A while back, after receiving yet another terrible pitch from a public relations (PR) person, I Tweeted in jest, “Next book idea: feature a bunch of emails from PR people, pointing out exactly what they’ve done right and (more often than not) wrong.”
The response I received was that YES, yes this book did need to happen. So… a book might be in the works, my friends! We’ll see.
In the meantime, I’ve rounded up 12 mistakes PR people have made when reaching out to me in the past 🙂
I want to preface this with a little disclaimer:
- There are a ton of awesome PR people out there who really know what they’re doing when reaching out to bloggers.
- I’ve worked on the other side of things—I’ve been in public relations. And I totally get how crazy intense things can get! Mistakes, unfortunately, happen.
- I realize how lucky I am to receive as many pitches as I do from PR people, and I feel incredibly grateful to receive the recognition that I do.
- This article is all in good humor and it’s not meant to be at all malicious or cruel. I KNOW I’m not the only blogger to receive these kinds of pitches, and I’m sure PR people will get a laugh out of it too! (Moreover, there’s probably a great response to this blog post that a PR person could make about blogger blunders. Anyone up for the challenge??)
Top 12 Blunders PR People Make When Reaching Out to Bloggers:
- Misspelling the blogger’s name. Always, always, always double-check the spelling of names and proofread. I know my name is unusual. But my name is in all of my social media handles, my blog title, my email address, and my blog URL, besides being all over my blog. It’s REALLY not that hard to get it right. While we’re on the subject of spelling mistakes, see also: using poor grammar or numerous typos throughout the pitch email. Doesn’t exactly scream “professional,” now does it? I get it: public relations is a hectic industry. But it is worth taking a few precious moments to reread your email before sending it.
- …Or using the wrong name altogether. It’s so funny when my name is not even just slightly wrong, like Sarah instead of Sagan. When it’s Jessica or Melanie, that’s just… not remotely correct. How can I take you seriously if you have no idea who I am or what my blog is about?
- Using “Dear Team” or “Dear Blog Manager” or something similar in the salutation. Again, I totally get it that some blogs/websites aren’t clear about who the contact person is. But when my email address, URL, and blog name are all the exact same… I like to think that it’s pretty obvious what my name is. If you want to be formal, call me Ms. Morrow. I’m cool with that. Just don’t refer to me as something so generic that it’s obvious it’s a mass email. At least put a LITTLE bit of effort into it.
- Contacting about a product that isn’t at all related to the blog topic. Granted, when you’ve got a lifestyle blog like me and cover a wide variety of topics, there’s more room for error than if I was just, say, a recipe blogger. But I get pretty annoyed when PR companies reach out to me regarding baby stuff, for example. I mean, I’ve blogged about how I’m childless by choice several times, and it’s on my About page too. Obviously baby books/toys/clothes are not a good fit for my blog.
- Sending a request for something the blogger explicitly states they do NOT do. I have put a lot of work into my website, and I *hope* that if a PR person is looking for a media kit on my blog, they’d be able to find it within the space of about 5 seconds. Some bloggers are vague about what they do, but others articulate exactly what they will or won’t do. If a blogger says they do not under any circumstances offer ad space on their sidebar, do not contact them about getting ad space in their sidebar.
- Only offering high-res images. UGH. There’s nothing quite like a company contacting a blogger about an interesting product, only to hear when you follow up with them that not only do they not have a budget for paying a blogger, but they don’t have any product samples either. “But we can send you high-res images you can use,” they’ll offer helpfully. Um, no thanks. I’m not just going to promote your stuff for absolutely no reason. There has to be some give and take.
- Sending a bunch of follow-up emails within 24 hours of receiving the first email. We all get piles of emails in our inboxes every day. If I don’t keep on top of my inbox for just one day, it becomes a total disaster. Therefore, I probably only respond to about 20% of PR pitches, if that. And sometimes, unfortunately, it takes me a few days to get around to responding to the ones I’m interested in, let alone emailing to say “no thanks.” Listen: send me a follow-up email if you haven’t heard from me, by all means, but don’t do it the same day or the day after the first email. Wait a few days or a week. And if I don’t respond again, please don’t send me five more emails insisting that I respond. That’ll just make me drive my heels in and I’ll be that much more adamant about not responding.
- Demanding full blog reviews, linked mentions, and social media posts in exchange for a $20 product. If you don’t have a budget, and the product you’re providing is worth less than $100, you have to be comfortable with the fact that a blogger might not do more than mention you in a Tweet or snap an Instagram photo of the product. Brands need to supply a high-quality product worth a decent amount to give it more “real estate” space on the blog. (Side note: obviously, if a blogger agreed to do a bunch of stuff in exchange for the product, they should of course follow through on that.)
- Inviting a blogger to participate in something in a very specific city that they don’t live in. Sure, some bloggers don’t publish their home city/country. But lots of us do, and if you spent two minutes on our About pages, you’d know exactly where we’re located. So: are you willing to fly me to the event and pay for my hotel? Because if so, I’m there! But otherwise, I’m probably not (that is, there’s a 99.9% chance of never) going to blog about some random event or place that I’ve never been to and don’t have access to. On the other hand, if it’s a super cool recurring thing in a city I love (hi there, fashion runway shows in NYC I keep getting invited to!), please keep sending me those emails. The next time I’m in New York, I’ll be happy to accept comp tickets 🙂
- Telling a blogger that “this is a very timely story for your blog and you should write about it.” Funny how I only ever get these emails for stories about things that I probably wouldn’t ever write about on my blog. This is an interesting one, because if the PR person phrased it differently—such as, “I know you haven’t written about this topic before, but I think it would be a great fit for your blog and your readers because XYZ”—then I might actually consider it. But telling me I *should* write about it, and that it’s *timely* (whatever the heck that means), just makes me give the PR person major side eye.
- Using links that don’t work (or not linking at all) in the email pitch. Don’t just tell me about a product and make me have to Google it to find it! Double check your links before hitting “send.” Please. And make sure you include a link when you’re talking about a product/service. I don’t just want to rely on your word for it; I want to look into it myself to see if it would be a good fit.
- Contacting via social media instead of email. Why are you DMing me on Twitter, or leaving a random comment on my Pinterest photo? My contact info is super easy to find all over my blog (spoiler alert: it’s even at the bottom of this blog post). It seems a little lazy to not bother to email me. Plus, I know this makes me a #badblogger, but I’m not very good at responding to private social media message (such as Twitter direct messages). Please send emails instead.
Got anything to add to this list? Have any funny stories about your own experiences? Want to share some counterpoints for what bloggers shouldn’t do to PR people? I want to hear it! Share in the comments section below or shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you to Allison for providing the beautiful stock photo!