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What to do when a PR Company Pitches to your Blog Badly

What to do when a PR company pitches to you badly

Every day I get 5-10 emails from PR companies trying to pitch me with one of their client’s products or services.

In my estimate – 1 in 10 do it well.

The rest clearly either don’t know how to pitch to bloggers or don’t really care.

Common mistakes in pitching to bloggers include:

  • impersonal emails – emails that are clearly being sent to hundreds if not thousands of people
  • incorrectly addressed emails – emails addressed to the wrong person/blog – I regularly get emails where it’s clear someone forgot to copy and paste my name in and delete another blogger’s name
  • irrelevant pitches – where the product being pitches has nothing to do with the blog being pitched (for example – today ProBlogger got pitched to link to a newly released cufflink!)
  • long press releases – long slabs of text don’t really inspire most bloggers

The list could go on and on.

I know most bloggers simply bin most of these ‘pitch’ emails (or respond with a snarky one telling the person where to go) but I’ve decided to do something a little more constructive and have been replying to the 90% of bad ones with the following email:

Dear XXXX (insert person’s name).

I appreciate you reaching out to bloggers but wonder if you’d have more luck with a different approach.

Please accept my humble suggestions:

http://www.problogger.net/archives/2007/10/30/how-to-pitch-to-bloggers-21-tips/

I hope you find these helpful in pitching bloggers.

Darren Rowse

OK – some of you are thinking that this is a complete waste of time – and it may well be, although it takes all of 1 seconds using TextExpander – but what I’ve found is that a large percentage of those that I send this to respond with a thank you and in a couple of instances it’s actually led us into a fruitful exchange.

On one occasion the PR person that I sent the above email to re-pitched their product to me with the opportunity to give the product away to readers (the ensuing competition was a big success) and on another occasion the company behind the pitch became a paid sponsor of the blog. Neither of these things would have happened unless I’d responded in the way that I had.

While it might be tempting to simple delete such emails – perhaps responding constructively might actually lead to something positive – for me in these two instances it led to both increased traffic and income for my blogs.

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Yongho Shin says:

    From offensive comments to bad pitching, your approach always gives the best outcome. :)

  2. I do nothing. Unappily, I receive per day at least 5 emails similar to those you describe.

  3. Yes, I agree with your approach much better. There has been times I’ve responded and other times, not at all. It really depends on what the pitch is, and what they are pitching. For the downright ridiculous one’s that have absolutely nothing to do with my blog though….they usually get the heave ho.

    Thanx Darren

    Great to see you are having such great results with the Blog Mastermind competition. Keep up the good work…cheers Davin

  4. Lyndon says:

    I couldn’t help but chuckle when I read your post. I recently got a pitch from a marketing company that seemed to miss one major fact about my site. I actually posted about it yesterday!

  5. Mike Goad says:

    As always, Darren, you provide valuable insight on a different aspect of online interchanges.

    Of all the “probloggers” that were on my feed reader, your blog is the only one still there. You consistently deliver value where most of the other guys deliver hype.

    Thanks!

  6. Get Over Yourself says:

    I find it so humorous how bloggers want to be taken seriously as journalists but don’t know what to do when they receive a press release. So what it’s not addressed to YOU? Welcome to journalism.

    You can take yourself seriously or you cannot. But no one should take themselves that seriously. Bloggers need to get over the fact that a PR person isn’t addressing them by name. They’re probably spending their time more wisely than searching for a blogger’s name on a website and customizing each email–they would have no accounts if that’s all they did.

    You either want to promote their product or you don’t. What does it matter if the PR person knows you by name?

  7. Great idea. I tend to get spam comments from the PR people–next time I’ll give your suggestion a go. Now why didn’t I think of that? ;-)

  8. Graham says:

    Education is always a good thing. I’m not sure why so many people subscribe to the “shotgun” approach to things. Sure they sent out a thousand e-mails, maybe it’s a bragging point, it won’t achieve anything. A handful of well thought out and focused e-mails will have better results in many cases.

