Posts tagged ‘Vancouver’

Avoiding the Supermarket Approach When Pitching Bloggers

Note: this post was originally published on One Degree.

At a night club recently, I felt the need to tell a guy that I was taken. He then looked at my friend and said, “OK, what about her?”

It’s something I call the “Supermarket Approach”: if you knock enough products into your cart, eventually, one with a honey nougat centre will fall in.

I’d never think it a good plan to dump a bunch of things into my basket and hope the one I wanted would be there. Just as it might to be the best course of action to randomly target single girls.

Or send emails to every blogger in Canada.

That does, however, explain the theory behind such blogging pitches as,

“Hey, I like your blog and I want to tell you about a totally irrelevant product” and “Your [cut and paste] blog exists so I thought you, [your name pasted here] would be interested. You guess why.”

And while that’s not a targeted approach, if you do it enough, you will get some results.

Rob Jones who writes the music blog, The Delete Bin, explains his experience:

“I do think that many marketers tend to think of bloggers as a sort of digital grist-mill, which is a big mistake. A lot of the time, in my particular context, the best pitches and experiences I’ve had have been with artists who are reaching out personally. They understand that marketing through blogs is a partnership, and that it should be mutually beneficial. We’re both after a bigger audience, after all!”

While it is time-consuming to research each blog/blogger and individually tailor pitches, doing so increase the likelihood that she/he will respond – and write about what you’re asking her/him to write about.

A personalised touch is respectful, sets a better tone and will help her/him view you (and your company) in a positive light. The best responses I’ve received as a marketer have been to pitches that focused on why she/he might like the product rather than on the fact that I’d love it if they wrote about it. And I’ve been most responsive as a blogger to pitches that were targeting me based on what I was actually interested in.

So how can you best do this? Let’s assume you’ve done some research and have a list of bloggers in mind for your outreach. Here are some of my suggestions, based on what I aim to do when I pitch. And, to avoid the continuous use of the generic term “blogger”, for the suggestions below, let’s assume her name is Jeanne.

To guage interest and how to tailor, you should try to read:

  • A number of Jeanne’s posts. It will give you a better idea of her style and the topics and products she tends to write about. This might provide an angle for your pitch.
  • The About and Contact pages along with the FAQs/ Pitch policy ones. Beyond her name and email address, these pages might provide insight as to whether Jeanne is in fact the proper person to pitch for the campaign. (For instance, say the product is location specific: an ice cream available only in Canadian supermarkets. A search leads you to her blog and a number of 2008 posts where Jeanne showcases her unique dessert creations and writes about how much she enjoys living in Winnipeg. Her love for baking might be enduring – but the About page informs you that she’s recently moved to Las Vegas for a job opportunity. Or that she’s since sworn off dairy and sugar. Or, maybe, that she’s not interested in receiving pitches.

When crafting your pitch:

  • Make it short, easy to scan – and to the point. Describe the product in a way that doesn’t sound like the description’s been copied and pasted from the press release.
  • Address Jeanne by name. Avoid mail merge – or be sure to double-check the fields. (As an aside, my favorite bad pitch had the following greeting: “Dear Author of ‘Monica Hamburg Presents: Your Dose of Lunacy’”. If only there was some way of determining who was writing this blog…)
  • Be sure to introduce yourself and mention how you are involved with the company/project. It makes the pitch friendlier, more human and more transparent.
  • Make clear very early in the pitch why you are targeting Jeanne specifically. Blogging is a community – and bloggers within niches or cities might know each other, so a templated “I know you’re revered in the foodie world” etc. might not be too flattering if Jeanne later finds that the same pitch was sent to many other foodie bloggers.
  • Address the value of what you are proposing. What’s in it for her? You might choose to offer Jeanne a few products so she can run a contest for her readers. Many bloggers appreciate your providing something for their readers more than a treat you are willing to offer just them.
  • Address what it is you’d like her to do. Don’t just tell her about the project and hope something will happen. (E.g. You might offer to send her the product so that she might write a review.)
  • Create and link to a Media Kit/Page created for the product. This will allow you to write a brief and to the point pitch – and Jeanne to learn more, if she wants to.

