15 December 2008

Note to Self: Never Promote Arm Girdles to Feminists.

So late last week I and a couple of my colleagues in the social media world got an email from a prominent blogger - she was forwarding a series of emails from a PR pro pitching a new product.

If you read this blogger for even a week, you know immediately that this blogger is progressive in her thinking, clearly a feminist, and the mother of young daughters.

The PR pitch's opening-line grabber - "What might you have in common with Oprah Winfrey and Caroline Kennedy?"

I may be a guy, but I can tell you I'd love to have a lot in common with these two people -brains, ambition, a strong work ethic, charisma and a commitment to helping people. Those people would certainly appeal to a progressive, feminist mom. It turns out, however, that this wasn't exactly what the pitch was going for:

That's right, jiggly arms. Someone is pitching arm girdles to feminist moms, just in time for the holidays. I'm not linking to the company because I don't want to drive their traffic, but you can see the company name above.

This pitch is utterly crap-tacular on multiple levels. I think I should probably leave it to Joanne "PunditMom" Bamberger, who also received the pitch (she wasn't the one who forwarded it to me), to explain the sort of message this sends to young girls. And kudos to Susan Getgood (who got the forwarded email along with me) for breaking down the ethical shortcuts taken here, like invoking celebrity names and pictures even though they haven't endorsed the product. When Susan calls you a scumbag, believe me, you've earned it. I took a look at the picture of Caroline Kennedy (she looks pretty damn good in this picture if you ask me) and noticed that they lifted the picture from a story about her butterfly tatoo, not her non-existent arm flab, from the Huffington Post.

My beef with the pitch is it assumes social media is simply "online media relations" where you blanket the world with your pitch. Maybe there are people who think this product is a good idea. But it's clear that had this PR pro done even a little bit of vetting, if this person took even a few minutes to understand the community involved, the flack would know this was a huge mistake.

But it gets worse. The blogger who passed this on to me also sent me her response to the PR pro who pitched her, and that PR person's response back.

The flack basically said that nobody was questioning the accomplishments of Caroline Kennedy or Oprah Winfrey, but the product was still important - and hey, Oprah's friend said last week that Oprah was worried about her weight. Further, in another show of disrespect to the blogger, the flack also mentioned a couple of other placements the company scored - the Rachael Ray show and the NY Post.


This flack is not suggesting Caroline Kennedy or Oprah Winfrey are insecure or insignificant - just that they should wear arm girdles. And maybe you should too - if you read the NY Post, you might know that.

Happy holidays.


PunditMom said...

The fact that the PR person just didn't get it and wasn't open to a dialogue about whether it was a good idea to pitch a bunch of feminists (myself included) with the product shows how shortsighted some PR people can be. Not to mention the lack of homework before sending it to some of us without really learning about who we are and who are readers were.

Susan Getgood said...

Bottom line, a flack that would use this scumbag sleazy tactic isn't going to give a rat's behind about proper targeting or reading blogs before pitching them.

After all, look at her idea of good coverage. Rachael Ray, which as David pointed out in an email exchange, was probably paid media.

And the New York Post.

The New York Post.

Mom101 said...

In this day and age, you'd think that it's not just feminists who might be offended or put off by this approach.

I think it was hastily thrown together as an opportunistic to the Caroline Kennedy piece in the Post that day and the Oprah bit on GMA. I don't think the pr flack was being malicious; I think she just went for the low hanging fruit and it bombed.

I can only hope that in the future she might take a better approach.

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