The email below arrived in my Inbox this afternoon (click to expand)

Email pitch

It was sent in the hope of garnering some press for the company’s website, that helps students connect with potential employers. Great – nothing wrong with that, and here’s to more companies helping students get a great start in life.

The problem is, the approach is all wrong and will probably put off every blogger they reached out to (and there were some big names in there). Here’s why:

  • The message header and the opening line don’t gel. The message header is great – “I enjoy reading your blog” is always an ego-stroke guarantee for a click-through. But then you get the generic “Dear Blogger” salutation. Bah.
  • Mass email, baby! As you can see, the email was sent to quite a few addresses and, better still, this was via open cc’d. This meant what should have (probably) been a private list now gave other people access to email addresses that the owner may not have want shared.
  • Lack of relevance. At no point in the email (apart from the standard opening blurb about being useful for the blog) is there a cohesive point made on why the company’s site would be relevant for my readers (or that of the other bloggers that were emailed).
  • A confidence-building domain… When I clicked through to the domain of the email sender, I was greeted with the image below.

Big1 domain

Now, it may be that the coolest website on the planet is due to arrive at the domain – who knows, even cooler than Chuck Norris! But for now, it raises alarm bells as to who’s behind the email and how well they’d serve the students they’re looking to help.

Simply put, it adds the finishing touches to an email that means well but does pretty much everything that goes against a solid blogger outreach program.

What They Could Have Done

Now, it may be that it’s a small company looking to get awareness and a foothold in the space, and they feel that bloggers with a certain audience reach can help. Or, they’ve heard blogging is the new advertising and it costs less money too.

Nothing wrong with that – most bloggers love to help promote something that’s relevant to their audience. The problem here is that the pitch fell flat at the first hurdle due to the approach.

What they could (should) have done is:

  • Ignore the mass email approach. Bloggers are generally busy people. If they feel a pitch isn’t truly targeted, they’ll ignore and move onto the next one. Try and really personalize the approach – use the blogger’s first name and a little overview of your understanding of the blog and audience. And, if you must use mass email, make it a BCC…
  • Use examples of relevance throughout. You don’t need to suck up to the blogger to get their attention, but maybe drop in 2-3 references to past posts that correlate to your service. Each reference builds your case – build the case and your job’s almost done.
  • Make sure you’re ready for investigation. Bloggers are successful because they’ve built trust with their audience. They won’t ruin that by not doing due diligence, and the first thing they’ll do is check you out. Make sure you’re ready for that – if your website isn’t built, don’t share your domain.

These are just really short suggestions based on this particular email and where it went wrong. You also need a great boss who can educate you on best practices, just in case Ann is a junior and she’s been told to send a pitch like this. If so, her boss should be ashamed.

To really run a great blogger outreach program needs a very cohesive approach. It also helps if you’ve been some part of the blogger’s audience beforehand – a tweet here, a blog comment there, etc.

Awareness of you means a better chance when it comes to sharing awareness of your product by the blogger in question.

Contrary to popular belief, bloggers do want to share your content – we just need a reason to do so.

Note: In his comment about this post, Frank Strong (who I respect immensely) questioned my outing of what may be a junior person at a PR agency. To clarify: this would never be a goal of mine.

If you try Google the name, nothing comes up. Nothing. Same with the company on LinkedIn. Which makes me think it’s a front for the “client” they’re pitching, which I did blur out.

Additionally, the blogger names that were on the email were all over the place. Two PR agencies; a sports blog; two tech blogs; a mobile phone blogger; a car forum and more. There was no rhyme or reason – it was just a blind pitch with a bunch of names thrown in for good measure.

With all that in mind, if someone is so indifferent that they don’t “exist” and are blasting out a generic message, then perhaps it makes no difference to blur or not.

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Comments

  1. says

    It’s amazing how many people screw this up, isn’t it? I get an email on a weekly basis addressing me as “Mr. Mike Stenger Blogger” and “I love reading Mike Stenger blog”. Most email pitches don’t address people as a human being, nor are relevant in the first place.

    • says

       @mikestenger What would happen if people just called you Stengster? It’d be the cooler version of Stiffler. 😉
       
      Like you say, the worst part is the lack of relevance and shows a complete disregard for your intended “target”. Apt word. 😉
       
      Cheers, sir!

  2. DaveGallant says

    I totally agree Danny. When companies pitch a blogger, their message should be personalized (not email blasted), upfront, and honest in the email title.

  3. Dave Gallant says

    I’ve gotten two of those types of pitches in the past month. Needless to say I didn’t accept their proposal.