Indeed, it is a more involved process than sending out a slew of the same pitches to a large group of bloggers. But it helps you learn about the people you are writing to.

And leads to more contacts with honey nougaty goodness.


November 9, 2011 at 9:55 am Leave a comment

Engage Your (Film) Audience

I’ll be speaking tonight at Projecting Change through Social Media (Club), an informational session for the Projecting Change Film FestivalStephanie Michelle Scott (my Twitter Workshop/Twitter Parlour partner) and I are conducting sessions on Twitter – however, since we are both passionate about film and have a film backgrounds we’ll also discuss some tips/examples with regards to social media for film in general.

Here are some of my thoughts.

Promotion (is a part of your production)

  • Find Your Audience Early. Figure out who your audience will be (you likely already know) and start reaching out early.  Start your research ASAP and begin building your audience relationships pre-and during filming.
  • Generate and Release Content.  Consider what you can put out to create interest during the process.  What kinds of material would flesh out your story more (text, video, pics) or give it an added dimension.  Remember that your characters had a life before the film too.  (In a post on this topic I wrote: “Allowing the character to live in other platforms before the film is released – and whilst the film is being made – gives the character a larger/broader  life – and helps with publicity.”
  • Examples:
    • Twitter can be an additional platform for the story.  Perhaps you could take pictures and create a part of the story that goes out only via this medium.
    • Get the audience (and others on Twitter) involved via a Twitter chat.  If the film is screening on television have people watch and live-tweet or comment (use something like Cover-it-Live)
    • Are there characters who were interesting but received little screen time?  Can they become more of a part of the story online?
    • If there are follow-ups to the non-fictional account you provide in the film, allow the people involved to record a video about what has happened since.
  • Targeting and Blogger Outreach.  You are best to truly pitch bloggers when you have something to actually show them, content-wise.  (As you know, everyone wants to make a film – but few actually end up completing one.)  Really contemplate who would be interested in your project – don’t just target the most popular film-related blogs.  Remember that your audience isn’t only composed of film fans and people who read movie-themed blogs.  If you’re making a documentary about, say, dancers struggling to find work, you might reach out to others who blog about similar struggles.  You’ll get more buy-in if you:
    • Remember to personalize the pitch as much as possible.
    • Target those who might be truly be interested – not just because their blog is of the same general genre as the film.  (Meh: “you write a humorous blog and this is a comedy film”.  Better: “You write about the craziness of the internet – and that’s what our film is about!”)  Note: this takes a fair bit of research – but it might be worth it.
    • Consider the blogger’s time.  As is frequently mentioned – for most, blogging is a hobby and a labour of love. Watching a trailer might happen.  Watching an entire film is less likely.
    • Address what’s in it for them Don’t be smarmy about it – but if there can be something in it for them, let them know.  Often this aspect is neglected and the pitch is is basically: “Here’s how you can help us out!” – without addressing why they would want to.

Crowdsourcing Content

This is a great way to get clips for your film – even if it’s just short clips or vignettes – providing your outreach tactics are effective.   A few examples of films that have invited people to submit clips for their productions include:

  • Life in a Day: Director Kevin MacDonald and Producer Ridley Scott invited creators from all over the world to capture their world in 24hrs on a single day (July 24, 2010) and upload to YouTube.  The winning content was then edited into the final film, a Sundance hit. (Watch trailer).
  • Of course, not everyone has the clout and reputation of these mainstream directors.  But independent productions can also fare well in obtaining crowd submissions. For instance, Lost Zombies received thousands of submissions of “zombie encounters” – far more than anticipated. (They are now in the final submission stage.  More information about the project on the Lost Zombie site, on this post and on 4D Fictions post/interview.)  
  • “DSB the Movie” a film which “tells the story of the Netherland’s DSB Bank NV which was declared bankrupt by court in October, 2009.”  All elements of this film were crowdsourced including the film’s logo, producer, scriptwriters, soundtrack, editor, camera, actors, and publicity.  (Read about it on David Meerman Scott‘s post – which includes an interview with the director.)  Crowdsourcing everything is not something I would recommend doing – but it certainly worked for this production.

