Blogger relations – you’re doing it wrong

I don’t usually write posts outing other PR folks, but a pitch I received this morning from another PR agency roused my blogging tendencies from their slumber.

Here’s how it read:

From: [...]@gmail.com
Sent: Wed, Aug 15, 2012 at 3:02 AM

PR Firm [...] Sends Small Businesses to the Top of Social Media for $790 Per Month

On Monday, August 13, [PR agency] announced three new SEO / Social Media / Press Release Packages starting at $790 per month, bringing an affordable solution to businesses needing a strong online presence via Facebook, Twitter, WordPress blog and press releases. The smallest package which includes a number of posts, tweets, articles and press releases each month, costs little more than sending one press release through a service.

To view this release on PRWeb, click the link below:

http://www.prweb.com/releases/[...]

______________________
If you would rather not receive future communications from [...], please go to [...].
[Address]

Let’s see…

  1. Pick your audience: If this person had done any research they’ve have known from posts like this or this that I’m not a fan of spray and pray tactics or services. If I’m going to write about something like this, it’s not going to be in a positive way, and I’ll firmly argue that $790 per month will not get you to the “top of social media”. It’s not going to get you to the top of anything, in fact.
  2. Don’t spray and pray: They sprayed and prayed. At least I was in the “to” line, but there was no effort whatsoever to address me personally – even a “Dear Blogger”, which still triggers the “delete” button for me, would be a step up from this. There’s  absolutely no customization, either, or even an effort to do anything beyond copy/paste the first paragraph (I assume – I didn’t click through) of the release.
  3. Offer a call to action: I have no idea what this company wants from me. Do they want me to write about their announcement? Do an interview with a spokesperson? Try it out? Offer a trial? It’s not clear, which means most people will do nothing.
  4. Avoid free email services: The email came from a Gmail account; one with the word “guru” in the account name, no less. You’re a PR agency and your pitches are coming from a Gmail account? And one with the word “guru” in the account name, no less?
  5. Don’t make me opt-out when I didn’t opt-in: How did I make it onto this list of yours? Why do I need to say “no, I don’t want to automatically receive your pitches”? If you were researching and tailoring the emails to me I’d be much more open to it, but signing me up for your automatic spam? No thanks.

This really is the worst kind of PR – the kind that actually makes me angry about people who claim to work in the same space as me. It’s lazy, it’s unprofessional and, if it’s anything like the way this company goes about conducting PR activities for its clients, it’s not a great testimonial for the firm.

12 comments
Andrea Toole
Andrea Toole

I just want to add that I get a bit excited every time I see that people are still commenting on this post. You created a post with a long shelf life. (I'm sure many of your posts are like that, but this one I get notifications for.)

CoreyWeddington
CoreyWeddington

Very good article i hope more PR people learn this stuff , my email get filled with PR junk and possibly 1 out of 20 emails is even remotely personalized. 

aprilkristineee
aprilkristineee

Thanks for this post!  As a PR student it was refreshing to learn about the turn-ons and turn-offs of other PR pros. It is nice to see what I view as business inappropriate (lack of personalization, no call to action) are mirrored in your post as well. 

 

 

elinwho
elinwho

Very interesting post and a good reminder. Too many pitch letters takes the fast lane to the bin because of easy-to-avoid negligence from PR-professionals.

leon dubash
leon dubash

Great Posting, was a brilliant read.

 

 

 

 

 

 

www.ebizsubmit.com

 

 

Isabella Barbato
Isabella Barbato

Well said, Dave. Coincidentally, I just received a newsletter with the subject "How to generate leads from social media", which started like this: "Hi {Enter first name}, etc...". They did not even bother to replace the {Enter first name} with my name, and it's the second time in 2 weeks I get this from the same company!! So today I was not in the mood of just deleting and moving on, and this was my reply:

"Are you guys so lazy that you can't even put my First Name in between the brackets before sending out a newsletter? This is the second time in a row I noticed this- before obviously deleting. How can you send newsletters on "how to generate leads from social media" when you don't even know the basics of marketing?? This is just spamming!"

CherylAndonian
CherylAndonian

Here are a few cues in pitches that automatically make me delete before I finish reading:

1. "To whom it may concern" or "Hello" when MY NAME is in the email address that they sent it to... Delete

2. The old cut and paste, with a sentence changed and the rest of the text is in a different font...Delete

3. I saw your product and would love to review it. NO mention of my product by name or what it is or why they want to review it or what's in it for me.... Delete.

