Saturday, 17 March 2012

The Poles Between PR and Blogging: 7 Tips

In the last few weeks I have been gazumped by PR requests. Email after email vying for space on my blog.

I often find myself in a quandary.

As a blogger, sometimes the information is totally irrelevant. I don't want to know about it. And I fathom a safe guess that my readers don't either. So I politely decline. Or lately, I just ignore (which seems terribly rude, but I have time-VS-email issues people - as I am sure you do too).

I've worked on my blog for over four years. I'm not just going to toss it away to be one big merry commercial. I must maintain its integrity. For my readers - and most of all, for myself.

And on the flip side, I've worked in PR for almost 13 years (my oh my, old old old).

I know what it's like working in-house and agency side. Clients want results. They don't want to hear excuses. They want their brand in bright lights, they want column inches, they want pixels. They want the world.

So I really want to help those who are pitching to me. I do. I want to help them.

But if PR pitches to bloggers continue the way they are now - things are going to roll backwards. Or implode.

The blogger in me questions every pitch sent my way. And I use the word "pitch" incredibly loosely here, because most of the time, all I am receiving is a generic:

"Dear Blogger"


"Dear Lexi, [insert gushing paragraph here about how much I love your blog]"


"hi PottyMouthMama"

or worse to me still - an embedded email that I can't even view half the time. Or just crap. I mean come now - seriously. Read my blog. I don't want to try your doggone baby purees because - I do not have a baby. And you could lazily scroll through my top posts to discover this for yourself. I'm not asking you to do my family tree and trawl through reams of geneaology. Nope.

Even worse. Inaccurate emails. Emails with titles: Interview Opportunity. And then I scroll through to look for who the interview is with - and there's nothing. Or some dubious subject matter. I could rattle off a heck of a lot. But for everyone's benefit - I won't.

I've just asked to be removed from their mailing list instead.

I know working in PR is busy. You have to measure your success. You must be accountable. And you have clients barking at your heels.  But respect the blogger.

So this is to those working in PR who want to learn about pitching to bloggers. Who really value quality content. Who really value an engaged audience. And who really want to do the right thing by their client.

1. READ READ READ:  Read the blogs you want to pitch to. Would you pitch blindly to someone in 'ye olde media'? If you answered yes, then you need to step away from your emails, and take a good hard look at yourself. I don't mean read four years of PottyMouthMama - but really, just become familiar with what I talk about, who I am, and if you truly think your brand is something that's going to fit in this space. And then you can start to build a relationship. KEY POINT!

2. WHO'S THAT CHICK? Find out my name. It's not rocket science. There's a reason why direct marketing companies pay thousands of dollars to access databases so they can tailor their communications to recipients. My name is not 'Blogger' - thank you Mum and Dad. It's not even PottyMouthMama. It's Lexi.

3. STOP SENDING GENERIC EMAILS: Please. For everyone's sake. You're wasting a lot of emails, as well as your time, my time, and everyone else's time. If you send out generic pitches - look at your ROI. Bet you're not getting much bang for your buck.

Don't do blanket mail outs. Tailor absolutely everything.

In my role as PR Manager, I've chosen to work with a handful of bloggers who I respect, trust and admire. Unfortunately, I don't currently have a budget to pay them. However, I offer them unique angles, I offer them exclusives, sometimes I might send them a gift. But I never ever expect anything in return.

Your client is not a charity - and the blogger owes you nothing.

4. EMAIL BOMBING:  I get a lot of emails every week. I'm not being cocky. A lot of them are spam. *Shudder* And some of them are from PR professionals, forwarding their original email because they haven't heard from me, and they want to check I received their email. And they've done a search and I haven't written anything about their client/product. Why not?

Why not?

Because I don't want to. Because it doesn't fit with my blog.

There should be no sense of entitlement.

Unless I want to. Unless I think my readers want to hear from you. Otherwise, I won't write about it.

5. SPONSORED POSTS: I started writing sponsored posts for shoe money. Clearly I don't buy a lot of shoes because I don't do a lot of sponsored posts. And I will only ever do a sponsored post if I truly believe it's cohesive with my blog.

The struggle with keeping my blog pure - and the need - and sometimes want - to make a little extra pocket money - it's a fine line. But when I do a sponsored post - I try to maintain my voice. I try to keep it relevant.

6. PRODUCT REVIEWS:  If you want me to review your product, well then it's a pretty good idea if you send me a sample. I am on the mailing list of one PR practitioner - and at the end it always says: "if you want samples, let me know". Not once, not twice, but at least four times I have replied saying "yes please send me a sample so I can try it for myself and legitimately write about it". And each time she replies "Sorry all the samples are gone." Well then BOOM! I'll make your emails be gone from my inbox. Simple really.

7. TIMING! Inviting me to an event is nice. It is. And thank you. But give me a bit of notice. Four days notice to drop everything for lunch? Yep. Not coming. I've got a busy life and I can't shuffle things at that late notice either. Same applies for sending me media releases. Don't send them to me on the day whatever you're spruiking happens. I'm a busy woman - as are all bloggers. I'm not usually struggling for content. And I won't drop everything to bang out some paras on your product on the day. Nope.

