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Turn Annoying Pitches into Opportunities

Earlier in the week I wrote some advice for those wanting to pitch bloggers by making your pitch a win/win/win one. Not only do you need to get something out of it but so should the readers of the blog and the blogger.

Today I want to flip this over a little and share some advice for bloggers who are on the receiving end of bad pitches from companies or individuals.

In the past – most of the bad email pitches that I received from companies tended to get immediately deleted. A few I’d angrily respond to – pointing out how one sided the pitch was – but in most cases I simply deleted them.

The problem with this is that it ignored quite a few opportunities to actually develop a relationship with the company pitching me. While their pitch was one sided, unrelational, greedy and perhaps even an attempt at manipulation – by not responding or by responding in anger I was effectively closing the door to further communication and opportunity to work together.

My Advice to Bloggers Getting Bad Pitches

Don’t be afraid to push back a little when you’re being pitched in a one sided way.

If you don’t feel like a pitch is a win/win/win pitch don’t just delete the email or reply with a quick ‘not interested’ – see it as an opportunity. It’s an opportunity on two fronts:

  1. 1. to educate the person or company pitching you. Show them that you take this seriously, that you treat your blog as a business and that bloggers deserve to be respected. I think many times companies just don’t think of us bloggers in this way and see social media as just something to get them free publicity. We need to take some ownership of fixing this and educate them.

    I think it’s also a little ironic that as bloggers and social media types we celebrate our ‘relational’ approach yet don’t reach out and help to educate those who don’t yet get it. Sure, when a company should know better I think it’s fair enough for us to push back harder – but many companies are still finding their feet and need a little education on how to do things.

  2. it’s an opportunity for business and fruitful partnerships. If you don’t respond at all or push back too aggressively you could be ending any chance of the relationship with the company progressing into win/win/win territory. But if you’re clever enough you might just land yourself a sponsor, affiliate partnership or get some other fruitful interaction.

I generally try to reply with an email that:

  • attempts to show the ‘pitcher’ that I’d love to work with them
  • that sells my blog/community to them (pointing out readership stats, what our readers are like etc)
  • that shows I treat my blog like a business and am looking for partnership and win/win/win interactions
  • that suggests some ways we could move forward – I usually start out by pointing out some advertising and affiliate opportunities and share a few things we’ve done before that have delivered value to everyone

The reality is that not everyone will respond – some companies are just looking to manipulate the blogosphere and want free traffic/exposure – but you’ll find in time that some companies will respond and that opportunities which benefit everyone will arise.

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. I truly never thought about doing that. I guess it’s because I view those types of pitches as robotic as spam and I guess I never really thought about the person behind them.
    You’re very insightful to suggest something like this. It almost makes me want to start contacting all those spammers who leave crazy comments on my site and see what their problem is. Maybe there’s a real person behind all those comments who really just needs a bit of help.

  2. Ivan Walsh says:

    The third point shows that you’re a business & more than a hobbyist.

    ‘I treat my blog like a business’

    Saying that. don’t feel obliged to engage with every offer than comes your way.

    Be selective!

    • Darren Rowse says:

      Ivan – yes, selectivity is key. I should have added that I only take this approach when the pitch I’m getting is a product/service that I think ‘fits’ with my audience and their needs. Great point.

  3. This is exactly the approach that I take with these kinds of pitches. I reach out and explain why the pitch or approach won’t work, but offer them other suggestions or opportunities. Sometimes they say no, but sometimes it really does work out. Another technique I recently found is that I am regularly approached by companies who want to send me products. Now when I hold events, I contact them directly and ask if they’d like to send me not just a sample, but xx number for the gift bags for our events. More often than not, they love the idea and agree. It’s a brilliant thing to know the exact campaign execs for specific companies and advertisers.

  4. Dave says:

    I love this attitude. You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take, so why not take a few minutes to craft a response that could yield a new sponsor for your blog. Some PR people are so use to getting ignored by bloggers, it seems, that even if you take the time to politely respond that you’d like to be removed from their mailing list, they’ll thank you for it.

  5. Skip says:

    I am going to try doing this. I also like the idea of educating PR people about what blogs can (and cannot) offer them.

  6. drt says:

    @Kiesha, I also got a lot of comments and when I checked their sites, it’s simply one page link page, sometime selling a particular brand of product, so I treated them as spam and deleted their comments. But I think what Darren was telling us is the real offer from some companies out there trying to get a free traffic from his site.

