Pitching Bloggers: To Call or Not To Call
I am having a hard time focusing this morning. I am exhausted from a 5 and half day trip and am feeling the pressure of impending deadlines. It’s taking me a bit to get to things, but I was just getting to it when my phone rang. 212 number. NYC. I immediately imagined it was an agency calling because many agency and brand representatives with whom I have a relationship do sometimes call me for a lot of reasons, and I answer.
Except I didn’t know the rep on the other end of the phone…or his agency. He talked about an email he had sent a couple of days ago. I didn’t recall it. I was mildly annoyed, but patient, because I have been there and when I was, this was the part of my job I hated the most – the one where I was more a telemarketer than a PR rep. So, I listened and I invited him to re-email me his pitch – which he did and which was actually a good one (I can’t use it myself, but I think my readers will love it). Once I got the email, I remembered it was one I had quickly read and deleted while on the road.
So. Did his calling me work? Yes, it did. Did I enjoy the phone call? Not really. But, having been on the other end of that in the past, I know he didn’t enjoy it either.
So the question remains, should agencies and brands phone call pitch bloggers?
Ask the bloggers and most will give you a resounding NO, unless, of course, we have a relationship with you. So much of Social Media is about that, we say. Though honestly, media itself has always been about that. I have always gotten a better response from media I have a relationship with. We, as bloggers, have a responsibility in this relationship building part as well.
My PR and publicist friends weighed in with some really great points that made me take pause and realize that we (bloggers) can’t have our cake and eat it too.
My friend Barbara, who is a freelance publicist (who can call me any time) says:
“Publicists jobs are getting exponentially harder and I so much appreciate your understanding. Just an answer. It’s polite and kind.”
My friend Lorianne, whom I met through her agency work (and whom I also consider a friend and can also call me any time) adds:
“Before e-mail pitching, this was all there was (well, and snail mail/faxing ). I think the tactic is relationship building and getting an immediate interest or “no” but one has to understand that it certainly can disrupt someone’s day or work flow. Especially if the pitch is not 100 percent targeted, succinct, and only intended for that very person, or an offering up of a juicy exclusive.”
They both make great points. We as bloggers, have the responsibility to be professional in our practices (and polite) and take the time to just say no when appropriate. We all have had our share of really bad, somewhat rude, and even inappropriate pitches. Many more of us have taken to our blogs to complain about them – but fewer just take the time to say, “No, thank you” or “This doesn’t apply to what my blog is about, but thank you for your consideration” (that, by the way, is my standard rejection email response).
We go on and on and on about how bombarded we are with emails each and every day. Lucky us. It means we are busy and on lists and on someone’s radar – a good problem to have. If our jobs were in an office setting, we would have to reply to those emails – or someone would – because it is about relationship building and that’s a two-way street.
But as Lorianne pointed out, it’s also on the publicists and agencies to do their homework and research the blogs before blindly or mass pitching bloggers – just as they would have to do research on media outlets before blind pitching and mass emailing them. A more informed, targeted approach leads to better results, better response, and less work all around.
So, to call or not to call?
The rep this morning called because I didn’t bother to respond to his email, and he has a job to do, a job which was made more difficult by my not responding. I hated calling media when I worked in public relations, but I had to because they didn’t respond. A simple email would have avoided the annoyance and time, on both ends. Which means that no matter how awesome and coveted we all may be with the millions of emails a day we might get, it’s our job to reply – just as we would were we in the office – and in doing so, we minimize the continued emails (and phone calls, and tweets) that follow fishing for whether or not we are interested.
And brands/agencies have a job too. Do your research. Target your message appropriately. Don’t start your emails with “Hi” (no name), “Dear Blogger” or worse “Dear Mommy Blogger”. Find out who we are, what we blog about, and what our interests are.
The gentleman that called me this morning did his homework. He knew my name (and obviously my number and email), and he targeted his pitch as one that would appeal to my readers. The phone call was distracting, but it was my fault.
To me, the phone calls, especially coming from agency representatives that I have never met or emailed with, feel like telemarketing – like a hard sell. I hated it when I made the calls for my job, and when I receive them they feel awkward.
For the record, this isn’t a “blogger” thing. When I pitched reporters back in my day I can count on one hand how many of them enjoyed my calling them with pitches and how many of them were polite about it on any given day. In fact, I got more calls from reporters who were interested, when they were interested. So, the phone call pitching thing may be a necessary evil, but it’s not all that fun for anyone involved.
I have to remember that this is the work part of what I do, and if I can’t be bothered by these things then I might need to reconsider my profession or hire an assistant. I have to remember what it feels like when I don’t get a response to my emails – which of course, I always think are relevant to the person receiving it – and I have to learn to be distracted by the task at hand and deal with it appropriately. At the very least – and I have to remind myself of this – I have to reply to the emails, especially since that is my preferred and most convenient method of communication.
Hopefully, we will all continue to work at getting better at our jobs and at communicating with one another, from both sides, and as my friend Barbara said (and thank you for the reminder) we need to keep working on being polite and kind with one another in the process.
Interesting post. I have the opposite problem. Since I am giving my blog a “reboot”, I am trying to find marketers who would be interested in working with me. What did you do when you were starting out to build those relationships with marketing professionals? Feel free to reply to my email if you like. Thanks.
Hi Paul – good ol' fashion networking and face to face interactions was really what worked, and still works, for me when looking to spread the word about my brand and my work and who I am. I invested a lot on conferences and attended many events. I collected business cards and sent emails with my media kit and story ideas. I pretty much worked the pavement. This helped people get to know me as a person as well, but it also helped me to identify who I wanted to work with. Hope that helps!
Thank you — I love our relationship for so many reasons – continuing to learn and get better at what we do is part of that. I am grateful you have lived both sides of the dialogue – that is a great benefit to the publicists who want to work with you – and even better for those who already do 🙂
Thank you Barbara!
Great post. I agree. And I used to give the same advice about responding to all emails, but I have slacked off big time because my inbox is indeed overflowing. I tend to respond to emails in bulk late at night, but keeping up is hard. I am trying to work on a better system and get a handle on that part. Because I do still believe… you never know what other companies PR work for. And although that first pitch that they send you might not be a match, there may be some other clients that they work with which are perfect for your blog.
I wrote about some of my peeves, etc. of pitching bloggers not too long ago:
Thanks Kris. It is hard to keep up with emails. And though I don't get millions or even hundreds a day, not even close by any means, life is busy and they can pile up on you! But, yes, you are right. You never know.
In my opinion, it's easier to respond with a No, thanks or Thanks for the information, but I'm not interested at the moment. To me, it's common courtesy and I know it's impossible for the bloggers that get massive email pitches. But I'd still try. And it's a win win since you avoid the cold calls.
You are absolutely correct, Marnely. And honestly, we may say we're drowning in emails, but not really. It's also good to just have standard ones on hand that you can copy and paste to fit the email. They can pile up on us, but it seems we can avoid the follow up on things that we don't need with a quick response.