**BONUS TIP: If you are inviting me to an event, please make sure I live in the city the event is taking place in. Unless you're willing to cover my travel and accommodation costs.

For more on this topic head over to Edenland.

 image - me with Allen's Retro Party Mix teeth. Because I can. It's me in PR mode.


CurlyPops said...

This is everything I want to scream every time those silly emails come through. I have one PR company which keeps emailing me every week about Mummy/Parenting stuff. Last time I checked, I only had a dog.

jodi said...

Nice one Blogger ;)

I just had someone enquire about whether they would like me to write a guest post about birthing. I did my research - turns out the 'writer' is a uni student with 0 children. Wow, wouldn't that be an interesting article!

Cass said...

Gear post it's a shame people don't do their research before sending requests out

Carly Findlay said...

Maybe pet stores need to start emailing you :)

Kerri Sackville said...

The constant stream of emails (nearly all generic emails) to my inbox are making me crazy. No, PR person, I am NOT interested in your product - not just because it is a baby rocker and I have no baby, but because I don't EVER do sponsored posts or run ads, and if you really 'loved' my blog as you say you do you may have noticed that.
Now I'm all fired up again, I need some more wine. If only a vineyard would contact me, I may change my policy....

Carly Findlay said...

Such a good post. I get a few PR requests though nothing incredibly exciting. I got invited to a baby show once and I politely declined. The other day i received a request from a gmail account asking if they could insert links into a blog post. The post was about how my skin condition affects my eyes. The emailer asked me to rework the whole post to suit their Brand. I was so offended - my readers trust what I write about my skin and I'm not about to start sprucing products that I don't use and change my personal story to suit a brand.

Cassandra Louise said...

A wonderful post and thank you so much for writing it! :-)

Jess@Diary of a SAHM said...

Here here! I've been getti g more requests lately too, and just ignoring a lot of them. I font have the time and the 'dear blogger' but ticks me off too.

Kate said...

Tick tick tick. This should be required reading for all PR's working in blogger outreach.

whatsinemmasbrain said...

Well said.

tony c said...

same goes with my brand with just these changes:
For 'PR company' read 'online store that i'm just setting up since i had children' & for 'blogger' read 'your funky & unique label'. then instead of telling me something about themselves so i know who i'm supposed to entrust my hard-earned brand cache to, they just sign off with a request for a wholesale catalogue. a week later to be contacted again & told that i 'ignored' their previous message is sure to seal the deal.

Ms Styling You said...

Oh Lexi - if only some these companies got you in house to consult to there PRs. You have a unique perspective and I'm so glad you shared it here! Would love you to add it to my blogging link on Saturday's post!

Pip said...

Hah! Gosh. It's so crazy isn't it? I get quite a lot of these pitches too. It's doing my head in, really! I'm not really a sponsored post kind of girl, but this year I am crossing over to being a full time blogger and it will probably be part of what I do. But I am super choosy. If I have not tried it or do not love it I will not write about it. And I need a benefit for my readers, so I'll need something to give them please, for the pleasure of reading about said product. It's not all about me, my readers need to be rewarded too! I love what you wrote. It's so smart and fair. You are such a great girl, ya know? You are. x

jennie said...

What a nightmare those emails are.
Excellent post and I love your PR mode photo!!

Sarah, Maison Cupcake said...

You had 4 days notice? I once got phonecall 40 minutes before a press event! Being asked to stuff next day or under 48hrs is frequent. I

Lady Moss said...

It's either a feast or a famine right :)! I doubt anyone reads my stuff let alone my mum and my best friends much less PR peeps, although that's cool I'd find it tough to get off the moral merry-go-round too Lexi, good for you.
LM x

Julie said...

Hi Lexi
This is so good to hear! We'd like to include your tips in our newsletter to diy PR's if that's ok? They love this sort of insight! And hopefully you don't have to hit the delete button so often.

ecobabe said...

Ahem, this is a little off topic, but is my pet peeve at present. I'm a retailer who has been close to taking out a restraining order against a teeny tiny blog who keeps hassling me to spend mega bucks to advertise on her blog. I'm not interested, we have no connection, you're not a good fit with our business, get it love?

Nice post Blogger :)

Kellie @ Three Li'l Princesses said...

Well said!
I tolerated all this pretty well as a journo, but don't seem to as well now I'm blogging. Maybe also because I'm on both sides of the equation now - blogging AND PR. I know how busy it can get (goodness, I know), but I don't think it's an excuse for poor pitches.
Being in Tassie, the event things are starting to annoy me! I would LOVE to go, but a lot of things need to be sorted before I can drop everything and run. And it also says ``Tassie'' in my sidebar!

Jess WhoaMamma said...

Yee-haaa! and Amen! to every single word! x

Miss Cinders said...

Beautiful! All so true, perfectly written!

Sonia @ Life Love and Hiccups said...

Halleluah or how ever the frig you spell it. Thank you on behalf of my poor spammy inbox and I - thank you!!! :)