Category “BUSINESS”

The Art of Pitching to Bloggers


vintage typewriter :: photography by seven deadly sins

As a lifestyle blogger, I receive every day my share of PR pitches. But not many of them reach the right target or provide the information I need to write a story about it. I evaluate that on my blog At Home with Kim Vallee, not even 0.1% of my stories originate from press releases. I would love to hear scoops from many companies that do not pitch to me. And at the same time, I get pitches for products that will never make the cut of my editorial.

Another common mistake is the press release written to please the company who emitted the press release. These press releases are filled with useless facts. They provide no useful information for the bloggers and their readers. They failed to answer three critical questions:

  • What is the captivating story?
  • Why should I would care to write about it?
  • Can the story capture the attention of my audience?

Many bloggers, including top bloggers, share my level of disappointment regarding PR pitches. At first, I thought that it is the nature of blogging that changed the expectations of the recipients. But after further thinking, it became obvious that the blogger’s needs are similar in many points to the needs of journalists and columnists who cover the same topics. Therefore, I am more puzzled than before about this mystery.

Why the PR industry is so inefficient in reaching out and pitching to bloggers fascinates me since the solutions are filled with common sense. Let’s me share my wish list with you. And feel free to add yours in the comments.

  • Include  a few large pictures, the price, where to buy information in your email. Ideally, you would mention that additional pictures are ready to be downloaded from a special Web site. It dilutes your story on the blogosphere, through a sense of déjà vu, when every blogger use the same pictures.
  • Be prepared to offer to a few bloggers exclusive pictures, content or an interview with the designer.
  • Forget the one-to-many approach and write tailored pitches that will fit selected groups of bloggers. Then, send the press release version that fits their niche.
  • Go with a top-notch email marketing services. And always give the option to remove their name from your mailing lists. The longer period acceptable for the removal to take effect is 24 hours. Ideally, it should be immediately.
  • Aim for quality versus quantity. Forget buying cheap email lists to target bloggers. Let go the mass press releases that seems to have become the norm over the last years.
  • Do not send a press release every week. And if you do, ask for permission first.
  • Bloggers do not have the time to respond to your unsolicited press releases. So do not expect us to respond, unless we need something from you.
  • Accept that bloggers write under their own schedule. Therefore, if you pitch them for a Christmas story in August, do not expect them to write about it before Halloween.

+ photography by seven deadly sins on flickr

How Restaurants Use Social Media to Boost their Sales


sweet flour bake shop twitter page

On Why Consumers Brands need to be on Twitter, I mentioned that being on Twitter enables the brand who listens and acts quickly to benefit from opportunities, to test on a small scale concepts or promotions, to pinpoint what people really care about and even, to tailor to a new niche.

When done right, running a blog and participating on Twitter and Facebook can do a lot for a business, regardless of their size. Mobile restaurants use Twitter to display their current location. Restaurants often use Twitter to share their daily specials. Some even let consumers order their take-out lunch via direct messaging on Twitter.

But their messages go beyond pushing their products. Take Kim Gans of Sweet Flour, for example. Kim Gans highlights her customers and show that she listened by offering more flavors gathered from customers’ requests. I read on The Hartman Group that before launching their mobile truck, Molly Moon asked their followers on Twitter for suggested routes. Molly Moon wanted to cater to new neighborhoods. Having the input of their loyal consumers helped them to determine the best locations for their business. In a sense, these retail businesses use their blog, Twitter and Facebook as a real-time focus group.

Typically, small business owners have been more successful than most big corporations when it comes to tapping into social media. You can argue that small businesses have an advantage when it comes to social media since they have face to face conversations with their consumers at their shop. Small businesses seem better equipped to connect online. You can attribute their success to:

  • First, small business owners are less afraid to be actively involved in social media.
  • Secondly, they are authentic in their conversations. Using plain language does not mean that you are not professional.
  • Third, a restaurant, bakery or caterer is more agile to implement the customers’ requests that they feel are right for their business. By doing so, they could build a more loyal customer base. Plus, if his/her suggested flavor is selected, the customer will probably spread the word.
  • Fourth, as a local business, they can take advantage of what is going on in their community. They use that knowledge on what is going on now to drive customers in on a timely manner.
  • Fifth, they often speak from the heart and show their passion.

Make sure to keep track of meaningful metrics. This is how you can assess the success of your social media presence over time. Link the metrics to achievable business goals. It may be evaluating the impacts on your brand’s awareness, your customer’s satisfaction, your progress in developing a new niche market, the effectiveness of your marketing message, and how does social media affects your bottom line.

I invite you to follow Media Sidekick on Twitter as I will share more best practices and good ways to use social media marketing.

+ Trend Alert: Street Food Gets Real on The Hatman Group blog
+ Sweeten sales with social media tools on The Financial Post
+ Discover how a subscription-based email marketing service filled a restaurant by reading Savings on menu of email campaign on The Financial Post

Niche Bloggers are Coaching Other Bloggers and Brands


grace bonney of design*sponge :: holly becker of decor8 :: liene stevens of think splendid

Successful bloggers accumulated a sought-after knowledge of social media. As a consultant, I advised big organizations about social media culture and worked on defining a good strategy for them.

More and more bloggers are capitalizing on their know-how. Design*Sponge is the latest design blogger who jumped into blog and business consulting services. Over the last couple of years, I have seen my share of lifestyle designers who launched training programs for like-minded bloggers. Here are a few good examples:

+ Holly Becker of Decor8 coached over 200 bloggers worldwide with her blogging and creativity workshop. Her Blogging Your Way e-courses aim to take to bloggers with some experience to the next level.

+ Blog Out Loud organizes social media events for inspiring creative people. Their sixth event was last Monday in New York City; read the recap of Blog Out Loud 6 here. Blog Out Loud is the idea of seasoned design bloggers, Megan Arquette of Beach Bungalow 8 and Rebecca Orlov of Loving.Living.Small. In April 2010, Rebecca launched Sweetline Agency, an online brand project management company that works with lifestyle companies to define, shape and build their online presences.

+ There is Liene Stevens who founded Think Splendid to provide social media consulting for the wedding and hospitality event industries. Her journey started with the Blue Orchid blog, the blog of her wedding planning company. She realized that the creative people that she was working with could get more insight in how to run a business and with marketing. To do her part, Liene launched the Smart Planner blog, which she then turns into blogging and social workshops for wedding professionals.

Each blogging sphere has its particularities. The same way that mass-advertising differs from niche marketing, it is important to know the general blogging rules but also to understand the specifics of your niche market.