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How To Pitch To Bloggers.

Dear PR WonderKids, Don't make a bad pitch.

It's National Diabetes Month, and I know it's part of your job to comb through social media outlets and find places for your clients to be showcased.  I admire your tenacity and your understanding of the impact that blogs and social networking sites possess. 

BUT.

(You had to see the "but" coming, right?  Anticipating the market response?)

The pitches I've seen lately have been atrocious.   One started out with "dear blogger," as part of a mass email with undisclosed recipients.  Another had "Hey, Kerri!" as the opener, with my name in a different font than the rest of the email - cut and paste much?  Or the email that contained the phrase, "Type 2 diabetes, which is your main concern, can be helped by [product name]."  Or the one that ended with, "I suggest writing about 300 words on this product would be sufficient." 

PR ladies and gentlemen, you need to take a breath.  I receive several dozens of pitches from companies a week, and for the most part, they are disappointing.  However, there are a few PR mavens who I have actually developed a good working relationship with, because they have taken the time to get to know me and my blog, and they let me know that I'm not just another outreach effort.  

Looking to tap the blogosphere for your next PR adventure?  Please take these suggestions into account:

  1. Know my name.  Seriously.  Know it, use it, make me think you care about it.  Addressing me as "blogger" or making it obvious that you pasted my name in to a boilerplate (see also:  keep your fonts matchy-matchy) shows me that you don't care enough.
  2. Read me.  I write about type 1 diabetes.  Don't pitch to me about the latest in gastric bypass surgeries.  Don't sell me on the benefit of losing weight to come off of insulin injections.  Make me believe that you know what my blog's focus is and that you care about the audience I'm reaching, not that you're just trying to get the word out to "anyone." 
  3. Tailor your email.  One of the best pitches I ever received came with the introduction of "Hi Kerri.  I know you got married two weeks ago and I wanted to give you a little time to sift through your emails and catch up on things.  Congratulations on your marriage, and my best to you and Chris!"  Then she went on with her pitch.  But she let me know she reads me, knows about my life, and appears to care about my commitments.  It sounds trite and slightly arrogant, but if you take the time to know me, I'll take the time to respond to you.
  4. Be patient.  If I don't respond to your email right away, sending another one that says "PLEASE RESPOND" isn't cool.  Your time is valuable, but my time is valuable, too.  Appreciate the fact that my job is not to spread the word about your client.
  5. Follow up.  If I write about your pitch, follow up with a "thank you" email to me.  Let me know that you appreciate my efforts.  That can help establish a good working relationship and potentially future promotional efforts.

If you aren't able to follow these five simple rules, then maybe you should steer clear of pitching to my blog. 

Best,
Kerri Morrone Sparling. 

(Not "Hey."  Not "Esteemed Member of the Diabetes Community."  Not "Diabetes Writer."  And definitely not "Blogger."  Kerri.)

Comments

This is the best 'pitch right or don't pitch at all' plea I've read. Thanks for sharing your candid advice w/ folks, Kerri. Have a good one.

Kerri!! I could not have written this/ said this better myself!!!! You rock!

Hey Blogger!

Good post. They don't pitch to me so no strike outs yet (get it - a baseball pun?!)

Hey there Kerri

I think your blog post was awesome. Ha Ha and so funny.

I was wondering if you would write about my new line of Digital Diabetic toe Rings.

I'll send you a few to try. Maybe 10?

thanks Keri

;)

I was suffering the same problem and recently put up a PR Guidelines page with a link at the top of my blog for all to see. It's yellow. Very easy to spot. You might want to consider making it a page on your blog, just to make sure all PR people see it.

Dear Samantha,

Our patented Kanji water (shipped in Poland Spring water bottles) has been proven in (unpublished) clinical trials to:
*Cure type 1 diabetes
*Cure type 2 diabetes
*Cure lupus
*Cure cancer
*Cure arthritis
*Restore sex drive
*Tame the frizzies, and
*Clean stubborn spots in your carpeting

In this special offer, available today only, I'll send you a FREE sample, for just a $69.99 shipping fee and a one-time $200 membership fee to the Kanji water society. Link to my site on your blog, and we'll also include a second bottle, FREE. Please act now, before I leave the country.

