If you’re a public relations or communications person who works with bloggers, you’ve probably figured out by now that every blogger is unique. Pitching bloggers is not the same as pitching traditional journalists, because every blogger is motivated differently, whereas journalists are generally motivated to write because they’re being paid to do so and with a (usually) clear editorial direction.
Bloggers, on the other hand, work mainly for themselves. (For the purposes of this post, we’re talking about non-corporate bloggers – those that create and maintain blogs for their own personal use, or as a small business in and of itself.) So determining the motivation of an individual blogger is the key to pitching them successfully, because if you can address their needs, you can often get them to write about your product or service.
One of the best ways to determine what motivates a blogger is to ask. Develop relationships and once you get to know a blogger well, ask flat out what they want from brands. But assuming that you can’t do that for every blogger, or that you don’t have time to build those relationships (it can take months, if not years), consider what type of blogger they are. If the blogger you’re seeking to engage with fits into one of these four types of bloggers, you might be able to better meet their needs by being aware of the following broad (very broad!) categories and what can motivate bloggers within each of them.
1. Lifestyle/Personal Bloggers
These are bloggers who are primarily writing about their lives, their passions, or their communities. Lifestyle/personal bloggers could be blogging about parenting and family, about religion, or about travel. They might maintain a blog about model trains, about being an army wife, or about living with Multiple Sclerosis. These bloggers are sometimes difficult to pitch, as anything you pitch that’s they think is not 100% related to their topic will make you look really ignorant, even if you think there’s a connective thread. They can be motivated by stories: perhaps pitch them an interview with a spokesperson for your product who has had the same experience they have had (such as a breast cancer spokesperson for a blog about living with breast cancer). Give them something personally relevant: invite a local family to visit your family-friendly museum or event. Or ask them to contribute their viewpoint to your company blog or website, by writing a post or creating a video which will help your audience understand their point-of-view.
Some lifestyle/personal bloggers will accept “traditional” offers of sponsored posts or product giveaways, but many will not. Tread lightly and don’t be obnoxious. These people are passionate and usually very focused.
2. Reviews/Shopping Bloggers
These blogs (and bloggers) are about stuff. They may be very niche-y, like gadgets for women, or they could be about fashion and celebrity. Many will review product, either product that they’ve been given to review or product that they purchase themselves. In the case of fashion and shopping bloggers, they may be focused on fashion as worn by other people – like celebrities or models. Review and shopping bloggers are often motivated by two things: stuff, and access.
Stuff is pretty obvious – if you want a review blogger to review something that’s in their niche, you can usually send it to them and they’ll review it. Note that ethical review bloggers will mention both the good and bad of a product and will give a fair review. And most review bloggers will not take paid compensation for a review – they will only accept product, and some will even send the product back to you (if it’s practical to do so). All review bloggers (all bloggers, actually) should have strong disclosure statements about their policy with regards to product (and payment).
Access is great if you can provide it: to backstage at a fashion show, to a celebrity who represents your brand, to the R&D team who created your product, to the chef in your new restaurant. Or access could also be stuff – be the first to review our product. Either way, helping these bloggers to get a scoop or first look may motivate them to write about your product or service.
3. Resource Bloggers
I love resource blogs. These are the savings, recipe, craft, and tips or how-to blogs that I read daily. Resource bloggers are truly amazing to me: they spin out tons of fantastic new content every day (often multiple times per day) and many of them generate terrific traffic. And why wouldn’t they, when they’re such a big help?
In my experience working with bloggers, I find that resource bloggers often have a stronger business model than most other bloggers. Many of these blogs monetize well – they’re making money either through advertising, sponsorship, or, more often than not, affiliate marketing. So motivating these bloggers can be pretty easy – offer them an appropriate product (or coupon or service) to promote, with an affiliate link generating commission for each sale, and they’re likely to write all about it (with proper disclosure, of course). Or get their attention by buying advertising first, then later coming to them for editorial coverage. They’re much more likely to notice you if you’ve already been a supporter of their site (and you advertising there indicates that you think they have just the right audience for your product, which also makes it an easier sell for you).
4. Business Bloggers
Since we’re talking non-corporate blogs here, when I say “business bloggers,” I don’t mean bloggers who are writing for their business, I mean they’re writing about business-related topics. These could be blogs about software development, blogs about running a small business, or even blogs about social media (yes, just like this one!). This is a tough group to outreach to, as they’re often very focused on their niche and very wary of looking too commercial (as they are often monetizing their blog through a different venue other than advertising or product sales). In my own case, I’m a social media consultant, and therefore my social media blog (and my writing here) establishes my thought leadership in my field. I never take paid sponsorships or promote products unless I’m doing an independent review which I decided to undertake on my own. I know a great many business bloggers who feel the same. So as with Lifestyle/Personal bloggers, try to pitch only stories, products or services that you think are 100% connected and, even then, pitch lightly and be ready for rejection (or no answer at all).
Not every blogger can be pitched, or should be pitched. Many are blogging for themselves, not for anyone else, regardless of what category you think they fall in to. So when your pitch gets rejected (or doesn’t get an answer at all), don’t take it personally. But know that with real blogger relationships, comes success (most of the time).
So as I said at the outset, these are broad generalizations, but it’s at least someplace to start. Now go forth and talk to bloggers. Hopefully these concepts will help you begin and sustain better relationships. And, particularly if you’re a blogger, please give us your thoughts on these categorizations – close? far off? helpful? not? The comments are yours.
- Reaching Out to Bloggers: Hello, Five Facts You Need to Know (jamiedunham.wordpress.com)
- Connecting With Super Bloggers? Think Content. (socialmediaexplorer.com)
- Brands Working With Bloggers: It’s Confusing (stephanieschwab.com)