“There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about,” Irish playwright Oscar Wilde once wrote, “and that is not being talked about.”
Wilde may have died more than a hundred years ago, but he’s absolutely right. Being talked about, especially while you’re growing your business, is really important. And if the person talking about you is as influential in their field as Wilde was in 19th century literary circles, so much the better.
But how do you approach such people? You get on the Internet, and find their blogs. In the last decade, bloggers have become huge influencers, often eclipsing people in print, radio and television.
If you’ve been in your field for a little while, you’re probably already familiar with the bloggers who could help you. But if not, search engines are your friends. For example, Google has a tab that exclusively searches blogs, and that is one way to find out who is writing about your industry.
These could be individual or group blogs. Often, group blogs, with many writers, will have a larger readership. But don’t discount the one-person blogs. If Oscar Wilde were alive, he would definitely have a blog.
Also, don’t discount traditional media. Newspapers, radio and TV stations have websites that employ bloggers. Getting them to talk about you might be easier than getting that stressed editor or reporter to talk about you, so it’s worth a try.
Once you’ve identified a few bloggers that could help you, here are a few things to do before you approach them:
- Read the blog. Really read it, don’t just skim. It will give you an idea of what they have covered, what they haven’t covered, and how you might fit in. What is their tone? Helpful? Happy? Critical? As influential as they may be, would them talking about your business be good or bad?
- If they have a Facebook fan page, like it. It they have a Twitter account, follow it. Bloggers use social media to promote their work. Remember, they’re trying to build an audience too. There’s no reason you shouldn’t be part of it.
- Lurk in the comments section. Remember, the blogger is just one part of the equation. By getting to know the people who comment, you are getting to know the blog’s audience, and by default, your potential future clientele. On some commenting systems, like Disqus and Facebook, you can click on individual names to research their comment history. Maybe GalaxyBoy16 was talking last week about needing the service your company provides. You never know.
- Become a commenter. After all, this blogger is writing about your industry, and you may have things to say. If your comments are well received by fellow readers or even the blogger, that’s a great in. Just keep it civil, and don’t self-promote unless the comment thread actually asks for it. Also, don’t add hyperlinks to your comments, because that usually lands you in the spam folder. However, many systems will allow you to add a hyperlink to your commenter name.
- Figure out the best way to contact the blogger. Some have links to e-mail addresses, while some prefer to be tweeted or Facebooked. If the answer isn’t obvious, this is something you could ask about in a comment. Consider it a pre-pitch.
Once you’ve done your homework, and have figured out which blogger you want to pitch, consider the following:
- What is in it for them? You know what’s in it for you, but why should they take the time and bandwidth to help promote you? Coming up with a good reason is your job. Also, if you have your own blog, add theirs to your blog roll, so your readers can find them. The web is all about mutual back scratching.
- Don’t be vague, and don’t ramble on. Be brief and very specific about who you are and what you do. Keep in mind that the influential bloggers get thousands of messages a week, and just don’t have time for a long pitch. If you’ve interacted with them positively through comments, be sure to mention that up front.
- Don’t be a pest. Send your pitch, wait a few days, then follow up. Being overly aggressive or acting entitled to their attention will backfire. They may deliberately ignore you, or ban you from comments. They might even decide to write a negative entry about you. Sure, that is one way to be talked about. But it may not be what you had in mind.
If you are successful, and the blogger writes something about you, congratulations! But there are still a few things to do.
- Don’t forget to thank them. You don’t have to send a handwritten note and a fruit basket, but a nice e-mail, or a well-placed comment, is always welcome.
- If they made a mistake, correct them politely. Keep any issues you may otherwise have with their coverage (they didn’t write enough about x!) to yourself. You are being talked about. That is what counts.
- Promote their post in your own blog or social media. Don’t paste the whole thing, just part, and be sure to include a link to their blog.
Hopefully these guidelines will help you as you grow your web presence, and get more and more people to talk about you. And if you think this is hard or feel like you keep messing up, think about something else Oscar Wilde once said: “Experience is simply the name we give our mistakes.”