During a Blog 101 Workshop on Monday I was asked about pitching bloggers. I get a few pitches a day. I've yet to write about one of them. Most are silly requests to link to a new web site, etailer or communications service. Some are just the usual bulk mailings from PR people that don't know any better.
My simple rule is don't waste your time unless it is carefully tailored to what we write about and you genuinely think we might be interested. We don't have slow news days. We don't carry a story quota. Fellow Corante contributor Suw Charman has a lengthy post on what not to do while also pointing to post on Corante by Michael O'Connor.
So, some thinking on rules for pitching bloggers:
- Tailor it. Massively tailor it. No standard pitches.
- Don't post the pitch to our blog. Drop us an email.
- Don't ask us to link. Invite us to take a look at your material, blog, or product. We're smart enough to figure out the rest.
- Don't follow-up. Read our blog - that will tell you if we were interested.
- Most of us barely have enough time to blog so it's unlikely we're going to be interested in your survey.
- If you are going to insist on pitching bloggers, only pitch people you read. Never, never pitch from a MediaMap list.
- Be warned, we will probably post your pitch. As Michael says, the NYT can't do that, we can.
Steve asks about which bloggers can you trust when it comes to pre-briefings and the like. One could equally ask which journalist can you trust... While I'm concerned that people suddenly start treating mainstream bloggers as a news service, here are some thoughts:
- Understand why you are pre-briefing bloggers. If it is just to be hip and cool, don't do it.
- Restrict your pre-briefings to major bloggers who are acting as news drivers. Spend time identifying the news drivers. The more you expand the scope of briefings, the more likely the news will break before you want it to.
- Read and get help understanding SOX and SEC disclosure guidelines. If you are pre-breifing on material information for publicly traded companies you might find the US Govt has you wearing a little ankle bracelet before you know it.
- Understand that we are not media - so it's much harder for us to pay attention to all the logistics around embargoes and the like.
- Ask whether we are interested in being briefed at all.
This begs the question of why a blogger would want to be pre-briefed. Frankly, I have little interest. The corollary is in big media. The opinion and editorial journos at say the Post, NYT or WSJ wouldn't be that interested. The news folks might. So, while the simplest answer to "can you trust a blogger" is, "that all depends" - the issue of pre-briefing goes much deeper than that. Suddenly the PR person really needs to understand the blogosphere, bloggers and their needs and not overlay prior practices - that worked for the media - on this new influencer set.