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Pitches Gone Bad: When PR Agencies Only Get Part Of The Story

It’s easy to trash the bad pitches we bloggers get. With our email inboxes inundated daily with press releases, review pitches, and the famous “here’s a photo please post it on your blog for us to promote our product” requests, bloggers can get bitter about PR agencies.

Sometimes those pitches go very, very bad. But most of the time the pitches are rather innocuous and bland, offering little to the blogger to engage with. Once in a while, though, the pitch is beautifully put together, compelling, and offers something awesome to the blogger.

We live for those pitches.

Recently, Heather Spohr got one of those pitches from a company she loves. She was actually really interested in the pitch until she got to the third paragraph which said: “Pending your interest, we’d like to send you a [redacted] for Maddie and Annie to use for [redacted this Halloween.

Because Maddie passed away on April 7, 2009.

Heather reached out to me not because she wanted to thrash the agency here at MomCrunch, but because I’ve had a similar thing happen. A while back I got this pitch:

Hi Cecily,

With summer in full swing, many moms are looking for fun things to do with their children, as I’m sure you can attest to! [Redacted] has just kicked off their annual Take a Stand campaign.The Take a Stand campaign challenges kids across the country to raise money for the charity of their choice through a good old fashion lemonade stand. This year, we are putting a fresh twist on the campaign by challenging kids to express their creativity and represent their charities by designing and creating their own lemonade stands.

By posting their designs on [redacted]’s Facebook page, with their parents’ help, children can not only display their creativity, but also enter for the chance to increase their donations and win cash prizes.

I know your boys may be a little too young for the contest, but we would love your help in getting the word out about the campaign and have provided a full press release below. If you should have any questions, please feel free to contact me at [redacted].

I look forward to hearing of your interest!

Only problem there? My sons were never born. I lost them when I was six months pregnant.

These failed pitches highlight a place where the PR industry and bloggers encounter a chronic issue. The PR agencies are totally swamped and are trying to reach out to hundreds of bloggers (in some cases) while the bloggers are receiving dozens of pitches at the same time. So the PR agencies are often shortchanged on time for deep research, and bloggers are quick to anger when a pitch misses the mark.

In Heather’s case it would hard to miss the fact that Maddie has left us while researching her blog; she has a foundation in her daughter’s name, she has memorial badges on her sidebars, and her about page states the situation clearly. In my case it says in my About page (at the time I received that pitch) that I lost my sons in the sentence after I mention that I was pregnant with twin boys. In both our cases, the agency did a cursory search, found our kid’s names, and pitched us as if our children were alive.

But I’m willing to also acknowledge that it’s tough on the agencies, too. This sort of situation could easily get blown up into a major Social Media Fail, but Heather refused to go public with the name of the company out of respect for the hard work they do in the Momosphere.

Luckily, the company sent Heather an incredibly kind apology, and she feels like they did the right thing (take notes, Brandlink Communications) and she feels able to still maintain a great relationship with the company.

But the key point is, how can agencies avoid this massive misstep? How can we, as bloggers, make it easier for them to research us so that the pitches we receive hit the mark more often? We are working in partnership much of the time with brands and agencies, and I think we owe it to each other to figure this out. Got any suggestions?

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