06 September 2007

Seriously, just stop it already

Every time I see this I gag:

Once in awhile I get an e-mail from a PR person who wants me to write a blog post about one of her clients. I must have been pretty feeble in a previous life to deserve to be left on some infernal master list of babybloggers way past Jackson's toddlerhood expiration date...

Typically they read whatever post is at the top of my page, work some comment about it into their first paragraph, and then paste in their pitch directly below...

Because it's the job of online PR to woo me into inserting their client's latest cross-platform marketing solution into a long pointless blog post about my blisters.

Hello Eden, I hope you are doing well. I'm writing today in follow up to my [intentionally ignored] message last week. I'm eager to hear your thoughts and feedback on [big retailer's] online resource center and back-to-school promotions and deals.If you are interested, please feel free to share with your readers the shopping guide and news of the [huge retailer's] contest. You can contact me with any questions about [massive retailer's] programs. Have a great day!

This is basically personalized spam. Sweet robot monkey god, it makes me itch. I know that someone somewhere thinks the Internet is full of soccer moms swapping tips on where to get the latest backpacks -- I have not seen such web sites, but maybe they're out there.

I swear I was going to drop this topic. I thought I've said enough about it. I didn't want to write about it. Big-time bloggers have written about it better than I could.

But it's becoming clearer to me that maybe the marketing folks should just stop pitching to moms altogether, because here's the bottom line: The online outreach tactics from a majority of PR firms are actually making it harder for everyone to engage bloggers transparently and respectfully and effectively. We are hurting our own cause.

I don't know exactly what the goal of this blind pitching is, but I'm fairly sure it's NOT to help bloggers write posts ridiculing marketers - something that's happening with greater frequency. And if PR flacks don't get it by now, they won't ever get it. We're in a hole. Stop digging.

The PR/marketing industry, with only a few exceptions and despite many statements to the contrary, has made a clear decision to "mail it in" on online outreach. It's become the sassy little add-on to our proposals that allow us to check the box and say "we do online too," but we invest almost no good thinking in it. We're clearly not inclined to build relationships and have discussions with moms or just about any other blogger.

We're developing and implementing models of online outreach that more closely resemble direct mail tactics that generate a one or two percent response rate. We're pushing the online outreach portions of our PR plans to interns. We're still reserving the high-powered, big-think resources for scoring the NY Times story or the placement on CNBC.

Except bloggers WRITE BACK, and they're smarter than we are, and when they're angry and snarky and clever and funny our clients take the blame. So then our clients get upset and scared, and don't want to engage.

And then we blame the bloggers for being radioactive.

Seriously, I just gagged again.


Mom101 said...

They're lucky that Eden wrote [big retailer here] instead of just flat-out slamming them by name.

It's one thing when little guys want to get the word out - I think we can all give a little extra leeway to them. But when you feel like [big retailer here] is just trying to get free advertising by way of your blog it's insulting.

Hm, I hadn't even thought of it that way until now. Thanks for letting me figure it out David!

Susan Getgood said...

Where to start....

What most folks miss is what I consider the real key to successful blogger outreach: start with why the blogger would care or be interested. Not with your product, or your service, which is your passion. Start with the blogger's passion Smiling June Cleavers in tv commercials notwithstanding, most of us are just not that passionate about laundry or children's sneakers. Nope, sorry.

You can do everything else with precision -- develop a good list, confirm that your product is relevant to the blogger's interests, write individual emails etc etc But if the pitch is just about your product, not about their passion, you may just have wasted a lot of time.

And of course most agencies don't even do that. It is more often exactly as Eden describes.

Kami Huyse said...

If you have a relationship, it won't feel like a pitch at all. But that is the key - relationship. Also, I think the main problem is that folks are striving for what they can get from bloggers, versus what they can give to them.