My PR Fail of a Day

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Let’s play a game. What do these pitches have in common?

Hi Holly,

Consuming fried food usually leaves you filled with regrets, but now there is a healthier way to fry so you can indulge in the food you love more with less guilt.

The new #### allows you to prepare your favorite fried dishes with 30 percent less fat and 40 percent faster due to its revolutionary heat combination that keeps cooking oil at a uniform temperature, so foods cook to light, crispy perfection – with less oil absorption.


Hi there, 

Hope you are well!
I wanted to touch base to let you know that ### PR is now working with ###. The groundbreaking digital platform that allows shoppers to track the products on the sites they love and get notified when those products go on sale. ### is working to revolutionize the online retail industry and save shoppers time and money so they can spend it on more important things.  

Hi, there–

I saw that you wrote a Mother’s Day Gift Guide last year; do you plan on writing one this year as well?  If so, you’ll want to feature ###, a unique online art gallery offering curated, original art for sale from the nation’s most talented emerging artists, within your round-up. 
Hi Holly,
400,000 singles moms have joined ###.com in search of a Sugar Daddy since 2007.The mutually beneficial dating website marks the week after Mother’s Day as the biggest surge in single mother sign ups each year, 3100 joining that week in 2012. The average monthly allowance for a single mother sugar baby is $2700, 9x more than the average amount of monthly child support in the U.S., making a mutually beneficial arrangement a highly desirable alternative to reluctant co-parenting.

I could go on but I’ll stop here so I don’t bore you.  But yes, I am screaming as loud as Janet Leigh in Pscyho.  And I’m pulling my hair out. And no, I am not in search of a Sugar Daddy.

Here’s what these pitches have in common (I’ve blanked out the names of the companies with ### to prevent any kind of shit storm):

– These pitches were all sent to me today. This is just a portion of the many pitches I received in the last 24 hours. They were directed at me, in the hope of my throwing their content on my blog with no kind of partnership or relationship other than this brief email exchange.

– Not one pitch has anything to do with culture, advocacy or travel, the three relevant topics that appear on my site. My mission is laid out clearly here and states that explicitly.

– Each pitch is directed at me, not to me (“Hi there”), Holly Rosen Fink.  I doubt they know my name.

– The writers either obtained a list of bloggers to pitch or they saw the word “mom” in my URL and immediately figured I blog about shopping, coupons, fashion and Mother’s Day and threw me an impersonal pitch, regardless of whether it would have any meaning to me.  The truth is I never ran a Mother’s Day Gift Guide last year, or any year for that matter, so that was actually an incorrect statement.

– Each writer assumes that I am going to instantly agree to slap their content on my blog.  They clearly don’t know my mission statement or submission guidleines because I am quite sure none of them have ever looked at my site or have paid attention to my freelance writing or social media usage.

Oh, I did get one pitch that pertains to my passion and would be a good fit for my blog today.  Just one – this one:

Hope this email finds you well!  I wanted to touch base about a party we hosted with Amy Poehler earlier this week.  Thought you might be interested in this information.  Let me know what you think…  On Tuesday night, Amy Poehler hosted an intimate salon event, sponsored by ###, to promote the work of  ###. The event raised awareness for ###, an organization that aims to transform the lives of orphan children around the globe.  Partygoers got an inside look at the organization’s work via a gallery of images curated by ### and a unique coffee table book that illustrates the global influence of ### and its ambassador program.  

Below please find a photo of host Amy Poehler with her “Parks and Recreation” co-star Aubrey Plaza.  Additional photos from the event are available here:

Okay. The truth is that I do blog about tech/social, culture and advocacy. Amy Poehler, ### and the non-profit mentioned are right up my alley, but why would I dump this information up with no real attachment to the cause or event? Advocacy is of utmost importance to me in this space and I have close relationships with many non-profits. The relationships are ongoing. So I mentioned this to the publicist.  Here was her response:

Ok, understood.  This event was closed to the media.  Assume that doesn’t matter?

If my site is not considered a form of media, then why was I contacted in the first place?  With my response, I was simply trying to engage the publicist so she can use me more thoughtfully moving forward. Her response was pretty much a slap in the face. Did she know that I majored in Journalism and worked in a newsroom at one point in my career?  Maybe she should have checked out my site to see that I’ve written for many outlets. Why belittle the person you are contacting? I am not sure I see the point in that.

And I have to throw in this pitch that came in yesterday. The subject: “Send love to your mommy”:

Hi Holly,

I really love the voice of your blog. I’m reaching out because I’m wondering if you’d be willing to post something about my app ### and our Mother’s Day booth that will be set up at ###  Magazine’s Craftacular fair in DUMBO this Saturday? Im attaching a piece below that you can post or lift from if you’d like and I’m totally available to answer questions via email or phone, ### Let me know if there is anything else I can get you.

