5 tips for pitching the unpaid reporter

A one-time Huffington Post contributor offers advice for pitching the growing legion of serf writers online.

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Coming from a journalist who has blogged and written for free almost as much as I have for money, here are a few tips on getting your message to, for lack of a better term, a serf reporter:

1. Decide whether the writer is influential enough to bother pitching.

Ask yourself: Do you want your brand associated with this person’s level of professionalism? Even if a blogger’s audience is small, it doesn’t mean they’re not worth pitching. It’s an interesting phenomenon, but I’ve seen some no-name blog posts go viral because—for one reason or another—they landed an influential interview or had some exclusive information.

Bloggers tend to lift up (and link to) like-minded bloggers. When I started a sports blog with a friend a few years ago, a major sports drink brand (OK, fine, it was Gatorade) asked us if we wanted to interview a major athlete in conjunction with an event he was hosting. We got to sit down with the athlete for 15 minutes and ask whatever we wanted. Once the interview was posted (with the news hook being about the Gatorade event) some of the nation’s most influential sports blogs linked to us, giving our site tens of thousands of page views and excellent exposure for the brand.

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