This Is How You Pitch A Blogger


I frequently get pitched to cover businesses or other websites at this blog.  Most of it isn’t a fit or just pure spam.  As a marketing/PR professional by trade, I’m usually patient and take the time to help those who send me irrelevant pitches by pointing them to some tips for pitching bloggers.

But the other day something rare happened.  I received a pitch from Morgan von Ancken of Morton PR, the AOR of Shutterstock.com to write a story on the company.  And…it was good.

Shutterstock.com is a stock photography and stock footage site that uses crowdsourcing to generate its image library (they have more than 6 million stock photos). This means that by outsourcing the task of taking pictures to people around the world, they are able to offer high quality stock imagery and footage at a more affordable price point than traditional agencies, like Getty or Corbis.

I’m going to share just part of the pitch with you – the most important part, the intro:

Hi Adam,

As someone in the PR world, your blog has been on my radar for a while; I especially enjoyed your post earlier this month about the “irrational fear of the web. I should also mention that I am keenly aware of the irony implicit in pitching something to a PR blogger, but I was reading through your page today, and I noticed how many images you use to accompany your posts.  Shutterstock.com, might be interesting to you and your readers….

Morgan then went on to provide some background information on the company and offer the CEO of Shutterstock for interview.

I bolded the two parts of this pitch that stood out and hooked me to read the rest of the email.  Morgan showed he has been hanging around here, knew my blog well, and then made the observation that one of his clients would be a good fit for my content.  And he’s correct, this was highly relevant.  I frequently use images in posts, and am such a fan of good imagery I have even taken the time to build galleries (see inspirational images and stunning images) from Flickr as I am consistently impressed by the quality of the content in that network.

By this point, I dig the company already, and the PR pro made good inroads with me.  I decided I wasn’t interested in interviewing their CEO, but thought for a minute and realized there is a potentially more valuable relationship here to be unlocked.  Shutterstock is a service that provides a product I use frequently on this site:  images.  And, while I am both a creative commons artist and supporter of the Flickr community, I am open to using any and all images that are of high quality, regardless of source.

I responded back to Morgan with a simple counter-offer:

Provide me an account to test drive Shutterstock, I’ll browse the images and if I find any I like, I’ll use them in my posts.  Seems like a win-win, I get unique, high-quality images to use which make my blog look good and Shutterstock gets the image attribution in my post instead of Flickr.  Images (with attribution) being featured are actually better PR for them than written words can ever be because they showcase the quality of their site.  Visuals tell the story.

Shutterstock had never done this before, but Morgan is a pro and made it happen for me.  Initial impression?  It rocks, and right now I’m working on a Shutterstock vs. Flickr post that gives a rundown of both services.

A quick idea for Shutterstock
I’m still jazzed Shutterstock is letting me test drive their product, and in fact I’m going to go an extra step and give them an idea which could help their growth:  build a program to bridge their product with bloggers as a low cost, highly visibility marketing vehicle.

The plan would be simple:

  • Scale what they did for me here for around 50 or even 100 other quality sites through a blog partnership program.
  • Invite quality bloggers who frequently use images in their content (this should be simple enough, Chris Brogan, Louis Gray, Darren Rowse all do, just off the top of my head) and make the offer to take the Pepsi challenge vs Flickr.

Access to ultra-high quality, professional images to make posts stand out is a really compelling offer that would be difficult to turn down, especially when there are good people behind the product and marketing.  It is win-win, because Shutterstock gets exposure for their service, and bloggers get high quality images.

Note that Shutterstock is a paid service, so this would have to come out of their budget.  With that said it’s really worth it for them to consider taking a little bit out of the ad budget to give popular bloggers subscriptions.  Seems like huge return for a minimal in-kind cost to get their content featured front and center, in the editorial parts of well-trafficked sites.

For this trial, they provided a 30-day sample subscription which allows me to snag up to 25 images a day.  This is actually overkill – I really only need one a day.  Giving one image a day (perhaps 5 a day for full-time bloggers) is a far cheaper and more effective option than buying advertising on a popular blog.  Everyone is guaranteed to see each image, plus the credit – even in RSS as it is part of the content.

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Beautiful Pictures For Spring Inspiration (Smashing Magazine)

10 Questions to Ask When Taking a Digital Photo (Digital Photography School)

Post image credit:  Shutterstock.com