For a documentary film, audience-produced content can be particularly compelling since people can submit their own, personal, experiences – and particularly cost-effective since people can be filming anywhere rather than your sending crews to other locations.


Here’s where your social media savvy can really come into play.  Filmmakers are now asking people to micro-fund their film – be it by simply asking for funds, offering financers credits in return for cash, or selling products to make some money.

You can set up funding on your website (make that the key aspect of the site) or use one of several platforms set up for micro-funding such as IndieGoGo and Kickstarter.

Getting people interested in financing some aspect of your film will be (slightly) easier if you have something to show them.  Which is why compiling materials and working on YouTube videos early on about your production will be doubly useful.

Keep in mind – it might take a number of years to get the money you need.

Spanner Films has written a useful guide on how to Crowdfund your film includes the following tidbit:

If you are planning to make a campaigning film like The Age of Stupid, then you should definitely try to find a way to access the people out there who are already aware of and give a monkeys about the issue you want to highlight. If you can get some campaigners believing in your idea early on then they can be a huge help finding investors. You need to explain clearly why investing in your film is a strategic and cost-effective way to further your cause.”

A few examples of projects being crowdfunded include: “I Am I“, “My Million Dollar Movie” and “Iron Sky” which, writes Ross Dawson, has “four different mechanisms for raising money directly: a store selling merchandise such as T-shirts, a sneak peek of the first minutes of the film for which fans can pay any amount from 1 Euro, Fan Investments for qualified investors and up to 99 individuals in EU and some other countries, and ‘War Bonds‘, which are basically framed certificates.”

There are also many examples of productions (e.g. Paranoid Park, Moderation Town) which cast online (e.g. via YouTube etc.).  This can be effective for certain parts, can drum up publicity and can allow you to watch more auditions than you could in a single casting session.  (I don’t like the process of seeking votes for submissions – but I’m also speaking from an actor’s perspective.*).

There’s obviously lots more to say on how to leverage social media for film.  Please comment below with your suggestions, examples and input.

For further reading, a few posts on the topic are bookmarked here (including some I’ve written).

May 17, 2011 at 1:07 pm 1 comment

Interview with Pourhouse about their Twitter Strategy

Recently, I was preparing a presentation on Twitter for a client*. To emphasize the benefits of using Twitter, I wanted to give them an example of a business in their industry (restaurant) which had seen results. I emailed some questions to Chuck McIntosh of Pourhouse and he was kind enough to respond. (Note: find them on Twitter at @pourhouse_van)

Cocktail?Here’s what he had to say:

Q: What were/are your key objectives re: using Twitter?

Chuck: few things we focus on using Twitter:

1. To generate positive awareness and new customers for our business.
2. To constantly keep top of mind consciousness.
3. To keep in touch and communicate with customers, their needs, and moderate feedback.

Q: How do you use Twitter to drive business, communicate etc.? Do you use Twitter separately or is it part of a larger social media strategy?

Chuck: We use multiple social sites to drive business and to communicate with customers. Yes, we use both Twitter and Facebook among others, they all work together to create our social network.

Q: What benefits and results have you seen from what you’ve done?

Chuck: Consistent feedback from customers in real time, people tweet straight from the bar or their table about their experiences. Whether good or bad, we can address it immediately which has been fantastic for us. Another obvious benefit is the awareness it creates. If someone is having a positive experience and they share that, others read it and want to try Pourhouse as well. If you consistently strive to make every customers experience great, then you are getting a consistent feed of testimonials sent out from people to their friends, you can’t beat that. And if there are negative ones, you can monitor them and deal with both the customers concerns and with your staff immediately. It’s a great monitoring system.

Q: Would love some links to coverage you’ve received re: your use of social media.


Many of these articles came from the awareness that our network creates.

Q: Can you offer tips or suggestions for others in your industry in terms of what you’ve learned, discovered?

Chuck: When using Social Media, be real and authentic, be consistent, and contribute.

*On a related topic:  In July,  Tanya Roberts and I will be running a Twitter for Business Workshop together. If you would like to be put into our database to be notified of the date of this session – or to find out about future monthly workshops, please enter your name and email into this form.

