The Five Stages of Blogger Outreach: Stage One – Attraction

Blogger Outreach. It’s a topic that has been written about over and over until Internet Marketers are blue in the homerow key fingers. Every “industry pro” has his or her own version of best practices for establishing and maintaining relationships with bloggers, making pitches and sealing deals. However many of these people, I’m assuming, are the same people who use Black Hat SEO techniques, general Internet foolery, and who are known litterbugs. They also don’t pick up after their dogs in public places. This is a fact, and not at all a sarcastic generalization to make a point.

Generic, carbon-copy Outreach attempts have gone the way of Ask Jeeves, and a new age of customized, person-to-person relationship management is here. Bloggers are people. Real people with real lives and real interests and a real aversion to crappy PR pitches. They want to be romanced a little. They want to feel like you’re paying attention. They want genuine compatibility.

So in the spirit of Valentine’s Day (am I too late?), I’d like to introduce the first of a five-part series about building and sustaining relationships with bloggers, and the Outreach process, in general. This and subsequent posts will be written based on the “five stages of dating” (according to a “reputable team” of “psychological professionals” at a certain website where pretty much anyone can write about anything), where I will discuss the process in relation to these stages. So pour a glass of wine, light a scented candle (not cinnamon…try a little harder), and get ready for the first stage: attraction.

Initial Chemistry

Initial chemistry, in this case, refers to the thing that first catches your eye about this particular blogger or site that you’ll potentially reach out to. Is it their specific category or niche? Is it their Page- or Alexa Rank? Is it their love of taxidermied rodents in custom-made outfits? Perhaps it’s all three. The point is: do your homework. And do it correctly. You wouldn’t open your Intro to French book to study for your Spanish II test (not sure why you’d be taking both of those courses at the same time, but it’s your life), so don’t assume that all “Mommy bloggers” speak the same language. Know who and what you’re dealing with so you can plan accordingly.

Visual Appeal

Once you’ve gotten a handle on the bloggers and sites you may be interested in, you need to appeal to them to be noticed. You wouldn’t wear a Nickelback tee to try and impress, well, anyone, so don’t think that you can take the same lazy approach to enticing a potential target. Make your presence known in a positive way. Follow them on Twitter. “Like” them on Facebook. Tweet something personal and relevant @ them, or comment on a couple of their Facebook posts in an interesting way. The aim is to be charming and unique, not pushy.

Common Interests

This is the point where you take your homework to the pop quiz phase. At any given moment, you should be able to recall what makes any potential blogger or site that you’re planning on reaching out to special. My suggestion is spreadsheets. Spreadsheets save lives. Organize all of your efforts into an Excel sheet or Google doc so you can easily access all of the things mentioned above. Include all site metrics you may need, the site URL, any relevant social profile URLs, and Outreach notes to track your progress in real-time. The common interest right now is them; so you should be taking any necessary steps to find out about them, and committing these findings to memory (or spreadsheet).

The Right Fit

This may be the most important part of the whole process. It’s likely that if you’re conducting Outreach on behalf of a shady good/service/client, it’s going to warrant shady results. And if you’re one of these people, please don’t forget to pick up after your dog. I know that this happens, but everyone – client and provider – must remember that quality attracts quality. Expectations have to be realistic to get results.

This is the part of the process where initial contact emails should be sent.

This will make or break you.

This. Is. Serious.

You’ve done your homework, you’re on a blogger’s radar, your palms are sweaty, something about mom’s spaghetti, this is go-time.

Writing an Outreach pitch is essentially like spouting off a pick-up line to a foxy lady or gentleman. You have to exude the right mixture of confidence, creativity and customization for the blogger to even give you the time of day.

And not all Blogger Outreach pitches are created equal. Sure, there are certain elements that you can use in all of your pitches – the goal of the pitch (placing content on their site, getting them to mention your client/service/link, promoting something specific, seeking guest posts from them on your client’s blog, etc.) – but each message has to be crafted specifically for them. Here is a snippet from an Outreach pitch I sent to Jenny Lawson, The Bloggess:

This pitch, to the untrained eye, may seem ridiculous. But, again, Outreach pitches are all about knowing who you’re talking to. If you read Jenny’s blog (as you should be), you would understand how this pitch worked.

Reciprocation

Remember that time a few seconds ago when I said my pitch to The Bloggess worked? That was a lie. (I lie for attention, remember?)

Okay, it was like a half-lie.

Here’s what went down: I was trying to pitch something to her that I knew wouldn’t work because she requires a certain fee to sponsor/mention something…and I could only offer her about 13% of that. I thought that maybe, just maybe, if I wrote a good enough pitch, she’d ignore this tiny, insignificant, really unimportant detail of monetary compensation. So obviously, this was my fault. I chose to overlook The Right Fit.

It was, however, a personal win. Here is her response:

So although it didn’t work out right now, at least I am in good standing with Jenny if The Right Fit does come along. Reciprocation is not only about “accomplishing your goals,” so to speak; it’s also about instilling a positive feeling in the other person that may, one day, inspire them to act.

Relationship management” is not just an industry term. And just like with any relationship, it takes time for this process to build and evolve from the initial attraction stage. And while some people experience love at first site (hiyoooo), it’s usually more complicated than that; as we will discuss next time when we talk about the second stage: ambivalence.

Thanks for taking the time to read this post today. Oh, I forgot to ask…is your dad an astronaut…?

Go to stage 2 of blogger outreach: Ambivalence 

Committment

True intimacy

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