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English: Quantum mechanics standing wavefunctions

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My long tail blogger outreach strategy is periodically challenged or criticized as being too aggressive. The argument generally goes as follows: if you send thousands of email pitches to topically- and demographically-relevant bloggers and online influencers in one go, you’re spamming. The real way to do it right is to reach out blogger by blogger, with each pitch being lovingly and relevantly written in series over time after investing months of time, previous to actually initiating a pitch, becoming best friends.  In my opinion, it is virtually impossible to resource enough time, talent and treasure to engage meaningfully with enough people, enough influencers, enough bloggers, to result in the sort of impact required to move the needle with any level of immediacy or timeliness.

In order to activate every single potentially viable blog and blogger, it is essential to create efficiencies of engagement, especially when your goal is to pitch further down the long tail of influentials than is practically possible by hand.

So, what my version of long-tail blogger outreach does is identifies as many bloggers as possible who are accessible by email and who have a blog germane to the campaign at hand and sends them a quick pitch all at once in order to quickly discover who is truly interested posting about my client or learning more about what the campaign is about.  All at once. 100% discovery, discernment, inquiry, engagement, and response, all within days of the launch of the campaign. With the ultimate goal of as many quality, thoughtful, and topical earned media mentions as possible.

It reminds me of the promise quantum computing has for the world of encryption and code-breaking. The best example I can think of that illustrates this is the code-breaking efficiencies of the quantum computer compared to the a brute-force attack from a conventional computer.

While even the most advanced computing systems still take millions of years to crack military grade public-key encryption, the promise of the quantum computer is that it will crack even the most inscrutable private diplomatic cable instantaneously no matter the rock hardness of military-grade encryption used.

Why? Because while a conventional computer must iterate through every possible variation in series until it  hits upon the correct permutation, a quantum computer uses a theoretical concept called superposition to spawn every permutation of the private key simultaneously. The funny thing about quantum states is that all iterations, no matter how many required to break the sort of key modern spies use, are not separate or different, they’re all manifestations of one over millions of instances. When the correct password is discovered, all the failed instances fall away and only the successful instance remains.

So, let me break this down to a popular illustration: a Las Vegas hotel with thousands of rooms. One missing engagement ring. Traditional computers needs to check each room individually. A quantum search isn’t just hiring a thousand gamblers to each look in a room individually instantaneously, it’s much cooler than that. In this instance, this quantum bridegroom would create a thousand instances of himself, all him and not copies or clones, in a thousand rooms all at once, Cool, right? When our quantum bridegroom discovers the ring, in one of the thousand rooms, all other concurrent manifestations of him go poof and he stands in room number 0163, holding the ring.

In my experience, one of the reasons why folks are loathe to engage in blogger outreach is because it is a little like going door-to-door looking for the ring.  Or, more aptly, going from door-to-door selling Bibles, vacuums, or Girl Scout cookies. No matter how many salesmen (or Girl Scouts) you have knocking on doors, it’s nothing compared to creating a Girl Scout in quantum superposition, allowing her to sell Thin Mints to all possible houses in the entire neighborhood simultaneously by being in all possible states simultaneously, selling cookies to all the houses that want cookies while not selling cookies to all the carb-free households.

So, pitching all available bloggers simultaneously allows one to quickly — immediately — discern which bloggers are interesting in carrying the story and which aren’t, allowing my team to decommission all unsuccessful instances, releasing valuable resources, in favor of all instances that result in bona fide social media mentions.

This is not to say this sort of quantum blogger outreach is easy. While there are many efficiencies in this method, the huge number of bloggers one is able to simultaneously engage means that instead of reaching out to a couple-few A-list bloggers-a-day over the course of the year, you are likely to get thousands of responses from bloggers with hundreds of earned social media mentions, none of which can benefit from my mad quantum methods of engagement. Once the connection is made and the relationship is initiated, every next step of the way is completely conventional, completely in-series, person by person, blogger by blogger, conversion by conversion.

Reaching out en masse to thousands of bloggers simultaneously isn’t appropriate for all campaigns or all engagements — bespoke A-list outreach still has a real place in social media and blogger relations — but it can be an essential competitive advantage when launching a book or opening a new movie; activating advocates and allies on a political issue, or to push out information about an event or time-sensitive news. In these scenarios, one cannot invest months and months culling through a media list, failure-by-failure, hoping for success.  One needs to quickly separate the chaff from the wheat and then lavish all the resources that would have been spent on all those failures on all that wheat, all those successes.

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Chris Abraham

About Chris Abraham

A pioneer in online social networks and publishing, with a natural facility for anticipating the next big thing, Chris is an Internet analyst, web strategy consultant and advisor to the industries' leading firms. He specializes in Web 2.0 technologies, including content syndication; organize search engine optimization (SEO), online reputation management (ORM), content marketing, online collaboration, blogging, and consumer generated media.

12 replies to this post
  1. Didn’t think I would learn about quantum computing this early in the morning… wow.

