Content Marketing, Digital Marketing, Blogging and Content Creation, PR 20

4 Ways Bloggers Differ From Reporters

You have to pitch bloggers differently than reporters. The marvelous Dave Fleet writes a lot about this topic, and Chris Brogan produced a terrific, straightforward post about blogger pitching recently.

Here’s my thoughts on some advanced blogger pitching ideas and the key differences between bloggers and reporters.

Influence is Made Not Born

Guess how many readers this blog had originally?

If you guessed zero, you’re right. Help yourself to some free social media tools. Seriously, I had to convince my Mom to read Convince & Convert, and my wife still doesn’t tune in.

And the truth is that every blog started the same way. Brogan. Mashable. MarketingProfs. Solis. All of them started with zero readers, and now are influential (at least in the context of our own little marketing/PR/social media world).

Doing It My Way

The fact that bloggers all have to climb this mountain is an important difference between bloggers and journalists. Remember that bloggers’ influence is derived from their own ability and moxie, whereas journalists’ influence is in large measure derived via the outlet they represent. If you’re a writer for the Washington Post, you have influence. But if one day you aren’t, your influence transfers to the guy sitting at your old desk. For all but the celebrity journalists, influence is as portable as health care – not at all.

And unlike the journalists, writing is usually not a full-time job for most bloggers. Thus, bloggers are typically inveterate multi-taskers that protect their time like a pissed off goose with a nest full of goslings.

That’s why bloggers get so irked about ham-handed pitches from clueless PR folks that are still in the “harvest email address and send bulk releases” school of outreach. It wastes time, which is a commodity that’s in short supply for bloggers – who don’t have any readers unless they make it happen.

The Influence Economy

Most bloggers are not compensated directly for their writing. Sure, they may have some ads or affiliate links on the site (although I personally abhor it), but unless the blog gets serious traffic, the ability to monetize eyeballs is limited, indeed.

By way of example, let’s take a look at this very blog. I’m on track to generate 30,000 page views in January, which would be a record (sincere thanks to every single one of you, even Mom). Setting aside affiliate or Google Adwords opportunities, and working strictly with conventional online advertising economics, the max I could make on this blog monthly from your eyeballs is about $450. (30,000 page views X 3 ads per page X $5 per thousand ad impressions). I spend about 8 hours per week on this blog between writing, commenting, tweaking, etc. – and that’s a lot less than some of my peers. But for me, my hourly take for blogging would be $14.

That’s why I don’t blog for money per se, nor do most other bloggers. But blogging is incredibly important to my business because it generates social media speaker opportunities, and social media consulting projects. Thus, every reader of this blog is a potential client, or a connection to a potential client – as well as a potential colleague, friend, drinking buddy or fantasy football league-mate.

So even though I’m not in the advertising business, traffic absolutely matters to me, as it does to all bloggers.

There are two currencies that matter to bloggers – traffic and influence. When you’re pitching bloggers, find a way for your interaction with them to generate one of those two things (or both), and you’ll have yourself quite an effective pitch.

What generates traffic and influence for bloggers? Access and information. Don’t just send a blogger a write-up of your nifty marketing program. Give the blogger access to your metrics and ask if they’d like to create a post analyzing your ROI. Provide an interview with the customers that participated in the program. Link to the bloggers’ post from your corporate Web site.

It’s not about exclusives and embargoes. It’s not about doing all the work FOR the reporter, so he or she can hit a deadline with minimal effort. With bloggers, it’s about co-creating the content WITH the blogger, helping he or she package the content in a way that’s unusual, memorable and impactful. That’s what drives traffic, and that’s what drives influence.

Recap of the 4 Main Differences Between Reporters and Bloggers

  • Bloggers are self-made
  • Bloggers are time-starved
  • Bloggers need traffic and influence
  • Bloggers want to co-create content with you

What other differences do you see?

(photo by BitchBuzz)