It’s going to happen. You are going to receive PR pitches that you consider awful for one reason or another. But before you decide to blast the company across all your social networks, let’s take a look at the various problems and what you can do about them.
They didn’t use my name
I hear this one as a PR pet peeve quite often. That a pitch wasn’t personalized- either no greeting or a generic “dear blogger.” And the argument usually goes something like this: if they care enough to want to work with me, they should take the time to at least put my name on this email and show they’ve read me.
And I’ll agree with this… to a point. If I get a pitch addressed specifically to me, I will probably read it a little bit closer. Put my name and show you genuinely have spent some time looking around my blog(and not just mentioning my last blog post), and I will pay more attention.
But, keep in mind that perhaps a company(whether we are talking about a PR company or the actual brand itself) had to get out over 100 pitches in a day, maybe even more. Personalizing takes an awful lot longer. When you consider the percentage of bloggers who either won’t respond or who won’t be interested in the pitch, it’s a much more efficient use of time to send out more generic pitches- at least some of the time.
I tend to look more at the follow up interaction- now that I’ve expressed interest, is their response more personalized? That’s what makes the difference for me.
This isn’t a fit for my blog
I’ve gotten pitches for products that are for baby girls when I only have boys- and that is very clear on my blog, even if they only thing you’ve read of mine is that short bio blurb up there. Whatever your reason is for the product not being a fit, you can still politely reply. Example: Thanks for your interest in working with Things I Can’t Say. However, I’m afraid that Princess Tutus are not something I’d be able to write about in any meaningful way, as I only have boys! If you ever have any products that would be a fit for 4-8y/o boys, I’d love to work with you!
They aren’t offering me enough
You get a pitch that you actually like and would consider doing, but the rate is way too low compared to your usual rate. It’s okay to reply with this. But please be polite about it. Example: I would really love to work with you because we are already loyal Brand X users and I know my readers would love to hear more about it! However, my rate for the sponsored post you asked for is $X. Please let me know if we would be able to work together!
Maybe they do have some wiggle room and can increase the rate and maybe they can’t. If they can’t, again, a polite response is best- stand firm on your rate and let them know that perhaps you can work on a different project together in the future. Do not go on a rant as to why you are worth so much more or threaten to badmouth them to other bloggers. You definitely won’t be someone they’d want to work with in the future if they did have a project with a bigger budget down the road.
They’re asking for too much
You’re interested in working with them but you feel that they are asking you to do too much. Whether it’s too many blog posts or too much sharing on your social networks, you realize that the amount of work you’d have to put in it wouldn’t be worth the rate that they are asking. Or it would end up annoying your readers because you would be blasting them with the info way too many times. Totally fair to go back and let them know you’d like to work with them, but be specific about what you would actually be willing to do out of their list.
They won’t pay for everything
This is a complaint most commonly associated with trips. And I totally get it. In most cases, the trips I’ve been able to attend have been the ones that were all expenses paid, not having it in my budget to attend other events where the event was free but everything else associated with the trip was not. Sometimes I wonder if I’m simply on the wrong list and the person inviting me thinks I’m within an easy drive of the event. You can always inquire about trip expenses but in the cases of very large events, the budget is usually allocated towards the event itself, not covering travel of all the attendees. Politely decline and let them know where you’d be able to attend an event.
If your complaint is that they won’t pay for shipment of your review item or a giveaway prize- by all means, go back and explain that is not an expense you are willing to cover.
They are shady
They ask you to do things you know you shouldn’t like use their keywords without having them be no-follow. Or they don’t want you to disclose that your post is sponsored. Or anything else that is flat out wrong. These are the ones I usually instantly delete. A response that includes Thank you for your interest in working with me! Things I Can’t Say complies with all FTC regulations and as such I cannot accept this opportunity without disclosing that this is a paid opportunity could work, too.
What is this junk?
Press releases where you really aren’t even expressly being asked to do anything, but you know they are hoping you’ll share with your readers. Unless such info is actually something that is useful to you, find the unsubscribe button at the bottom of the email or reply and ask to be removed from the list.
A few last tips
When you receive a pitch (a bad one or even a good one), keep these things in mind:
- Everyone who reaches out to you is a potential contact. Maybe the opportunity isn’t the right one for you at the time. But you never know what else they have coming up or if that same person will end up working with a totally different brand down the road.
- Be polite in your responses. That person you chewed out for insulting you with their pitch probably just blacklisted you and won’t work with you ever- and again, you don’t know what other clients they may have or who they will tell not to work with you.
- Sometimes the money just isn’t there. Even with a big brand- often the people reaching out to you have been given a very specific budget. And while the company itself might have more money, it doesn’t mean that they’ll budge on how much will be spent on a certain project.
- Feel free to suggest another way to work together.
- Be polite. I’m repeating this one because it’s that important.
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