4. Typos and misspellings, all the while telling me that they are communications professionals...Delete.

5. A return email address that's something like this: pinkandpretty1979@gmail.com...Delete.

 

The moral of the story here is just because you have a computer and know how to send an email, does not make you a communications or PR professional. There are skills involved and there really is an art to communication. Take 20 minutes to craft a strong and well written pitch to a specific person. Find out who they are and what they might respond to and CRAFT a message that will speak to them. That one well crafted pitch will get you much farther than those 1,000 spray and pray pitches.

Amy Fey
Amy Fey

Dave, it’s quite sad to see that with all the blog outreach tips available free of charge all over the Internet there are still companies which make such mistakes.  Also, I think that the problem here lies not only in the research, but in the marketing strategy. I always encourage a more personal approach when it comes to bloggers.  I truly believe that bloggers shouldn’t be treated as tools for communication strategies, but partners for a win-win relationship. 

 

NZJulie
NZJulie

Great post, but I disagree with your fourth point on free email services. I am a freelance PR and gmail is one of the many channels I use to communicate with clients and journalists. This has not stopped me from getting results. I'd argue it's even helped it some cases.

Andrea Toole
Andrea Toole

Well said,

Here's another one for you: I often get offers of free stuff. I was recently asked by a PR company for a mailing address for their database. Rather than giving it (I have no office and really no place for anything to be left if I'm not home) I offered to provide delivery arrangements on a case-by-case basis. This week they asked for my address because they had something to send me. No mention of the product, just shipping box dimensions. I responded asking for more information, received a product name but nothing further. I then asked for some written information about the product, which I then got from a colleague of the person with whom I'd been in contact. The first thing they should have done was offer the name of the product with information, not "What's your mailing address?". The former looks like marketing, the latter looks a little like stalking and spray and pay.

Now, I know that a lot of bloggers will take free stuff just because it's free, but I think it's a waste of resources (environmental impact, marketing budget, etc.) if it's not something that fits my lifestyle or blog. I get enough free stuff from PR companies that I end up giving away or throwing out.

I don't know if the person had read my blog at all, but I do have a note to PR companies telling them that I don't accept everything offered.

Andrea Toole
Andrea Toole

 @CherylAndonian Amen to that. I have a few PR companies that I deal with on a regular basis and we have a personal rapport. It's evident that maintaining relationships with bloggers in between events is important to one agency owner. She understands that blogger-PR relations can be about more than just selling "this product now" and whether it's just because she's friendly or because she's a strategic thinker, it works. It emphasizes "people" in the "5 Ps of marketing". It's sustainable. It maintains trust. Sometimes at one event she'll let me know about another coming up. I support her company as much as I can, even if not all of her clients have products that are the right fit for my blog. Personal rapport between me and these agencies did not happen by them not doing their homework! I WILL thank the PR company in tweets and blog entries if they impress me, and I'll recommend their services to potential clients.

 

The worst PR companies I've worked with include one that seemed like it was run by a bunch of kids on summer break. One event they were promoting was a big fundraiser with an expensive price, a well-known annual affair. At said event, one of them sent a media release from a colleague's Blackberry but signed her name and later a second of the same was sent. This followed other examples of shoddy on-site professionalism. Despite the nature of the event, it felt like a bunch of kids got together to throw a party. They made the event organizers look bad and made me feel that it was a huge waste of time.

 

Final note: As bloggers, we compare notes on agencies and pitches.

 

I think I need to blog this.

davefleet
davefleet moderator

 @NZJulie Interesting. I would be interested to hear more about how it may have helped. When I see a business-focused email from a generic email domain, to me it comes across as amateurish given how cheap and easy it is to get a more official domain name. 

Andrea Toole
Andrea Toole

That should read "spray and pray", not "spray and pay" and the comma on the first like should have been a period. -1 for not properly proofreading my comment before I submitted it.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Fleet discusses blogger relations and how you (if) are doing it wrong. His arguments are based on a pitch by Avidea PR (although he [...]

  2. [...] Fleet has a page of “pitching tips” on his website. He’s also got a post called Blogger Relations – You’re Doing it Wrong that I’ve commented on a few times. He posted it in August and this topic has been on my list [...]