On Nov. 7, I was thrilled to speak at a KidTech Meetup organized and moderated by Chandini Ammineni , Co-Founder of Activity Hero, to discuss how Kid Tech startups can get in front of their target audience. Speakers included @iRewardChart, @sareosenblatt, and @mike_greenfield at @500Startups in Mountain View. I gave the perspective as a family tech blogger, contributor to tech websites and social media entrepreneur on how KidTech websites/app companies should reach out to parent bloggers. While I could discuss this subject for hours, the tips below relate directly to the panel discussion and questions I received after.
1. IDENTIFY PARENT BLOGGERS: The first step is to identify the parent bloggers who cover your niche or whose audience is your target market. Read their blogs to make sure their writing style fits the type of coverage you desire with your target market. Understand that there are not only general parent bloggers covering parenting issues but also parent bloggers focusing on a niche such as travel, tech, fashion, education and many others. Sites such as CoolMomPicks and CoolMomTech.com have readers that come to the site specifically to shop. Some of the other sites I write for, such as Mashable Lifestyle and LaptopMag – also have an audience of parents that visits the site to get information to help make technology decisions (as well as sites such as CNET that will have reviews showcased at Target and many other tech review sites). There are a great group of tech moms that blog – which I will cover in another post (and conferences such as the MamaBear and MommyTechCES).
Then there are also big parenting community websites such as BlogHerMoms (and BlogHer conference) , Blogalicious (site and conference), MomBlogMag, Blissfully Domestic (and conferences), Go Mighty, Type A Parent (site and conference), Project You Mag, Mom it Forward (site and conference), 5 Minutes For Mom, 5 Minutes For Special Needs, Mom 2.0 and even Dad 2.0!. There are parenting sites that focus on niches such as Travelingmom for travel, ShutterSisters for photographers, MomPulse for Video, Getting Gorgeous, Mom Trends and Working Closet for Fashion, MakerMom for STEM, Mamavation and Pure Natural Diva for healthy living, Mouthy Housewives for humor, Blue Star Family for Military lifestyle, tons of food bloggers, TeachMama that has an education focus and TheGoToMom for raising emotionally healthy kids. There are also numerous other parenting sites such as Babble, BabyCenter, Circle of Moms , Cafe Mom and conferences.
I told the group that it is important to look not only look at the big sites, but also at the smaller parenting bloggers (such as Project Underblog) with highly engaged and committed audiences. I will be creating a post by next week starting a list of local SF Bay Area bloggers (and other local bloggers). Audience engagement is a key attribute to consider when picking bloggers to pitch.
2. ANALYZE SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS OF YOUR TARGET MARKET: The next step is to decide on the social media platforms your target market uses and identify bloggers that have channels on those platforms. For example, I explained to the panel audience that many early adopters and social media savvy parents I know are on Twitter, Google+ , Instagram, Pinterest and others. But many of my “in real life” school parents use Facebook, parenting community websites and email groups to get their information. All of the parents I know use search engines and blogs for information – sometimes as their first source when investigating a site or product. Parents also use category searches in the app stores and sites that offer app reviews. Videos are also a big source of information for many parents, especially because their kids use YouTube as their source of information. Lastly, niche sites such as Pinterest offer ways for parents to get a visual representation of information.
3. DECIDE ON IF IT IS A PRESS PITCH OR SERVICE PITCH:
I explained to the panel audience that a press pitch is one where you are providing information about your product to the parent blogger. While it is appropriate to ask them if they are interested in reviewing the app, product or website – there can be no request for what they will say or when they will post. A press pitch is simply providing your press release related information to the blogger – and if they feel it is relevant for their audience, they will cover it. You should never “pay” for press coverage, but in return there is no responsibility for the blogger to cover the product. But press coverage is very influential for parents when the blogger is giving their honest perspective on the product.
I created TechMamas.com and @TechMama on Twitter to have an authentic conversation about family technology apps, products and websites. When I post about a press release, it is because the topic is valuable to my readers. For a blog to be successful, above all else, they always need to consider what their readers want to see. At the same time, many parent bloggers are flooded with great information, so it is hard to share it all. Because of that, it is important to refine your “pitch” before you send it (which I will discuss on point 4).