    Good points Darren. There is always an opportunity on every offer. Some will respond to your suggestion some won’t. Win/win/win. I will remember that.

  7. Hey Darren,
    Interesting post man. I have never thought of trying something like this. contacting them. I think i should give it a try. Really awesome idea man. Thanks !! ;).

    Thanks for sharing this great Post.

  8. Thanks for sharing this great idea, Darren! This type of thinking is what helps set problogger apart.

    I would have never thought about responding to pitchers in this way, especially not in such detail. Like your initial responses, I would have simply deleted the email, or tried to “push back” and demanded better options without explaining how that would benefit all involved.

  9. Katherine says:

    Great point — I actually tried this last fall. A car company was doing a local blogger push here in Chicago and asked if I wanted to “cover” a guerilla marketing event they were orchestrating. Not only is my blog not about cars (I write about home decor on a thrift store budget), I don’t even do event coverage. But I turned their pitch around and said, “What would be really cool is if you offered me a car for the weekend and I went to flea markets and showed how much antique furniture I could cram into the hatchback.” AND THEY LOANED ME THE CAR for the weekend. My readers got a great article about flea markets, I got wheels for the weekend, and the PR company got an authentic grassroots “hit” for their product. Win/win/win.

    The thing is sometimes YOU’RE the expert on how to best get a certain company’s message across to your audience. If you can provide them with that idea (i.e. “here’s how to best reach my niche audience with your product”) in an ideally win/win/win, those companies will often jump on it.

    Great post, Darren.

  10. Really helpful post Darren. As a new site trying to see an increase in revenue, but not wanting to take on an advertiser that doesn’t fit with our goal, we get both tempted and annoyed by offers that are not well thought out. I appreciate the focus on creating win/win/win (fun to type win that many times also) relationships, and the idea that we should treat each interaction as an opportunity.

    As always, thanks for the inspiration…

  11. I simply don’t understand why people do that.

    I get many advertising and JV offers everyday and most of them seem be plain stupid and one-sided. It’s like the other person has a feeling that the only reason I was born was to listen to what he says.

    I think what you do with those pitches is perfect. I spend hours responding to them but I think I won’t do that from today onwards. Ignoring them seems so much less time consuming and awesome. LOL

  12. Darren,

    Great post! This falls under the “Don’t burn a bridge” category. If the pitch is totally unreasonable, I can see a quick delete happening. But, if it is remotely doable then why burn a bridge. You always see the same people when you are on your way down.

    I appreciate the idea you presented. It will get used when I am at the point where I’m getting pitched!

    Take care,
    Ali

  13. @Ali

    To add to your thought-stream – just tell people to “build a bridge, and get over it!”, that’s what my daughter tells me!

  14. In the world of blogging and advertising, there are a lot of bad pitches which are also known as comments or blogs that have a negative feedback. Most of the time these negative pitches is affecting a lot of aspects in your blogging that is why it is giving a bad reputation to readers. This article is very important to bloggers since it would give them the chance to turn these negative feedbacks into positive feedbacks. Hopefully people and bloggers would be able to read this.

    Thanks a lot!

    Alex

  15. I often find that when someone approaches me with an obvious bad pitch. If I ask a few good targeted questions about what they are really looking for there is often room for a referral partner or maybe even a reverse pitch. This is an art that does not come natural to many as most hate being “sold” to.

  16. Jonathan says:

    I’d take a bad pitch over no pitch any day. Sign I have arrived!

  17. I have found that since I’ve written up a media page about where I stand on this, I get far less ridiculous pitches than I used to. If someone has read my media kit and still emails me, then I do tend to take the time to further educate them. I am glad you posted about this, because like others, I will take on board what you’re saying and I’m sure it’ll change my approach on it.

  18. Fred Kapoor says:

    I agree with @Ivan Walsh and of course when a blog is created for business purposes, the approach has to be totally different to the one a blogger should have when blogging as a hobby. I believe this distinction is important and crucial for a blogger to know how to manage the blog.

  19. Edward says:

    Agree. All my experience shows that success is all about turning challenges into opportunities.

  20. mmmm…Got me thinking about doing this now Darren.

    But say you’re new to the bloggersphere and you don’t have quite the follow as you do, or the traffic. It’s probably not a good idea is it?

