The anatomy of a pitch gone terribly wrong

If you want to pitch a blogger successfully, don’t do this.

The following email was sent in the hope of getting press for a company’s website, which helps students connect with potential employers.

There’s nothing wrong with that, and here’s to more companies helping students get a great start in life.

The problem is that the approach is all wrong and will probably put off every blogger (and there were some big names in there). Here’s why:

  • The subject line and salutation don’t gel. The message header is great—”I enjoy reading your blog” is always an ego-stroke and a guarantee for a click-through. But then you get the generic “Dear Blogger” salutation. Bah.
  • Mass email, baby! As you can see, the email was sent to quite a few addresses and, better still, this was via open Cc. What should have (probably) been a private list was now made public, giving others access to email addresses that the owner may not have wanted to share.
  • Lack of relevance. At no point in the email (apart from the standard opening blurb about being useful for the blog) is there a cohesive point made on why the company’s site would be relevant for my readers (or that of the other bloggers emailed).
  • A confidence-building domain. When I clicked through to the domain of the email sender, I was greeted with the image below.

It may be that the coolest website on the planet is due to arrive at the domain—who knows, even cooler than Chuck Norris! But for now, it raises alarm bells as to who’s behind the email and how well it will serve the students it wants to help.

Simply put, it adds the finishing touches to an email that goes against a solid blogger outreach program.

What it could have done

It may be that it’s a small company looking to get awareness and feels that bloggers with a certain audience reach can help. Or, it heard blogging is the new advertising and costs less money.

There’s nothing wrong with that. Most bloggers love to promote something that’s relevant to their audience. The problem here is that the pitch fell flat at the first hurdle due to its approach.

What it could (and should) have done is:

  • Ignore the mass email approach. Bloggers are generally busy people. If they feel a pitch isn’t targeted, they’ll ignore it and move on. Try to personalize the approach. Use the blogger’s first name and let him or her know you’re familiar with the blog and audience. And, if you must use mass email, make it a blind carbon copy.
  • Use examples of relevance throughout. You don’t need to suck up to bloggers to get their attention, but maybe include a few references to past posts that correlate to your service. Each reference builds your case. Build the case and your job’s almost done.
  • Make sure you’re ready for investigation. Bloggers are successful because they’ve built trust with their audience. They won’t ruin that by not doing due diligence, and the first thing they’ll do is check you out. Make sure you’re ready for that. If your website isn’t built, don’t share your domain.

These are just a few suggestions based on this particular email and where it went wrong. You also need a great boss who can educate you on best practices, just in case Ann was a junior executive and was told to send a pitch like this. If so, her boss should be ashamed.

A great blogger outreach program needs a cohesive approach. It also helps if you’ve been part of the blogger’s audience beforehand—a tweet here, a blog comment there, etc. Awareness of who you are means a better chance when it comes to sharing awareness of your product by the blogger in question.

Contrary to popular belief, bloggers do want to share your content. We just need a reason to do so.

Note: In his comment about this post, Frank Strong (who I respect immensely) questioned my outing of what may be a junior person at a PR agency. To clarify: this would never be a goal of mine.

If you try to Google the name, nothing comes up. Same with the company on LinkedIn, which makes me think it’s a front for the “client” it’s pitching, which I did blur out.

Additionally, the blogger names that were on the email were all over the place: two PR agencies, a sports blog, two tech blogs, a mobile phone blogger, and more. There was no rhyme or reason. It was just a blind pitch with a bunch of names thrown in for good measure.

With all that in mind, if someone is so indifferent that they don’t “exist” and are blasting out a generic message, then perhaps it makes no difference to blur or not.

Danny Brown is vice president of product intelligence at Jugnoo, Inc. He blogs at DannyBrown.me, where a version of this article originally ran. (Image via)

Topics: PR

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