Once upon a time, not so long ago, if a business wanted to gain free exposure in a newspaper or magazine, it had to approach a journalist and pitch its story or press release. If successful, it would gain some media coverage, published in front of its target audience.
Today, everyone is online, so the focus has shifted. If a company wants to get noticed these days, it has to speak to bloggers or online magazines. But blogs won’t necessarily publish press releases, so what options are left?
Well, a business can pitch its blog posts to other bloggers. Why? Because original content is always in high demand and it’s a great way to gain exposure, encourage viral marketing and share your posts with thousands of other people.
So how do you pitch to other blogs and online magazines? Read these top tips on how to get that essential online coverage.
Seek out the relevant sites
There are endless opportunities to post your content on the web, so start by discovering suitable communities, online media and blogs that attract your target market. You’ll be surprised how many opportunities exist out there.
You’ll have media sites like the Huffington Post, Forbes and The Guardian – but these might prove challenging to contribute. You’ll also find high traffic communities like ItsNiceThat.com, which allows guest contributors.
Start researching and pick ten sites you’d like to target. Don’t think you’re not ‘big’ enough to write for some of these sites – remember, if you don’t ask – you won’t get, so be bold and go for it!
Do your research
Before you approach anyone, do your research. Find out what makes that blogger tick and what they like and dislike, so you’ve got a higher chance of success. Spend some time reading through existing blog posts and get to know your target. It will help you to approach people in the right way.
Read instructions carefully
Some bloggers or e-zines provide strict guidelines on how to pitch posts or articles. If they’re available, be sure to read through carefully before you approach anyone. There is nothing more irritating than receiving an email that reads ‘Love your blog! How do I contribute?’. Mainly if instructions are provided. In which case, double-check to see whether there are any guidelines or rules to follow.
Pick a topic
Before you approach a particular blogger or media site, come up with a subject for your proposed blog post. If it’s a news site you’re targeting, piggyback on a relevant news story and add your own opinion or thoughts. If you’re approaching a particular blog within a specific industry or theme, pick a topic that they haven’t yet covered.
Whatever you do, try to choose something unusual, original, and that helps you to stand out. Think about the kind of things your target’s community loves to share via social media. For example, Tips articles on Creative Boom are the most popular and can be shared thousands of times – especially ones like ‘100 inspiring ways to market your business’, something that took me three days to write. Which leads me onto another top tip – the more effort you put in, the more you’ll get out of your blog post, i.e. the more it’s likely to be shared and go viral.
Make initial contact
Famous bloggers get approached by hundreds of people every day, bombarding their inboxes with requests, pleas and general spam. To rise above the crowd, make your email subject line compelling, avoid CAPS and don’t waste time typing out a colossal introduction – keep your email pitch short and sweet.
Suggest the blog post topic you’d like to write for the website and give them a sample of your writing style. Be friendly, flexible, open and transparent. Don’t creep or kiss butt – be professional and don’t be disheartened if you don’t hear back from the recipient right away – they may take time to sift through their emails, so be patient. But if you get rejected? Don’t be disheartened. Keep trying with other sites until you reach your goal.
Get down to writing
When you draft a blog post, write compelling, relevant content that speaks straight from the heart. Ditch the traditional writing style of a press release and become more informal, conversational and relaxed.
Try to tell a story and don’t worry too much about what people will think – you’ll soon develop a personal style that others will come to recognise and enjoy. Just be yourself, let the words flow and most of all – enjoy it!
Remember that the hard sell is dead
When drafting your blog post, you must ignore the desire to throw in the odd promotional comment or marketing copy. Blogging doesn’t accommodate the ‘hard sell’. Instead, be safe in the knowledge that by writing for other websites, you’ll be helping to spread your business name around and that’s enough.
The web has changed our attitudes to brands and businesses. We don’t like to be 'persuaded' or 'sold to'. Instead, we want to see the more ‘personal’ side of a brand. We like our brands to be transparent and trustworthy. So avoid any sales copy and stick to the topic in question. Tell your story.
Share the love
Don’t forget to share other people’s blog posts via your social networks and followers. If you share the passion and spread the karma, people will remember your generosity and will thank you for it. Above all, remember that the web isn’t about ‘me, me, me’ – it exists as a global community and should be treated that way. Have respect for others, and others will respect you.