    I completely agree though that sending out one personalized email to everyone on your contact list is just inefficient and not practical. Yes, at certain times, you should do it and it will work but sometimes we just need to get the news out. While media outreach is only a piece of what PR professionals do, it is getting harder everyday with us outnumbering journalists 4:1 and relying on them to tell the story well.

    Call it spam, unethical or anything else, everyone has done it even if they won’t admit it. The media has become disintermediated so there are more people to contact everyday who are building their own communities, which is why I see PR moving into the content creation space. With social media we can directly engage with our customers in meaningful and honest discussions, so it is only a matter of time before we break our own news.

  2. If it works for you then great. I only send out mass emails to people who have indicated they want to receive them. Like our new blog posts or rate specials.

    My one point would be people aren’t computers. And what might sound good from a computing stand point (replicating 1000s of you to find a ring) may miss the boat when relationship building is important to the task at hand.

    • When someone has a blog and they have their name and contact info on their blog then they are, indeed, saying that they want to — indicated they want to receive them, right?

      • They are at least trying to make it easy for visitors to contact them. However, we removed ours years ago because of the amount of spam that we received and decided to only use a contact form. So maybe yes, maybe no. :O)

        • A majority of bloggers do love being tapped by marketing and PR folks who want to ask them for favors and get review and galley copies. There are loads of bloggers who are totally game and most are not constantly shaking their fists and yelling “get off of my lawn” all the time. Most bloggers actually start blogging hoping they’ll get tapped to be on steering committees and getting cool handbags to write reviews on or have access to stuff before they’re available to regular folks. Visitors already have a way to contact them: through comments. Putting contact info on a blog is a way of availing themselves to employers, journalists, and me. And while putting in an email form is awesome, it is a way of limiting access and one must choose if one wants so lose opportunities — to lose out.

          I love love love it that I am on the media lists of O’Reilly and quite a lot of other publishers and that I am always getting pitches to both ChrisAbraham.com as well as MarketingConversation.com

          Finally, legally speaking, it is 100% legal, even under CAN-Spam, to engage folks you “don’t know” if they’re producing journalism, including social media content.

          You made you choice, Chris, because you were getting too much SPAM. Well, direct mail SPAM is a good enough reason to me.

          But know this: we PR folks are bloody busy so if you’re not Guy Kawasaki of Om Malik and make me jump through too many hoops to reach out with you about a book I am promoting, I will just close the tab with your blog on it and move on.

          If I can’t find a way to access you in 5 minutes, I give up on you. If I can’t find your 411 in 5, I’m out. Why? I assume if you make me puzzle my way through your garden maze, your labyrinth, then I will just assume that you will be the murderous Minotaur I will find in the center.

          • First, I didn’t question the legality of it or even make a judgement against it. At the beginning, I said if it works for you great. All I was offering was a different perspective and opinion. Your way doesn’t work for everyone and nor does my way. They don’t have to.

            Also, keep in mind, we aren’t a PR agency and if we were, maybe I would have a different perspective. But I am a blogger, and for me, I don’t want to receive 100s of emails a day from people who think I need to give them 30 seconds when they are unwilling to do the same.

            My point is simple. I believe in building the relationship first. I take the same time and care with someone with $100,000 as I do with someone with $10MM. Actually, I often spend more on people with less, because they often need more attention.

            A blogger with 100 followers wants to be made to feel that they are important as someone with 10,000. Because, you know what, the person with 100 may someday be the one with 10,000 and may not want to give someone the time of day when they didn’t feel like it was given to them.

            And I will repeat. I’m not saying you don’t, your article indicates you do, just at a different point in time than I think I might.

            And a quick story. I get “spam” offers throughout the week for webdesign and SEO. For one, they always use a gmail address. I think if they were really legitimate they would at least have a domain and proper email for me to visit. I always delete those emails. But, one company tried something different. They actually picked up the phone and called us. They got the deal to re-design our site.

            cd :O)

          • Well, that’s easy! I address that in the article.

            Once the connection is made and the relationship is initiated, every next step of the way is completely conventional, completely in-series, person by person, blogger by blogger, conversion by conversion.

            I reach out to thousands of blogs using email lists to make the initial connection; however, that frees up budget and time to spend the time and leisure making a real connection. I call the “quantum outreach” long tail blogger outreach email en masse to be “speed dating” but once the connection is made, once the blogger shows interested or even just curiosity, they ALL get the king’s treatment. The folks who only reach out to A-listers ONLY actually NEVER spend any time at all — or even ever acknowledge the “100 reader blog blogger” because they never get to them, they can’t — there’s not enough time in the universe to reach all the way down to blogger #5,000 one by one, blog by blog. But I can, handily, and once I do, they get as much love as Om Malik and Guy Kawasaki.

            I am a 10000% religious devotee to the Cluetrain Manifesto, my old testament, and Naked Conversations, my new.

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