I don’t ever want to give the impression that I’m somehow ungrateful for the wonderful opportunities I’ve received. Pitch after pitch floods my inbox.
However, the level of subpar pitches that make their way into my inbox (and others from what I can wager) every day has reached an all-time high, forcing me to be the bad guy.
The truly sad part is that you, the PR people, don’t seem to care how your pitch gets into our inbox, just so it lands there. That’s fine. It’s landed but it’s getting deleted and here are the most common reasons why.
Your pitch is off base.
I know you have a lot to do in the course of a day. You’ve promised your client that you could reach X amount of bloggers and your Rolodex is FULL of contacts whom their service, app, book, toy, cleaning solution, or sale, is perfect for. You have people to email and bloggers to reach and you only have so much time to do it before you move on to the next client that you’re representing… the fact that you’ll email the same blogger about your other dozen clients today doesn’t matter. You. Must. Reach. Out.
Before you copy and paste our emails into the Bcc address, make sure you have the right person for the pitch. I know the list is long and vast but be selective. Take five extra minutes to learn the basics: what’s my name, what do I blog about, do I like unsolicited pitches, do I even have a dog, kid, sheep, Ipad, baby, or husband?
Any blogger that you want to work with, has this already filled out in a handy-dandy about page. If you can’t find it, move on to someone else. Along those same lines, don’t just pitch because it’s a good geographic fit or some keywords came up in a search. Do your research on us because I promise you, we’re doing ours.
I’m genuinely not interested in your pitch (if you want me to be interested, you’re going to have to WOW me)
Now that you’re pitch has reached me, I need to be interested in it. I wonder how many PR folks have a background in journalism because honey, I need a good hook in your query to make it past the front door.
If you’re telling the same story to everyone you meet, eventually the story gets watered down to “wa-wah wa-wah wa-wah”. I see the words on the screen but I don’t hear a thing you have to say.
Don’t forget, if your pitch doesn’t have a thing to do with my audience, then I’m going to need a lot more pizzazz to make me want to talk about it.
Your pitch is not specific enough
Now your pitch has made it past the front gates (it’s kind of like getting to second base but not all hot, bothered and sweaty like). What do you want me to do next? You got me to open it. I’m reading, reading, ooh this is cool. What’s expected? What are your outcomes?
If you answer just share it, I’m likely going to toss it and then bang my head against my desk.
Share means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. As a mom, it means give Timmy a turn with the ball and you come over here and play with the puzzle. As a content curator (yes, I am) it means spreading the message.
But you aren’t telling me how you want me to do that. Your request gets further confusing and muddied when you tell me that the author, creator, and CEO are available for an interview. That’s nice. I wish him/her luck. Do you want me to interview them? Say so. Do you want me to write a post? Tell me that too. Tweet it? I need to know here.
I’ve outlined what I’m available and willing to do, have you?
Let’s put it this way, if my husband got me all ready for a date, told me we would have a wonderful time, then actually got.me.out.the.door. And then asked me where I wanted to go for dinner I’d file divorce papers.
In fact, I’d have him drive me to the attorney’s office to do it.
Don’t be vague. It hurts your efforts.
You’ve “followed up” about a dozen times
My day is full. I work full time, I manage my own business as a professional writer and social media advisor, I have clients filling my inbox, I have newsletters filling my inbox, I have invoices and receipts to send out, four kids, and a thousand other household obligations.
The last thing I need or want to do as I’m sitting down to answer emails is to see three or four from you, asking me why I haven’t responded, reminding me to share, asking me if I’d like to share, and generally making a pain of yourself.
It would be an added bonus if you actually checked me off your list to make sure that I actually, DID NOT respond. Because 99.9999999 percent of the time, I did.
Do you know what I say when my kids repeatedly ask me for the SAME THING over and over again?
NO. Not now. Not ever. You ruined your chance. I only got your FIRST email yesterday. I haven’t even had time to look at it let alone email you back.
I don’t see the potential for future opportunities
Just about every blogger or writer will tell you that when they decide to work with a company or brand, they look at the big picture. If I write this post for you now, what are the odds you’ll remember me in the future?
What other clients do you serve? How can we build something beautiful together?
Unfortunately, it’s not you we’re judging. We may like your PR company just fine but we’re looking at the brands you represent. We want to know that there’s a future for us with you and your clients.
We want to know that we’re the first you’re going to call later on down the road. It sounds rude but I have to ask you, what’s in it for me? I know what you get out of it, but where do I stand?
Your pitch wants me to do a lot for very little (or nothing at all)
I don’t like to work for free. There I said it. I don’t like to do it. It costs money for me to be self-hosted. It costs money for me to go to events or network. It costs time (which turns into lost money) for me to email you back and ask if there’s a chance of doing a real social media campaign or if this could be a sponsored feature post on my site.
You don’t work for free either. Your clients hire you and you put in long hours searching out the people you think will serve your clients the best, well guess what? I do the same.
I work long hours on this blog, on my name and my brand, researching and writing the kinds of content that are going to get people talking or sharing, or whatever it is you want me to do. I have a writing background, I have a professional writing background actually.
