It seems like the type of advice you really shouldn't have to offer, but apparently companies still don't get it. Each week I sort through link requests, PR pitches and requests from small companies to blog about or write about their product. Sometimes these pitches are exceptionally well thought out, sometimes they're simple, but engaging. Other times, they leave me shaking my head.
As a hobby mommy-blogger, I get some insight into the world of blog pitches that I wouldn't get if I was simply an online marketing blogger. Folks tend to be a little more careful when they approach marketers with blog requests or PR pitches because they feel like they're speaking to someone who may be more critical of the request. On the mommy-blog front (and I'd assume most other hobby blog fronts) things are a little different. Pitches are sloppy. Pitches are arrogant. Sometimes, pitches show an incredible lack of research.
From: Marketing Exec [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Monday, October 22, 2007 11:42 AM
Subject: Super-Huge Company is Looking for Denver Moms for an Exclusive Marketing Campaign
Hi, my name is Matilda and I came across your blog today.
I work for CompanyX, a marketing agency working on behalf of Super-Huge Company on an exclusive marketing campaign to launch the all-new Dodge Grand Caravan. We're selecting 50 social and influential moms in the Denver area to receive a week-long test drive of the all-new 2008 really fun widget! All that we ask in return is your feedback about your experience.
If you're interested, please click on the link below to answer a few questions to see if you qualify.
Thanks and don't hesitate to contact me at email@example.com if you have any questions!
Now, as a marketer, I understand how this works. In Super-Huge Company and CompanyX's minds, the offer they are giving us is so absolutely wonderful that only an idiot would turn it down. After all, what mommy blogger WOULDN'T want to spend a week test driving their fabulous new product. There's no reason for them to be respectful of the blogger's time because what they have to offer is so wonderful the blogger will overlook the untargeted pitch.
The sad thing is, they're probably right on some level. They'll find 50 moms who will be thrilled to test this product and most of them will likely write glowing reviews of it.
But will they get the right moms to write those reviews?
You see, I don't live in Denver. I live in Ohio, just north of Columbus. If the company had taken five minutes to actually read my blog, they would know this. Instead, I can only imagine they chose to email the top X number of bloggers in the hopes that at least some of them lived in the Denver area. If I'm being really generous, I'd guess they might have conducted a search on Technorati or Google and landed on my coverage of several stories that happened in Denver. Of course assuming that anyone who writes about Denver lives in Denver is more than a little short-sighted.
If they'd taken ten minutes to send me a personalized email, I not only would have told them where I was, but I may have offered to put them in touch with some influential bloggers who live in the Denver area. After all, the blog world is small and bloggers trust each other far more than they trust marketers.
I can't imagine I'm the only blogger who feels this way. In fact, the more popular the blogger, the more pitches they get. The more pitches they get, the more selective they'll be in responding to them.
If I was a little less nice and a little more vindictive, I may have made a scathing post on my blog about how this company couldn't bother to read my blog, but wanted me to shill their product to my readers.
In reality, the pitch wasn't so bad. At least not as bad as some I've received. (A few PR firms simply send me what amounts to an ad for their client's products. No call to action, no incentive, nothing.)
The point I want to make though is that pitching a blogger requires a little bit of time and at least a modicum of respect. Sending out requests like the one above to bloggers shows that you are too lazy to do the research to target your campaign. As a blogger, I have to ask myself how far out of my way I want to go to give your company free press if you can't even take the time to find out if I qualify for your campaign.
Blogs do not exist to market your product. They exist to serve as platforms of conversation for real people. If you want them to talk about you (in a positive way) take the five or ten minutes to make sure you're sending them a targeted pitch.
Jennifer Laycock is the Editor of Search Engine Guide, the Social Media Faculty Chair for MarketMotive and offers small business social media strategy & consulting. Jennifer enjoys the challenge of finding unique and creative ways to connect with consumers without spending a fortune in marketing dollars. Though she now prefers to work with small businesses, Jennifer’s clients have included companies like Verizon, American Greetings and Highlights for Children.
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