How NOT to pitch PR to bloggers

OK, so this may seem a little strange but the background to this post is twofold:

1. I have just gone through a cleansing of my email folders and removed in excess of 20 emails related to review items that I have been offered (and had confirmed) but that have not arrived yet. Believe it or not I had at least seven (7) from the same PR agency, some dating back to October 2007,

2. During CES I blogged a huge amount for one of my clients and got incredibly frustrated at the way the Press Releases were presented.

Now it may seem a little like ‘biting the hand that feeds you’, but I reckon that the amount of PR agencies that actually know how to pitch to bloggers is very few, and that as a general rule not many have adapted their processes from the more traditional print media.

Why do I think I am in a position to comment on this? Well back when I was working full time in the UK I dealt with PR agencies for a number of years, was responsible for appointing (and firing) them, made friends with several owners of PR agencies, and I dare say made a few enemies as well. I have been blogging for a couple of years now and have built up a good relationship with a number of ‘newer’ PR agencies, and receive press releases and review offers if not daily then at least several times a week.

So here in no particular order are a few things that PR agencies shouldn’t do when pitching to a blogger:

1. Don’t send me information on a product that isn’t ready to be sent for review. If you offer it to me then a) be prepared to send it and b) make sure that it is available to ship. Remember, I never asked you to email me. I know I live in Spain, and if you read my blog you will know as well so DON’T tell me that you don’t ship outside of the US or that I will need to contact your European colleagues.

2. Don’t expect me to figure out why I should be writing about your product! Tell me why you choose my blog, and ideally link to a previous article on the site that you would like for your product in terms of style etc. You know my readers like beta opportunities, early visibility of services so don’t make me ask. If you have good stuff send it along.

3. Don’t forget the picture! You will be amazed how many agencies send a press release that says that if I want a picture I should contact them. Let me let you in on a secret ……. I stopped doing that during CES and I was paid to write for that site. I may well take my own picture, but if you have them in stock (and I can’t conceive that you wont) then include them in the press release.

4. Don’t send me a demo unit without telling me in advance. I have nothing against demo units, but when I write a review I consider the delivery, communications, packaging etc. If it turns up in poor shape and you haven’t told me it is a demo unit I will do you no favors in my review.

5. Don’t cost me money! If you want the product back that is fine. I am not in this for freebies. But if you want it back send me a pre paid return and the relevant packaging.

6. Don’t waste my time! I don’t want to know what you might be offering. I don’t want a long term relationship with you. I don’t even want to hear from you unless you have something specific to offer me that you know I will be interested in posting about. If you expect me to research why I should write about your product rather than the 20+ other press releases I get each day then assume I wont. Save us both some time.

7. Don’t make me look tardy! I want fresh, new content on the site. I can turn reviews around VERY quickly, so operate at the same speed please.

8. Don’t expect to be treated better than you treated me. NOTHING winds me up more than waiting weeks for a product to arrive and then getting a chase within a couple of days. If I say I will review something I will review it.

9. Don’t take me for granted. I will always email you back with with a link to the review. It doesn’t cost you anything to acknowledge it!

10. Don’t forget my name. It is plastered all over my site. It is my email address, so if you write to me call me by my name!

Oh yes, one more thing. If you change staff it is nice to know! I just sent 10 or so emails chasing products only to find that the person had left. In fact ignore that! Don’t tell me about the change, just make sure that a) people send things when they say they will and b) when your staff leave make sure you check their emails.

So there you go. Don’t do any of the above and we will get on just fine.

Oh and one last tip. Don’t assume I am unique – I know a lot of bloggers that have similar views to mine on this subject.

2 thoughts on “How NOT to pitch PR to bloggers

  1. jeremy

    That is quite a rant Chris. I’m unsure as to how to respond as I don’t know what you get out of doing reviews.

    If they pay you then take it on the chin. If it is as a favour, then ditch the ones you don’t like.

  2. Chris Marshall Post author

    Less of a rant, more of a (only slightly veiled) dig at a couple of PR agencies that chased me up for stuff recently that they hadn’t even sent!!

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