Every morning, I wake up and change my newborn's diaper and nurse her. Sometimes I sing "Good Morning Beautiful." Often my 2-year-old comes in from her room and climbs into the king size bed with us. "I want to lay next to my baby," she says. So the three of us lay in there together and we try to make the baby smile (which doesn't take much effort).
Then, my husband gets my 2-year-old yogurt and I sit down to check my e-mail with the babe in my arms.
It's an exciting task. Really. Because I never know what will greet me in my inbox.
I might get an invitation to review a product or to attend an all-expenses-paid blogging trip. Or I might get a response to one of my pitches. Or I might get an e-mail from someone who wants to advertise on my site. Or a new reader might comment on my blog.
My inbox is a hopping, happening place - and I like it that way.
I like press releases and pitches. It's fun to be "in the know" about the latest and greatest products and promotions.
That said, I can't tell you how many shoddy and ineffective ones I get. Since I have a work-from-home job in the PR industry, I know a little bit about being "on the other side of the fence" - and I am truly amazed at some of the e-mails that land in my inbox (amazed in a bad way).
So I thought I'd share a few "insider secrets" about what mom bloggers want when it comes to e-mail pitches.
Here are 8 things NOT to do if you want to reach mommy bloggers:
1. DON'T call me Ms. Or Editor. Or Mommy Blogger. Or Shannon or Kristen (my name is Stephanie, people! Get it right!). It's okay if you want to send out a mass press release, but - if that is your objective - it shouldn't be "addressed" to anyone (I can give a class on Press Releases 101 if you need it...). If, however, you would like a response from me, at least have the courtesy to call me by my name.
2. DON'T pitch to me without reading my blog. Some PR people are serious rock stars. They are incredibly good at what they do because they realize that blogging is all about relationships. So, someone from a toy company might say, "I was reading your recent posts and noticed your 2-year-old loves arts and crafts. I thought she might like to try out this brand new craft table from X brand." That would be awesome. Too often, though, I get press releases that are quite obviously outside of my niche and area of interest.
4. DON'T offer to send images. Let's say you want to get the word out about your product. You send a press release. I reply and say that I might be interested in featuring said product. You say: "I'd be happy to send you high-res images." I'll say: "Thanks, but no thanks." What you're looking for is free advertising...and I'm not giving any of that away. If, however, you want me to REVIEW your product, then I'll actually need to use it (or wear it or have my preschooler play with it or whatever the case may be). That's what a review is, after all. Otherwise, I'd be happy to send you my advertising rate kit. [As a side note: you shouldn't have to send me images. Those should be available on your website].
5. DON'T offer a “loaner” product. This is the killer. A company will say, "I'd be happy to send you the product for 30 days." Bloggers out there in bloggyland - please tell me you say "No" when companies approach you with this kind of offer. First of all, what mom among us has time to open the package, use the product, take pictures, box it up, print out a label, and ship it? Not me, my friend. That takes time and time is money - and, since you're not offering me any, I'll kindly decline.
6. DON'T rely on the phone. I always cringe a little when a company says, "Can we chat by phone?" Now, I don't mind chatting on the phone if there's some kind of explicit benefit. But if you just want to call and chat with me about your product for 30 minutes, I will not be happy about it. And neither will my kids. Finding even 5 minutes to talk on the phone in silence is almost impossible when you have an infant and a preschooler. I'd be happy to chat or text or Twitter or e-mail though.
7. DON'T ask me to participate in an exclusive conference call…for free. These pitches always get me. XYZ company wants me to join them for an "exclusive" 30-60 minute conference call, where I can learn about their products or interview this celebrity's personal trainer or what-not. Not interested. Again, my time is my most precious commodity. If you want to take 30-60 minutes of time, you have to offer some kind of incentive. A product. An invitation to an event. A cash payment. Something.
Oh, and see that lady in the picture? The one with the blazer, heels, and perfectly coiffed haircut - taking scrupulous notes and serenely sitting in an office with a latte on her desk and the phone on her shoulder. That was me before kids. Now, if you want to talk to me by phone, you need to schedule it with me...or risk hearing a bit of "commotion" in the background. And I won't be wearing heels either. I will, however, be wistfully looking at my heels because they are very cute and I do still like them. A lot.
8. DON'T leave your note open-ended if you want a response. I get hundreds of press releases and invitations and "exclusive" offers every day. It's pretty much impossible for me to respond to all of them (though I try). If you want a response, be sure to indicate that - and be personal! I like working with human beings not autobots, after all.
