In addition to running BloggerBridge.com, I have an award winning travel blog and podcast called Amateur Traveler, this post is written from the viewport of the 11 years I have spent as a travel blogger.
This is not one of those posts that complains about the quality of PR pitches that I get. Don’t get me wrong, I have enough material for that post but I thought it might be more useful to look at some of the underlying assumptions for PR pitches and whether those assumptions are valid for bloggers.
As I understand the PR world there is the reality and the theory of PR. While the reality behind a PR pitch is often “my client wants me to announce this”, the theory is that a press release provides value it the following ways:
1) Reporters have to write a certain number of stories and are short of ideas so a Pitch can provide story ideas
2) News outlets are always in search of the latest news, I mean hey it’s right there in the name. A PR pitch is a great way to bring news to a reporters attention.
3) Reporters, freelancers in particular, are always looking for a new story angle that will catch the eye of an editor. A good pitch can have a good story angle.
How are Bloggers the Same?
When you pitch me you are basically pitching my audience. What would they find interesting. I don’t see that as any different from pitching mainstream media. And of course most of the really bad pitches I get forget this basic thing. If I write you back:
“I blog about travel”
…then you forgot.
I get a lot of pitches. That too is the same as newspaper editors or freelancers I know. You are trying to stand out in a crowd.
So how are bloggers any different?
There is no one way to characterize bloggers. They have a greater variety of motivations to write in the first place. One big difference is that a blogger is often the publisher, the editor and the reporter all in one. That means that when you pitch me you are pitching the publisher as well as the reporter. I can guarantee a story will be written but I am thinking, how will this make me money, not just is this an interesting story. With sponsored posts that answer is obvious, but with any other story I have to believe that this post will get me a lot of traffic that I can monetize in some fashion.
Also many bloggers, like me, are doing blogging on the side in addition to some other full time or part time job. So when you pitch me your pitch also has to be good enough, to be interesting enough to write instead of making money.
Because blogging is just one of the things that I do, I have a backlog of story ideas. I checked recently and found I had over 250 different story ideas. In addition to podcasts and videos, I try and put out one solid blog post a week. That means even if I stop traveling today or stop getting new ideas tomorrow, I have literally 5 years worth of ideas. I don’t need more story ideas. What I lack is time not ideas. And yes, those bad pitches just take away from my most precious resource.
You can safely predict that tonight’s local news show will be an hour long and could safely predict about how many pages will be in tomorrow’s newspaper or next month’s issue of your favorite magazine. They all come out on a deadline and on a slow news cycle may need some help filling up the space. Blogs have no such deadlines except those that may be self imposed by the blogger, and there is no white space or dead air that needs filling.
The other thing that is different about my blog, and many blogs, is that what I am looking at is stories that have good shelf life. I want a story that is good tomorrow but is still valuable in 5 years. Much of my traffic comes from search engines so even if I am not promoting an older story, often then most popular post on my blog wasn’t written this year.
This is the good news about working with bloggers. Your newspaper article will be at the bottom of the birdcage tomorrow. Your TV spot forgotten by next Thursday. Even most online mainstream media sites delete stories after a year or so (madness).
But, this actually means that I am not looking for news. That is to say I am not looking for a story that is timely so much as I am looking for one that is timeless and useful. So ever one who pitches me a new hotel opening or a hotel deal is pitching me something that is generally of no use to me. Why would I spend my limited amount of time available for writing on a story that is obsolete next week or next month?
Before you pitch another blogger, look at what you are sending and see if it makes sense. If you aren’t sure, ask. See if you can learn what might be interesting. Sending really bad pitches will get your email treated like spam. Sending boring pitches will at best, get it ignored.
How about picking a hand full of bloggers this week who you would really like to work with and spending a few minutes asking them what kind of things they look for? What have you got to lose?