assignment blogger pitch

At the Edelman Digital Bootcamp, I presented a number of social media assignments that I have worked into my traditional PR classes. This assignment is one of those assignments.

This assignment is ideal for PR Writing or capstone Campaigns courses.

In this assignment, students experiment with engaging bloggers (or pitching to bloggers, though they don’t like that term!). Engaging bloggers must be personal, transparent and is often better received when you’re not even pitching anything from your company at all. Many social media PR practitioners suggest that instead of pitching bloggers to write about their companies, they instead build relationships with bloggers & talk to them about the industry or send them links to information that blogger might be interested in. Some practitioners never even mention their own company or product – if the blogger is interested, then the blogger will ask. Until then, it is just pure relationship building with one’s publics. This is a great opportunity to widen the student’s understanding of media relations. While bloggers may not have a large reach, they represent a specific niche that might be very interested in your organization and engagement could reap great benefits. NASA and U.S. Central Command both have well-known blogger engagement program, which have been known to lead to credentialing of bloggers and treating this group more like traditional media outlets.

If this assignment is used in a writing class, professors could ask students to write a proposed e-mail message to an appropriate blogger that deals with the assigned or selected client. The student would write the e-mail text and submit it to the professor as a graded assignment (not actually send it to the blogger!). If this assignment is used in a capstone campaigns class, students could be encouraged to engage bloggers as appropriate as a campaign tactic aimed building communities and informing publics on the campaign or a particular event. If this is the case, it is strongly recommended that the professor and client approve the engagement text prior to students engaging the blogger.

Warning: Engaging can be tricky, so it is recommended that professors and students read through all of the resources below before beginning this assignment. Bloggers are known to copy and paste an entire e-mail message (both good & bad pitches) to post them on their blogs. Additionally, transparency is a must: practitioners must practice ethical public relations at all times and identify one’s self as a practitioner for the organization. See the Word of Mouth Marketing Association’s code of ethics for more on this.

Directions to student: Compose an e-mail message “pitch” to engage a blogger. The communication to the blogger should be personal and show that you know who he/she, have read the blog and understand what interests the blogger. One would never send a “form letter” type pitch to a blogger. Offer up information or resources – have a reason for e-mailing the blogger. The voice of this e-mail message should be informal but the content should be informative. The e-mail message should include at least one hyperlink and not appear too over-the-top regarding advertising or public relations. Use this as a personal platform to begin an unmediated, direct conversation with your publics. You may use the in-class resources provided, notes or the Internet for tips on writing a good blogger “pitch.”

> Learning objectives

  • Practice relationship-building with publics
  • Apply Web-writing composition techniques
  • Diversifying “pitch”/outreach/engagement skill set to include non-traditional media sources

> Layout and content recommendations

  • Indicate your organization’s name at the top of the page
  • Before starting the e-mail pitch, provide a 1-2 sentence intro to instructor explaining the blog you chose to engage and why (this is not part of the pitch “e-mail” but provides context)
  • Have a subject line for the e-mail message. Subjects should be short, yet informative. Make it relevant to what you talk about in the e-mail message (avoid “Question” or “Your Blog” as subject lines)
  • Limit e-mail text to no more than 150 words (excludes intro statement, subject and URLs – this limit is ONLY on blog pitch e-mail text)
  • Contain at least one hyperlink properly placed in the message. Note that many bloggers like to see the hyperlink first and so it is recommended that the first line of the e-mail contain any hyperlinks you may talk about later in the text.

> Tips and resources

> Grading rubric

When grading the blog engagement e-mail, ask if it looks or feels like a “normal pitch” that went to a group of people (without any personalization). If the answer is yes, then it is a very bad e-mail engagement (e.g., D or C for a letter grade). Frankly, what makes a bad pitch in traditional media relations also makes a bad pitch in blogger relations. Additionally, practitioners must identify themselves (their company), never ask someone to lie or hide anything & behave ethically at all times. If the blogger e-mail fails to adhere to these ethical standards, the student should be marked down. However, if it includes hyperlinks to third-party independent resources, talks about something the blogger has said on his/her blog and seems to be a very personal e-mail offering up information or helpful resources the blogger may want access to then it is likely excellent (e.g., A or B for a letter grade). Blog pitches have to be personal – you can’t write one and then send it to 10 people. It is highly recommended that prior to grading the blog pitches, you read over the recourses in the tips section above because it shows examples of pitches gone wrong and those well done.

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