A few weeks ago, a restaurant in Ireland went viral after posting an email they had received from a food blogger. Their response was basically, “can you believe this person is asking for free stuff from me?” Most restaurant owners on Twitter agreed; they couldn’t believe this food blogger emailed a restaurant asking for a free meal!
But another portion of Twitter, the food blogger portion, gave each other side-eye.
The truth is, pitches from bloggers are becoming increasingly common—and not just for restaurants. Every style of brand is going to receive pitches from bloggers: offers for reviews in exchange for product or payment. Now, depending on that blogger’s stats and social media following, it may be worth it, it may not be.
But bloggers are working. The perception of blogging as “not real work” or “asking for free stuff in exchange for nothing” has to change; bloggers write, edit, and photograph most of the day, plan social media, and maintain an entire website and editorial calendar, usually on their own. They are essentially freelance writers and in the culinary world, as we wrote last week, they are rapidly replacing traditional methods of food critique. ( Click here to read that blog post
We don’t have to tell you, that Irish restaurant’s response was wrong. Publically shaming a blogger for a badly worded (or perhaps just misunderstood) pitch isn’t appropriate; it’s also extremely unprofessional. Some pitches are better than others; some are maybe not written as well as they should be. But the correct response matters. Here are some tips.
How to Respond to Blogger Pitches
Let’s start with our example scenario: you receive an email from a blogger named Daisy. Daisy had over 25K followers on social media, both Instagram and Twitter; Daisy gets 30k views on her blog every month; and Daisy is going to be traveling to your town in the next two months for a convention and would love to visit your restaurant. All she asks is for a comped meal and she will both post about you on social media and post a review after her trip, as well as include you as a travel guide for your city.
We know your first response might be, “a comped meal? For a blog post? No way.”
However, before jumping to a snappy response, take a look at Daisy’s blog: do you like her writing style? Are her pictures good? Is she interesting? Is she an ideal customer? If so, give Daisy a chance.
Let’s look at the numbers: you would be opening yourself up to 25k new customers via Daisy’s social media alone. Let’s say your restaurant is in California; statistically, a significant portion of Daisy’s followers and those who visit her blog are from California. You can ask for more detailed demographics regarding Daisy’s followers and page views to get a better idea of that impact.
So, step one: ask for a demographic breakdown of Daisy’s followers and page views.
If Daisy respond with demographics that sound good (30% of her followers are in California and within traveling distance of your city, for example), then decide it it’s worth it. It’s ultimately a marketing opportunity: she’ll post an Instagram photo of her food in your restaurant and then she’ll include you in two blog posts. That’s a lot of potential real estate to show up in Google searches for your city and to be discovered by more locals.
Responding is a piece of cake. Let’s look at some examples:
- If the answer is yes: “Hi Daisy. Thanks for taking the time to send me those demographics. I am excited to see that almost 30% of your followers are within driving distance of my restaurant; I really feel like this would be beneficial to both of us. I’m willing to offer a comped meal under $25 total in exchange for a social media post and being included on your blog. Let me know if you need anymore information.”
- If the answer is no: “Hi Daisy. Thanks for taking the time to send me those demographics. Unfortunately, it looks like a significant portion of your followers are overseas; at this time, I just don’t see this as being a relationship that you benefit both you and I. I’m excited to see your guide for my city though; I think you’ll love name and .”
See? It doesn’t have to be stressful. And it doesn’t have to be difficult. Just be quick, to-the-point, and polite.