Bacon’s and pitching

You know it’s funny that Steve Rubel should mention Bacon’s in regards to pitching bloggers today.  I’ve been working my head around a post about the newly-launched Bad Pitch Blog that encourages PR folks to use tools like Bacon’s MediaSource Research (it’s all about branding, Steve) as a tool for responsible pitching. And Steve’s kind of quippy solution at the end of his post about how we could just say “Hey we’re just the hammer. You can use it to hit a nail or smack yourself in the head. Be a smart PR professional” is more or less the angle I was going to take.  Of course I was going to phrase it a bit more constructively but that’s the gist.

When I’ve spoken to PRSA chapters and other folks about pitching blog writers I always make sure to emphasize caution.  Don’t’ be afraid of those mysterious bloggers but embrace them, develop relationships with them.  I know that no one has the time to send out 300 separate emails and include personal notes in each one.  But by doing some research that uses databases like Bacon’s as a starting point and then building off that to determine which blogs are important to you and how to approach them is worth the effort.  After all, you can build lists all day but it’s vitally important that you figure out for yourself who is actually likely to not only talk about you but talk with you.  If you can get the ear of just a few key influencers then the rest of the work you had planned on could potentially be done for you virally, through trackbacks and comments.  How much is it worth to you to put in the time to do this work upfront?

The downside of bad pitching – be it in practice by spamming 5,000 people with a press release for which the mail merge didn’t work and includes things like “Greeting (First Name)” – or in content (just a badly written release) is that you will be outed and mocked.  This is something I hammer on over and over again.  Print publications and TV stations have no time or space to out every bad pitch they get or the ones that are so far out of context regarding what they actually cover.  Bloggers, though, have opinions and what amounts to unlimited free space to talk about anything or anyone that crosses their minds.  It takes them almost no time to copy and paste a bad pitch into a post, with a little commentary added in just for flavor.

Here are my tips for pitching bloggers, taken straight from my presentation slideset:

Read the blog for a while

Visit the blogs linked off of that

Pay attention to how they categorize their posts

Address the writer by name

Really think about whether your pitch will interest them

DO NOT send blast emails

Don’t use “PR speak”

Be honest

Follow these simple guidelines and you’ve taken a big step forward in terms of blog relations.

Now in terms of bloggers being removed from the database, this is easy to do.  In fact, there’s a link to follow that’s contained in any email generated from a Bacon’s list that allows the recipient to opt out of future emails.  We’re also working on a regular communication to bloggers reminding them of who we are, what we do and asking them to update their information.  We know that mass emails aren’t the best way of doing this but it is the best way to communicate with a large number of people at one time.  If someone wants to continue the dialogue in a two-way format, my email is in the About section of this blog.

So there is a way to be removed and we do encourage responsible pitching.  If there are any questions on this just let me know and I’ll get you to the right person to ask.  Bacon’s is all about facilitating communication between the press and the PR industry and we think we’ve provided a suite of tools that does that in pretty good fashion.

By Chris Thilk

Chris Thilk is a freelance writer and content strategist with over 15 years of experience in online strategy and content marketing. He lives in the Chicago suburbs.