I stared my first blogger outreach agency back in 2006. Called AbrahamPR, it evolved into Abraham Harrison a year later.
Ten years on, the state of the union of blogger outreach is good for brands and agencies but great for the bloggers and online influencers.
Blogging Isn’t Cool
Tell anyone that you’re a blogger or a podcaster and you’ll know what I mean. While there are more people than ever who are dipping into the content produced by bloggers every day, starting a new blog from scratch is so dispiriting that many potential bloggers are instead writing for Tumblr, Medium.com, Facebook Notes, or the LinkedIn Publishing Platform. Or, just dropping blurbs here and there on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and even Google+.
Blogging is Hard
I just started a new blog called RNNR.us and it’s my attempt at bullying myself into becoming the athlete I used to be in my bloom of youth. Now, 100 pounds and sore knees later, I started RNNR to track my runs, my time sweating and kickboxing at 9Round, swinging kettlebells, on the Concept2 indoor rower, and hopefully to share the journey I am taking to get back into runner and rower shape. I am doing my best but it’s a hobby right now so, you know what? Blogging’s hard.
To start, to manage, to maintain, to keep going (forever), especially when it’s an act of love. I really don’t think that influencers realize that no matter how passionate a lifestyle blogger like me might be, if you engage me and proceed to not only waste my time but insult me with your pitch, your offer, your gift and the generosity thereof, then I’m sorry, I am reviewing the cool things that I like and already own for the same “for free” that you’re offering.
And I don’t necessarily need to be paid cash, but I want to feel like I’m spoiled and fussed over. If you make shoes, I want at least a pair, and maybe some swag as well. Any I would love it if you’d brag about me somewhere, too. Because, blogging’s hard and thankless and I am doing my best. The best think in the world would be if 9Round, Concept2 or Hoka One One were to come down from on their respective Mount Olympus to say hello and engage with me — but they’re spending all their time and money on the elites. I think they should spend more of their money and time on us folks lower down the totem pole.
Blogging is Less Competitive in 2016
Because blogging is so hard and so thankless with such low caste and prestige, blogging has become a lot like America: there’s a 1% that makes loads of money from advertising, sponsorship, Google, YouTube, etc, and then there’s a shrinking middle class who won’t do anything unless it’s for money (and they email you a PDF price card first thing when you engage them) and that’s fine; however, if you want the purity and passion that we saw back in the day, back in 2006 when blogging was da bomb (and when da bomb was cool to say), you need to go way deeper and find better ways to punch above your weight
Building a real rapport, building an actual relationship, going for the long term, treating the bloggers with personal “I know you” respect, and then find out what the blogger actually wants and needs (rather than what you want to give) and finding ways to meet that need (money is what people ask for when they’re not very psyched to hear from you — if they love you or learn to love you, they’ll learn to trust you, learn how you can both find win-win-win situations, and then you’ll be true blue. You can’t ask for favors form people you don’t even know yet!
Blogger Outreach is Hard
While there are awesome social media and blogger outreach automated tools such as Audienti and there are amazing Marketing Automation tools out there, the final mile is all about people. And people had better like you because if they don’t love you then you’re just going to come across like those terrible pitches you get via automated robotery on LinkedIn and via DM on Twitter.
The reason why blogger outreach is way harder than it needs to be is because most of you are doing sales instead of doing PR, you’re being a pitch artist instead of a publicist. 99% of every message model I get from clients (and I am sure that Richard Laermer gets on his Bad Pitch Blog) must really come from their salesmen. Too many of them read like something a used car salesman might tell you as you walk onto the hot dusty lot along the lines of the false-charming “book of jokes” that you might deliver at Toastmasters. Groan.
But sales might be the right sort of tenacity required to do blogger outreach because blogger outreach is hard because there’s going to be a lot of rejection and even quite possibly enough hostile responses to make your client want to shut down the campaign if you give them too much access to the Inbox.
There are So Many Bad Actors in Influencer Engagement
Speaking of Richard Laermer and his Bad Pitch Blog, it also has been alive and kicking since 2006 as well like Yin to my Yang. And although there have been bad actors since the very beginning when it came to pitching bloggers online, at least back in 2006 they were just asshole PR douchebags who resented that they were obviously being punished for something they did in order to be saddled with the offense and insult of reaching out to so-called lame-ass bloggers. Now, everyone is doing it thanks to the sweet suite tools coming from Cision and GroupHigh and InkyBee and Little Bird.
And, because advertising has become so competitive and expensive and because Google cares more about blogger and social media inbound links than any other links, and because search engine optimization (SEO) and content marketing (blogging) are no longer snake oil but literally the only thing that could remotely get you onto the first page of Google circa 2016, it’s not only getting super real all up in here but now all the douchebags are douching everywhere.
Folks who have previously been rocking and rolling inbound link-building robot and zombie armies are doing blogger outreach now, sales people who are as subtle as a punch to the neck are doing it. There are so many bad actors that you’re going to have to develop Adamantium bones and you’ll have to wear Body Armor with Ballistic Plate for a while until — maybe a long while — until you can get remotely close to even a hello wave to think nothing of a handshake, a back pat, to say nothing of an air kiss, a hug, or even a smooch square on the lips.
Assume every blogger you ever reach out to had been jilted, abused, hurt, rejected, loved and left, and then the good old disappearing act… poof! It’s not you, it’s them. But you’re different, you’ll just need to suffer through all the sins of all the blogger and influencer outreachers before you. Never, ever, ever lash out.
Want more information? Join me at the March 22 Biznology webinar. [Update: Here is the video.]
Good luck and go git ’em, Tiger!