    This reminds me of reviewing resumes (I just started another hiring round, fun). I always receive resumes that are off topic, addressed to the wrong person or applying for a different position than the one offered. People notice these things and it makes the ones that show an attention to detail stand out. It’s just a shame that there is so much garbage to sort through.

  9. Hi Darren,
    I create virtual book tours for authors, which means reaching out to bloggers and podcasters. I also teach authors & book publicity friends how to reach out to bloggers on their own. Every single one of them gets a copy of your 21 tips that I keep posted next to my computer.

  10. Angela says:

    I like it. It all goes back to two things, one being the golden rule. Do unto others and you reap what you sow.

    Darren, you’re one that regularly practices the golden rule and I’m certain that’s the root of your success. :-)

  11. Home Biss says:

    I have no comments since nobody pitches me through my stupid blogs.

    But as an article marketer, some companies have approached me to do some promos via article marketing. Unlike you, I really do not bother about the way companies do their pitching. As long as they pay good money and their products or services are great, I will do it for them. :-)

  12. Darren, kudos on a great post that comes out with an entirely different perspective than what a regular top blogger would do after getting pitched in the wrong manner. I also see that you have posted on PR and PR professionals before in such constructive manner.

    While it is easy to criticize and set rules, coming out with a win-win approach for both parties like this is priceless and you deserve an applause. You are setting an example here, dude.

  13. Thanks Darren,

    Really like your approach because it is most effective
    to embrace people and teach. Favor comes because
    it is true, Teaching does a positive sell in many cases.
    Comes to The Real Deal, from heart flows the issues
    of life. Thanks again for a Champions insight.

  14. Mike Nichols says:

    I’ll keep your article about pitching to bloggers bookmarked so I can suggest it to the pitchers. Responding kindly is a good idea, and the right thing to do.

    But you can imagine what wild mismatches and plain mistakes I get with the shotgun approach. My blog deals with Anxiety Disorder, panic attacks and healthy living! Not beauty products! Not automobiles!

    And like Lyndon, I’m male too, as plainly shown and written in my About page!

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  16. Very interesting stuff. I usually discard those types of emails, but I will have to re-consider now

  17. Amir Helzer says:

    I think that the bad pitches are a symptom of a deeper problem.

    1) Hard working folks build stuff. Then, they want to let the world know about it.

    2) They look around the web for places where interested people hang out and want to announce it there. Blogs are the best place as they’re personal, niche oriented and accessible.

    3) Brick wall. The blog owner didn’t set up a convenient way for hearing about relevant news. The blog doesn’t give clear guidelines as what and how to pitch and doesn’t have a dedicated channel for doing it.

    Now, the developer goes to a PR agency who guarantees he’s got ‘personal relationships’ with top bloggers. These personal relationships turn out to be your spam emails.

    A developer, which wanted to access your blog himself ended up paying $2000/month and you’re getting SPAM email.

    Wouldn’t it be better for everyone if bloggers made it simple for the right people to approach them? Not generic tips on ‘how to pitch to blogs’, but exact instructions on what might interest YOU and how to pass you this information.

    This would make PR firms less attractive. Less developers would hire them and they’ll have to work much harder to get business.

    My software business needs partners, but doesn’t need SPAM and stupid offers from ‘SEO gurus’. Have a look at the bottom of my home page:
    http://www.onthegosoft.com/

    It says ‘partners’. Then, the ‘partners’ page gives exact instructions on what I can offer and what they can expect. Finally, my ‘contact’ form has a special department for these offers. You can guess I’m getting no SPAM for this and only relevant offers. It’s been working out really well for a few years now.

    Why not do the same in your blogs?

    Amir

  18. There’s the other extreme. Throwing around way too many things they picked off the front page of your blog to make it look like they read your blog. I know they don’t, they don’t have to. Looks like they read too much advice about personalizing emails and carried it too far.

  19. TheAnand says:

    I get this once in a while and once when it was addressed to the wrong person, I just ignored it. This response looks like a good idea.

