The BlogHer conference is the largest female blogging conference, this year drawing more than 3,600 attendees and more than 100 sponsors. This year was no different than others, with several private parties, unofficial events and functions surrounding the conference where brands, bloggers and PR meet and connect for future work together.
The panel that made the biggest impression on me was Bad Blogger Pitches (The Other Side of the PR-Blogger Relationship), which reminded me of pitches we’ve received at Airfoil:
“I just started a YouTube page and want to start reviewing products. I think your $800 gadget is awesome. Can you send me one, non-returnable, and I’ll get started reviewing? Any other products you can send?”
That was paraphrased a bit, but not much, from an actual pitch we’ve received. No, they’re not all that bad and many are actually quite good, which may be a similar experience to what bloggers receive on the other side of the coin.
Clowing around at BlogHer
However, many in the audience had questions about how and whom to pitch, so here are my recommendations:
1. Do your homework. Know how to spell the company name, product name and person you are pitching. Just like “Dear Mommy Blogger” can be a negative, so can “Dear Company Name Spelled Wrong.”
2. Choose someone to pitch. Many times, the business we work with will forward pitches they receive. Many times, we’ve also received the same pitch. Try a single route first and if you don’t receive a response, explore other options. Also know that the business will often forward your request to the PR agency.
3. Tell us why. Just like you want a pitch to tell you the reasons why “we think your readers will be interested in this,” tell us why you think the business should work with you. Have your readers asked you about something similar? Have you experienced a health issue that the product would aid? Are you a fan of the brand or product and regular promote it already?
4. Have patience. Many times, the PR agency will need to discuss your request and provide a recommendation to the company. Then the company will need to discuss and decide and send the news back through the line. If you don’t hear anything right away, know that it’s probably being discussed.
5. Start slowly. Although it seems like social media has been around forever, the World Wide Web just turned 20 years old. Comparatively speaking, this communication medium is very new, and evolving, and not every company is on board yet. PR agencies likely are your biggest cheerleaders and are telling these decision makers why working with you matters.
And yes, also send us your stats. That doesn’t mean just your blog, but tell us how you have reach on social networks, subscribers and in your community. Location and local are growing themes and companies want those who can perform real brand building and recommendations.
— Tonja Deegan is the social media director at Airfoil Public Relations, a high tech PR agency with offices in Detroit and Silicon Valley.