  4. Everett Martin says

    Dear Facebooker: Thank you for this interesting post about a subject that is very relevant to the activities in which I am involved. I will be sure to share it with others in my organization, social circle, and/or political action committee.

  5. Everett Martin says

    Janis – Too much time, or not enough? Only half joking. Half a week is a long time to forget about something. I don’t plan my life more than 5 days in advance, most weeks.

  6. ShortStack says

    Some good tips on what not to do, we’ll keep that in mind next time we pitch ShortStack to you Danny :) -Sara-

  7. Danny Brown says

    Everett Most bloggers (of the pitching kind) have editorial calendars they plan weeks in advance, mate. Asking them to drop things for your pitch is often a very big push, especially if the pitch is bad.

  8. Danny Brown says

    Inna – Sounds like a great agency – is it okay to share who they were? And yes, the lazy, non-targeted ones unfortunately spoil a lot of the great work being done by folks like you.

    • says

       @Julie | A Clear Sign Possibly. The funny thing is, often I’ve seen graduates want to send a better pitch and been overruled by a pushy owner that really doesn’t understand how to do things.
       
      But yeah, quality control goes a long way. :)

  9. says

    That reminds me of a pitch I got the other day. They managed to BCC everyone but didn’t ever address me by name or give me any indication that they knew who I was or that they had ever read my blog.
     
    They did manage to send it to me twice. The best part of it was their closing paragraph shown below:
     
    **Feel free to repost, tweet, FB post or blog about this offer. Contact us if you’d like to run a promotion/contest/giveaway/review or have information on placing ads on your site.  We look forward to hearing from you!
     
     

    • says

       @TheJackB Haha, that’s awesome mate – and hey, they *did* get you to blog comment about it. Kinda… 😉
       
      It just makes me smile ironically. It’s not a huge deal to do some homework, craft and present. Yes, there’s legwork, but the long-tail return trumps that, every single time.

  10. says

    I would love to know 2 things:
     
    1. What is their success rate with these blasts.
    2. Do they even measure their success rate.
     
    Alas, all common sense seems to have left the internet.

  11. says

    You are right, Sir.    BUT — notice her title.  Can’t we cut her some slack?   I wish you’d have cut her name out.  You can make your very valid point without humiliating her.  Maybe I’m in the minority, but in my heart of hears, I just don’t like “outing” people. Yes, I have done it before (so I’m not deserved of a soapbox perhaps), but hopefully sparingly.  We’re all human.  We’ve all done things out of nativity, or perhaps an err in judgement. 

    • DaveGallant says

       @Frank_Strong  I didn’t catch that until you mentioned it Frank. I have to agree, I probably would have blurred that part out myself @DannyBrown . Every point in the post is valid though.

    • says

       @Frank_Strong I did consider blurring that too, mate. But then I considered this:
       
      – What are titles? Is Executive Assisitant an assistant to the Executive? In which case, that’s a pretty high-level position.
      – At what point do we stop trying to educate directly and continue to receive crappy pitches, despite emailing people behind the scenes prior to a public post?
      – If humiliation was involved (something I would always try and steer away from), the post would be worded very differently and without advice to try and improve next time.
       
      If you try Google the name, nothing comes up. Nothing. Same with the company on LinkedIn. Which makes me think it’s a front for the “client” they’re pitching, which i did blur out.
       
      Additionally, the names that were on the email were all over the place. Two PR agencies; a sports blog; two tech blogs; a mobile phone blogger; a car forum and more. There was no rhyme or reason – it was just a blind pitch with a bunch of names thrown in for good measure.
       
      With all that in mind, if someone is so indifferent that they don’t “exist” and are blasting out a generic message, then perhaps it makes no difference to blur or not.
       
      Cheers, sir, you know I always appreciate your thoughts.

      • says

         @DannyBrown Well, if it’s deceptive, I can’t speak to that.  I didn’t research it; simply went off the the image in this post. If it’s a faux agency, clearly, a completely different take — in which case I’d chastise you for not going far enough.  :-)  But based on what I see here in this post,  I see an executive assistant, not a marketing person, not a PR person, an executive assistant.  And they work hard!   It’s not a case of better or worse (good executive assistants can make great money), it’s a case of different skill sets. If what you say is what you found, then put that in the post my brother!  Otherwise, the context provided, is all I’ve got. And my opinion stands. You already know I think highly of you Danny, so there’s no question there.   Just the outing (in general, across the industry) drives me nuts; I think I’m going to go on a campaign. 