Great post, Kerri! Right after reading this, I received the following "fail" pitch. Thought you may find it interesting.
--
Hi there,

I came across your blog online and thought you would be a good resource.

I am working on a project right now with XYZ medical where I am looking for ER doctors, ICU doctors, Anesthesiologists, Respiratory therapists, and Trauma/Triage doctors that have an interesting life story or good stories to tell from their work dealing with saving the lives of others.

We are in the stage right now of casting people for this project and it is all happening very quickly. Any suggestions you have for me would be greatly appreciated.
--

Esteemed Blogger Mrs. S,
I have been impressed enough to memorize all your rules. Now may I interest you in some scan oil that I'm trying to push ;)

Jokes apart, this is really good.

Dear Sir or Ms,

You write good. Maybe you could write a quick 2,000 words on my new DVD "Walk just 5 minutes a day to cure your Type 2 Diabetes". I know it will work for you! Kindly send me $50 and a self-addressed, postage-paid envelope, and I will send one over to you right away.

:) Karen

(Yeah, we're a sarcastic bunch, aren't we!)

This makes me weep for my former profession. I used to do PR, and when the work became detached from developing relationships, I don't know.

Dear blogger? Ugh.

The sarcastic posts have provided an amusing end to a long day, however. Your readers are classic!

Jen

Esteemed Kanji Sparkling,

I am a lowly orphan bestowed with a sum of $1 million American dollars and have no one with whom to share my good fortune. For a small transaction fee I am willing to part with all $1 million American dollars if you would please to send me your SSN, bank account numbers, shoe size, date of birth and true hair colour. Many blessings upon you as you fight to Cure the Sugar Disease.

Kindest Regards,
Ms. Dewey Cheatemand Howe

;-)

o hai Kerri

could u pleez hook me up with hot Siah Sausage?

luv

Perl

Cleverly written as usual, but also, very interesting. I had no idea this went on and sort of don't get it. PR peps contact you to name drop their products here? Fishy, yuck.

After being a cubilcle worker for years, I now own a business and thusly am in the marketing business (aren't we all?). I've come to realize just how important personal relationships are in business. In fact most of our customers become friends once we've had two or three transactions with them.

While I know this isn't precisely what you are talking about, I do appreciate the reminder to keep it real!.

Rachel, with Kerri's permission I can add some insight from a (former) practitioner's perspective. PR people have long contacted traditional media to get coverage (stories written about) products, services, company expansions, etc. It's not 'name dropping'--they look at blogs as a different media channel. As traditional media has contracted and social media has taken off, PR people realize the communications landscape has changed. Problem is, they don't seem to want to *do the work involved* to do things correctly.

The blogosphere is littered with examples of bad PR pitches--there's even a bad pitch blog. And yet, the sort of things Kerri is referencing persist.

Jen

Very well said... Kerri!

:) AmyT

Kerri ,

I am possibly not clear where this " how to pitch to bloggers " is going , other than our connection with Buzz Bishop , who will lead me in completing my 1/2 marathon in Disney World, Jan . 10 , 2009 with the Team Diabetes Canada crew , ha, ha .My second visit as I tried to complete the full this past January ...may I add diabetes got in the way and I possibly am the record holder for a 22 mile -er marathon ??

Kerri,

I love this post. I am so glad I am not in sales anymore and don't have to do things like that to people who don't want to be e-mailed and pitched things. And if you're going to try to pitch to one of the most respectable people in a community, bring in your closer, don't bring in some rookie!

Loved the blog post-really made me laugh.

I have started to get these sorts of emails and ignore them. Is there any benefit to answering them?

This morning I got a "Dear Editor" and it's funny how I didn't even read it. Ah, the editorial psychic (psychosis?) ability lives on! :-P

Love it and agree. From, your friend who works at a PR agency (Jill)

To add to Jen's comments, unfortunately there are too many PR folks who can't even get it right for "traditional" media. I've received some of the most atrocious PR pitches for topics, products, and people CLEARLY not applicable to my company's focus. Kerri's main message - do your homework folks - applies across the board. I wish more PR folk would 'get it.'

Hi Kari,

i dink whachew rigt her is swel.

ginna

Can we talk about the glucose spray pitch? Seriously a SPRAY?!?!? Do you know how many pumps that would take to do ANYTHING?

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