Normally, I’m proud to tell people that I’m a marketer. I love connecting consumers with the brands they love and companies with the products that fuel their business.
Every so often though, someone calling themselves a marketing professional does something that makes me embarrassed for my profession.
More than a few of these instances have occurred in the past few years, quite specifically related to the practice of blogger outreach. You’ve read about them here and elsewhere too — bad pitches, rude PR people, “spray and pray” mass mailings. And so on.
Many of these are mistakes made out of simple ignorance, lack of experience and miscommunication. Some are simply rude; for example, when a blogger says she isn’t interested in the pitch, replying back implying that she’s stupid is the social media equivalent of the classic Saturday Night Live line, “Jane, you ignorant slut.”
Most faux pas can be forgiven. There is however one for which there is no excuse. Pay close attention, aspiring and practicing PR pros and marketers.
Don’t pitch on the grave.
It is NEVER okay to pitch someone who has recently had a death in the family or her circle of friends. And particularly on the back of a blog post about the death. NEVER, NOT EVER.
If you know the blogger well, a message of condolence or a donation to the charity in memory of the deceased is perfectly fine.
But if you don’t know the blogger, don’t use the death in an attempt to bond with her, on any basis, about anything. It’s crass, and the social media equivalent of ambulance chasing.
In fact, when I was consulting, I advised clients to do a read-through of the blogs in their outreach list the day they planned to send their pitch just to be sure there hadn’t been a tragedy or death in the family. In which case, they should remove the blogger from the pitch list regardless of how perfect the pitch was.
Obviously, if the blogger hasn’t posted or publicly mentioned the death in Facebook or Twitter, you aren’t pitching on the grave, you’re just the victim of poor timing. If the blogger replies, apologize and move on.
Don’t believe this happens? A good friend has had it happen twice. She posted about a death, someone pitched her on the back of the post, and when she pushed back, the sender was not only NOT apologetic, but also rude.
That’s just terminally clueless.