I can take your pitch, turn around and query a major magazine and promise them an interview with your author, app creator, whomever plus MORE, and get paid handsomely. Handsomely enough to pay the bills for a month.
Nine times out of ten, your pitch gets sent to the trash bin because I don’t want to, nor should I have to work for free. What’s even sadder is that if I work for free for you once, I know you’ll be back with more work for me to do, for free. And I can’t make a living like that. Can you?
Now I know that not all bloggers can legit call themselves professional writers but I’m willing to bet that their blog is their business so they can damn sure call themselves a business person. And what legit business person puts in long hours to never be paid?
Your Deadline is Nonexistent
Legit PR pitch:
Hope you are well. I just wanted to ensure that this was on your radar. Today, (current day, date, and year) X car company blah blah blah support of longtime family favorite (children’s tv show) that will include blah blah blah blah promoted across X Car company brand’s digital and social channels.
Blah multimedia campaign will blah blah blah lovable (Children’s tv show) characters with blah blah X Car brand and X car brand blah blah blah…
The first four videos can be viewed now on X Car band’s YouTube channel. Please keep an eye on X Car brand’s digital and social channels, including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, for additional content.
You can find the official release below. If there is any way you can include this in a post or story, I would be so appreciative. Please let me know if you have any questions, thank you! Xoxo
Are you Nucking Futs? This campaign is going on now?
You emailed me the day the campaign went live and want something now? That gives me exactly negative zero time to come up with a post, tweet, social share, etc, and work it into my editorial calendar.
You don’t mention when the campaign ends AND it’s MY JOB to track down the Instagram, tweets, and Facebook updates in order to share it?
Talk about poor planning on your part, but yes please let me rearrange everything else I have going on FOR YOU. The fast and furious answer to this is HELL.NO.
We, bloggers, get these pitches ALL THE TIME. Especially around the holidays.
Our inboxes become overloaded during all the major holidays including back-to-school with the hopes that we’ll rush to include your product or service last minute in a gift guide, a review, or even a giveaway.
(Don’t even get me started on giveaways you just want me to “share” with my audience).
If you have even a remote chance of me participating in a campaign like this, you’re gonna need to plan better. I get time is of the essence and all that jazz but this completely solidifies my argument about time and money.
Not to mention professional courtesy.
If you don’t understand why you’re not reaching the bloggers you want to reach, take a minute and ask yourself the questions we ask ourselves when we get a pitch and then ask yourself this: Would you delete your pitch?
If the answer is yes, then please do better because we’d like to work with you!
Fellow bloggers, did I leave anything out? Why do pitches end up in your trash folder?
image via Nkzs
I sometimes feel the same way. I happy companies are finding me but some of the pitches are way off base. I hate the ones with no product or pay mentioned
You know I don’t even mind no pay being mentioned because at least then I can counter back and ask about compensation but you have to at least tell me what it is you want first. The article for me to “use” with the not so subtly hidden app, book, product that is going to change the world promotion is probably my least favorite because Google does not love duplicate content. Why would I post an article or even portions of one that you’re sending out to hundreds of other bloggers? Google does not love that. I like being Google’s friend.
Great points! I love working with brands and PR companies, but like you, I’m very disappointed when the product/idea/app being pitched is something that I can’t use or promote at all. Although maybe I should update my “About” page to say I have no iPad and can’t review apps… 🙂
Yes, it almost feels like we update our About pages more than we do anything else doesn’t it?
April @ The 21st Century Housewife
I could so identify with this post! It’s particularly bad over here in the UK – PR people almost always expect you to work for free or just a few ‘samples’ – and then they are shocked when you say you want to be paid. One even tried to scare me into doing a post for free by saying it was illegal to be paid – assuming I didn’t know about nofollow links! I normally just press delete but let’s just say I enlightened her. Having said that many UK PR folks won’t work with you if you won’t do do follow links – and I just won’t. Thankfully there are some great US companies coming over here that are helping to change how brands and PR look at bloggers over here. I’ve been working with one of them and it’s like an epiphany!!
Oh April I am so glad that you’ve found a company that wants to work with you and not against you. I’ve gotten a lot of pitches from the U.K. as well and they are all for a sponsored post but the moment I mention that Google nofollow rule, they bail. This is a long education process but I feel like we’ll get there some day!
Great post! I so know what you mean about everything!!
I loved your post. I cannot stand when I land on some PR company’s ‘share this with your readers’ list. Then yes, they must have a calendar that pops up and says it’s time to send a reminder….’did you get a chance to share,’ ‘we can provide images if you like’ – I’m sure you can when you are asking me to do something for FREE. I can understand providing content that fits my blog and I might want to share on my own…but I DO NOT like when a PR Rep thinks I have nothing better to do than ‘share’ their content. And, sending me an email to see if I did it yet…so annoying. Some of these reps are frustratingly persistent.
Great post! I was just thinking this earlier today looking at some crazy emails I received. Some things that I get sent are just off the wall! Glad I’m not the only one.
great post. I’ve been deleting more lately. It took me a while to get there, but I’m learning. The sad part is if I do write the post and then send the link and they never respond again. A thank you goes a long way. I am getting more and more PR or press releases each week that are generic so I delete those now. What do they want me to do with those?!
thanks for sharing such good thoughts.