  20. As further confirmation that it’s worth responding… I always respond to these emails suggesting that they review the way they contact bloggers, and have found one company to be very receptive to my comments, which led to some consultancy for them.

    As long as bloggers can be reasonably kind to PR people (I have a “3 strikes, you’re out” where I’ll be nice twice, but tear you a new one on the third), the agencies will hopefully learn that there are good and bad ways of reaching out and start using those that get a more positive response. Learning curve and all that…

  21. Andy Merrett says:

    I have to say I agree to some extent with “Get Over Yourself”. If you’re a blogger on the radar at all with PR companies, then you’re doing OK. If you don’t want to receive their press releases, you can always ask to be removed.

    Granted, sometimes I do get personal emails from people in PR companies, and those are people who I have built a relationship with. Quite often, that’s simply from asking for more information (a product image, price, or release date, for example), or from meeting them at a product launch. However, even those people I have some personal relationship with, I don’t get offended if they send a round robin email, even if it’s on a subject not directly related to the sites I work on.

    I get anywhere from 5 to 20 direct press releases each day, and countless more from via email subscriptions. It is worth pursuing some on a personal level, but don’t take great offence if an email isn’t explicitly targeted to your niche or blog. PR people just don’t have the time to check everything.

    I’m a little embarrassed that bloggers feel they should be treated differently from regular journos, when in fact in another breath so many want to have the same privileges and rights.

  22. Dan Mihaliak says:

    It’s suprising how cold and calculated these guys are. I’ve actually received pitches with other peoples names in the greeting. I thought it was some marketing ploy now I guess it’s just a mistake.

  23. Matt says:

    I blog about carbon offsetting, a very niche blog. I often get pitches for things that are no where near what I blog about. I don’t mind getting a pitch to the wrong name, I understand bulk e-mails and how easy it is to make a mistake. I don’t get why people would want to pitch an idea that is completely unrelated.

  24. Bill K. says:

    As a former journalist, I have to disagree with the anonymous commenter above who describes this as business-as-usual in journalism circles.

    Sure, press releases go out to lots of people, but good PR people know who to target and how. They generally work on building one-on-one relationships with the people they know can do the best job of reporting the material covered in their releases.

    Further, most press releases are written for print journalists, and old habits die hard. That would explain the large chunks of text.

    Darren, your experiences suggest that the PR world has yet to catch up with blogging. You’re doing the right thing by sending that kind of response.

  25. I am fairly new to blogging and I am already getting it. Just as when I owned brick and mortar businesses, just be nice and professional to everyone no matter what. You get nothing from being negative in any way.

    Thanks again Darren, always on the mark!

    http://www.oilenergystockvideos.blogspot.com

  26. BusyBlogging says:

    I just may have to try this as I’m one of those people that click “delete” on my keyboard as soon as I see those things.

    I too get many pitches where it is obviously an automated email because I see things like in the middle of the paragraph.

    Perhaps if I respond, even if they don’t like it, they will take me off the list.

  27. Dominique says:

    Great idea Darren,
    Sometimes I do get these pitches from the PR companies but if they do not get back to me when I request for further information the e-mail normally goes into the trash.

  28. Someone wanted to exchange links with me which I didn’t find to be of value to my visitors. After turning down the offer the conversation turned ugly. I’m now being spammed in my inbox & blog comments.

  29. BusyBlogging says:

    Shivanand: I have trouble with that too. Most of the time I tell them that I get those requests all the time and it’s impossible to honor all link exchange request, and then to try to offer help and see if I can answer any questions. Usually that makes things better but I still get some people that just don’t care and yell. You can’t please anyone.

  30. mysysad says:

    I usually receive between 3-5 per week. For the most part, I simply ignore them, especially the canned ones, and I don’t want to “confirm” my email.

    I responded to one awhile ago (Dec 2007) because I thought the sender personalized the pitch and did it well. Also, I felt his offering was truly worthwhile. But you’re right, most of the requests are garbage.

  31. jennydecki says:

    How on earth has everyone gotten so jaded?

    I get about 10-15 pitches a day.

