My top Five Amazing PR Offers.

 

In my spare time (insert hollow laugh here) when I’m not working with Mum bloggers or running blogging awards, I attempt to run a forum for bloggers, where we share tips and ideas, and argue about who gets to marry Bear Grylls when we go to that PR event next month. It’s true, Bear, I don’t think you’re going to get out of there without some kind of binding legal ceremony taking place.

Anyway, over the past few months, the bloggers have begun competing for an entirely imaginary award we refer to as Most Amazing PR Offer EVER.

This award recognises those PR and SEO agencies that appear to consider most parent bloggers came down in the last shower, and are basically sitting at home thinking, “Wow, if only I could promote more multi-national brands on my blog, in a way that involved me receiving no reward or recognition whatsoever.” 

Now, this award is quite fiercely fought over, especially considering the fact that it’s completely made up. But, friends, I think I have it in the bag. Last night, I finally went through the jungle that passes for my inbox, and I came up with some amazing PR offers. Talk about too good to miss. cough.

So, in reverse order, the Top Five Amazing PR Offers in Sally’s inbox are:

  • Would you like to review some chewing gum?
  • Would you like to write a post about our new bleach?
  • I’m prepared to research and write a blog post for you to publish at NO COST TO YOU, in exchange for including two links to my client
  • Would you like to write about our new competition on Facebook? If you do, we’ll enter you into a lottery, and one blogger could win a new toaster
  • We love your site, [insert wrong site name here] and would love you to display this “My Client Loves My Blog” image in your sidebar. It’s just a way for us to say how special we think [insert wrong site name here] is to us.

Here’s the thing.

Not everything in life – or blogging – needs to have a price tag attached. If I think something is interesting or funny, then the chances are I’ll write about it, no payment required. But surely good manners and professional respect mean that you should offer me some sort of recognition for my blogging efforts?

If you’re asking a blogger to write about something, or host a competition, or place a link on their blog, you really do need to ask, “What’s in it for them?” 

Put yourself in a blogger’s shoes. Imagine you’ve spent a year or more building up a blog, writing posts, tweaking the design, gaining an audience. Your blog is important to you, and you’re proud of it. You’ve written some fantastic, personal, heartfelt posts. So the last thing you want to do is let some company use your blog as a free advertising hoarding – especially if they want you to do the work of writing their promotional copy for them.

So before you email me to offer me the fantastic opportunity to publish a guest post you’ve written especially for me and that I don’t even have to pay for… well, just stop. Think about whether you might want to pay me (actually, I don’t run sponsored posts, but lots of other amazing bloggers do). Consider if you might be able to promote my blog via a great Facebook page, or newsletter, or whether you might want to invite me to write a guest post for your client – I’m an awesome writer, after all. Want me to host a competition? How about letting me review and keep a product, as well as give one away?

Ultimately, this is about professional respect and good manners. If you’re engaging with blogs on a professional level – and inviting them to write about your clients is doing just that – then it’s only polite to value my blog, and ensure that your proposal is mutually beneficial in some way. Oh, and try to get the blog name right, won’t you?

[image credit: ShereenM, Flickr]

 

About 

Sally is a full-time blogger and founder of the Tots100, Trips100, Foodies100 and HIBS100 communities, along with the MAD Blog Awards. She spends a bit too much time on the Internet. She's also a very happy Mum to Flea, the world's coolest ten year old.

70 Comments

    • Sarah Ryan
      8th March 2012 / 9:25 am

      As a PR who’s worked with Sally I find these posts both hilarious and embarrassing. There are a lot of people at my agency who always take note of this kind of feedback, particularly as Sally came in to train us! It’s such a shame that a lot of people in the industry are this lazy. Having said that, if you have any spare gum or bleach samples, please do send them my way.

      • 8th March 2012 / 9:59 am

        I hope you enjoyed the training! It’s a minority of people who do this stuff, I am pleased to report.

  1. 8th March 2012 / 9:19 am

    It’s a shame that some PR agencies work like this too because I’ve dealt with some really good ones too. For me, the worst ones are ones that say ‘it must be such hard work coming up with such good blog posts all the time’, and I think no, it’s not actually. It’s like they’re saying I can’t write and that they are doing me a favour by providing me with some copy for their benefit which doesn’t fit with my blog anyway. Anyway, I write about the ups and downs of being a parent – as crap as it may be, I don’t need help, thank you. This crap practically writes itself. Now, if they could magic me some time up so I don’t spend all day running round like an idiot, I might be tempted into helping them out.
    P.s. I love the chewing gum offer. Why didn’t you grab that one with both hands? 😉

    • 8th March 2012 / 10:00 am

      There are lots of good PRs. And thanks for “this crap writes itself” – that’s sometimes how I feel about it!

