Note: This is Version 2 of Blogger Outreach. This time around, I’m showing real examples and real words from my experience as a blogger.This isn’t meant to bash brands or their agencies, but rather an educational place where we can learn what might have been a wrong turn and how to correct your outreach and tactics. Side note – My degree is in Public Relations, I’ve worked at two PR agencies, I get it. I’ve been on your side too.
You can read the first post of this series on general blogger outreach guidelines.
I have a Label in my Gmail called “PR Soliciting” and I purposely save the email if it’s atrocious or equally fabulous. Let me preface and say that we all make mistakes. I am not faulting people for making mistakes, I am faulting them for not doing the research to at least spend a little time at their job and/or rectify a mistake.
I’ll start with a few unfortunate examples:
- “Palermo’s Pizza adds “healthy flavor” to local freezer aisle” was the subject line. If you know my food blog, frozen food is not really my thing. Nonetheless, we talked back and forth and learning about the “healthy” toppings I said I would take a look. This was in the early days of my food blog and I was getting my feet and figuring out what I wanted to represent. I noted that I don’t eat red meat and would prefer a vegetarian, margarita pizza, chicken, etc. She agreed. On my door the next week? Meat lovers pizza and a pepperoni. I responded telling them that and I wasn’t going to be able to write anything and I didn’t even hear back. Not an apology. Nothing. Lame all around.
- One campaign involving vending machines / the vending industry sent FOUR of the exact same email to me. That’s not that big of a deal, a tiny mistake and it happens. But it was a cut and paste press release then one of the emails actually came from someone (not a firstname.lastname@example.org) but it just said “Hello” and then pasted the press release. BOTH times I responded, just giving them the heads up that I kept getting a few varieties of this email and I didn’t think I would be part of the campaign. I never heard back from anyone. Not a peep. I think this shows that responding is key whether it’s a “thank you,” or a follow up.
- I received a pitch talking about since I’m an entrepreneur I should be part of this entrepreneur contest. Well, I’m not an entrepreneur and I clearly stated in my about page where I worked. I can see how I talk about those ideas and startups, but it’s not a question if you read the details. You can also see where the placed my blog name in between the brackets like that’s a reminder for them to “update” the form email.
- Another PR pitch I received here on this blog was about prom dresses and a giveaway. My market is clearly college and Generation Y. It’s a pretty far call from anything I’ve written about (never style) and if you read my blog at all you would know that. Furthermore, it’s a pretty impersonal email.
That’s just a sampling. In general, it’s a shot in the dark, something that is impersonal and really misses the target audience. Also, we’re not dumb. It’s always really obvious when it’s cut and pasted and the fonts are different. And really, if it’s not matching your audience why are you even pitching in the first place?
There are some positive pitches of course and people that do their job wonderfully. As a blogger and someone who has been building a brand for a long time, I appreciate and regard positive relationships with brands and public relation professionals.
- I received one of the more personal emails from KIND Healthy Snacks and I credit their Marketing Manager and doing his research. There are 2-3 sentences that are really personal and even give me a glimpse into his personality where he talks about reading Grace(full) Plate and even references an event I’m hosting. We had a great relationship
- When I first started my food blog I never imagined the possibilities. I thought if I was invited to one restaurant to as “media” it would be a dream come true. At that time, I had even been a blogger here but it just felt like a dream come true to write about food and educate readers. A wonderful woman in marketing saw my life list on this blog and we started connecting on Twitter. She finally asked me if she could help make that life list item true and invite us up to her restaurants/hotel up in Black Hawk, Colorado. It was a nice tie-in with something I was interested in doing but also because my blog was so new, she took a risk on me and my writing to tell the story. What unfolded was one of the more amazing (and surprising) food experiences I’ve had to date. It all started with listening and connecting on Twitter which is a great relationship builder and it caught my attention. Elissa and I still talk to this day.
- One my own accord I wrote about loving Kelly Cutrone’s book, If You Have to Cry Go Outside, and promptly her publicist (Director of Publicity at HarperOne) reached out, thanking me for the post and said she would be happy to send me Kelly’s latest book, Normal Gets You Nowhere. It was a nice touch. She’s smart, she probably knew I would write about it again (I did) and I turned it into a giveaway of the book I loved so much. Makes sense, Kelly Cutrone rocks and so does her team and people around her.
- Recently I got a pitch that really wasn’t up my alley (insurance) but I appreciated her kindness, eagerness to explain the product she was representing as she was part of a large, global PR agency and that she was also aware I was close to being stuck in Sandy travel as I was back East. Although it didn’t seem like the right fit for me, the campaign was for 20-somethings so it wasn’t as if her pitch was poorly matched, it was just not something I was going to have time to devote to as a priority.
There’s a sampling. Honestly, there are quite a few more sitting in my inbox rotting but these came to mind and I wanted to share the good and bad.