Hey brands, you need bloggers more than they need you. Louisa Claire of blogger agency Brand Meets Blog has some tips on how to communicate better with the bloggerati.
Recently I was sent four emails from a brand who wanted to give me a discount to their online store so that I could make a purchase and write about my experience on my personal “Mummy” blog.
Putting aside the terrible premise of such a pitch, I closed my blog several months ago and set an email auto responder to this effect. Yet the “friendly follow up” emails continue. I shudder to think at the amount of time, and money, being lost by that company and many others like it, who don’t know what they’re doing when it comes to reaching out to bloggers.
As blogger and director of a blogger outreach agency, I spend a considerable amount of time talking with and training bloggers on how to work professionally with brands. Through this I hear recurring comments about what bloggers really want from brands; you may be surprised to know this has less to do with money and more to do with communication.
This feedback rings true for me as a blogger of almost eight years. Having seen and experienced firsthand some fantastic pitches alongside some downright awful ones, I have found most of the bad pitches (and the corresponding poor uptake they generate) could be easily avoided through improved communication practices.
So, if working with bloggers is part of your digital strategy, then let me share with you five things bloggers would love you to know before you reach out to them.
1. Bloggers don’t need your content
While the brand managers I work with through are highly respectful of bloggers, my experience as a personal blogger regularly introduced me to brands who felt that they were doing me a favour by providing me with a content angle for my blog.
Bloggers are experts at creating content that their readers will love and while they might enjoy working with their favourite brands they don’t need content from a third party. Make sure that from the outset you have a clear benefit for them and their readers that goes beyond providing them with a blog post idea.
2. Don’t be “that” guy; get the basics right
It’s no secret that bloggers would love you to craft a personal pitch. Don’t skip this step in the name of time saving. The way you pitch a blogger communicates how important the activity is to you and how important it should be to them.
While I realise the super-personalised pitch is not going to be possible every time, there are some things you will want to get right. The main one is a bloggers name – it may seem so obvious that it’s not even worth mentioning but it is the single most common thing I hear from bloggers. Being relevant is the second most common complaint I hear; making sure that your brand and product is relevant to the blogger is essential if you want to them to get involved.
You don’t want to be the person who emails a blogger and calls her the name of her deceased child, or the person who emails the blogger vulnerably sharing their infertility journey with the offer of plentiful newborn products. Yes, those are both real examples. No, they did not go well.
3. The Press Release is confusing
Bloggers aren’t being jerks or “difficult” when they don’t respond to your press release. Part of our training process for bloggers is to help explain how the industry works so that they can respond appropriately. During this process we have found many bloggers genuinely don’t know what to do with the press release.
If you want meaningful coverage for your brand or client, the press release needs to be a bonus that is provided alongside your key message and request. Spending a few moments writing an email that a blogger can relate to will tell them that you are serious about getting their attention; as blogger Fee Dixon from Oh Gorgeous Baby says, “first impressions set the tone of the whole relationship”.
4. They want to make some money
Bloggers want to make money. This isn’t because they are greedy, it’s because they pour enormous amounts of time into building a community and they understand this is valuable. As the industry becomes more professional, they are expecting to be treated accordingly and this includes being paid.
5. They want to know your goals so they can help you achieve them
Bloggers are increasingly professionalising their approach to working with brands and are keen to understand the bigger picture of the campaign so that they can deliver their best. Blogger Alison Hallworth from Talking Frankly says that finding out what brands are hoping to get out of the relationships is one of the key things she wants to know when being pitched, And she’s not alone. Oh Gorgeous Baby’s Dixon says: “If a blogger understands the brands strategy better, then they know if they can meet the brand’s goals or not.”
Being more open with bloggers about what you are trying to achieve will help them determine if they can help you, as well as craft a campaign that encourages the right reader actions from their community.
We all value great communication and the great news is that you may very well alter the outcome of your next blogger activation simply through getting your pitch right.
Louisa is the founder and director of blogger agency Brand Meets Blog.