  2. Nicki Cawood
    8th March 2012 / 9:23 am

    Seriously Sally, you were *that close* to a new toaster! Surely you said yes?

    Silliness aside I really do wish my email client would create a filter for such emails as they are a waste of time. Not only do they show poor judgement on behalf of the PR company but also don’t do any favours for the brand that is being represented.

    • 8th March 2012 / 10:00 am

      I obviously said yes to the toaster lottery. Just bitter I didn’t win.

  3. Lucy at Dear Beautiful Boy
    8th March 2012 / 9:35 am

    I had the number 1 offer just last night. They were even going to design the badge specially for me. How kind…….? Some of the offers have me cracking up but it does make me wonder if anyone takes them up on their offers, surely not, at least I hope not! X

    • 8th March 2012 / 10:01 am

      That is super kind.

  4. The Fool
    8th March 2012 / 9:36 am

    But but but a toaster?! Who wouldn’t be interested in those odds of winning one? I mean they’re worth at least £30. It might even have been a fancy 4 slice job.

    • 8th March 2012 / 10:01 am

      Well, if it had been a 4-slicer…

  5. 8th March 2012 / 9:38 am

    some convoluted guest post arrangement about wooden christmas toys, in exchange for 4 ornaments vauled at £1 or something, with 50 million backlinks etc etc.

    sorry…….no
    Kylie @kykaree recently posted..Calories and Your Premature BabyMy Profile

  6. 8th March 2012 / 9:52 am

    Tee hee hee, thanks for this enlightening post – I can’t believe that PRs could be so crasse.
    I’m in the fortunate position of working for a company that manufactures fantastic products – products that all but sell themselves. Because they are so popular, I have a stream of bloggers asking to review them and even have a waiting list ! Don’t think I’ve ever had to do a cold call to ask anybody to do a review for us or run a competition. I think it makes sense to work with bloggers that are fans of ours as they are going to be enthusiastic about what they are reviewing, and pleased to have another game or jigsaw to add to their toy cupboard. We are happy to provide something for a competition, which can only help them and add to their followers.
    We certainly wouldn’t offer money though, because, in my opinion, the impartiality on the part of the reviewer could then be lost!
    Err, fancy reviewing something for us? I’d let you have another for a competition! 🙂

    • 9th March 2012 / 9:42 am

      That is a great position to be in – I love Orchard Toys, and you don’t even have to bribe me to say it 😉

  7. Tom Pilchard
    8th March 2012 / 9:53 am

    No-one reads blogs so stop taking yourself so seriously.

  8. 8th March 2012 / 9:56 am

    Great post. Was just reiterating this on twitter the other day. The good PRs get it and the bad PRs, well….staffed by uppity kids mostly. I also received the ‘Ill write for your blog for 2 company links’ email. Really. That woman has more front than Brighton. Also, get really p’d off when an agency sends you product you didn’t want nor request and then DEMANDS a blog post. You can imagine my response…It helps when people spread the word like this as so many newbie bloggers have no idea they are being taken advantage of. Keep up the Good work.

    • 8th March 2012 / 10:02 am

      Thanks Katie!

  9. 8th March 2012 / 10:01 am

    Great post, it is what we are all feeling. Sometimes these offers feel more like an insult, but then there is also good pr out there, shame they are in the minority.
    Jacqueline recently posted..A Mini Break to AviemoreMy Profile

    • 8th March 2012 / 11:39 am

      Definitely lots of good PRs out there.

  10. 8th March 2012 / 10:01 am

    I just ignore them all. Hazard of doing business online, or publishing online. And of course, I’d love you to link to it – thanks!

  11. clareybabble
    8th March 2012 / 10:05 am

    I’ve had at least 3 of those types of emails. Hit delete every time!

    • 9th March 2012 / 9:42 am

      Me too! I don’t get stressed out about it, it’s just funny to me.

