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.
- Working with military spouse bloggers can be great. We offer a direct link to the military community, which is fabulous for you. However, please research and learn about the community before you decide to start spamming me. I have actually received truly offensive PR emails because people knew absolutely nothing about the military and ended up saying truly awful things and not even realizing it. Be sure you understand the community the people you are emailing are a part of. We are a small, close knit group; word will spread very, VERY quickly.
- On that same note: Be sure you understand one thing: we know the terminology, and the timelines. So, be sure you are using terms correctly, understand what terms and acronyms actually mean, and for the love of God, know when things happened. My husband has personally fought in the War on Terrorism, so if you are going to make comments, make sure they are factual. Saying a woman fought on the “front lines” in 2005 shows me that you don’t know what the front lines are, or the fact that in 2005 women were not yet allowed in combat positions. Saying something like that guarantees that I am going to laugh and shake my head like you are an adorable child who misunderstands a word, and then delete your email without a second thought. It truly is that important.
- If you are going to heed the advice in this list, and the “Dear Blogger” advice is really a good bit to take away if nothing else, then be sure you get my name right. If my name is Jane, don’t call me Jen. And if you are going to be emailing me as A Girl, which most do, A is not my first name. Let’s be clear, A Girl is the name. A stands to for nothing other than the part of a sentence known as an “article.” If you are trying to personalize the email and you get the name wrong, you have failed and I won’t even bother to read what you have to say. (This rule applies to spelling a name correctly as well. Wrong spelling? DELETE!)
- Twenty Questions is a great car game, but is not one bloggers like to play. So, while you should understand that typing ad nauseum which results in lengthy emails is a good way to get your email disregarded, so is not giving enough information. Most bloggers work outside jobs or have children to care for on top of the 40+ hours a week they spend working on their blogs. Do us all a favor and don’t make us email you a hundred times to get ALL of the information we need. If getting info from you is like pulling teeth, then I’ll take to avoiding your emails with the same effort I take to brushing and flossing to avoid going to the dentist.
- Speaking of other jobs, many military spouses also run businesses from home, or websites other than their blogs. It behooves you to make a BIG, GIGANTIC mental note of which site you are trying to email and then email them correctly. Nothing says, “I failed to research appropriately,” like emailing Sew Lovely, when you were trying to reach A Boy, A Girl and the Marine Corps.
- And one last bit of advice. Sadly, this happens to me A LOT! If you are emailing me an unsolicited “guest post” don’t bother. While I’ll happily review a book, or even entertain the idea of doing an interview, sending me an unsolicited guest post “on behalf of your client” will get you deleted faster than nearly any other rule you can break. Bloggers live by the rules of SEO and under the thumb of what Google likes. This means that duplicate content on more than one site is a great way to get your site to lose Google rankings or even get excluded from searches all together. So, while it’s great that you want your client to gain exposure, there are so few of us out there in this niche that sending us a random guest post is sure to ruin our rankings. If you truly want your client to guest post on my blog, email me, pitch your offer and topic and ensure that it is original content.
And a last minute addition:
Recently, I was approached by a PR person via email. When I replied to his email, I found his correspondence to be rude and abrupt. He was so rude in fact, that I had to email him and tell him that I would only continue to work with him if he changed his tone.
So, last minute, just after midnight, number 7:
Do not email anonymous bloggers and then act offended that they won’t give you their personal information. Their blog clearly shows that they don’t share that information and you are not going to be the exception to the rule. Take the time to vet the people you are contacting to make sure they are the right fit for you, and if you find that they aren’t, there is no need to be disrespectful or indignant about it. Sometimes things just don’t work out.
Last minute addition number 8:
DO NOT BE RUDE. If you are emailing a blogger, no matter how informal the request may be, there is no cause to be abrupt and rude. It is one thing to adopt an informal, business casual tone; I have been known to insert smiley faces when I have worked with a PR person enough to be comfortable with them; but, that said, there is still no cause to be rude, abrupt, or disrespectful in your tone nor wording. I mean, COME ON!!!!!!!!!!! Seriously? I shouldn’t have to say this, but, sadly, I am speaking from experience. Don’t be rude to the people you are trying to get to promote your product or client. I can’t stress this enough.
And that concludes my PR Fails Series (for now). Be sure to check out the other posts: