Sometimes you can’t tell the difference between a marketer and a blogger. A blogger might say that he wants to write for a specific publication, sending emails and instant messages asking, “Hey, I really like that you write for this publication. Can you get me a job too?” Marketing type folk, especially those representing a company’s service or product offerings, turn to blogs and ask to be mentioned in the blog. In both cases, the blogger and marketer will approach you when the timing is right for them and take advantage of these channels when they need to.
I don’t expect marketers or bloggers to have been reading specific blogs forever, but they should know about the blog’s culture before promoting themselves. There’s a pervasive theme that resonates with 99% of these email or IM requests: I expect marketers and bloggers to do a little more due diligence before they come pitching their product or themselves to a specific blog. In a nutshell, they should show that they know what the blog is about, and if they’re really looking for coverage or acknowledgments, they should be visible.
What does this mean? At the minimum, show that you’re genuinely interested in the blog and what is being discussed. Study those blogs to grasp the blog’s culture and why (or what criteria is used) to cover a specific product or service. Some blogs cover software only by being voted upon by the user, for example, and your press release won’t even fly for that category. Some blogs cover startups that meet a specific set of criteria. In general, if you send irrelevant pitches, your messaging isn’t going to go very far. And if you actually know and respect the blog you’re pitching to, it is in your best interest to follow that blog, its messaging, and the key players so that you know what kind of message to craft (does it fit their audience? If so, what is the existing post on site that made you think so?) and who the people are that are reading those messages.
Instead of emailing a blogger to include your company’s service in a specific blog post that has already been in the public arena for three years, comment on the post. Comment on other posts too, showing that you’re interested in the blog’s content. Let people know you exist. If the post does not allow commenting, send a relevant press release to the editorial team showing that you have done your research and understand what the blog is looking for. Don’t expect a blogger to change his posts from the past. Your service that launched in 2009 does not fit in a post that was written in 2006. You can’t alter history.
A few years ago, I had a friend who asked me about a possible guest blogging stint on a high profile blog. The problem: he was not at all active on the high profile blog and hadn’t written a single comment. Perhaps he was reading, but was he actually investing time or energy into the site itself but still wanted to write for the blog. With a readership on that blog in the millions and commenters in the thousands, there was no way he was going to stand out above the crowd.
The thing is: it’s not about you. It’s about us. It’s about growing our blog. Your visibility might be just a part of that. But if you haven’t participated and haven’t put in any effort to grow the blog, why should we be receptive to your pitch when it’s convenient for you? What about benefiting the blog you hope to be featured on? Wouldn’t you want to help it grow too?
If you genuinely believe that there are specific blogs that you want to involve yourself in or that your company should be featured in, you need to spend more than 5 minutes crafting a pitch as to why you or your company is good enough for the job. You actually need to involve yourself in the blog’s community, commenting and showing that at the minimum, you have a long term invested interest in the blog’s success, and not only when it’s beneficial for you.
In the real world, networking in person can also help. Go to trade show events or nighttime meetups. Don’t ignore the opportunities to leave a memorable impression on the bloggers who will talk about you. If they actually know you exist and see you’ve made the effort to haul yourself to an event where they’re present, they’ll keep that in mind when composing a piece about your software or startup or whatever other product you have to offer.
This is actually a lesson many marketers can benefit from in general. If you haven’t yet swam in the social media waters, it’s about time that you start. Even if everything is hunky dory at your company, it’s not in your best interest to wait until catastrophe strikes to immerse yourself in the vast ocean. Social media is all about community, and that community exists whether you need them or not. Why not get acquainted with the community now and before it’s too late? When it’s convenient for you to dig in, it might not be convenient for them. They might already be trash-talking you. Is it really in your best interest to do it then?
The point of this story is that it’s best to understand your surroundings: the communities, the blogs, the people, and to do this proactively. This is a process that needs to happen continually, or you should at least give the perception that you’re putting your heart into it. If you craft the right pitch and invest in the growth of the community over time, you’ll find that it’s really easy to get those job opportunities or blog mentions you’re seeking. And you’ll soon realize that it’s not such hard work after all.