For first-time entrepreneurs, or even seasoned entrepreneurs who are looking to dabble with PR themselves, here are a few important tips to note to make sure you’re heading in the right direction and that you’re not being marked as a spammer of any sort, or even getting blacklisted (that’s the last thing you want).
1. Don’t Copy and Paste Your Pitch. Personalize, Always
While I won’t repeat what everyone says about reporters absolutely hating feeling like they’re just part of some email list where you copied the pitch, pasted it to an email, and then input a unique website or blog name and the addressee’s name, I will emphasize the fact that people hate it when you’re not sending them a completely relevant of half-baked pitch. When you’re copying and pasting, you’re not providing the maximum amount of value for the writer since you’re not giving them the absolute best angle or story to work with. Instead, you’re giving them a story that ‘just might work’ but it would be far smarter to read up on their past stories and personalize the pitch to sound like something they would totally write.
2. Understand Your Audience and a Blog’s Audience. Are they the same?
So, sort of adding to a thought in Point 1, about crafting a story a writer would write themselves, you have to craft a story that relates to all other stories the blog publishes and all the stories that the blog’s readers absolutely love. Even if you manage to get a story published on one of your targeted outlets but your audience and the blog’s audience don’t align, you will have wasted effort on closing that story since the blog’s audience might dislike the post so much very few people will even click through to your site, or because the blog’s audience may not identify very well with your site, you may get 5,000 hits and never make a sale.
3. It’s OK to Bribe Them, if you’re Smart
So don’t go saying that you’re going to pay them a nice sum of money if they write about you. In fact, you NEVER do that unless you’re talking about a sponsored post and that’s not quite PR. That’s Advertising. But ways you can show them some love without stuffing money into their pockets is by providing sample product for them to review. Note that it’s always best to ask them if they want it first because some people are offended when you push free swag onto them and you may just end up sending off a ton of product that gets thrown into the trash. If they like the product after agreeing to sample it, they’ll likely write about you. Another way to bribe them is by offering a giveaway for their readers! You give them something (product, gift cards, etc.) which they get to give to their readers, giving you exposure and providing value for everyone since the blog has something new for their readers and the readers get to fight for the prize.
4. Smooth Talk them, but Don’t be a Suck-up
So, there are very genuine ways to be friends with writers without being a brown-nose. Getting involved in their personal lives might be brown-nosing (asking about families, friends, likes and dislikes, etc.), but getting involved professionally is easy and ideal. You can simply drop intellectual comments on their posts, send them an email respectively criticizing their thoughts (which can earn you a ton of respect), or even @reply them with something of value (a clever link, added thoughts to one of their tweets, etc.).
5. Be sure to follow-up
While many reporters think this is annoying (and yeah, you are pestering if you’re following up several times with the same canned email), this can be used as a great way to show the writer you’re serious about connecting with them and enthusiastic about the pitch (making them respect you more). But the smartest way to do this isn’t to simply send a 2nd email saying, “Hey, did you get my last email?” but instead it should say something like, “I hope you enjoyed those last thoughts on how we’re making advancements in mobile technology. Here are some new things going on in mobile tech that are affecting our business and new things we’re doing to disrupt the industry…”
6. Join the media!!
Become a blogger yourself! Take pitches, chat with other companies, and learn a ton from being on the other side of the table. When you become a blogger, you start to empathize with other writers since you’ll be receiving a ton of pitches and have limited time to write stories, so you’ll realize which pitches you prefer and why you chose to write about them instead of all the ones you liked. You also empathize with all the AWFUL pitches a writer receives and realize what makes a good pitch vs. a bad pitch, so you can take those learnings and apply those towards your PR strategy.
7. Sell different stories (make sure to segment your media targets and sell them each a different story since a tech writer wants a tech angle and a business writer wants a business angle)
It’ll be important to segment your media targets and sell each of them a different story since while your company does things in mobile, general tech and consumer products, writers are usually very vertically focused so you’re going to want to make sure if you’re pitching a mobile writer to focus mostly on what’s great about what you’re doing in the mobile space, and if you’re taking to a consumer products writer, you want to make sure the focus is all on why the physical product is so exciting.
Danny Wong is the Media Relations Guru for Blank Label Group, which manages Blank Label, Thread Tradition and RE:custom. For more PR insights, check out his Media Relations 101 post on ReadWriteWeb.