A service pitch is when you would like a service (that should be “paid”) such as having the blogger participate in a paid campaign, load ads on their website, host a Twitter party, giveaway, live event or early product test. For example, I am frequently hired to run Twitter Parties where we discuss a specific topic with other co-hosts “related” to the product (and use the product hashtag). Sponsoring a giveaway on a blog is also an effective outreach strategy. Having a “list of top xyz bloggers” contest where you make people go out and get votes to be in the top list is not a good outreach strategy (and will not engage the influential bloggers). It is better to hire a blogger to help with the contest and develop “editors top picks”, then leave it open to also have people nominate other names to be added on the list. Overall, providing services is something that bloggers should be paid for. Bloggers need to disclose any “sponsored” relationships (and this disclosure per FTC should be part of any contractual agreements). I created a consulting “service” specifically to help companies beta test products in advance of general product availability because of my background reviewing many products that launched with problems that could have been resolved in early beta testing.
Along with hiring bloggers for campaigns (or ads) on their websites, you can hire bloggers to create content (written, photo or video) on your website. It is valuable to hire a blogger to create content or assist with social media because they understand how to reach out to their audience and they already have an engaged community. There is nothing that brings life, social interaction and discussion to a company website like having a blog and social media channel “conversations”. There are also agencies that have large networks of bloggers for social media campaigns (including BlogHer or Clever Girls Collective). The key is that the paid blogger campaigns should not be just a “sales pitch” – no one wants to read a sales pitch. Blogger campaigns need to have “authentic” content including experiences that your target audience can relate to.
4. REFINE YOUR PITCH BEFORE YOU SEND AN EMAIL:
Parent bloggers receive many emails each day and are time constrained. Before you send an email, refine your pitch. Give the same consideration to emails sent to parent bloggers that you give to the elevator pitch used to raise investor funding. Start with an authentic greeting, don’t say “I have been reading your blog and love it” unless your really mean it. Also, it is important to use the name of the blogger on any correspondence instead of “Dear blogger”. I even received a pitch once that had just “Dear ” with no name!
After the greeting, you have the first paragraph to make the sale for why they should read on. Include the app, site or product name, URL (including links to apps stores if relevant) and a very concise statement of what it does. Then explain the key features, the value proposition and what is so compelling about your product/app/website that the blogger’s audience will be interested to read about it. After that – It is always nice to give some of the story behind the product, app or site – especially if you are a fellow parent that found inspiration for the product from your life as a parent. Include images they can use for posting and your contact information if they have questions. Make sure to use a subject title in the email that will grab their attention.
Here is an example of a recent pitch email I received about a new website geared towards parents. This is not the only format to use (there are many). But what I liked about it is that it was short, to the point, had a clear explanation of what the site does, included their contact info, press release and high resolution image to use. Best of all – they created a blog post on their site with more information (and included the URL).
Great “press” pitch example:
(asked how I was doing, said they like how my blog is family +tech and then said that they appreciate that I stay up to date with the trends etc). I thought you may be interested in our new site called (website name). (Then they includedexplanation of what the site does – and what makes it special etch). I’ve included some more info below, and there’s also a blog post here about the launch (link to post URL). (then they said they would love to share more information about it – and gave their contact info).
Next – they listed the press release and included high resolution images I could use to post.
**No need to mention that they liked my blog, but the way they did it was authentic so it worked for me.
Bad Pitch Example – At the same time, I got this pitch:
Dear fabulous blogger,
We know PR people sometimes drive you nut (they went on to ask me to take a survey etc for the “chance” of winning a gift basket)..
All I can say – is yes, sometimes PR people drives us nuts. But in the end, bloggers want to build real relationships with brands/businesses. So we appreciate the “good pitches”.
4. PITCHING TO BIG WEBSITES:
While I have a personal blog, TechMamas.com, where I share my “personal” perspective, I also have contributed to several sites, including CoolMomTech, Mashable and LaptopMag. It is important to understand that the editors of the bigger websites decide what their contributors will cover. It is important to go through the proper channels to pitch to the editor (or “info” email if relevant). Posts on the big sites also go through an editing process which means that not everything the contributor puts into the post makes it to the final post. Like everyone else, the editors also need to cultivate material relevant to their readers. And for contributors to stay valuable to a website, they also need to put their “readers” first at all time and create content they want to read.
Do you have any tips or experiences to share about pitching to parent bloggers? If so, please comment below!
TechMamas.com is a website that curates the best of family technology and social media. Beth Blecherman’s new book “My Parent Plan” is up on Amazon with the ebook version out in mid November. Beth consults with start-ups and businesses to assist with beta testing family tech products, websites and apps.