  12. 8th March 2012 / 10:08 am

    Well said Sally, I think at times the PR’s forget how much work goes into writing a post and promoting it. It’s time they did take us more seriously. I agree with Lucy I hope no one actually takes these offers up
    wendy recently posted..Are They Naughty ?My Profile

    • 9th March 2012 / 9:43 am

      I think they don’t really get how important a blog is to the person who writes it – I mean, speaking personally, I LOVE my blog, and it’s so personal to me. I get really narked when someone thinks they can just use it for their promotional purposes.

  13. 8th March 2012 / 10:17 am

    I hate reading these posts, not because they’re not useful (they are and thanks to Sally for constantly reminding us where we are going wrong) but it shames me that there are people who claim to be PR professionals yet approach people with such utter drivel. Yes, it does take a hell of a lot more time to read every blog you’re going to target, than to fire off a BCC email, but for each carefully written, tailored email, approaching a blogger about something they might want, your chances of actually getting a positive response are so much greater.

    The issue lies in the people that are doing the media targeting. They are usually the account execs or at best account managers, who are being pressured by account directors and above to get on the phone, or on email, and “sell in”. Many are still driven by number of approaches, not the quality of them – and they aren’t necessarily given the time to read. I know this first hand – I have recently gone from being a board director at an agency to working for myself. I now have to make the approaches personally and would I email someone about chewing gum? Absolutely no way. But would I have had to get my team to do so if the client was paying? Yes unfortunately I would have – even if I had explained in detail to my client why that wasn’t the right thing to do. That’s why I left agency life – I can now choose my clients and if I don’t want to work on a campaign, I don’t have to – and nor do I have to put junior people, new to the industry, through the humiliation of doing the same. I only recently stepped away from an account where I was being asked to spam hundreds of journalists and I refused. It felt good.

    So while I agree with the entire post and all the comments, I would ask any angry journalists or bloggers to spare a thought for the person sending an email. You may well be shooting the messenger. It’s why posts like this one are so important – they teach PRs the skills that are sometimes missing from an agency education, where unfortunately £££ is the main driver.

    • 8th March 2012 / 11:41 am

      I think training is a huge part of this and I’ve always said there’s no point shouting at an AE because there’s doing what the AM told them, who’s doing what the AD said, who is ultimately often just obeying client orders. And it’s then the responsibility of those at the top of the chain to effectively consult with clients and ensure this stuff doesn’t go out of the door. Because it doesn’t work, and nobody looks good.

      • Vegemitevix
        9th March 2012 / 10:16 pm

        Great comment, as I know for certain that it’s the poor AE who gets all the flak having worked in (and around) PR for over 20 years. Not only do the agencies need training on how to approach bloggers, I think they also need to understand that the scattergun approach does not work. It doesn’t work for readers who get fed up with reading the same post about chewing gum over and over again, (thereby losing credibility and impact) and it doesn’t work for the blogger whose blog’s brand value is devalued by advertorial!

    • 12th March 2012 / 9:20 am

      Training and correct targeting are the major part of PR skills (having been one and led teams and been the client for the last 25 years) but it appears these days, training is not much in evidence. Therefore, as’ lowly’ bloggers (they forget that some of us are writers, journos, professionals) we often get lumped with the PR a=Asst or new Account Exec who treats her contacts dismissively due to NON- TRAINING and the fact that PR does not yet understand the power of Social Media and £££s to their clients.
      Katie Chutzpah recently posted..Swedish brand Monki launches on London’s Carnaby StreetMy Profile

  14. 8th March 2012 / 10:20 am

    Had one from America that told me she wasn’t doing a sponsored post, it was just a guest post but wanted me to include links to the company she’s working for. Content was supposed to be for family friendly restaurants in the US, but the top restaurant on her post was a Michelin 3 stars fine dining one.
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    • 8th March 2012 / 11:41 am

      Oooh, lucky you!

  15. 8th March 2012 / 11:27 am

    I regularly get asked to do Sudocrem. Not sure where they want me to put it given that I don’t have babies any more!
    My best was a woman who wanted me to write about wedding insurance for nothing. I told her I could only review stuff my 7 or 4 yr olds could actually experience, whereupon she offered me DIY furniture!
    Oh and the classic email ‘I’ve been surfing the internet and have to say I really love your blog [insert blog name]’ That really made me feel good!
    I went to a session for PR’s during Social Media week London and I was amazed at how many people just didn’t have a clue about working with bloggers. They just moaned about how bloggers want payment, and when I suggested that if there was no budget they could reward the blogger with a few retweets and facebook shares they looked like the thought had never ocurred to them!
    Actually Mummy… recently posted..How children learn to read and write at schoolMy Profile

    • 8th March 2012 / 11:41 am

      Ah, insert blog name. Makes me all warm and fuzzy inside.

