This story was co-written by Sasha Blaney.
Social media may have changed the way people consume news, but it is bloggers who continue to have an increasingly significant impact on the journalism world today. In fact, 6.7 million bloggers produce 58.7 million new posts each month and successfully reach 77 percent of all Internet users.
With such a vast audience consuming that many blog posts each month, it is imperative for PR pros to educate themselves on the best practices for pitching these media giants.
The role of blogs today has expanded beyond simply serving as an outlet for personal expression; oftentimes, major blogs become established brands that resonate with readers. In a recent study, 84 percent of readers said they make purchase decisions based on blog content they have read.
Above all, bloggers’ greatest strength is eliciting trust from their readers through honest and opinionated posts or media appearances as subject matter experts.
Recently, we attended a PRSA Miami New Professionals Event focusing on blogger outreach and its importance to PR today. The discussion was led by Marianne Cusato, a Huffington Post blogger, author of The Just Right Home and Get Your House Right, and freelance writer whose work has been featured in The New York Times, Forbes, USA Today and Wall Street Journal.
Following the event, we had the pleasure of sitting down with Marianne and asking her our top burning questions about pitching etiquette, her personal pet peeves and how social media has changed media relations.
rbb: What is your preferred method of pitching? What’s your feeling on pitching via social media?
Marianne: Personally, I prefer email. This allows me to respond, or not, on my terms. Blogging is a secondary part of what I do, and it is disruptive to be pitched by phone while I’m trying to do my real work. Everyone will be different and for people whose full time job is journalism, phone might be totally fine.
Pitching via social media is definitely a good thing for many. It’s not the best way to reach me, but I might be one of the only dinosaurs left!
The key is to understand who you are reaching out to. Someone that blogs as a hobby will be very different that an active journalist. Many active journalists, of all ages, are being encouraged to engage with their audience on social media. For those people, pitching via social media is a great idea.
rbb: PR Pros get a bad rep for “stalking media.” How can PR pros follow up without badgering you?
Marianne: It is a delicate balance and everyone is different. If you know I’m working on your story, you might follow up with additional thoughts or with info that might be helpful. Always ask the deadline; this will let you know how to pace your follow up.
rbb: What’s your biggest pitching pet peeve?
Marianne: Being pitched about things I would never cover. The best way to get my attention is to look me up and see what I cover and my belief system. Bloggers are more editorial (opinions) than conventional journalism (someone reporting the facts). Bloggers will very often have strong opinions about the topics they cover; you want to be on their good side! For me, don’t pitch McMansions or sprawl.
rbb: What’s the most valuable piece of advice you’d give to a novice PR pro?
Marianne: Think about the reader of the article as your real client. What do they want to read and how does your story matter to them? It is often easy for PR to slide into feeling like an advertisement; guard against this by thinking of the reader first. You will have a better hit/miss ratio.
If you find these tips useful, or if you have any to add of your own, let us know in the comments below!