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?