Why personalisation is still key

Pitching to bloggers, it’s a necessary evil and probably loathed more than it’s loved. I find it fascinating being in the lucky (?) position to be able to experience both sides of the coin. I enjoy the therapeutic hobby of writing down my thoughts, yet at the same time, in my day job I also pitch to bloggers. I really quite enjoy receiving pitches myself because I’m always keen to see how others do it. At the same time, I always try to highlight the pitches that really took the time to research my blog, finding that little bit of information about me to show that it’s not just a blind email sent out to many others.

I thought starting off the email with Hello and their name was pretty much standard, common practice. It shows from the off that the email before them was specifically meant for them. If there was a mental tick box when I receive a pitch, that gets the first tick.

What riled me to write this post was receiving what I think is an awful attempt at ‘engagement’. That’s really what you’re looking for when pitching right? A reply gives you validation, maybe a celebratory fist punch in the air.

This isn’t however going to be a naming and shaming exercise. That’s not the point. We’re all still learning right? I’ve made mistakes along the way and will still continue to do so but seeing as we’re all in this together I’d like to address a few parts of the pitch that particularly bothered me. I also don’t wish to draw attention to the agency, client who they are contacting on behalf of or the individual making contact so I’ll use excerpts from the pitch but not explicit detail.

Here’s the first paragraph..

“I’m getting in touch with you on behalf of (removed) as I thought you would appreciate an advance look at its new UK advertising campaign. As Lit Man Live is influential within the Media sector, we’d like to take this opportunity to provide some insight into why (removed) is pursuing a new brand strategy, beginning with this (removed) (but it was a YouTube video)”

First thing: Address the recipient. Say hello and if their first name is on site somewhere, use that. Then there’s a chance that you’ll have me at hello.. It’s such a simple first step that really needs to be there, always. In this instance being addressed as Lit Man Live shows that categorically no research has been carried out, not a jot and I was actually a bit embarassed myself to receive it. I’ve been called a lot of things but that was the first time I’ve been called Lit Man Live. Personalisation is indeed key but when you get the basic fundamentals wrong, it’s shocking, not a great place to start.

Mack Collier writes:

Any pitch that doesn’t refer to me by my correct name is deleted immediately without being read.”

The whole debate about influence comes to fruition here also. Being perceived to be influential in the Media sector is complimentary but verging on laughable. Keep that in your internal notes but to me it’s signalling in the first paragraph what you want to get out of this before you’ve even asked.

Three overly long paragraphs about the history of the campaign, how it came about, who created it, who directed it and what they’ve directed before is not opt in. I didn’t read them, they’d lost me by that point. Instead of writing endless paragraphs of background info, make the email a bit more punchy and succinct and summarise the key messages in one short paragraph with an opt in at the end, something like would you like to find out more? It provides the recipient with the option and instead of metaphorically meeting them in the street and shouting your sales pitch at them, you’re going to talk with them on their level and see if they talk back.

Read the blog before you pitch to it. Show that extra level of research and mention a post that I’ve written and give me your opinion on it. Do you agree or disagree? What did you like about it and why do you think it’s relevant to what you’re pitching me with? Hint: It should be relevant.

You’ll probably be familiar with this, you can apply it to pitching too..

hugh

Final paragraph:

“The link enclosed is to an advance version of the video which we are specially making available to you. (If it was made available just to me, why does the video have 300 views?) We will be ‘killing’ this link at midnight GMT and making the video publicly available on (removed). If you would like to write about the ad and embed any video on your blog I would be grateful if you could link to the video on (removed’s) YouTube channel”.

I received the email at 4pm. They were giving me 8 hours to view the video before it was being ‘killed’. This pitch should have finished with the opt in, which requires more forward planning but may result in a more positive response. Asking me to write about it, embed the video on my blog and which link I should link to was too much. I wasn’t going to jump through hoops to write about a YouTube video.

Remember the cocktail party analogy here.

The next time you decide to solicit a blogger with the pitch of a client, imagine we are both meeting at a cocktail party. Imagine I don’t know you and we are meeting for the first time. What is the first thing you would say to me? I don’t think it would be the same words that you would have otherwise used when doing your “pray and spray” email solicitations about your client’s shiny new product or service. No, I think you would first introduce yourself and look for something in common between us. And then only if you were feeling comfortable would you try to pitch me on behalf of your client.

Finally, again, do your research. Tell me why you think what you’re pitching me is relevant. Customise each pitch. Why should I be interested? Seriously, all of the above, coupled together is the difference between talking favourably about it and highlighting it in more of a how not to pitch light.

Here’s a few useful resources to refer back to:

This is how you pitch a blogger

How to pitch a blogger

How to pitch bloggers

How to pitch a blogger

So how DO you pitch a blogger?

How not to:

How NOT to pitch a blog

How not to pitch a blogger

How NOT to pitch a blogger

How Not To Pitch A Blogger

How (Not) to pitch a blogger

18 thoughts on “Why personalisation is still key”

  1. Hello,

    First of all I just wanted to let you know I love your website, and we need more sites online like yours. With that said I have a couple of questions for you:

    1) Is it OK if I link to your website from my site throwbackguy.com?

    2) Is my jersey website throwbackguy.com worthy enough to be linked to from your website?

    Please let me know when you have some time. Talk to you soon.

    BM

  2. Thanks for sharing this and also for including one of my articles in your list of resources.

    I had a great one that wrote about in Facebook yesterday that got some interesting feedback – it was a PR and online media company pitching me to do a speaking event for them – they only emailed me 4 times in less than 24 hours. Many people would out them on the web – they are lucky that I am so nice! I guess they are keen for me to speak at the conference?

    They also offered to pay for my flights and accommodation – to speak at the conference taking place in the City I live and work in :) Perhaps I could charge them a round the world flight?

    Still these make for great case studies for workshops and key notes!

    Oh and if I had taken Mack’s advise I would never have read it nor most pitches – you guessed it – most never spell my name correctly.

  3. No doubt this isn’t an isloated incident. I’m still amazed by the unpersonalised and lazy sales pitches I get from all kinds of suppliers. There’s such much common sense involved in making a good pitch but there’s obviously not too much of it around at the moment. I recently got an awful letter through from a PR agency – the dear sir/madam & photocopied blurry signature type. Feeling helpful, I contacted them to stop them repeating their mistakes to other potential cleints. Turns out it was written on their behalf, without their knowldege, by a third party (who shall remain nameless) that they had teamed up with for a promotion. Doh! Needless to say the agency were not best pleased! Good post Michael.

  4. Well done on not naming and shaming – found it hard not to do the same myself, and i’m sure Lolly would agree too!

    The whole point of communications, be it marketing, PR or A.N.other, is that it’s real, person to person contact – not even bothering to find out your first name is a cardinal sin.

    Then to pitch out giving you 8 hours to ‘participate’ is a bit rich!

    Incidentally, have you sent this piece to said PR? Always good to let them/us (argh!) know constructively the way that the landscape is changing!

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