After my missive on not being a media outlet and how most emails from publicists end up in my overflowing trash, gentle reader Brigette Mayer asked some questions worth exploring further.

Brigette’s general take was that my assumption that this topic has been discussed to death is an inaccurate one. And she’s right. I was writing as if everyone who reads my blog shares my exact experience, and of course you don’t.

Here are a couple of Brigette’s questions and my answers. I think this is a topic worth exploring from many angles, so please don’t be shy with your opinions and experiences, and questions if you’ve got ’em.

Brigette: As a small business owner, how do I differentiate between “popular” or “professional” bloggers and those that are blogging more as a means of expression? Or do I? I would think that two different types of press releases would apply in this situation, due to the audience; however, maybe I’m wrong?

I’m going to say this entire series of questions is irrelevant, because the press release is dead. Or it should be. At least when it comes to new media. Traditional media may still love receiving hundreds of press releases; I couldn’t say.

Further, it doesn’t matter why a blogger blogs as long as they’re open to receiving unsolicited emails from people looking for coverage and their audience is interested in the kinds of things you want covered. It’s important to note that some bloggers don’t want to receive unsolicited emails. Check their contact page to double check.

But okay. Let’s walk through this whole thing.

You have something you’d like to spread the word about – it may be a product, a book, a pattern, a blog, an event, whatever. You’ve decided you’d like to reach an online audience, so you start looking for blogs to approach.

Make a wishlist of blogs, and approach them in order, from the top down (depending on your approach, you may want to approach several at once – in that case just make sure you don’t promise exclusivity). Your #1 blog should be the one with the largest engaged audience that’s interested in what you’re promoting. (Example: I delete emails from publicists when the subjects are car parts and ways to winterize one’s home. I open the ones with subject lines about crafts, books and creativity.)

Get to know that blog. How frequently does the writer or team of writers post? What proportion of their posts report on products, books, patterns, events, etc.? If they blog only once a month about something they heard about via a publicity email, then you’ll know not to be surprised if your email doesn’t get a response. Time to move onto the next blog on your list.

This email I’m referring to should not be a press release. Press releases are written for mass distribution in the hopes that some newspaper or another will pick it up. Every blogger I’ve ever spoken to about this hates receiving press releases. They’re a step away from spam, and sometimes they really are spam. We’re people, not media outlets.

What this email should contain is information about the product and also a note about why you’re emailing this particular blogger. It’s not that bloggers need to feel special, it’s that we need to feel like human beings. When one human emails another, there’s usually a reason for the email. Your promotional email should contain that reason. And let’s acknowledge that the overall gist of the email is that you’re asking the blogger to do something for you. And you’re a perfect stranger to that blogger.

Here’s an example of an email I’d like to receive:

Hey Kim,

I’ve been reading through your blog and I like what you have to say about creativity. I wrote a book about how to push through writer’s block. I know you don’t write that often about writing and your readers aren’t necessarily interested in writing professionally, but I think the themes of the book are in line with the themes you blog about. I’d love to send you a copy of the book if you’re interested. No pressure to sing its praises.

Outstanding promoter

Short and to the point. And friendly. Even if I’m not interested in the book, I’m going to write back. That’s the first step in forming a relationship, and the best thing a publicist/promoter can do is have a relationship with the people they want to cover their stuff. This person would email me again with a different project in the future. And I’d want to hear from them.

Ok, now just a bit about Brigette’s question about the motivations of the blogger. Generally speaking, it doesn’t matter if a blogger blogs for love of blogging or if they’re doing it as part of their business – except if it influences how you might approach the blogger. You’ll only get a feel for this by getting to know the blog and how the writer approaches it. You may find some blogs are very focused on making a profit from the blog – they’re very product-friendly and they run ads. Some blogs may not run ads or mention products. Knowing this may influence the approach you take in your email.

Brigette: Also, if this personalization of press releases for bloggers and other new media types is “common knowledge” then it should certainly be taught in the education system…and I’m not sure it is.

I haven’t a clue what’s taught in courses. Does anyone know how (or if) getting blog coverage is covered in any training or academic programs? Please let us know in the comments.

Speaking of the comments, my little diatribes on this topic are only my opinion. What’s your opinion as a blogger? How do you like (or not like) to be approached to cover other people’s stuff? If you’re getting blog coverage for your stuff, what’s your experience? Do you find it valuable to get blog coverage? What strategies work and don’t work for you?

Finally, are you interested in talking more about this in the context of getting traditional media coverage?

6 responses to “Get Social Media and Blogging Coverage of Your Work”

  1. Monica (aka monnibo) Avatar

    I’d like to disagree about press releases being dead. I think they still have a use because they have tons of information (especially for events) shoved into one document. I agree that the email body should be friendly, personal, and short. Having the press release attached is then a good way for the recipient to easily access more information.

