Blogger outreach has become a core digital marketing tactic in recent years, with many agencies and marketing departments now employing whole teams dedicated to the task. This guide aims to provide a thorough overview of the outreach process, to help you start earning media coverage straight away.
What is blogger outreach?
Blogger outreach – or to use a broader term, influencer outreach – refers to a process of communicating with digital publishers to gain publicity for your brand.
Typically, the person doing the outreach offers the publisher a quote, interview, sample product, infographic or some other kind of useful content or incentive in return for publicity on their blog/vlog/podcast/website.
The potential benefits of reaching out to bloggers include:
- SEO-boosting backlinks to your site (this is the main objective for many outreach teams)
- Nofollow links to your site (these links have no direct SEO value, but can still channel valuable traffic to your site)
- Improved recognition and awareness of your brand
- Establishes your authority
- Content to promote via your own channels (e.g. Facebook post: “WIRED have included us in their top 10 startups of the month! You can read our quote in the article here…”)
Sometimes companies pay to get featured by digital publishers. However, in this article, we’ll only be talking about ways to earn coverage that don’t involve paying for it.
Step 1: Identify your influencer marketing strategy
Every blogger outreach campaign should start with the question: how will I make myself useful to bloggers? How well you can answer this question will have a definitive effect on your outreach campaign.
A good place to start is with your strategic position. What is your brand’s identity, and how does that relate to a customer/client need? For instance, you might be:
- A SaaS provider offering solutions for logistics companies who need to cut costs
- An independent dressmaker offering one-of-a-kind clothes for fashion lovers
- A business coach offering actionable insights for SMEs that need to scale fast
Identify your organisation’s strategic position, and consider the types of content you could offer to bloggers, given your specialism. For example:
- The SaaS provider could provide case studies for publishers interested in digital transformation; and stats on efficiency in logistics to publishers interested in transportation
- The dressmaker could offer interviews to artisan business blogs; and clothes samples for fashion bloggers/influencer marketing on Instagram
- The business coach could offer actionable tips to add to B2B listicles; and guest blog articles to business websites
In each case, the brand’s customer-facing specialism feeds into the outreach strategy.
This is a sound approach to defining your usefulness, as it creates a high likelihood that the blogger coverage you secure will be relevant to your brand and audience. Highly relevant coverage translates into superior backlinks, superior sales leads and a strong brand image.
What’s your strategic position, and how can it translate into useful content for bloggers or other digital publishers? If you have a good answer to this question, you’re ready for the next step…
Step 2: Decide which bloggers to approach
To start with, simply use your own knowledge of your industry to draw up a list of blogs, news sites, podcasts, vlogs and other digital producers of content that relates to your strategic position (which we discussed in Step 1).
Which digital publishers are relevant to your business and the people it serves?
Once you’ve listed as many titles/names as you can, ask your colleagues and social media contacts for their input. Add any promising recommendations to your list, and create a database including each publication’s content details. An Excel spreadsheet will do.
Which prospects are suitable?
Before you start contacting the publishers on your list, test each one against the following criteria:
- Quality – As a rule, their content and web design standards should be as good as or better than your own
- Relevance – Are they producing content that is relevant to your brand and audience?
- Opportunity – Are they regularly featuring input from brands/people like you?
Prospecting for bloggers at scale
As your blogger outreach work progresses, you will inevitably need to cast a wider net to identify new publishers to contact. One tried and tested method for doing this is Google search – just enter:
[YOUR SPECIALISM] + BLOG
[YOUR SPECIALISM] + NEWS
[YOUR SPECIALISM] + PODCAST
Work your way through the results and add suitable leads to your spreadsheet. This approach can be time-consuming, but it should help you to discover lots of fresh prospects.
Once you’ve started prospecting at scale, you should consider using a tool like BuzzStream’s Buzzmarker Chrome extension to support your work.
Step 3: Pitch to bloggers
By this point you should have decided roughly what you have to offer digital publishers and who you are going to approach. Now’s the time to start pitching.
Learn as much as you can about the brand you’re pitching to
Having a good knowledge of the publisher you are pitching to will help you stand apart from the crowd. Before you start writing your pitch, read the publisher’s blog, listen to a few episodes of their podcast, watch their videos and gain a thorough understanding of their content.
Being able to show you have a solid grasp of what they do will be a sure-fire way to establish your approach as serious and genuine.
Work out your angle
You’ve already worked out the type of value you can offer to bloggers during Step 1. Now you need to fine-tune this value proposition to suit the type of content the blogger produces. For example, you could offer:
- An interview for a regular column about your area of expertise
- A sample product to be included in a review series
- An item of content to add to a listicle
- An infographic with original data to add to an in-depth article
Whatever the prospect does, you should be aiming to make them an offer that will help them do it better than ever.
Craft your pitch
Once you’ve familiarised yourself with the prospect’s content, you can start crafting your pitch. Here’s an example of an effective approach:
Blogger outreach email example
Hi [Contact name](1),
Are you currently looking for [interviewees/extra content/quotes/etc.] for your [blog/podcast/article about X/etc.]? I recently [listened to your podcast/read your article/watched your video about X].(2)
[Comment about the content you saw – e.g. “I was really interested to learn about XXXX, thanks for highlighting that”.](3)
[Paragraph introducing yourself and the company you represent.](4)
Would your audience be interested in learning about any of the following topics?
[3 bullet points. Choose three very different angles, all of which complement the blogger’s output nicely.](5)
Would one of these be a good fit for your audience? Just hit reply and let me know which topic you’d like to talk about. After that, we can work out scheduling details.(6)
You can see examples of my [relevant example] and [relevant example] here, and here.(7)
Additionally, I’d love to learn more about how you like your guests to prepare for an interview. If you have any onboarding documents you’d like me to read ahead of the interview, please send them over!(8)
[Name] [Job title, Company]
The above example is based directly on an email pitch we received from Joe Cotellese, the founder of Sharey. We found Joe’s approach convincing, and we agreed to feature him on our podcast as a result (you can listen to our interview with him here). We reached out to Joe when researching this article and Joe tells us he took the original pitch from a template published by Kai Davis.
Here’s a breakdown of the elements that make this a great pitch email (the numbers in the list refer back to the numbers in the email copy):
- Uses the contact’s name
- Your value proposition (offer to the prospect)
- Establishes that you’ve engaged with the contact’s content
- Makes a succinct introduction
- Provides a sample of the value on offer in terms of content
- Suggests a way forward for working together
- Provides assurance of quality content
- Provides assurance of easy collaboration
Even if you choose not to follow the structure of Joe’s email, we would advise covering all of these numbered points. They add up to a persuasive pitch.
Creating awareness before you pitch
Some outreach marketers like to pop up on a prospect’s radar before they make a pitch. The easiest way to do so is by following them on social media and also engaging in a meaningful way with their social media posts.
So, let’s say your primary contact at a blog is a journalist. To build awareness before you pitch, find that person on social, follow them, and write a meaningful, insightful comment on one of their content share posts. This can be an effective way to establish your expert knowledge and interest in the publication before you pitch to them.
Be sure to take plenty of time over crafting a considered response to the person you’re pitching to you. Shallow, low-value responses will likely come across as spammy.
Pitching to podcasts
As some of you may already know, Target Internet produces a weekly podcast, The Digital Marketing Podcast. Our Marketing Manager Ciaran Rogers frequently receives pitches from people doing outreach who want to get featured on the show. Here’s his advice on how to successfully pitch to a podcast producer:
“If you have a good level of knowledge on a certain subject, you could reach out to podcasts covering relevant topics and ask them if they would be interested in featuring your expertise through an interview. Maybe brainstorm a few topics you know would interest them, or perhaps surprise them with a unique angle that will grab their attention. As a podcast producer myself, I am always on the hunt for new and fresh content ideas.
“Just make sure you have listened to a few episodes before you reach out and contact any show. It goes a long way with people if you can show you have a genuine interest in their work.”
Step 4: Seal the deal and secure maximum value
Once you’ve sent off a good number of highly personalised pitches, you should be in with a good chance of receiving a positive response or two (if you don’t, keep trying; and don’t be shy about sending an occasional follow-up email or feedback request).
Any positive response is a minor success – but the job’s not done until you have successfully gained publicity on the prospect’s channel. To increase the probability of a successful outcome, do whatever you can to make the collaboration run as smoothly as possible, including:
Have an info pack ready to send
Sometimes bloggers will request further info on you and your company in their response to your pitch. Have this information ready to send in a useful format, including the following:
- Short bio
- Long bio
You should consider adding links to your website and social profiles to the ends of the bios – this will be useful if the blogger wants to find out more about you, and may increase the likelihood of them linking back to your website content.
Don’t use a PA – do the organisational legwork yourself
To make life easier for the publishers you contact, arrange your collaboration with them directly. Not only does this keep things simple, it also allows you to build rapport via email.
Remember that people who work in the media will likely speak to prominent, widely-respected interviewees on a frequent basis. If you insist on using a PA they may decide to feature someone who will talk to them directly instead. At Target Internet for the podcast, we get a lot of pitches from clearly outsourced PA’s and these rarely go well. We want to speak to the individuals we will be working with before agreeing to any pitches. Virtual PA’s all too often just get in the way of that process because they really do not know the person they are pitching for and often know nothing about the actual expertise they are pitching.
Provide great content
This is a subject worthy of a 2,000-word guide in itself. Suffice to say that great content is likelier to get published than mediocre content. If you’re providing a quote, make it sharp and interesting. If you’re submitting an infographic, get one of your best designers to make it. If you’re being interviewed, do some media training first.
Request a backlink and social share
Congrats, your content is getting published! The final thing you need to do is remind the blogger who is publishing the content that you would really appreciate it if they could include a backlink to your website and share the content via their social channels. Most will be happy to do so.
There’s much more to learn about blogger outreach than the contents of this guide – for instance, ways to use outreach as part of an SEO strategy, working with influencer marketing agencies, or how to use influencer marketing platforms. For more advanced reading, we can recommend the following resources:
Having said that, we advise you to keep things simple as you get started. The tactics we’ve discussed are plenty to think about for now, and you can get to grips with some more advanced strategies once you’ve mastered the basics.
We wish you the best of luck – now go get some publicity!