08 May 2007

reading is fundamental

one of the great things about getting to know some excellent bloggers is they're willing to tell you their horror stories of bad PR pitches. Apparently we're not reading the blogs we pitch.

occasionally I'll get emails from bloggers with the pitches included. Stuff like:
Would you consider writing about [brand name], a delicious and healthy new energy drink from [company name]?

[insert picture of product]

[product] is for active women in search of a healthy alternative to traditional caffeinated beverages. It's launching in four market cities - Chicago, Dallas, Houston and Phoenix - which means your city is one of the first to try it!

Unfortunately, this pitch was sent to a pair of bloggers in New York and Philadelphia. I think it was also received by a blogger in Colorado.

I rarely if ever pitch products. I engage bloggers in discussions about issues. I don't try to push my client's views upon bloggers -- I try to help my clients start a discussion or add something to an existing one. My clients typically like to speak for themselves, and that's fine with me.

This company had an opportunity to engage women bloggers on how they meet the demands of a busy daily life. How they take care of themselves. They could learn more about the choices women make and if there are other options women want. They could learn a wealth of information about the thoughts and feelings of their target demographic and incorporate that into a branding strategy.

They passed on that opportunity.

I understand the pressure of this business and that sometimes you just have to get the emails and phone calls out the door. It's possible the PR person here tried to push back on the client and asked for the time it takes to know bloggers and the company said no. We've all made mistakes and everyone deserves at least one do-over.

Problem is this blogger is one of the more prominent voices in the blogosphere. People read and respect her. And the chances that energy-drink PR pitcher will overcome this gaffe with her are pretty slim. This isn't traditional public relations where you call a reporter or editor, they say no thanks, and you try again the next week. This is a place where we have spam folders.

I'll be saying more about situations like these in the future.

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