“After being subjected, for four years, to all kinds of painful pitches, especially from the many publicists and talents who pitch us from Africa’s fashion and entertainment industry, you knew we had to do this article. Frankly speaking, this is long overdue. There are many deadly sins committed, often, by the many who pitch bloggers daily. We have focused on the deadliest ones and if you are the talent reading this or a publicist, we hope it will help you build better relations with bloggers; and increase your chances of having your story featured.
As you know or should know, bloggers wield and continue to wield a lot of influence in the fashion and entertainment world. Research now shows that bloggers and the sites they blog on, have become very important platforms to gain exposure and influence purchase decisions.
Here is how to properly pitch your story to bloggers.
1. Though Shall Know Thy Blogger, One Size Does NOT Fit All: This is the number one deadliest sin committed when making a pitch to a blogger. All blogs and bloggers are not created equal and one size definitely does not fit all. Within fashion, there are fashion lifestyle blogs, shoes, beauty and apparel. In entertainment, there are film and music blogs. Music blogs, for example, are even subdivided into different genres like hip-hop or pop. THOU SHALL KNOW THY BLOGGER.
If you have a story about music, why would you pitch a fashion blog? What business is it for a blog that does strictly fashion?! It only becomes evident that you have not taken the time to study the blog i.e. read the bio, read the posts, see the old entries and categories. Accordingly, when you send your emails or releases, it ends up in the trash, as spam or worse, deleted/purged forever. You must know the blogger you pitch.
In that same vein, you MUST know how the blogger you approach likes things done. Ask a blogger what formats they prefer when sending large files, mp3s or even press releases. As a general practice, press releases should be in the body of the email sent so bloggers can access it anywhere in the world they may be, or on any device. Not every blogger has a mobile device that can open your PDFs, Mp3s etc. To figure out what format a blogger likes pitches submitted, visit the contact page of the bloggerand/or send a direct inquiry.
2. Thou Shall Introduce Thyself to Thy Blogger: Imagine you are at a party having a great time when a stranger walks up to you and begins asking you for things. “Oh! I heard you run coolpeople.com. Please “promote” or “post” my music or fashion on your blog.” You obviously will look at such person as if he/she is mentally unstable; and you will share the bizarre meeting with your family, friends and even acquaintances. The offline basic etiquette is no different online when dealing with bloggers. Introduce yourself and let bloggers know who you are before you do the “ask.”
3. Thou Shall Engage On Social Media Platforms With Thy Blogger: Great blogs and bloggers have their own unique and distinct voice. You can hear that voice and know that voice, anywhere you go, if you take the time to engage the blogger. Accordingly, before you begin sending a pitch for a story, study the blogger. Follow the blogger on Twitter, Facebook or other appropriate platforms. Don’t ask for a follow back on Twitter. You will get an e-blank stare, back. Will you follow strangers you do not know? Most children know not to follow strangers. If kids obey these basic rules, you should also.
Similarly, do not use the social media platform to stalk the blogger, or ask them to listen to your music etc. Use that platform to get to know them, see what they are all about and the stories they write about before you engage them, formally, through email. Most bloggers still prefer you send an email to the designated email they tell you to, usually listed on their blog website.
They do that because keeping up with emails from so many sources is impossible. With one central email account, they can streamline the numerous and voluminous emails they receive, daily; and ensure a quicker response. Make their jobs easier by respecting their requests and giving them what they asked for. Don’t think because you “retweet” on twitter or “like” their comments or Facebook, you have a license to stalk them or to try to force them to respond to you.
4. Thou Shall Send a Press Release That Answers The Important Questions of Thy Blogger: If you hire a publicist and your publicist breaks these common PR principles of pitching to media/bloggers, FIRE him/her. It is not uncommon for bloggers to receive pitches like, “please help me promote my music” or “please post on your blog,” among many eyebrow raising, forehead creasing pitches. This is one of the biggest sins when pitching bloggers. Especially for musicians and emerging artists, BLOGGERS ARE NOT IN THE BUSINESS OF PROMOTING YOU. You need to hire a promoter to do your promoting business for you or hit up radio stations to promote your music on the airwaves. Bloggers are in the business of featuring stories they like that also appeal to their audiences. If the story is about you, it helps create awareness i.e publicity about you.
Accordingly, you MUST send a press release that is coherent, concise and skips the bragging and the “please promote me” line. Your release MUST include the following:
Who is it about? Who is the key character or subject in the story?
What is it about? Provide information on what the subject will say or what an event is about.
