I’ve spent a
bit LOT of time this week unsubscribing from newsletters, mailing lists and the such like. Why? Because all of the ones I’ve unsubscribed from, I never actually signed up for them.
This behaviour seems to be happening over and over again and frankly, it’s annoying. When did it become ‘ok’ to do this?
I felt compelled to write a post about how to contact bloggers and some tips on how to communicate with them in a manner which should get you the results you want. Especially if you are asking/trying to get them to promote something that you working on or selling whether that be for yourself, your company or working on behalf of another company.
I’ve been a blogger for the 7 years and would like to think I know a thing or two about how to send a decent email, how to reply and how to actually communicate. Most of which is just common sense.
I receive a huge amount of email for both UK Street Art and Friedmylittlebrain and recently turned off the email address for FMLB because it just got too much. An inbox full of irrelevant, impersonal emails is no use to anyone.
When I receive an email that is personal I am much more likely to reply to it. Every time.
The aim of this post is not to be seen as being on a high horse or to be self righteous, but to simply say that a little effort goes a long way. Simple communication gets you far. Manners get you far. These are my own views and not to be taken as gospel, but in my experience I hope that these help someone out there.
Contact the right person
“Dear Blogger” is probably the worst way to start an email. If you’re sending an email to a personal email address, then start with their name. If you can find out the name of the person who you want to start a conversation with, then make sure you address that person.
First impressions DO count. This isn’t even hard work, it should be a requirement in my opinion. “Dear Blogger” just smells of a blanket coverage BCC email, one that says ‘we’ll work with anyone who’s on the list of people we’ve got’, probably sent to 100’s if not 1000’s of blogs out there on the internet.
There’s a fine line between personal and professional. You can mix the two, there’s no reason not to.
By this I mean have fun. Working with a blogger should be fun, not a chore. We’re doing this because we love something, you are hopefully doing the same.
Do your research
If you want to get off on the good foot, then do some research. Find out what the blogger has been writing about recently. Engage with the content they are putting out there and have a look at what they are saying on Twitter/Facebook.
If you’re trying to get a blogger onboard, then make sure what you are sending is of relevance to the topics they are actually writing about. Time and time again we see blogger ‘outreach’ that is completely irrelevant. Products that have nothing to do with the topics covered on the blog that is trying to be contacted.
Offer the blogger something unique, exclusive or new
I’ve worked in media, publishing, startups, technology companies and more. It’s not hard to notice that a lot of the time it’s the same idea, with a different spin. The same thing, over and over again. Try and come up with something unique, exclusive or new for the thing you are trying to promote. This could be anything, including the following:
- A promotion, for the readers of that blog
- A freebie/giveaway
- Exclusive content (images and/or video)
What would entice that blogger to convert to a customer of yours? Ultimately you’re contacting that blogger to write about what you are promoting in the hope that they spread the word and you gain more customers. Think about how you can help the blogger get the most out of the post they make – how do you become an enabler of more reader engagement?
What do you want?
You’re contacting a blogger because you want them to help you. What’s your end goal?
Putting some goals in place, no matter how small they are will give you a good sense of what you want to achieve from the contact you are making with bloggers out there. Then, when you have to present to your boss, your board or whoever the results you’ve gained from the outreach, you’ve got something to say and more importantly, something to show.
I like it when PRs and product owners make their own suggestions in the emails I receive. Either a direct suggestion or a question about how the working relationship can be formed. This shows me two things:
1. They’ve thought about how they want to promote.
2. They are willing to put the effort in to work with you.
Listen to ideas
The blogger knows their readers.
If the blogger makes suggestions, try and listen to them. It’s likely that the blogger will be able to suggest a new idea, a new angle or a new way of thinking about how to promote what you want them to promote. A lot of the time, bloggers are fanatical about what they are writing about – they want to talk to their readers about the things they love.
Bloggers are not just writers. In fact, they are probably the opposite. I’m a designer, not a writer. A blogger can be a cook, a designer, a builder, a gardener, a train driver, a shop assistant, a manager. A blogger can be anyone. Anyone can have great ideas.
Make it easy
If you’re going to send an email with attachments then make it easy for the blogger to understand all of the extras you are including in the email.
Ditch the generic press release.
Supply them with all that they will need to help promote what you are doing. The best emails I receive are the ones where the person contacting me have spent time and effort on creating valuable assets that I can share with the blog post I am about to write.
Some things to think about:
- If you’re sending a PDF then compress it. I do not want to open a 100mb PDF only to find it’s not useful.
- Zip your photos into one folder.
- Name photos correctly.
- Make it easy for a blogger to embed a video. Upload it to YouTube or Vimeo.
Think about the future
If you’re trying to build a relationship with a blogger, then think about how your first contact with them will make a lasting impression. If you try and put the things above into practice then you’re on the right road to building a meaningful relationship with someone who can help promote and dare I say it, evangelise your product. Real reviews and real promotion from bloggers can be a very powerful thing.
I don’t mean send them freebies in the hope of retaining the ‘perfect’ partnership, but I do mean contributing where it makes sense. Don’t get me wrong, freebies are a nice thing to have, but it doesn’t make me write a blog post. I want to write about things in a positive way. My mentality is to write about things I like, with a ‘post positive’ attitude.
I’m not going to spend time writing about things I don’t like. That’s not essential. At all.
Well, it seems that I’ve got a fair bit to say and I hope that this helps. The most important thing for me is that I consider all of this common sense. It’s not hard, in fact, it’s easy. If it’s easy, then it’s fun. Right?
Let me know what you think by popping a comment in the box below.
I’m a UX Consultant in London – get in touch about your next big idea.