In defense of PR
And then I have to go uh, wait... you're agreeing with me disagreeing with you. I think. Maybe.
And sometimes people disagree with me agreeing with them.
(They're the difficult ones. I stay away from them.)
Recently I wrote a post about being paid for marketing programs that you do as a blogger that struck a chord. The comments, as always, are better than the post so read them for little happy nuggets of golden deliciousness.
But my post was about compensation for ads. Banners. Sidebar widgets. Social media promotions. Giveaways with contractually bound requirements like keyword placement and run dates and follow-up posts and follow-up follow-up posts, that all start to look a whole lot more like work for a marketer, and less like good content for your readers.
I'm not sure that it was totally clear, so let me be clear now:
I did not write a post about being paid to review products.
I did not write a post telling bloggers to demand free products to write about.
I did not write a post telling bloggers to be assholes to PR people in the name of "standing up for myself."
I want say this in defense of PR folks: They are professionals. They put on nice shoes (man, those NYC PR chicks always have the nicest shoes), put on nice clothes, and head to an office every day where they get paid to do what they do. Now of course some are better than others. Some flat out suck. But many, many do not. Many are still learning how to navigate the waters of social media and blogs as media platforms to pitch, and they are eager to learn and to do better. But they are pros. They are used to working with other pros, like the ones who write articles on tween accessory trends for magazines, or the ones who decide which products will end up with Kathie-Lee Gifford giggling over them in a 10:14AM Today Show segment.
We as bloggers, for the most part, are not pros. We're not even journalists. We're...different. We're the publishers and editors and writers and social media promoters and ad sales team all wrapped up in one.
That's crazy when you think about it.
Think of how hard it must be for them: They are used to pitching publications that are actually in search of relevant content for their audiences. And now suddenly, *bam* there are all these blogs out there and some are in search of relevant content, some are in search of free products, some are picky picky picky, some will write up anything that comes with a $10 Visa gift card attached, and some...well, some are just there (hello!) to write about their kids and reality TV and their drunken karaoke parties and don't want pitches at all.
But we aaaaaall end up on the same pitch lists.
Look, I have had bad days and been snarkier in response to a pitch than I should have. Frankly, I have been snarkier in response to my children asking me for a second cup of milk than I should have. I'm human.
But if you get a pitch you don't like, allow me offer up a few ways to respond to it:
1) Delete it
2) Politely decline.
3) Politely decline and suggest how you'd rather work. Or better, point the PR person to a page on your blog that describes the kinds of pitches you're open to, and how you work
4) Ask to be removed from the list.
If this is helpful, here is a standard email we often send from Cool Mom Picks. In fact, I sent it twice just yesterday (sigh).
Thanks so much for thinking of us. This book isn't a good fit for our site right now--we tend to cover books that are of specific interest to new parents, generally non-fiction. Feel free to check out our archives to see the kinds of books we've reviewed in the past so you can keep us in mind when something relevant for us comes up.Of course I get annoyed when we get 150 or more irrelevant pitches a day. Because good lord, can we be more clear on what we cover? Sustainable nursery furniture? Yes. McNachos with new jalapeno-ranch dip? No.
Be strong mamas. Be discerning. Make sure that whatever you agree to write about is a good fit for your blog, and gives you butterflies in your tummy to write about because you just love it so darn much. And if those giveaways are more trouble than they're worth, stop doing them--hopefully your readers are coming to your blog because they love what you have to say, and not what you can possibly give them for free.
So yeah, stand up for yourselves. But remember, you catch more flies with honey than vinegar. And that PR person offering you the "crappy box of cereal" for review today, might be the person offering you the yoga retreat next week.
You can say no to pitches and still build relationships.
Or you can say no to pitches and go back to writing about your kids. Which is what I'm going to do right now.