4 Lessons for improved blogger outreach

Language matters

After posting what has to be one of the worst blogger outreach emails of all time as part of this post, I thought it was only fair that I dived into a bit more detail about what makes it so bad and how to avoid similar issues. I’m not trying to rail on the emailer or hurt the cause, but I think this situation has provided fantastic fodder for discussion.

Before we go any further, let me repost the email in question.

Subject: Short and sweet…and crooked?

Hi Jake,

I’m going to keep this short and sweet, seeing as you’ll likely only be interested in the community angle of this….

I wanted to let you know about a new site that just recently launched by [company removed]. It’s [URL removed]. Now, don’t be surprised that this site is all about Peyronie’s Disease (aka – crooked penises)…that’s just the background information. The cool thing is that [company remove], the company that started the site, is anxious to become a part of Healthcare 2.0. To do this, they encourage men and their partners to start a conversation in the community on their site. It actually is a great, anonymous way for people with this disease to talk about it, and perhaps worthy of being mentioned in your blog.

Crooked penises aside, I hope all things at Community Guy are going well. Also, keep in touch, as I have some cool projects for other companies on the horizon that I’d like to keep you posted on.

Thanks Jake!

Now, onto the discussion part of tonight’s program.

1. Language matters.
As I’ve written about before, community interaction is highly language dependent. Especially in a text based medium like email, text is basically all you have; you’d better get it right. Here’s a few of my favorite gaffs of this mail:

  • (Subject line) “Short and sweet…and crooked?” – The emailer set a tone from the onset that was far too light, considering she was trying to make seem important.
  • “… seeing as you’ll likely only be interested in the community angle” – Is she trying to imply I might have a more “personal” interest in this community?
  • “… [the company is] anxious to become a part of Healthcare 2.0” – Really? So anxious that they’ve outsource the relationship to an agency?
  • “To do this, they encourage men and their partners to start a conversation in the community on their site” (emphasis mine) – If it’s the company’s community, why would anyone feel comfortable there talking about uncomfortable personal issues? Why would I want to start a conversation about this? What’s the point? (I’m sure there is one, but it leaves me wondering what it is)
  • “Crooked penises aside…” – Again, is this a serious issue or a gig at people who have this problem? Hard to tell with statements like this.

2. Personality matters.
As a man, what is the biggest health issue you wouldn’t want to discuss with a woman? That’s right: anything at all having to do with the penis. Having the right person actually start these kinds of conversations is as important as the way they start them. Would you want a male agency rep sending blogger outreach emails to women about yeast infections? Choose your representative wisely.

3. Context matters.
It’s sad this needs to be said, but…

  • Research your subject enough to customize the conversation. In the case of this email, the emailer could have spent 3 minutes on the site and realized that I do 10 question interviews and offered herself or her client up as a interview subject. She could have done a quick search and pointed out something that I’ve written about that connects to the way the site was designed.
  • Understand the goals of your client. I can’t say for sure, obviously, but I have a hard time believing that the client for this outreach campaign would really enjoy the silliness that this email carries as a way to bring exposure to the cause/issue. When it’s so easy to make fun of something you’re trying to make into a serious issue, why would you use this joking tone to get the message across?

4. Conversation matters.
The emailer clearly “customized” a form letter with the opening and closing sentences. That’s not necessarily bad (so long as point 1 above is respected), but why not actually use this email to open up a real discussion about what’s going on with this new community. Offer to let me interview you about the “community angle”. Offer up some personal stories from community members about why this cause is even important in the first place. Tell me some pointers about the site that might be blog worthy. If you’re sending a blogger outreach email to someone, chances are it’s because they’re big enough in a certain space to pay attention to. That means other people are paying attention to them too, and you need to start a real conversation about what makes you interesting. Otherwise, why bother?

Blogger outreach is more akin to dating than marketing. You’re trying to court someone interesting in order to build a relationship, not blast a group of people with an offer to jump into bed for the night. We all know which one of those lasts longer!

Unfortunately, much of the blogger outreach that’s being done today is a being sold and bought on the ad impression model. “If you give us X amount of money, we’ll send your message to X amount of people.” Pointless. Totally pointless… as this blog entry proves.

Tune in tomorrow for my revised version of this mail!

(original photo credit: nofrills)