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9 May 2008

PR pitches to blogs: The good, the bad, and the WTF

filed under: journal  :: blogging  :: modern life

As the owner of a couple of mildly popular blogs (not this one,obviously) I, like many others, get my daily dose of PR email. I usually skim and dump them. Most of them are barely worth that amount of attention. (I don't even count the lame ones sent to the address where the domains are registered, asking for a 'cooperation' (translation: link exchange) with a "top rated web site with a Google PR of 0". Huh?)

Recently, a few PR pitches came in that really illustrated examples of good, bad, and really, really bad PR things. They are presented here in case they may be of help to the universe. Actually, I just wanted to bitch.

Example: The Good

Received from 360i.com.

Hi Maki, I'm not sure if you've heard the good news, but starting May 5th Iron Chef Japan is back on the air after a very long hiatus. Now every weeknight at 11pm you can catch Chairman Kaga, the Iron Chefs, and a stream of hopeful challengers sweating it out on Fine Living Network. I thought you might want to give your readers a little heads up about the premiere and share some vintage video clips with them. My favorite is probably the one where the challenger uses this crazy technique (fire, dry ice, and goggles....) to make gourmet pasta, but Morimoto hacking thru a massive sea bass comes in a close second... You can check them all out on the Fine Living Network YouTube channel: http://youtube.com/user/FineLivingVideos There's also an official website, which has a list of some secret ingerdients [sic], bios of the chefs (did you know that Chairman Kaga was once a Japanese Jesus?), etc: http://www.fineliving.com/ironchefjapan Feel free to share with your readers, and let me know if you have any questions or feedback. Allez cuisine!

Why this was good:

  • Most important: It's obvious that the person who sent this had at least taken some time to peruse Just Hungry (possibly Just Bento too) to see that the focus of those blogs is on Japanese cooking. It's possible they'd seen that I am a fan of some food shows on TV too (I've reviewed some on Just Hungry sporadically).
  • It also included some fan-ish details, such as mentioning a favorite episode, and ending with the catchphrase of Iron Chef, Allez Cuisine.
  • It included pertinent links of interest, should I deem this news worthy of blogging about. And they were real links, not some link to yet another PR blurb or something.
  • It felt as though it was written by a human being. Even the typo was rather endearing. Not that I want PR releases to include planned typos.
  • The sent from and reply-to email addresses - the same! A small detail, but it's another thing that makes it at least seem as if the blurb is sent out individually.
  • Finally, it just happened to be a subject that I was interested in and that my readers were interested in (as evidenced by the enthusiastic comments to my post about it). The PR company didn't have direct control over this, but they did increase the probability that the news would get mentioned by doing a little homework.

(Update: They did start to send me details about every single Special Iron Chef week thereafter, which got a wee bit annoying, but when I showed my annoyance they apologized and stopped sending so often. This also is a good move, in my opinion.)

Examples: The Bad

Received from - not sure really. The email addresses were confusing.

TO: Blog Writers and Editors
FROM: (name withheld)

What followed was something about some kind of food related jewelry or something. Frankly, as soon as I saw the TO:, my eyes glazed over and it went immediately to Junk.

I have to say that this type of PR pitch is the most common. It looks like people just do a general scan for food blogs, garnish email addresses or have some intern use the Contact forms, and shoot out the same form letter.

(A similar method is used quite often for book review requests. Newer food bloggers may be thrilled by the idea of getting free cookbooks to review, but I'm up to my eyeballs in cookbooks and I don't really want any that are unlikely to be of much interest to me or the readers of my blogs. That's another subject though.)

Example: The WTF

I have just stumbled upon your blog. I love the clean design and fantastic photos. I am a blogger myself and always thought that design was key and you have certainly captured that! There are so many food blogs out there these days and being different to all the others is key. I have just started (the site he was pimping) which is a website for chefs, foodies and food bloggers to hand out, share recipes, photos and videos. When i was blogging I always thought i should be getting more traffic as my blog was getting lost in the masses of stuff out there so my new site is aimed at giving food bloggers and chefs a bigger platform! Hope you enjoy it and keep up the good writing and design here! I have now bookmarked you so will be regular reader, Cheers!

There are several things wrong with this one.

  • It was posted as a comment. Never, ever try to pimp something in comments. It really annoys most bloggers.
  • It was posted as a comment, not on my food sites, but on my language site. It does have a title with Hungry in it, and used to be where Just Hungry resided. But anyone who had taken even a couple of seconds to glance through the site would have realized that it definitely was not a food site, and that it had none of my photos. Fail.

(This post has been closed to new comments, because apparently some PR/SEO hacks take it as an invitation to post their PR/SEO spam comments. Oy.)

Comments on this post:

Heheh you are so right. I got

Heheh you are so right. I got so many emails like these , and sadly most of them are of the WTF category. There are times when I cringe at the mere act of opening these emails. Unfortunately I can't just discard some of the without reading because they might be from my clients.

-Dino Delellis

I can't tell you how many

I can't tell you how many times I get those kinds of emails...in some respect I look at it like, hey pretend you are interviewing for a position. You would research the company, know a bit of what it it about, and what makes the site tick. But I guess part of being a successful blogger is dealing with that kind of email!:) Sharon

That was a good read. I too

That was a good read. I too get a number of different emails and comments on a few of my higher ranked blogs asking for link exchanges etc.

I find it annoying that anyone would attempt to try and have me link to them because they have a pr0, I mean why would I?

I have to say a lot of these aren't very well written and are so generalised it could be used multiple times - so annoying. If they'd made the effort then maybe I'd share.

To be very true, I am annoyed

To be very true, I am annoyed with such stuff. I receive many of such email in my webmaster account. A sample of similar email is listed below.
"Hi,

My name is Joseph,

I would like to do a link exchange with your website or any other sites you own. We are available
to any solutions you like from single link trade to massive links exchange.

I'm sure we can build a long term and profitable relationship for both parties.
Let me know if you are interested in further details.

Looking forward to hear from you!

Regards,

Joseph Oliver, Klick Leads LTD"
This is a straight request and shockingly all of emails have the same material. Site has a PR0 which was included in the email to have a link exchange.

I can completely sympathise

I can completely sympathise with you. I work in the mental health industry and even your "wtf" example had my head turning in circles.

Myron, is all the free CDs worth the tonnes of spam you wade through in order to get them? ;)

Great AND hilarious post!

Nice post I get all kinds of

Nice post I get all kinds of strange emails. At first I found the generic ones who didn't even look at may blog or who address me incorrectly annoying. But now I know it's just par for the course.

This gives me the motivation

This gives me the motivation to actually start blogging. The potential of having all the free CDs, cookbooks... Hmm... or maybe. I should just start blogging about cars. :)

This made me laugh! So true!

This made me laugh! So true! PR companies can send some very odd emails. My partner is in the music sphere and so we get set CDs up to the eyeballs - as you say about cookery books.

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