    If it is not relevant, I send an email back letting them know my demographic and to keep me in mind if something comes up that is relevant.

    If it is relevant, I send an email telling them I don’t review or endorse on my main blog but on my review blog – then I give the link and instructions on how it works, and let them know how much extra traffic hosting a giveaway exposes their client to.

    Both of the above emails are copy/paste.

    I’m attempting to build relationships with these PR companies. Sure, during that first round of emails I’m just another name on the blogger list, but if I’m the most helpful blogger that is willing to see the person behind the mass email as a human and not an annoyance…well…that leads to getting some really cool stuff.

    All for spending less than 10 minutes a day responding with one of two cut and paste answers.

    Maybe I’m naive, but I think it’s really neat that I’m on a list somewhere that says, “Her opinion matters! Give her free stuff and let her talk about it!”

    I mean, how fast did the shine of that wear off for all of you? Maybe it’s just in my nature to get all excited and be filled with childlike amazement no matter how many times the FedEx or UPS truck comes to my house.

  32. Matt Wardman says:

    Take away idea: what an excellent and creative example of how to reuse an old post with a new angle ;-)

    Do you do PR contracts?

  33. Amber says:

    My pet hate at the moment is the PR companies who spent a lot of time persuing me and trying to persuade me to review their product, and then, as soon as they discover that I’m based in the UK, are absolutely horrified and want nothing more to do with me. It’s just a waste of both our time, especially given that the blog they’re pitching to has our mailing address in the “contact section”, so it’s not like it would have been difficult for them to find it.

    I also think it’s very short sighted of them: just because I’m based in the UK doesn’t mean all of my readers are…

    Anyway, I for one am heartened by your attempts to educate PRs about bloggers. I think it’s needed – it is, after all, a relatively new area for them, and if you can find a friendly and polite way to help them (which you have), then I’m all for it!

  34. Nelly says:

    Hi Darren

    I think you’ve addressed this “problem” very well. I actually wrote about what can happen when marketers take short cuts in my post: http://blogexplore.wordpress.com/2008/08/04/oops-marketing-blunders/

    Sending them a response is not something I would have considered but I like your idea of beating them at their own game.

  35. Jenn Mattern says:

    Darren actually was kind enough to do an interview with me not too long ago (on my PR blog) about this very topic, so I wanted to share that – Darren Rowse on Targeting and Pitching Bloggers.

    As someone who not only works in PR but is also a very active blogger (and someone who has received countless pitches when working with larger sites / networks), I also did a post shortly after that interview on what both sides need to do (and stop doing) if A) PRs want bloggers to cover their news, products, etc. and B) if bloggers want people to take them seriously as any kind of media outlet – If PRs and Bloggers Played Nice.

  36. Karen Swim says:

    Darren, great points on bad pitching. I love your approach in responding with grace as this encourages relationship building, and that is the goal of media relations. Bad pitches are not only confined to PR but are seen in career marketing (resumes and cover letters) as well. People seem to lack the time to at least cover the basics well. There is definitely room for improvement on both sides of the equation and I appreciate you taking time to share helpful tips.

  37. Emma Donovan says:

    Great post Darren, I think that we often underestimate the value of constructive criticism. Bloggers and PR agencies would both benefit in the long run and be able to use their time more productively if more people sent responses like yours.

  38. green blog says:

    Although I never use the service before, based on feedback I heard from my friends who actually engage their service, 9 out of 10 don’t really know what they are doing at all. It’s really ironic how these things came about not to mention how they write their emails.

  39. Matt says:

    Interesting stuff. Unfortunatly these problems are not unique to blogs. Many PROs are lazy and do not take the time to check what a blog would be interested in.

    Also we have found that many PR agencies are pitching to blogs like print. They do not think of adding useful links, Del.ici.ous accounts, video or audio to add interest in the target’s blog.

    We have set up PRBristol to aid in educating PRs in how to pitch to blogs and would be interested in your thoughts on for example “Social Media releases”.

    Regards

    Matt @ PRBristol.co.uk