One more thing: Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen wrote a great post “How to Find Your Blogging Voice – 8 Tips for Bloggers” which mentions some points from the “Finding Your Online Voice” talk I gave at Northern Voice.

June 17, 2010 at 1:02 pm 1 comment

The Number 13!

Very excited about this! I’m #13 (how appropriate) in this BCBusiness Magazine spread on “Vancouver’s Social Media Innovators” by Nordica Photography.

It’s a tremendous honour to be in a spread with so many brilliant and amazing people.

Thank you, Cole Roberts and Jakob Granqvist for the (as promised) pain-free shoot – and lovely write-up.

April 5, 2010 at 6:00 am Leave a comment

Third Tuesday – This month with Shel Israel! (Sept 17)

Vancouver is a hub of social and techie events!

This month’s Third Tuesday is a really exciting one.  In fact, it’s so exciting, it’ll take place on a Thursday.  Yeah.

On Thursday, September 17th, Shel Israel will be in Vancouver, as part of the Canadian launch of his new book Twitterville.

“Three years ago, Shel co-authored Naked Conversations with Robert Scoble. Naked Conversations was a must-read book in 2006. It captured the zeitgeist of the blogosphere.

Now Shel Israel is back with Twitterville, his look at Twitter and how it is being used by people and organizations to connect, play, share, create community, organize… You name it and we’re finding a way to do it on Twitter. // This event shouldn’t be missed! Shel will spark your imagination, and give you ideas about how you can use Twitter and other social media in your business and life.”

For more information (including how to get his book for only $10) and to purchase tickets click here.

& Thank you to our sponsors CNW Group,Fairmont Hotels and Resorts, Molson Canada,Rogers Communications and Radian6.

Of course, ours is just one of several great events taking place here in September and October.  There’s also:

Twestival (Vancouver)
Saturday, Sept 12

“Twestival is an international movement where people meet offline for one night, have fun and do some good for an important cause in the process. Twestival Local gives cities an opportunity to select a local cause to support.

Launch Party (LPV8)
Wednesday, Sept 16

“Launch Party Vancouver is a lively mixer for the city’s brightest entrepreneurs, tech junkies, and bloggers, who are doing it, have done it or want to make their ideas happen here. The goal of the event is to connect BC’s growing community of Internet and new media leaders with investors and other trailblazers across Canada and abroad.”

New Forms Festival (The convergence of media art, electronic music and digital culture)
Friday, Sept 18 – Saturday, Sept 19

“New Forms Media Society is a non-profit society and media arts organization founded in 2000 that nurtures and connects local and international arts, science and grassroots communities through the annual New Forms Festival. // The NFF is part of a larger, international, multi-media festival movement, which explores the ever changing and evolving world of art and creates a platform for artistic growth. The society wishes to make new media art, music, film, technology base-based installation and performance accessible to a wider audience.”

Wednesday, Sept 23

“Join the League of KickAss Business People for Trend City Vancouver: An Exchange of Ideas and What’s Next, a stylish, thought-provoking evening with Vancouver’s leading business trendspotters, tastemakers and opinion leaders. //We’ll ignite conversation and networking with a panel discussion on what’s hot and what’s next in design, branding, style and media. Plus, we’ll supply appetizers and beverages. “

Bongo: CD Release PARTY and Open Mic Battle
Thursday, Sept 24th

“In the fall of 2008, we [Urban Project/Giant Ant Media] traveled to Dar es Salaam to help a group of street youth record a hip hop album with the help of Urban Project, a grassroots charity that support youth lead art projects in urban centers, and the GENEROUS CONTRIBUTIONS OF OUR DONORS (you!), these guys were able to record a six track album that they called Maisha Magumu (Hard Life). // This event is to celebrate their music and talent and to THANK YOU for donating to this project.”

National Digital Media Day
Friday, Sept 25th

So far, Appy Hour is planned:

“Appy Hour is a brand new event series that combines mobile applications and a whole lotta networking. Join us on National Digital Media Day for presentations by innovative application developers alongside noshing and mingling at one of Vancouver’s newest lounges.”

