Recently at a parenting blogger conference here Melbourne, I was listening to a panel discussion on business models when Aussie blogger—Laney from Crash Test Mummy—made a statement that connected strongly with my own recent experience.
I’m paraphrasing here, but Laney talked about how as bloggers we’re often on the receiving end of bad PR pitches from companies, and that we should learn from those bad pitches to make good ones ourselves.
This struck a chord with me because over the last year, I’ve decided to do just that.
It struck me that I was on the receiving end of a lot of bad pitches from companies and agencies. The pitches were often bad for a number of reasons:
- The company was pitching a product that was irrelevant to the topic of my blog.
- The company was pitching for the wrong geographic location (I get a lot of pitches from Aussie companies who don’t realize most of my audience is international).
- The pitch was impersonal and non-relational.
- The pitch wasn’t a win/win/win pitch. By this I mean that many times the pitch is only really of benefit to the company—there’s no win for me as a blogger or for my readers.
The list could go on. Not a day goes by when I don’t get at least two or three bad pitches (sometimes it’s closer to ten).
It is a frustrating process. I’ve worked hard to build my audience and I know there are companies out there that I could serve well as partners, but they never seemed to come knocking.
I decided to take matters into my own hands
As I wrote earlier in the week, a couple of years back I wrote a list of companies, organisations, and products that it was my dream to work with. They were things I not only used and loved—they were companies that I believed I could serve well, based upon my knowledge of my own audience.
- Apple: I use Apple products 24/7. My audience (of bloggers and photographers) also are computer users. It’s a match made in heaven (in my humble opinion).
- Qantas/Virgin Australia: I’ve flown with both companies regularly and appreciate the services of both. Both are looking to expand their reach and the audience on my blogs is very international.
- Canon/Nikon etc.: My biggest audience is around photography. I’ve used Canon gear for many years and have a real admiration for Nikon (as well as other companies like Leica, Sony, etc.). As a result, all of these manufacturers made my dream list.
- Aussie Tourism Organisations: This one has been on my mind a lot. I obviously live in Australia, I love living here (and travelling around the country), and my audience always asks me questions about Australia—many have expressed a desire to visit. It seems to me like a no-brainer of a partnership and I added numerous Aussie tourism operators to my list.
The list was longer, but you get the picture. I identified 20 or so companies that I thought were a match in terms of my genuine love or admiration for them, but also in terms of my audience needs and what I saw as each company’s needs.
With that list in hand, I began to pitch
At this point, I’ve pitched most of the companies listed above—and numerous others. The experience has been fascinating and so far there have been a few expressions of interest (nibbles), a couple of “no” responses, a few more silences, and one bite.
The bite was from Tourism Queensland, and the result is the current competition we’re running with them to fly 10 bloggers in from around the world to experience the Great Barrier Reef first hand.
The idea gathered steam as a tweet I sent out in an airport last year, but I had Aussie tourism organizations on my list long before that tweet. So when I got responses from such organisations inviting me to talk to them, I was ready to move with an idea that I’d been pondering.
WIth the invitation to pitch them I put together a short PDF document titled, ProBlogger: Tour Down Under. Here’s the front cover.
I followed it up with some details of my own audience at the time (although this information is now quite dated):
The last page was an invitation to continue the discussion, along with my contact details. I sent the PDF out with a cover email that had a little more information, including a few variations on the idea.
The PDF was just three pages long: short, sharp and to the point. It outlined how the I thought the organizations I was pitching would benefit from the project, and made it clear I was open to evolving the idea to further meet their needs.
I actually ended up sending a variation of this PDF to a few organizations that had expressed interest. In the end, two of them came back to me to continue the conversation. The conversation with Tourism Queensland continued (they’ve been amazing to deal with) and the idea gathered steam until it became a reality last week.
Become a pitching blogger
This whole experience has been an eye-opening one for me. Rather than waiting for the perfect company to come along to work with, I decided to put myself in a position to identify and pursue that relationship myself. In doing so I was able to devise a pitch that was a win for that organization, a win for me as a blogger, and a win for my readers.
I was able to pitch something relevant to all parties, and that idea has a much better chance of working for my audience than most of what companies come to me with. While my hit rate is low from the companies I’ve pitched (so far), this experience has given me enough hope that I will no doubt be continuing the approach.
- Identify who you’d love to work with. Make a list of companies that you use and recommend, and that are relevant to your readers and topic.
- Identify those companies’ needs and how you can help them in those areas.
- Reach out—you might not start with a “pitch” at first. Be relational, and learn from all those bad pitches you receive yourself.
- Don’t be timid. You know your audience best. Be creative and bold.
I’d love to hear your own stories about reaching out for dream collaborations. Please let us know your stories and ideas in the comments below.
P.S.: Don’t forget to enter our Great Barrier Reef Competition—there’s not long now till the cutoff for submissions!