PR pitches in my inbox: rarely good, mostly bad and ugly

Lately, so many brands have included blogger partnerships for their social media and advertising campaigns. I feel it is so much more targeted than a lot of traditional media and the return can be a lot better and more measurable as well. I love that a lot of companies are going that direction, but there are so many more that just don’t get it yet.

I’ve been receiving quite a number of emails from agencies representing brands – most of them generic structured press releases with a common ending: “we are hoping you could post this on your blog for your readers to see”.

Uhm, no.

Before, I have religiously answered these kind of email pitches explaining my decision to say no and why not but these days? I’ve lost the energy to. I just delete these kind of emails now because replying would not be worth the time but the emails have just gotten far worse over the last few weeks. I had to address them collectively, here (since I know they are reading my blog).

It is time.

Brands, I get it – you hire a PR agency to send pitches via email to promote a product or an event but I hate to tell you this: the agencies (or people) you’re hiring?

They. Just. Don’t. Get. It.

Some of the few I’ve received so far:

1. PR pitches that ask to publish for free

As Sandier Pastures blog is about the life and your experiences as a working Mom in Dubai, and I must say I am a big fan as well! I would like to introduce to you *product name* as I hope you and your readers might be interested in this and would be very happy if you would consider writing about it in your blog?

I immediately replied to the email as I really like the product and very keen on reviewing it. They will have to, however, give me the product so I can review it (common sense, anyone?) and write about my experience. Nothing special, just a logical win-win thing to do. I get to try out a product I like, they get the exposure.

I didn’t get any reply after that making me conclude that they are not willing to give out a product in exchange for exposure, for advertising. The kind of advertising that can be viewed by thousands through my blog’s traffic from search engines, tweets, Facebook posts, Instagram photos, and more, expanding the reach that goes beyond the December edition of the traditional “ABC Magazine” with their add on page 21 in the upper left corner.

But these kind of PR don’t want to invest in anything. They want free publication, nothing else.

What’s worse? I receive another email of the same nature, from the same PR agency, from the same PR person asking to promote another product. {She totally ignored my previous email}

SUGGESTION: Be business like. It is easy to undermine the value of a website just because it is a “blog” but there is a reason why you approached it – it is beneficial for your campaign. It has a price attached to it (in the above case, a product for review) because every writeup with a mention of a brand, somewhere, someone gains something. If you’re going to gain something out of publishing your pitch on a platform, don’t expect it would be free.

Many bloggers have done their time. They have been blogging for years and have built their own brand, experience, exposure and reputation. They won’t and (should not) work for free.

Don’t get me wrong, I offer support in terms of coverage to issues and non-profit organizations that is close to my heart and would never expect to be paid for that. On the other hand, when a brand, represented by a PR agency or direct reaches out to me to ask me to publish and promote content for free, I find that outreach insulting.

2.  PR person who is clueless on how to build relationships

Relationships, online or otherwise start with the basic: knowing the other person’s name. Yet, there are so many PR people who don’t bother to flick through parts of the blog to see the blogger’s name. I have been addressed countless times with: “Dear Sandie”

SUGGESTION: Usually, there is an About section in the blog. Click it, know the blogger’s name. It’s not really that difficult.

3.  PR person using the spray and pray strategy

PR rep gathers up a list of random bloggers’ emails addresses and then send the same message to everyone, regardless of topical relevance.

SUGGESTION: Do your research and send PR pitches according to the blogger’s niche or area of interest. Spamming an announcement isn’t press relations, it’s spamming.

4. PR from all over with the same agenda; No coordination

We are a digital advertising agency and we came across your blog which we found extremely good. We would like to hire your services to post articles on your blog to promote {country name} Tourism. We will provide the articles and you will need to post them on your blog. We need 5 blog articles from you for 3 months {crap payment A}.

From another PR, freelance, I bet as he has a gmail.com email:

I am A.T. reaching you from India in regards to some Blog activities. We would need 5 blogs from you each month for 3 months on our client Tourism {country name}. We would be sharing detail topic on which you can build the content around it. This would also go viral on your Facebook and twitter to help us achieve our KPI of Pageviews. {crap payment B} is ok?

And another…

Reason for my email:  we have a contract with Tourism {country name} to engage with bloggers around the world on travel to {country name}.  Great if you’ve been there but not essential.  We are looking for 300 word and 800 word posts (and photos wherever possible).  We need copy as soon as possible plus ongoing requirements over the next few weeks.

From yet another PR, with the same agenda as the other three above!

A leading tourism company is targeting tourists from the middle east region through and we wanted to know if you would be able to make blog posts for tourism {country name}? During a four month period would you be able to make 4 to 6 blog posts on {country name}, post opinions & comments..in 5 or 6 discussion forums web sites..If you can indicate a cost it would be good…Say if you could do it for {crap payment C} per month for four months ..Please reply fast so that we can include you in the panel.

Your tone is so demanding. I cannot coordinate for you. Period.

Other than the demanding tone and the general impression that they are all in a hurry, these 3 different PR pitches are offering 3 different crap payment — which means Tourism {country name} has let out a huge campaign without fixed protocols from pricing to execution strategy.

SUGGESTION: Choose a reputable PR agency/agencies. Build guidelines so the behavior of PR people will not damage your brand’s reputation. Offering crap payment in exchange for a ‘blogging service’, with a pressing deadline no less is an insult and it stirs up the idea that your brand is cheap.

5. PR person asking for help

Also I was wondering if you want to steer this in UAE market and get your friend bloggers too who are quite active and influencers  on same. Our requirement is of 10 blog post per month  with 10,00 page views so accordingly you can help us with influential bloggers.

SUGGESTION: Hire a PR agency who knows the market, who is in touch or willing to keep in touch with people for your campaign. You are paying this PR agency to do their jobs, make your money count.

These are just some of the PR pitches I received. Some are actually worse. What makes these bad PR pitches really bad is that these email pitches, press releases do not have an “unsubscribe” at the end. In that sense, they are worse than spam.

4 thoughts on “PR pitches in my inbox: rarely good, mostly bad and ugly

  1. Salient points here. As a journalist who has also practiced PR in other countries, I was taken aback by the approach of all but two of the countless PR practitioners who have approached us. Very basic principles are ignored as you have aptly outlined in your post. Many have no notion of PR best practices and it is quite a shame because it is such a wonderful profession. I am still practising here and I suppose like in every other industry here, there is a lot of space for improvement.

    PR is a strategic tool in the marketer’s arsenal and here it seems to be taken very lightly. Our list of offences experienced runs too long to note in a comment! I hope your post will usher in a new wave of really professional PR.

    Watching to see how this develops.

    Like

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