  21. hokya says:

    agree, but i think the most important is business to hobby or hobby to business :-)

  22. Carmen says:

    Wilson,

    Even if your site is new to the Blogosphere you should consider Darren’s position on this issue. It’s your blog, and whether you have 20 followers or daily visitors in the tens of thousands- your approach to PR pitches should be the same – and why shouldn’t it?

    I think it’s critical to get “Best Practices” and standards for how you will manage PR pitches (amongst other business activities) early on. And I agree with Darren – set expectations early on that the relationship between the PR company and your blog is the basis for a win/win for both parties.

    -Carmen

  23. HowToPlaza says:

    Good points Darren. Doors to communication shouldn’t be shut immediately. Sometimes it’s just a matter of tiny communication gap.

  24. Leon Noone says:

    G’Day Darren,

    As they used to say on ‘Laugh In’, “very interesting.” I make no bones about the fact that my blog exists as an overt commercial venture. I’m trying to sell stuff. I don’t mind people trying to sell stuff to me.

    But I get so many pitch pages that are nothing more than old fashioned ‘foot in the door’ hard sells. I find the “how the web saved me from penury, made me a millionaire, pays for exotic holidays and enabled me to buy a Porsche for my wife to drive to the shops in” type of pitch as particularly unprofessional.

    Whatever happened to WIIFM?

    Seems I’d better have a rethink!

    Thanks

    Leon

  25. Joe boyle says:

    I’m into helping people out, so I’ll be willing to say “You know, you need to do XXX and you’ll get so much further!”. In the process, I get publicity, thanks, and maybe even a relationship. It’s a great way to manipulate the web!

  26. Joshua Noerr says:

    I think the first time a new blogger is on the receiving end of a pitch, even a bad one, the reaction is to say, “Wow, I better not screw this up! This is cool.”

    But, like you wrote, we should be respected too, and therefore, have the right to push back, and even the responsibility to our readers to do so. Great thought provoking post. Thank you.

  27. I usually ignore bad pitches.

  28. Ivan Walsh says:

    Hey @leon

    If you create a Work With Leon page and describe the type of partnerships you’re interested in, you may attract more relevant prospects and filter out the tire-kickers.

    Chris Brogan does a good job of this on his site. Jonathan Fields also gives a nice intro to his work in the about page. Low key but effective.

  29. Education is always a good thing. I think it’s worth mentioning, and I hope you do as well, that in traditional media there was a big boundary between editorial and sales/promotion. Many people are still making the jump from “old” to “new” media and are still operating in the more traditional ways, which is why it seems so one-sided. This is all changing and they’ll soon catch up to what you’re already doing. Then you will have more offers than you know what to do with. haha

  30. Dan Mihaliak says:

    Darren
    Im sure you hear this enough but this post is very well timed and right on. I think that many times even though bloggers do treat their blog as a business they shoot for the quick money rather than taking their time and developing a great product. I treat my blogs as a business and take time to nurture them. I hope they provide a good window for the people pitching to me to see that I just won’t accept everything pitched.

  31. Glen says:

    Very informative Darren.

    I like the idea of educating the pitchers and I know from the business opportunity I have had most of them have been really polite and appreciate the power of the blog.

    There has been the odd email in which I have thrown away though. Will definitely use this advice in the future.

  32. Hey Darren cheers for this, Its a totally new approach and definitely something I’m willing to try out, will let you know how it goes.. cheers again!

  33. Devin says:

    Hi Darren,

    I have a fairly long list of small projects that I try to get to when I can to improve site function, relationships with clients, etc. My “work with me” page was 19th — I counted. The content on the page will also double as a response letter to emails

    It is now number one on my list. I have already created a link on the home page for it.

    Really smart thinking.
    devin

  34. Hi Darren,
    I appreciate your fresh approach to viewing annoying emails. Always keeping an open mind is a very healthy approach. This applies in life and in business. The wonderful lady in my life I would have never met if I ignored a friends request to help out someone.
    Cheers,
    David
    http://www.GrowYourWellnessBiz.com

  35. Kade says:

    Thank you, I’m always getting annoying pitches from people and companies and never really knew what to do with them. I was soooo annoyed. Thanks to this I can finally get an advantage out of my facepalming.

  36. a ray of light in what is usually a very dark tunnel! – perhaps said best, as usual, by a famous dead guy – Alfred North Whitehead:

    “A clash of doctrines is not a disaster. It is an opportunity.”

  37. Mobile Hot says:

    Making a good pitch is never easy but it is essential to make it!