Again, I hate to be a pessimist, but if you know the “voice” of my blog, you’ll know that I don’t feature a listing and I really only write about products, apps or books I use or read because I choose them myself.

I also told the writer that no one calls me “mommy” but my own children.  I wanted him to know for his own benefit in future pitching. His response?  “Thanks for letting me know, and please let me know when you want to try a Beta copy of the app.”

Did ya hear anything, sir? Where is the respect?

Many of you know that I work in the social media space.  I have a small marketing consultancy and one of our services is blogger outreach. I suppose that being on both sides of the fence, I know how bloggers want to be treated because I know how I want to be treated.

When I have small, targeted campaigns, I address each writer individually.  It’s all in the wording and I take as much time writing each email that is necessary. I’m not saying I haven’t made mistakes, but I’ve done my best to be as respectful as I would hope someone would be pitching me..

Speaking of respect, look at the reaction to the Mashall Weinbaum episode on the Six Year Itch blog.  The Disney Motion

Pictures publicist posted a photo to his personal Facebook pages howing female bloggers crouching underneath him while he held up a sign that said, “Hi mom.” The Six Year Itch author called him a “raging douche bag” and a “raging sexist and then an Internet shit storm erupted with bloggers taking both sides.  Some called him the sweetest guy they’ve ever worked with, some called him a misogynist and the post generated a very heated 250+ comments. It came out later that Weinbaum was parodying National Lampoon and he offered an apology, “I apologize for how this was construed.”

I personally don’t know Weinbaum nor fit neatly into his mix of dedicated, carefully chosen bloggers, but I don’t find his photo funny. I kind of agree with Jezebel who said:

Do with him what you will, legions of the Internet — just don’t tie him to the rear fender of your station wagon and “forget” about him until a highway patrolman pulls you over and shows you a frayed and Weinbaum-less leash.

To me, it’s all about respect.  If I were Weinbaum, I would have thought harder about public persona and the negative connotation this picture could potentially convey, however falsely in his opinion.

The reason I’m lumping this story in with my overall message is that publicists need to show bloggers respect. After a day of countless bad pitches, I feel like it’s just lost.  Gone.

I’ve written about this topic before (unfortunately) and I have offered these tips to publicists in their approach to talk to bloggers, but I feel compelled to share them again, with a brief update:

–  Know the person you are contacting, if not personally, then do your homework.  Look at the site, read several posts, check out the “about me” section, follow them on Twitter or wherever they share. Not only will they recognize your name, they’ll appreciate it. Build a relationship and engage them, show your are interested in what they have to say and make it clear that your clients have synergies that will really gel with their efforts.

– Use a personal greeting via email or on any social media tool.  ”Dear Holly, I just read your post on ABC” works for me and make sure you share the angle of the story you want the writer to write.  It’s also fine to reach out via Twitter or Facebook to make contact.  However you make conversation and use engagement as a tactic, you are doing something right.  Talk to us, not at us.

– Be personal. There’s no need to send the same pitch to everyone out there.  I know you’re busy but social media is about engagement and communication.  It’s about relationships.  Build your network and nourish it.

–  Please don’t send a press release and ask for it to be reposted.  Unless you know for a fact that the writer does repost press releases.

– Don’t just make an ask.  Offer something in return, whether it be financial compensation or something that shows a blogger’s worth and value.  The days of bloggers doing work for free are gone.  Time to wake up and smell the coffee. These are professionals who need to make a living, too, just like you, and their goal is not to promote what you are doing. Make working with you worth their time and seriously think about financial compensation as the new direction

Lastly, don’t forget that if a pitch is really bad, it will get talked about and it might spread. News spreads fast.








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  1. Chelley / AisForAdelaide says:

    I don’t get many pitches (your week is my year), but I needed to see this- to hold out hope that there is good out there with the (multitude) of bad! I have gotten some strange requests (including ones for children’s bikes… which makes NO sense on my blog). I hope people who make pitches read this and educate themselves!

  2. Nancy Johnson Horn (@NancyJHorn) says:

    Yes! I got pretty much all of those pitches and I didn’t post any of them. If something looks interesting to me and my readers, I’ll ask for a sample. I am, after all, a review blog and I’ve been reviewing since 2007 (for other blogs, my blog was started in 2011). I’ve been on the other side of the fence and I’ve done the “ask”, but I’ve never pitched blindly and compensated when I could. Keep on keeping on. Stand your ground, stay true to your self. Eventually they’ll get it. Or they won’t, but you know you’ve tried. There are reps that get it. I prefer to work with them.

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