What it comes down to is this:
(Oh, and I recommend that you take lessons from Rocket XL. That PR company totally has their act together.)
I would like to end this post on a "happy note." Because working with PR agencies and companies makes me very happy. Most of the people that I work with are intelligent, creative, and professional people - which is why I totally love checking my e-mail every morning (after I snuggle with my sweet girls, that is).
YOUR TURN: Bloggers - What are some of the best and worst pitches you've received?
LOL! The wrong name gets me or the talk on phone. I am a SAHM first adn foremost and do business by internet at my leisure. Don't call me! Thanks for this!
what insight. sounds like great advice. good for you for establishing good working guidelines/boundaries
Great suggestions! And I COMPLETELY agree about RocketXL. They are FABulous.
The only point I really disagree with is the conference call. I've participated in a handful of those and have thoroughly enjoyed them. Sometimes I got product to go along with the call...sometimes it was just a chance to speak with a celebrity I admire. But I really did enjoy those, whether I got anything of monetary value out of it or not.
I think the key is for PR to really know who they're pitching. And bloggers need to stop feeling the need to say yes to everything, and really focus on the pitches that excite them!
Great advice! I run my blog but it isn't big enough to get those kinds of things yet. But I also have my own candle business. I make candles, incense, fragrance oils, incense bottles, etc in my basement, then pack things up and head out to festivals. I've started a shop on Etsy, mostly to be able to link my website to someplace where people can actually buy online. And I'm starting to try to advertise to bloggers that I follow. Free samples to hold a contest!
I don't usually do any sort of promotion in comments, but since this comment is kind of geared towards how I'm handling my own pr, my website is http://www.lmfcandles.com. I've worked very hard on the website (through free blogger software) and I'm still working on adding pictures.
I don't receive many pitches...just haven't made it on those lists. I'm okay with that because I don't seek them out either. But the few I have received have fallen into your don't categories. I have politely declined despite my hubby thinking perhaps I have to deal with some less desirable to be offered some better ones. I disagree - it isn't worth my time and while I wouldn't turn down a cool review, giveaway, or conference offer I'm not looking for them.
Good tips! I think many bloggers sell themselves too cheaply!
Loaner products are THE WORST, seriously what mom has time to deal with that? No one and anyways that annoys me a lot :)
Ooh, the wrong name thing is bad. Especially when you know who they're writing to! My other pet peeve is offering giveaways, especially for relatively cheap items, but intending to send them along with the review sample so the blogger will have to pay to ship them. I did a giveaway once for a household cleaner that ended up costing me more to ship to the winner than it would have to send her money to buy it herself. Obviously that was my mistake, agreeing to that in the first place. I have learned my lesson!
Ha! Reading this makes me marvel at the nerve of some people. Although, I don't get pitches for my blog, I'm always amazed in "real" life when people try to act like they are doing me a favor when it's really the other way around. It's a definite turnoff.
Oh my... bad press releases and PR pitches - being in the news business I've seen more than my fair share of those! I can't tell you how many I delete on a regular basis.
I'm really glad I found your blog - I'm just starting to get pitches and feel as if I'm learning lots from your blog! Thanks and keep up the good work ~ now go snuggle those girlies :)
Hahaha! I was just working on a similar post tonight. Great input. :-)
Very interesting! I was just going through some emails of pitches and wonder why in the world they would contact me when my blog has nothing to do with their offer. Plus I wondered if I have to reply to each one to let them know whether or not I'm interested in their offer. I sometimes do but most times don't if their email is not very personable.
although i have nothing to do with this blog subject, i just wanted to say i loved this post. very meticulous and a pleasure to read.
well thought out points. :)
Excellent post! I'm still a little fish in the big sea of bloggers (and I'm cool with that!), but this post makes me feel like I'm doin' the right thing when I hit delete!
I haven't really received any yet. I've had several companies contact me because they saw that I mentioned them in a post. How did you start getting so much attention from various companies? I'm really just working on getting my readership up but am open for some income as well.
I haven't received any pitches yet (but that would be nice) but thank you for the wonderful post.
Liked this v. much. You've been doing great work. Here's a mention on Momtrends:
LOL OMG I am just a shakin' my perrty little head over all of these. I get nothing but junky offers, it seems. Half the time I just hit the delete button right away. I'm very tired of getting the "offers" where it's clearly a one-sided deal. Meaning, I offer you tons of exposure and link love and you do very little for me in return!
Please listen to her about the "loaner" products. Not only are they a hassle to have to package and send back. If you don't return them on time, just the right way, etc., you will be charged, often more than it's worth.