I’m generally pretty good at being diplomatically and politely rude to people when the need arises. It’s one of my many talents, along with eloquently telling you why you are a complete idiot. One thing I have never written about is PR failures.
I’m not talking about a poorly designed or worded ad. I’m talking about PR people who email bloggers in a niche as small and specific as military spouse bloggers, and fail epically at their job.
In light of recently hitting my breaking point with these emails I’ve decided to write about the most common fails I see and why it should matter to PR people. (This list is geared towards my personal experiences, but the rules apply to any military spouse blogger, no matter what branch of the military their spouse serves in.) This will be a three part series featuring six fails each.
- If you can’t get the name of my blog right, I won’t even bother to reply. A Boy, A Girl, and the Marine Corps, is not interchangeable with Semperfi Wifey, Marine Wife, Mommy and Life or any other Marine Corps spouse blog. We are not interchangeable. We are unique individuals who blog for unique reasons. We may all be married to Marines, but neither we nor our spouses are interchangeable, so don’t treat us like we are.
- Don’t write “Dear Blogger.” Dear Blogger implies that you don’t really give a rat’s ass who replies and that I, a specific blogger whom you have contacted, am not important to your mission. As a blogger, I can offer a different view, a different demographic and a different approach to your campaign because we are not all the same. Even within a small blogging community such as military spouse bloggers, we can all offer you something slightly different. If you haven’t bothered to put my name in the email, you probably also haven’t bothered to look at my blog and are not only unlikely to be interested in a mutually beneficial relationship with me, but are insulting me by insinuating that I, the blogger promoting you, am interchangeable with any other blogger in the world.
- At the bare minimum of things to do not to epically fail as a PR person reaching out to me, a blogger in a small, but powerful, niche remove the “insert blog/blogger name here” note in your emails and put my actual blog/blogger name. I’d love to say that is a joke, but I have received more than one email that did not do this. They not only didn’t get a response from me, but I have not bothered ever to open another email from their PR firm again. If you can’t take fifteen seconds out of your day to fill in my name, or my blog name, I can’t take the fifteen seconds to skim your email and see if it’s worth reading in full.
- If your email is more than three paragraphs long, I’ve already lost interest. In fact, I’ve probably only read the first paragraph in search of hints as to whether or not it’s even worth my time to read more. If I see that your email goes beyond a third paragraph, it isn’t. (Press releases are slightly different and more likely to be read by me, but not by much.)
- No matter how small my blog’s niche may be, my time is worth money. I invest a lot of time into my blog, into my content, and into having meaningful connections with my readers. A small niche market doesn’t mean that I should have to work for you for free. It takes time to write an article promoting an event and it takes time to create a social media campaign, so you should be prepared to offer something. Whether a product for review, an item for a giveaway or monetary, YOU are the one being disrespectful in assuming I will work for you for free, not the other way around with me saying I won’t. (It never hurts to ask for free promotion, but it’s insulting to assume I will give it to you. Do your clients pay you to help them promote things? See how that works?)
- Follow up emails are totally fine… Unless it’s a follow up to something you have sent me five times already and I’ve already declined at least three of those times. Please keep track of what you have emailed and whether or not they received a response before deciding to do follow up emails or even emailing the content again. I LOVE follow up emails because I’m forgetful and busy and get close to two hundred emails a day, but I don’t appreciate my inbox being full of the same press release and follow ups for stuff that I’ve already said no to.