lawn mower or new fashion ideas.
Lesson 5: Know the writing. For you to be effective, know whether your idea fits the tone of the blogger’s writing. Many dad bloggers aim for humor to connect with and keep their audience interested. Not all of them, and not all the time. But you are more likely to connect with a dad blogger if your idea is fun or funny than if it is merely useful or informative.
Shawn Burns blogs at backpackingdad.com/.