Quite some time ago, my friend David Wescott wrote a post outlining the 3R’s of blogger relations: Respect, Relationship and Relevance, a framework quite similar to my own approach both at the time and still.
Not at all surprising, since a shared conviction about how to engage with bloggers was how we met in the first place.
Since I am more or less relaunching Marketing Roadmaps at this new URL, I thought it would be a good time to revisit these core concepts.
Let’s start with Respect.
What made David’s post so good was the introduction of the word Respect. Most of the thinkers in the space (myself included) had been talking about Relationship and Relevance as well as the ideas he categorized as Respect. But his post was the first time, to my knowledge, that anyone applied the actual word.
And it is such a perfect word to describe the attitude with which you, the pitcher, should approach the blogger, the pitchee. Yes I know that is not a word. Sue me.
With respect. For his time. For the passions that fuel her blog. For the person. For the blog.
Here are some of the things that demonstrate lack of respect for the blogger that have crossed my desk in the last few months, either directly or forwarded from friends.
- Messy emails, with multiple fonts, addressed to Dear Blogger, Name not available or some such. Probably forwarded more than once,
- No actual signature, just a boiler plate email signature. Even worse - an email sent from one account but signed by another person. Really has that personal touch, you know.
- Pitches to review books that want the blogger to flog the book or interview the author but don’t offer a review copy. Why on earth would anyone do that?
- Repeated follow-ups, often through multiple channels. One is acceptable. After that you are stalking. Back off.
- Refusing to provide review product after sending a pitch. Hullo — you got a hit. Assuming you targeted properly (yeah I know, big assumption), you should PLAN on sending review product. Offering a jpeg? Not good enough.
- Pretense. Here’s a recent example. Sara from Suburban Oblivion relates a pitch she received from a product geared to preteen girls. She was somewhat interested and requested review product. The company refused, and not in the most elegant fashion. Bad enough, really, but when Sara blogged the story, someone related to the company left an unattributed positive comment on the blog. Read the denoument on Suburban Oblivion. Remember — pretend is a great game for children, and even has its place in our adult lives, but it is not an appropriate blogger relations tactic.
- Invitations to events the blogger couldn’t possible attend. Even worse, press releases about PAST events to which you did not invite the blogger at all.
If you are going to reach out to bloggers, you must develop a very healthy respect for the the fact that most bloggers have no intrinsic reason to be interested in what you have to say. They may indeed be your customers and interested in your product, but it is not their job to promote your product. That’s your job. If you want their help, you have got to put it in a context that is important to them. That’s the concept of Relevance, which we’ll review later this week
In a special hell all its own is the absolutely awful pitch that made the rounds last week following the family tragedy of actress Jennifer Hudson. I won’t link to it here, but here are some commentaries from Twitter pals Katja Presnal, David Parmet and Kevin Dugan.
I wish this was the first time in my life I had seen such a piss poor PR reaction to a tragedy, but it isn’t. People are blinded by the perceived relevance of their product and lose all perspective about the personal nature of tragedies. It’s stupid, tasteless, disrespectful and shows a total lack of common sense. And happens all the time. It’s also easy to avoid. When the temptation strikes to capitalize on tragedy, and it well may, just say no. There is absolutely no way your product is SO RELEVANT that it merits the disgraceful behavior of capitalizing on another person’s tragedy. Full stop.
Finally, all practicing PR people should read BL Ochman’s post PR Industry Leaders Put Their Feet in Their Mouths at Critical Issues Forum and ask themselves, is this me? Am I doing better or perpetuating the problem? What can I do better?
One of the things we can most definitely do better is to improve the relevancy of our pitches, and not just to bloggers. To journalists too. More on that later this week.
UPDATE, 11/3: This post hadn’t been up a day before a friend, a Massachusetts mom blogger whose home page clearly states her name and state, tweeted about the pitch below. Unfortunately, I couldn’t ask for a better example of the importance of respect for the blogger, especially since the event is for a good cause which is also tarnished by the bad pitch.