The Long Tail Approach to Blog Outreach

Photo cred: Rob!
Photo cred: Rob!

The Long Tail is a concept that is used for a number of business practices.  In sales, wikipedia defines it as “selling small volumes of hard-to-find items to many customers, instead of only selling large volumes of a reduced number of popular items.”

When you have to reach out to bloggers, your first thought might be to search for the top bloggers in the category, and reach out to the “A-list”, hoping to hit it big.

The problem with this method is that so many others think the same thing.  This means that the bloggers you’re reaching out to have been contacted by countless others looking for the same thing and you get lost in the noise.

Instead of reaching out to a few of the “A-listers”, try reaching out to more bloggers that aren’t considered the top of their class, but have still built up a strong community of readers.  Look for the bloggers that will have the time to read your email, and write a post about your cause or message.

  1. You’ll get more content written about you.
  2. The content might be of better quality, as they’ll have more time to commit.
  3. If enough “B-list” bloggers write about you, an “A-lister” may find out about you anyway.
  4. A smaller blog might have a much tighter community, with more trust… which translates to more trust in your brand since they’re writing about you.
  5. You’ll be able to target niche audiences.

That’s not to say you should completely ignore any mainstream publications/”A-list” bloggers however it certainly shouldn’t be your only focus.

Hat tip to Arik Hanson for inspiring this post.

7 thoughts on “The Long Tail Approach to Blog Outreach

  1. David – Good stuff in here! And thanks for shedding some light on this topic … one that I personally believe is still being ignored by many in the PR/social media/marketing world.

    Something we need to all keep in mind, whether our outreach is with mainstream media or bloggers, is that it really never should be about the quantity or how high level the outlet is (Though, I will concede that for some brands, particularly startups or businesses looking to gain VC funding, a good writeup in BusinessWeek can go farther than 3 good writeups in smaller business publications.), it’s about whether you are reaching the right audience and the right influencers for your company and organization.

    If those influencers happen to be the A-list bloggers, then by all means, go after them. But if your brand’s audience is more in tune with a slightly less influential set of bloggers, then you need to focus on reaching out to them, and like you said, seeing how their coverage and promotion will impact what A-list bloggers say and write about your company.

    Ultimately, in my opinion, it all comes down to who is your audience; where are they gathering and reading (in the case of blogs); and who are they listening to? Find the influential MSM, online and blogger writers within those areas, and I think you have the makings of a very strong media/blogger outreach plan.

    @KeithTrivitt

  2. I agree with you as much as a person can, David. Cultivating the “B-list” (I prefer to call them “niche”) bloggers on your outreach lists is important for all those reasons, plus this one more: that small time blogger could one day grow up to be a big, A-list, top tier, everyone-is-talking-about-it blogger. I recently had a blogger contact me; I started working with him over a year ago when his blog was just getting off the ground. Now he’s going to be putting together a regular feature in a major, major online news site. And since I was the one who paid attention to him even when he didn’t have that deal, I’m now the one with the direct line to his Blackberry.

    It just goes to show, you have to talk to everyone, because everyone is worth your time.

  3. Good post, though I have to report from experience that the cost/benefit of this strategy can be quite challenging. Sometimes doing this will result in nearly negligible results, if your results are sales. Whereas one biggie can make more difference than all of those combined. Nevertheless, I still think it’s useful for other reasons, especially for baby bands.

  4. You hit it right on the nail. Not only is it almost impossible to get any feedback from the A list bloggers, but I also feel bad that they get bombarded with so many requests. It’s almost like everyone expects something from them, and I know that can put a lot of pressure on someone. But, by no means does this mean we need to just stop keeping up with the A list bloggers. They are great teachers and all of us have a lot to learn from them.So, thank you for opening the eyes of many to this issue, including myself!

  5. Great post – I really enjoy doing blogger outreach and I think you bring up some great points.

    I agree with Keith though, it’s not about the “tier” of the blogger or even how many people are reading it – it’s about the influence they have.

    If you are sharing good information that is relevant to the blog and it’s audience, then it doesn’t matter how popular the blogger is – they will probably find value in what you are saying and share the information.

    It’s when you waste a blogger’s time with information that isn’t relevant to their blog or their readers that there’s a problem – after all, you wouldn’t pitch a home & garden story to a sports writer. 🙂

    @goktgo

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