Why should the blogger care? This is the opportunity to tell your story. What is the reason this story should be featured? So you released a product, offer a service, or just launched an album. Okay, and? Who cares? Make the blogger care through telling your story. For example, If you are artist who had to walk or travel 2hours to get to a studio to record a song, isn’t that a more interesting story than saying to a blogger, “please post?” If your release included the basis for why you were willing to go through that length to record what seems like “just a song” wouldn’t, even you, want to read your own story?
What about if you are a fashion designer with extremely limited resources but you managed to gather enough money for a collection, your first collection, isn’t that more compelling than, “oh, I just released my look book, please publish?” Why aren’t you telling your story? The whole “I was inspired by Paris and African drums” for this season is cool; but it does not make you stand out and does not push your story forward for the blogger looking for an interesting angle for his/her audience. Tell your “why.”
When is the event taking place? Tell the Blogger the date and time of the event
Where: Tell the blogger the location
How: Tell the blogger how your dress is to be worn or accessorized, how your music or film came about. Tell the manner in which a product or service ought to be used.
NOTE: AGAIN- be sure to send stories in the format the blogger wants. As a general rule, attach .doc files. Not everyone has a .docx file. Do not attach press releases in PDF. Instead copy the press release into the body of the email and also attach the .doc file.
Every blogger is different but as a general rule, for numerous pictures and large files, send in a zipped file.
Bloggers do not have the time to sit and go through each and every one of your 20-30 pictures, download each one and then resize to fit their blog dimensions. You will be forgotten if you don’t get these basics done. For musicians, many African music blogs do not mind you forwarding an .mp3. When you deal with American or European music blogs, you want to send a link to your music, first and then follow up to see whether the Blogger would prefer an accompanying .mp3. Make the lives of bloggers easy because it increases the chances your work will be featured.
5. Thou Shall Offer Exclusives to Thy Blogger: If you want to be featured on a blog that is primarily about fashion and is an authority on fashion, you can and should offer exclusives to such blogger/blog. Doing so immediately increases your chances of getting featured and it, for the most part, guarantees that if that influential blogger runs the story, others will do the same. It’s like CNN carrying breaking news. Before the day runs out, the world will know because other news networks will spread the story.
NOTE: Exclusives should not be focused on the biggest blogs, alone. Focus on the blog with your target audience, your niche. For example, you could have a fashion and lifestyle blog with a large readership base but the readership is not hyper-targeted to your customers or fan base. This means the conversion rate i.e. those who actually buy your product would be very low versus a blog with low but hyper-targeted readership who will most likely seek, want and purchase your product/service. So, do the math. If you do R &B and a music blog only covers hip-hop, your exclusive should go to the R &B smaller blog site, and then a later release to the big blog and other blogs.
6. Thou Shall Follow Up With Thy Blogger: I have heard and seen many talents and designers complain on social media platforms about how they don’t get featured after they sent emails, music etc. to a blogger or website. If you are doing this or have done this, you really need to quit, already. It is nothing short of whining and very unbecoming. Follow up instead. Bloggers are very busy people and humans too. While some bloggers are carving out a career for themselves, majority of bloggers keep their day jobs and blog on the side, no small feat. The average staff ratio for bloggers, range from 1-5. Bloggers also receive a voluminous amount of pitches both from talents like you and public relations companies. They have to sift and sort through all of those pitches. Unless you are very compelling you can and will get lost in all the emails. That’s life. Deal with it and really, it is no big deal. Understand and be pragmatic, accept the reality and follow up to stand out. Follow up is not to be confused with stalking. Allow time say 3-5days for the first follow up, then 7days for a subsequent follow up. Also when you follow up, make it convenient by resending the material you initially sent.
7. Thou Shall Respect Yourself and Know Your Boundary Line With Thy Blogger: There is an African proverbial saying that, “you can disagree with the King but you don’t insult the King.” Understand who has the most leverage here, loosely speaking. You want something from a blogger, not the other way around. Do not burn bridges and do not become abusive because you have not been featured on a blog. I have seen this happen, one too many times, where those not featured on a blog took to rampant assassination and defamation of character(s). Times have changed and bloggers can and will sue you, the talent (musician, actor, actress, filmmaker, designer), your label or company, your management and, depending on the facts, any and all persons affiliated with your company that sanctioned and further promoted, retweeted/republished the defamatory (untruthful statements about bloggers).
Bloggers don’t play that.
Respect yourself and know the boundary lines with thy blogger.