The amount of pitches that land in my inbox is often overwhelming and…wrong. I don’t mean to complain. I am grateful that I am even considered by publicists in my 4th year of blogging and when the right one lands at my fingertips, I am thrilled. I know when I get a pitch that is right for me. It’s generally when I can tell my blog has been sought out for a reason, usually because the person at the other end of the pitch understands my niche and knows what works here on The Culture Mom or beyond in my freelance writing world.
I have written about the topic of bad pitches before and I apologize for raising the subject again. I’ve given examples of bad pitches in several of my posts and I’ve also given examples of positive ways for a publicist to pitch a blogger. In general, when I get a pitch, I don’t hesitate to let the publicist know it’s a bad fit, and most of the time I get back a “Thanks, Holly!” as a response (giving me full knowledge that they aren’t really listening). I guess I’m frustrated and feel compelled to address this topic again because it’s just getting worse. I’ve never really fit into a particular mold in the blogging world as my niche is quite varied so I don’t question the confusion when I am wrongly pitched, but I would hope that if a publicist reads my ABOUT section or looks in my PRESS section, they’ll get a good idea of what I write about. (FYI, if you aren’t sure and you’re here, I cover Travel, Culture and Advocacy. I rarely go off the beaten path.) I also don’t think that at this point in time my blog should be thought of as a great free place-to-place content or have something promoted. That just doesn’t seem fair.
Last week I got a pitch that really unnerved me, and I suppose it was the catapult for this blog post. First of all, the pitch implied that I’m a “mommy blogger” (another topic I have covered here). Then it asked me to enter a contest hosted by a major brand for a free trip to take part in a special event at a health and wellness center. These were the guidelines listed to participate:
An official invite is included below, but I wanted to briefly run through how to participate. In order to enter the contest, you must write two blog posts.
POST 1—the first post will serve as your official entry, and will speak to one of the following topics:
• Post an unhealthy recipe, why you love it and how you’d like xxxxxx
• Short response: What is one healthy goal you would like to achieve by 2015?
• Short response: What are your 3 personal tips for embodying a xxxx lifestyle?
Ø When answering one of the above questions, please include information on xxx (I can provide), along with links to xxx website and Facebook page!
POST 2—the second post will share a link to xxx digital magazine, which I will pass along to you upon confirmation of participation. Both posts must include links to xxxs website and Facebook page. Your two posts must go live between April 1 – April 30, 2014 in order to be considered for the contest. A winner will be chosen by May 14th.
To be honest, this pitch set off a fire storm in one of the private Facebook groups that I belong to, for so many reasons. First and foremost, that we were being asked to promote a brand, feature links and write not one, but two blog posts. This is all paid space and they are basically asking for free promotions. Secondly, if a publicist wants a travel blogger to review a resort, invite them to come to see it for themselves. In addition, I don’t even post recipes! Lastly, these would clearly be two sponsored posts for which I, and every other blogger, charge. We have rate cards. We are professionals. We, ourselves, are brands!
Well, I did let the publicist know much of the above and she responded by offering me a book. It was her own strange way of apologizing, but like the “Thank you!” that I get daily from publicists, I’m not sure she understood how she had offended me or anyone else.
So, for all of you pitching me on a daily basis, here’s yet another short list of what I don’t do:
– The Culture Mom is not a listing. While I do attend many cultural events, I really write about the ones I cover. Inviting me is fine, but please don’t ask me to run a listing when you don’t one here.
– My niche is fairly obvious – I cover travel, culture and advocacy. I write about these topics here and elsewhere. I don’t post recipes. I don’t review baby products. I don’t write about yogurt.
– Please don’t ask me to repost press releases. My blog is experiential. I make recommendations. I won’t recommend or promote something I know little about, particularly if it doesn’t fit my niche.
– I have a rate card. I’m a professional. Major brands should not ask for free advertising so please don’t.
– I don’t do guest posts unless they are in line with my content. Sponsored posts? Generally, no, because many of your requests don’t seem legitimate and the topics are too off first base.
– Please don’t pitch me with a subject line like this one: Every Mom Deserves a Bit of Pampering. I don’t really respond to a topic that pigeon holes me.
I want to conclude by reiterating how happy I am to be pitched….when they are written thoughtfully. Here’s to more thoughtful pitches and more care in the PR profession. Someone needs to offer them a Blogger 101 class. Any takers?