  16. Nikki
    8th March 2012 / 11:31 am

    Thanks for this Sally, makes us good PR’s feel even better about our own approaches 🙂 Shame that the crappy one’s give the sector a bad name though.

    Ok to tweet to it and spread the word on what PR’s should be doing?

    • 8th March 2012 / 11:41 am

      But of course – the more the merrier!

  17. sarah
    8th March 2012 / 12:03 pm

    This is exactly what I needed to read today Sally! I write two blogs & my more established wedding blog gets an enormous amount of these emails to the point that I feel like I’m being stalked!!! And isn’t it annoying when you see a ‘new & exciting’ company is asking you to blog about them because they’re just starting out and really respect you blah blah and then you see they’ve paid throught the nose for a banner advert on another blog! I now delete any emails that aren’t directed to me personally…yet I still feel guilty.

    …Y’day I was offered a pair of football cufflinks in return for a text link…useful.

    • 9th March 2012 / 9:43 am

      Cufflinks?? That beats the toaster, hands down.

  18. 8th March 2012 / 12:08 pm

    I’m still waiting for most of these offers (I obviously need to get better known!) – although I have had a few silly ones via agency/blog list type people which I did wonder why anyone would ever want to do. Nobody has found my direct email for these yet though – oh no tell a lie – one who basically just wanted me to talk about them and their press release for nothing – they weren’t that interesting . Note to self – must redo my about myself page!
    On another note as my last job as a very lowly marketing assistant (with no marketing degree) I was tasked with contacting bloggers and I would never have sent them such offers. What is really galling me here is that I am looking for a job and can’t find one yet I could do a far better job than most of these people but just because I have no qualification and only a little experience I am written off – grrrr….
    PS Anyone want a social media manager/ PR type person I am available on very reasonable rates!!

    • 9th March 2012 / 9:44 am

      I think if you don’t have an email on your site, you escape most of this stuff.

  19. 8th March 2012 / 12:46 pm

    I’ve just had one which starts Dear Sir or Madam! I am soooo glad they have taken a little time to read my blog. Even worse it that my emails starts with newmummy!

    I file *delete* a lot of bad PR pitches but I do get a lot of good ones as well.
    Caroljs recently posted..3rd Birthday Giveaway!My Profile

    • 9th March 2012 / 9:44 am

      That’s a classic.

  20. Jennifer James
    8th March 2012 / 12:53 pm

    This post reminds me of the early blogging days in the States. Fortunately the offers do get better (especially the compensated ones), but the horrible pitches still come, too. The trash button is one of my best friends.

    Great post!

  21. Cherished By Me
    8th March 2012 / 1:15 pm

    Brilliantly said as usual.
    There was one review that I had sleepless nights over…I agonised over what on earth I could possibly say about X but it was a paid review so everyone was a winner. 🙂

    • 9th March 2012 / 9:44 am

      Oh, poor you. Anyone reading, Pippa has been horribly poorly and deserves treats…

  22. 8th March 2012 / 2:46 pm

    Hear hear, brilliant post! I HATE it when they can’t be bothered to get your name, or the name of your blog right – so rude. And then they get defensive/arsey when you point it out to them…
    Elsie Button recently posted..Bed swapMy Profile

    • 9th March 2012 / 9:45 am

      Oh, I’ve had the defensive ones, but to be fair, most are just mortified when I respond and say, “Love to get you some coverage on that blog, unfortunately I don’t write it…”

  23. 8th March 2012 / 5:17 pm

    What a great piece. I think we all had a laugh at the pr who sent the email shot out with the wrong blog names, it was fun to find out who got what, but at the end of the day it’s not going to make me want to work with someone who sent out a massive mail shot and couldn’t get it right. If I like a product or an article interests me I’m happy to write about it.
    Susan Mann recently posted..100 Word Count Challenge – Week 33My Profile

    • 9th March 2012 / 9:45 am

      YES! Life is so much easier when you write about the stuff you like.

    • 9th March 2012 / 9:46 am

      I suspect they might have been fibbing, I don’t know about you…

    • 9th March 2012 / 9:46 am

      My pleasure!