    1. Kim Werker Avatar

      Ooh, I love a good blog debate!

      I disagree. Just because a document contains information the sender thinks
      is useful and wonderful doesn’t mean the recipient will find it anything of
      the sort.

      This is why traditional media may be different, why the press release may
      not, indeed, be dead for them – the way press releases work for trad media
      is that trad media can lift whole sections of the PRs and print them. It
      helps them fill space with very little effort.

      Bloggers don’t need to fill space. And bloggers don’t (or shouldn’t) simply
      copy and paste someone else’s words into a post and call it a day*.

      I hate press releases because they don’t contain useful information, they
      contain spin. PRs are the text equivalent of the jerk at a networking event
      who tells you all about how brilliant they are and how their new business is
      invaluable to everyone and how it’s going to change *everything*. The only
      information I consider to be useful in a press release is a product’s
      dimensions. Presumably, those will be factual. Everything else I roll my
      eyes at unless I’ve heard buzz from people or media I trust.

      *For the most part I’m talking about one-person blogs. Some
      multi-contributor blogs involve schedules for their writers, so though there
      isn’t a certain amount of space to fill, these bloggers to need to produce
      content on a set schedule. For example, I publish my DiYVR post at every Tuesday. I need to fill that column.
      This week, I wrote about an event I found out about when someone from the
      organization emailed me (she actually communicated with me, in addition to
      sending me lots of info). That rocked for me. And, hopefully, for her.

    2. Jen Watkiss Avatar

      I’m with Monica on this one. There are certainly a number of bloggers who don’t prefer press releases, but they are far from dead. I’ve never received flack from any blogger I’ve reached out to when I’ve attached a press release (for them to read if they choose) to a personal email outlining the gist of things. Or, better yet, it’s part of an online media kit, so I don’t have to deal with attachments and can just send the blogger a link to the PR, FAQ, specs and images.

      I’ve found, without exception, that the bloggers who generate the most successful traffic for products are the ones who are LEAST prima-donna-ish about how they’ll accept solicitations from the unwashed masses of marketers (ONLY via my contact form, on Tuesdays, without any hint of a press release, as an exclusive, between the hours of 1 and 2 am, while I’m wearing red shoes). They also happen to be the ones who have the most experience dealing with media (whether or not they choose to operate their blogs as “media outlets”).

      And if “ur doin’ it rite” as a PR flak, it doesn’t actually matter how you send your pitch to the blogger, because you already have a relationship with him or her. Perhaps the blogger states they prefer pitches via contact form, but your relationship involves communicating regularly over email, your pitch still gets through.

      As for “why isn’t this taught in schools” – oy, school is about the worst place to learn any modern PR tactics. Sure, go to PR school to learn the ins and outs of how the industry functions. I believe that may also be taught to a lesser degree as a component of business school or an employment program. But the only way to learn what works NOW in media/PR is to find a current practitioner (either IRL or by reading their blogs) and learn from them.

      1. Kim Werker Avatar

        I think the crafts world may be populated with terrible PR folks.

        I routinely get press releases aimed at projects I’m no longer involved with – and I continue to receive them after I kindly inform the sender that I’m no longer involved with the project. I routinely get press releases that begin as if I’ve had a conversation with the sender, when I haven’t. (They say things like, “Just writing to follow up about…”)

        Though I suppose I’m spelling out rules here, I don’t actually follow any. I just know myself. I ignore promo emails that are spammy, that don’t address me as a human, that contain sexist information or that are irrelevant to my interests. About 90% of the unsolicited emails I get fall into one or more of those categories. Oh, and I totally will not follow rules laid out in a publicity email.

        There’s one publicist in all of crafts who’s ever, out of the gate, set out to form a relationship with me. Perhaps she simply set the bar so high it’s spoiled me – she’s the first publicist to ever approach me. It was nearly seven years ago, and I consider it a huge privilege to have been lucky enough to have her promoting my work and me at various times, too.

        Anyway, you’re right. Relationships are at the heart of it. But cold-emailing, as it were, can be effective. In my experience, it’s simply the emails that come without press releases that are the ones that land.

  2.  Avatar

    Debate all you like, folks – as a blogger, I hate press releases. I don’t consider myself a media outlet or a journalist, so a personal contact wins every time.

    In response to your question about what else people can do in order to engage bloggers more fully…

    Don’t just say, “please write about my stuff.” Pitch some story ideas that fit the blog. This approach shows that you’ve actually read the blog and are interested in finding an appropriate connection between your project and a receptive audience.

    I get approached almost every day by someone wanting me to blog about something. There’s no way I can invest the time and energy to develop blog posts around all these projects. If you do some of that work for me, I guarantee I’ll pay more attention to your pitch. You’ll immediately stand out against the twelve other people this week who simply said “write about me.”

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