blogsSmart marketers know that blogs outrank other social networks when it comes to consumer influence. In fact, according to Technorati, blogs are the third most influential online resource for people considering a purchase, after retail sites and brand sites.

But not all marketers know how to approach bloggers. As both a brand representative and a blogger, I’ve seen a lot of pitches and I’ve been documenting what makes a pitch work, or not work. Here are some best practices for reaching out to bloggers.

Tell the blogger what you want. As we often say at Double Forte, “The point of communication is to stop it.” If you want a blogger to write a review, tell them that. And tell them how you will deliver the product or service, what your terms are, if any, and any other relevant information about the product or service including price and delivery. Vague requests will probably end up in the trash folder. Considering 82 percent of bloggers make less than $10,000 per year, you can assume many of them have other jobs and don’t have time to trade multiple emails with you.

Say what you mean. There seems to be a recent (and bad) trend among brand representatives to ask bloggers for their input on a new product or service – when what they’re really looking for is coverage. If you want coverage, write a good old-fashioned pitch letter. If it’s relevant, and you’ve targeted the right blogs, that’s all you should need.

Ask for UVMs after you make an offer. It’s bad form to offer a blogger a paid opportunity and then pull the deal when the bloggers’ readership doesn’t match your criteria. It’s easy to check page views and followers so do that before reaching out. If a blogger doesn’t meet your criteria, then don’t approach them. But know that before you pitch.

Be prepared to pay. No, not every blogger engagement is pay-for-play. But if you are asking a blogger to post specific content, at a specific time, in a specific manner, you’re asking to buy real estate on their blog and you should compensate the blogger for that.

Brands and bloggers can be beautiful partners when both sides understand where the other is coming from.

– Liz

photo credit: rcade via photopin cc