  24. 9th March 2012 / 10:03 am

    PR is a difficult game and I think there are some agencies who do it REALLY well but when they mess up they do it in style. The classic I’ve seen recently, not an offer to me, I’m still a bit new and little to warrant PR contact, was the official IKEA press office who tweeted “OK, so Habitat have a 25% sale tomorrow. Does that justify spending more than at any other shop?”
    One, you don’t publicize the competition’s sales! I mean, really, school boy error there. And as for the general slagging off aspect… Just pathetic.
    As for the pay per piece issue, I have seen a job advertised recently which was offering writing for a website and being paid $5.50 per 500 word article and being expected to produce 3-5 well researched articles a day! And yes, it was in dollars, not sterling. How awful is that?!
    Jenn recently posted..Furniture faux pasMy Profile

  25. 10th March 2012 / 10:03 am

    I’m still trying to get my head around the fact that you’ll be meeting The Bear! Jealous… me? Very! Lol!

    Great post…made me chuckle. I’ve had quite a few of these emails but the majority of emails I get from PR’s are really lovely. I especially look forward to reading the emails from the PR’s that I have built up a bit of a relationship with…they get it so right.
    Mama Syder recently posted..Flashback Friday – Toys from our PastMy Profile

  26. 10th March 2012 / 10:48 pm

    Not even sure I can add anything to this but yes I feel your pain. I used to diligently reply to every email and now so many of these rubbish offers have worn me down that things just get binned!

    Mich x
    Michelle twin mum recently posted..I am so fed up of you judging usMy Profile

  27. 12th March 2012 / 9:19 am

    Another offer to be wary of is to be an associate advertiser (you get $100 if anyone books through you – that was my offer, usually it’s 65 cents per signup. But it’s the same money if you’re going to get nothing.) I got taken in by that one and advertised a travel company for five months before I came to my senses.
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  29. 16th March 2012 / 8:55 am

    On the food blogger side, I get it too. The majority of the time, the pitches I get are for a really mainstream product launch or a cocktail recipe that ‘my readers will be sure to love’. Now, I write restaurant reviews, so they’re completely irrelevant anyway – but to your point… if I don’t get to try it myself, why should I tell my readers how amazing it is?

    As a PR by trade with a long history of blogging, I am constantly training more junior staff who may come to me with questions or ideas on who to pitch with the question: ‘Would *you* care? If someone came up to you in street and asked you to tell your friends about this product – would you do it?’ The answer is always no. Always.
    Melanie Seasons recently posted..Gospel Brunch – Altitude 360My Profile

  30. 16th March 2012 / 4:46 pm

    This is all so true. As an SEO exec you send these emails all the time, but you should see some of the template emails companies want us to send!

    “hello (name),
    I’m working on behalf of (company) and came across your site doing some research. I think it is very well written and especially loved the post on (insert title from not too far down the archives but not from the first page), it was really funny/good/interesting!
    Would you be interesting in hosting some free content for you blog?”

    You know the rest. It’s pretty obvious this won’t work, but some companies insist we talk to bloggers as if “bloggers” are an alien species who don’t understand how the internet works.

    Although I will say, ‘good’ seo companies aren’t supposed to offer you money upfront, so that’s a bit tricky. Anyone who hasn’t taken the time to search desperately through the internet to find out your name before they email you is just asking for a sarcastic reply!

    lolz.

  31. 17th March 2012 / 2:36 pm

    Fab post. As a garden blogger I get a lot of these too. Thank goodness I’ve got through the p*ssed off stage and now find them funny.

    I get a lot of PRs from the States – it’s almost tempting to take them up on their offer of a shedload of free compost (now aren’t you jealous!). The shipping charges they’d incur might get them to do their research a bit better in future 😉

  32. 10th April 2012 / 11:00 am

    oh, i HAVE to tell you how i ended up here at your post.

    i received a totally OTT pr email this morning. nothing for me to review, no offer of compensation, just ‘isn’t this an amazing deal’ and wouldn’t i obviously want to blog about it. included was a giant number to make it look like there were awesome prizes to be won but once i read through the press release, it was clear there was actually no sort of prize for anyone at all and it was just a bit of bait and switch really.

    at the end, the pr person had included a personal twitter link. i clicked out of curiosity for how many people would be following a pr person like this.

    that pr person? tweeted a link to this post.

    oh world, you are the awesomest.

  33. 14th September 2016 / 9:03 am

    But wanna admit that this is invaluable, Thanks for taking your time to write this.
    Chiefs Jerseys recently posted..Chiefs JerseysMy Profile

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