Pitching to bloggers

Michael O’Connor Clarke has a great post about how flacks should treat bloggers when thinking about pitching a story to us, inspired by a somewhat clueless pitch left in the comments of a previous blog post. As Michael explains, trying to pitch to a blogger by leaving a standard press release in their comments is not the most effective way to do it, because we are frequently more interested in fisking the pitch than the story itself.

The effect is analogous to what happens when you stand in front of a dog and point to the stick you want him/her to retrieve.

The dog will look at your finger.

Michael was a lot kinder in his post than I would have been. Leaving a pitch in the comments to a post that is not even vaguely related to the story you are pitching shows a complete lack of understanding of blogs and bloggers but, more than that, it shows just how lazy the flack is. You know what we call unwanted marketing intrusions? Spam. You know what this comment is? Spam. And you know how most of us view spammers?

I’ll let you answer that last one yourself.

Undoubtedly, Kristine from Backbone Media, “an Internet marketing company” without a clue, thought that she was doing Michael and his readers a nice fat favour by posting directions to their own site, but you know what? I’m not impressed. There are many effective ways to reach bloggers, but comment spam isn’t one of them, and any internet marketing company which fails to grasp the conversational nature of blogs obviously doesn’t understand an increasingly large chunk of the internet and, I would say, is probably just as full of shit as the next snakeoil SEO salesman.

If you want to get your story out to bloggers, try putting a bit of effort in and actually having a conversation. I rarely get pitched to, but recently I had a nice email from one Patrick Hurley telling me about his company’s new product, AirSet. He had patently read my blog, was friendly, didn’t waffle on, and generally made a good impression on me. When I get round to testing AirSet, I will go to the site already feeling good about it, and Patrick may well get more than he bargained for (in a nice way) as I have something up my sleeve he doesn’t know about but which is relevant to his business.

Why does all this make a difference? Why am I so snarky about Backbone Media and so nice about AirSet? (You’ll already have noted that I have linked to AirSet, but not to Backbone Media.) Well, it’s because one treats blogs as just another outlet for their story, something they can use to promote their own agenda without giving the blogger any thought, care or choice in the matter (yes, the comment can be deleted, but that’s after the fact). The other treats the blogger as a fellow human being, opens up a conversation, gives them the choice of whether to explore or ignore their product with absolutely no intimation of obligation.

Which approach would you prefer?