BarCamp Vancouver 2009
Saturday, Oct 3 (Kick-off party on Friday)

BarCamp is an ad-hoc un-conference born from the desire for people to share and learn in an open environment. It is an intense event with discussions, demos and interaction from attendees.  // All attendees are encouraged to give a demo, a session, a presentation, or help with one. All attendees are expected to be participants. All presentations are scheduled the day they happen. Prepare in advance, but come early to get a slot on the wall.”

Vancouver Innovation Camp
Thursday, Oct 13

“Why are ideas like measles, waffles and mirrors? Why do successful people generally fail more often than less successful ones? // At Vancouver Innovation Camp, you’ll learn the answers to these questions and more importantly, how they are related to entrepreneurship and innovation.” [Thanks for the tip below, McElroy Flavelle]

[Updated Sept 4 re: few more events]

What have I missed? Let me know in the comments, please.

September 3, 2009 at 12:11 pm 2 comments

Women in Film – New Media Day


March 4th (Wednesday) is New Media Day at the Women in Film Festival – and the forum has a fantastic line-up of speakers.   I strongly suggest you attend if you’re interested in film and social media.

Bridget O’Neill, a charismatic actress & online personality, will be there –

– along with these other bright, accomplished speakers: Dennis Chenard, Catherine Warren (of FanTrust Entertainment Strategies), Daniella Sorrentino, Danika Dinsmore, Carol Sill, Gillian Shaw, Erica Hargreave, Thecla Schiphorst, Jean Hebert, James Eberhardt (of Echo Mobile), Shannon McKarney, Jennifer Ouano, Bradley Shende, Maura Rodgers, Amielle Lake, Rochelle Grayson and Tracey Friesen (of the NFB))

Oh and – I’ll be there too 🙂 – on the “Social Media How To” panel:

Characters’ are becoming quite popular on social media platforms. They can help tell the story, allow for audience interaction, create ‘buzz’, and keep your fans talking. There are right and wrong ways to do this. Our panel of three social media savvy gals, with a history in broadcast, will explore the ‘effective’ and ‘destructive’ ways to use social media in your stories. They’ll also give you the low down on how to personally make best use of social media.

If you have any thoughts on the subject, you know I love learning – so please feel free to provide your input.

February 24, 2009 at 2:25 pm 4 comments

Yeah, I wish

I’ve been on a reading kick of late and am running out of books I’ve heard of that I want… Having gone through the Amazon “People who purchased this item also bought” tool and discovering little of interest, I Googled “Book Recommendations” and found the following:

What Should I Read Next?

You enter some books you like and it recommends other books you might enjoy (or you can see other people’s reading lists that have a few favorite matches to see if there is anything that may be of interest).

For what it’s worth, this tool actually recommended a book I had read and enjoyed, so that’s something. And it came up with another than someone else had recommended I read. But, so far, the books suggested seem a bit too technical for me. While I have been enjoying books on behavioral economics, it has mainly been due to their informal tone and wonderful writing style. So, What Should I Read Next, thanks for assuming I have the attention span for technical or theoretical business books. I don’t.

(Anyone know of other similar tools?)

But here’s something cool – the site then provides a link where you can swap old books/movies. Bingo!


I’m just inputting the books I have now, but am very intrigued by the site. It appears to work like this: when someone asks for a book you have, you send it to them and receive a point for the transaction. Then you use that point to get a book (possibly from another user!)

Now, I think this would work even better with people you know. So here’s my request from Vancouverites – enter the books you want to exchange at chanceXchange and save your local peeps the postage costs of sending a hardcover clear across our expansive country…

July 15, 2008 at 11:39 am 1 comment

Older Posts

Monica Hamburg – Who Am I?

Good question (I wonder this all the time).
Linkedin profile is: here.
Find out more here.

Our Twitter for Business Workshops

I also offer Social Media Audits and a Twitter for Business Workshop (along with other services). For more information click here.

"The Twitter workshop opened my eyes to a whole new way of doing business. Terrific advice on how to best use twitter to create new business."

- Steve Rosenberg , Founder and Instructor, Pull Focus Films

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Licence. I love attention - so feel free to quote me - as long as you, as above, attribute it to me (and only use a few lines of text). If you would like to use more, please contact me. Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape