How can PR and media agencies get more out of their relationships with bloggers and ensure the best results for their clients? Well, start with the right approach, deliver great content and help share the final result…
I have been running my own blog site for a few years and I get dozens of guest or sponsored post requests each week, mostly from PR and media agencies looking to promote their clients.
I bin about 90 per cent of all these requests without more than a cursory scan. Why? Usually because the emails are poorly written, or they are impersonal bulk emails that are clearly going out to every blogger in the country, or they can’t even manage to get my name and/or my website’s name right.
So how do you pass my three-second test and make me consider accepting your article?
Submitting a guest or sponsored post to a blog is really very similar to submitting a job application – if you want your e-mail to stand out from the rest, do it properly. It doesn’t have to be wacky or obsequious (and I’d much prefer it wasn’t), but it does have to look and sound professional. Especially since this is, after all, your profession.
Do your research
- Have a good look around the website that you are pitching to. If your topic has no relevance to my site, please don’t waste either my time or yours (and I’m far more interested in mine).
- If you are pushing a topic that already exists on the site, there’s no point submitting a similar article. Try ‘a response to your article’ or approaching the topic from another angle. Not only does this create a good approach for your piece, it also enhances what already exists on the site, which is good for the blogger.
- Check to see if the site has guest blog requirements or advertising policies before submitting an article. Please don’t ignore these; see Point 1 about wasting my time.
Outline your proposal
- When e-mailing bloggers to request a guest piece, get their names right and use them. Most bloggers’ names are featured fairly prominently across their site so it’s not difficult. I’m not precious about salutations or formality, but I’d much rather receive an e-mail that begins with “Hi Stuart” or “Dear Mr. Masson” (either is fine) than “Dear Editor” (bad) or “To whom it may concern” (worse).
- Clearly state who you are and whom you are representing. Your e-mail subject should be something like ‘Guest blog request’ or ‘Sponsored post request’ so the purpose of the e-mail is clear before the blogger even opens it. Also, an e-mail from an anonymous Gmail account claiming “I’m a huge fan of [insert blog URL here] and would love to be able to contribute” will be viewed with the cynicism that it deserves. You’re a professional so act professionally.
- Outline your article or proposal concisely but with enough detail for the blogger to develop some interest. A good précis of your piece will go a long way – a vague reference to your topic is not enough; putting the whole article into the email is too much.
- Provide suggestions and submissions based on your area of interest and your observations of the site. Simply asking the blogger for suggestions is lazy; I barely have time to think up content ideas for my own articles, let alone yours as well. If you have done your homework properly but the blogger doesn’t like your suggestions, then you have earned the right to ask if there are any other suitable ideas you can work on.
- If you have any particular requirements, include them up front to ensure they are agreeable to the blog owner. It is much better not to waste your time or mine finding out much further down the line (once again, see Point 1).
Deliver great content
- Quality is everything. If I have to basically re-write your whole article to make it sound sensible, I will probably just bin it.
- Tailor your content to the blog. Your article should fit the site perfectly, so try and match the tone and style of other articles already there. If you can include some internal links to other articles on the blogger’s site, definitely do so. Not only is it flattering to the blogger that you are referencing their previous work, but it is good for their blog’s SEO and they will appreciate it.
- Don’t go for the obvious plug for your client. If your copy sounds like an elaborate advert, I will bin it. I know you want your client’s link in the article more than anything else in the world, but it needs to be relevant and appropriate. You have to earn that link by providing quality content that will make readers want to click on that link or at least remember your client’s name.
- Supplying great images is a big bonus for me. If you can provide images to accompany your content, it saves me time and probably money in having to source images myself. Plus a good lead image always leads to more hits. You need to make sure you own the rights to the images. Always supply images in a size large enough for the blogger to crop them to fit their site’s layout.
- Make the author bio sound interesting. “Jenny blogs for [client’s name] and has a real passion for [client’s industry]” is thoroughly boring and probably not true anyway. A good author bio should include a pic, an interesting bio paragraph and some social media links – it makes the author seem more human, rather than just a generic content filler.
After your article is published
- Be sure to share the piece across all of your social media networks – more than once, especially on a channel like Twitter. Bloggers love their work to be shared by someone other than themselves for a change. If possible, get your client to share the article as well. It’s obviously in everyone’s interest for as many people to see the article as possible, so make sure you do your bit.
- The blogger is the publisher of your piece and retains editorial control. If you don’t like their edits or how it has been presented, you can either politely request some changes, or ask for the article to be removed altogether. Also, this is Point 15; if you now raise an obvious issue that you should have spotted at Point 3 or Point 8, I will hunt you down and kill you.
- A good article should generate reaction and comment from readers. Big bonus points if the author is prepared to respond to comments from readers. Again, it’s great for the blog’s SEO to have lots of comments on their articles, which will ultimately help both the blogger and your client.
Understand bloggers’ time limitations
Bloggers usually have full-time jobs, so their website is either a hobby or maybe their secondary income. As a result, they can’t always drop everything to get your article published or make some edits. Be patient, work with the blogger rather than being demanding, and you will get a better response.
If you tick all of my guest blog requirements – namely, submit a quality article with a proper author bio and usable images attached – I can usually get the article published pretty quickly. If I have to make dozens of edits, track down relevant images and generally spend hours preparing your piece for publication, it tends to fall towards the bottom of my pile. Make my life easier and I can help you better. Simple, really.