Should your strategy be the same when pitching reporters and bloggers?

The principles of pitching bloggers and traditional reporters are the same, but the tactics differ.

Yes

Laura Finlayson, VP and director of digital strategy, Beckerman
Her 10-plus years in PR have seen her net high-profile media coverage for many clients

One hundred times, yes. I don't quite understand the concept of treating bloggers differently than other journalists. Any successful PR pro will tell you that, in many cases, coverage was a result of knowing the outlets and the writers, what stories they cover, how they cover them, what pitches resonate with them, and what they covered recently, among other details.

A talented media relations pro will incorporate, or at least consider, this information in his or her pitch, which should provide any journalist with a story that not only fits the outlet's scope of coverage, but strikes a chord with the writer, as well.

The medium in which a journalist operates - a blog, a news website, a print publication - is irrelevant when you are providing relevant information that fits his or her coverage area and approach to reporting.

While it should be understood that each blog has its own way of covering news, the same holds true of every other type of media outlet. And though bloggers often have more flexibility to incorporate their own views, they still need to base those perspectives on concrete information PR pros can provide.

When pitching a story about a California-based company building a cellulosic ethanol plant in Mississippi, for example, I would not pitch the Los Angeles Times the same way I would pitch the local Mississippi business journal. In fact, I would not even approach the same beat reporters at each title.

For the Los Angeles Times, I would research who recently covered clean technologies and energy issues and pitch a story based on the technology. In targeting the Mississippi business publication, I would reach out to a business editor about how this plant will impact the local economy.

One of the great things about blogs is that the possibilities of who to pitch this story to are endless. In addition, credible bloggers are extremely well-versed in their coverage area and can sometimes have a greater understanding of the nuances in your story than a print reporter who might be covering a variety of topics for the local daily newspaper.


No

Rob Longert, Senior digital media strategist, M Booth
Has advised clients and colleagues on using digital tactics to promote brands

The principles of pitching bloggers and traditional reporters are the same, but the tactics differ. Diligence, research, patience, and personality are at the core of strategic media relations, and when it comes to pitching bloggers, pay close attention to tone, approach, and share-ability of content.

Here are some ways that pitching bloggers differs from pitching traditional media:

Code of ethics? Journalists abide by a strict code of ethics, but there isn't a universal code for bloggers. Personal bloggers may do anything they want with your client's information.

Keep this in mind when pitching embargoed announcements or materials. Some bloggers are forthcoming in letting PR pros know that anything sent their way is fair game, so putting "embargoed" in the subject line of your pitch may have no bearing on anything a blogger writes.

When it comes to pay-for-play opportunities, the onus is on us to be sure the bloggers abide by Word of Mouth Marketing Association guidelines.

Keep focused and carry on. Don't veer from a blogger's focus area. As a fitness blogger, I get lumped onto "health blogger" lists, but when I'm pitched on hangover cures, even reading the subject line is a waste of time.

Be hyper-targeted in blogger pitching; don't make them cater to you. Traditional editors can give your pitch to another reporter, but most personal blogs have a one-person staff.

Create relevant, platform-specific content. Blog posts come in all shapes and sizes. Tumblr bloggers keep things short and sweet with video, animated GIFs, memes, images, and quotes. Bloggers that write for sites such as Huffington Post have stricter content guidelines. Tailor pitches and content by platform and blog type.

Bloggers today significantly differ from those of five years ago. They are savvier, more influential, have great strength in numbers, and are a part of communities that go beyond moms, social media "gurus," and tech savants. How are you tapping into them? 


PRWeek's View
Bloggers and reporters should not be pitched the same way, just as all mainstream reporters shouldn't be. It is incumbent on PR pros to know a blogger's preferences, just as they understand individual reporters' beats

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