    • says

       @Soulati | B2B Social Media Marketing  @Frank_Strong You’d hope they look at their click-throughs and have some sort of search set up. we’ll see.

      • says

         @DannyBrown  @Soulati | B2B Social Media Marketing 
         A few years ago I met this person — who invited me to lunch — and I was thrilled because I thought this person was a big influencer . We hit it off, chatting away, but then this person tells me their secret.
         
        This firm hires offshore staff on the cheap to develop blog lists for clients — thousands of names — and then blasts them all by email.  The firm has invested in a rather elaborate system of servers and the like — the the Borg from Startrek — to support this.  It’s insane actually. 
         
        Why? Because it works.  Do they get flack?  Yes, a little, but they just say mea cupla and move on. But more often than not, they either get a placement — and a link — or nothing at all.  Happy client.  Rinse, repeat, next client.
         
        I was mortified; it caught me off guard because I never expected to hear this — let alone from this person.  What’s more, this person was so casual about what I considered to be an unnecessary sin.  Causal.  Like, yep, just business.
         
        Completely changed my PR world-view that day knowing that sort of firm is really out there and that this really isn’t just a problem with junior staff, or EAs pinch hitting, there really are seasoned “pros” out there that does this by *design.*   
         
        Still, I always hesitate to name-names because I think doing so just drags down the entire industry.  Admittedly it’s a bit of a Catch 22.  
         
        The spammers hurt us but blasting them in posts hurts us too.  Outing them; that’s sort of been done — the Bad Pitch Blog and those Gawker columns (that I read secretly but never share and freeze me like looking at Medusa) — and it has no effect because it will never convince a person like that I’ve mentioned above to change how they do business.  That person will never change.  Never. 
         
        I want this sort of trash to stop; but I don’t want to call anyone names. There’s a little bit of idealism in everyone sometimes. 

        • says

           @Frank_Strong  @Soulati | B2B Social Media Marketing Maybe just as well adamsinger didn’t write the post. 😉
           
          That’s kinda scammy what that “PR agency” are doing – no wonder the industry has such a bad reputation in the eyes of the general public…

        • says

           @AmyMccTobin  Ha! I don’t know if I’ve got enough shock-jock-DJ blood in me to write something that would merit publishing there!  I’m a silent punk lurker!  :-) 

        • says

           @Frank_Strong  @DannyBrown  @ginidietrich Ha Ha Ha!  THAT was definitely on Punk Views Danny.  The irony is that I have a complete truck driver’s mouth in Real Life.  It is a struggle to keep my 4 yr old from using my adjectives.  In writing I think it’s cheating to curse; if your pen is powerful you can avoid it.   “Piss off,” by the way, is not a curse word in my view.

        • says

           @AmyMccTobin  @DannyBrown  @ginidietrich  Yeah, well. I’m prim and proper in a suit, but sometimes I wear a uniform.  I don’t know what it is about the infantry, but it has me swear like a sailor (it really is like having two different lives). I’ve been on a leave of absence from work for a year while deployed and I’m about to go back next week; hopefully I can keep my mouth in check. But posting that online?  Just not my style. 

  12. says

    Ha! I don’t know if I got the same actual email as you but I got exactly the same pitch yesterday. I glanced at it, saw that I was one of many people on an email titled “I enjoy reading your blog” and beginning “Dear blogger”, laughed, showed it to my colleagues and then deleted it without reading further.
     
    Sigh.

  13. says

    I’m impressed that you made the effort to click through and check it out at all. I just delete immediately.
     
    But as I’m in the process of redesigning my site for a relaunch along with launching a new business, the tips on How-To definitely hit home. It’s daunting sending a cold e-mail to people. While I think what you mention is (or should be) common sense, I always appreciate the advice.

    • says

       @thefutureisred You should speak to Gini Dietrich about the common sense that comes through in some of the pitches she and Lisa Gerber receive over at Arment Dietrich. 😉
       
      It’s a shame we have to still write about this – although I know the flip side can be just as bad, with demanding bloggers haranguing PR folks for swag and cash.
       
      Sigh…

      • says

         @DannyBrown  Gini Dietrich  Lisa Gerber 
         
        I’d love to hear about some of those pitches! Both the good and the bad.
         
        Yes, common sense would be a lovely thing on all sides. Seems the more people get involved in social media, the more likelihood that you’ll get a higher percentage of people who don’t really get the *social* part of it. I mean, I wouldn’t walk up to someone at a bar or parents’ night or dinner party and ask for a one-sided favor either.

        • says

           @thefutureisred It’s really bad. Sometimes I’m really embarrassed for my industry. I KNOW they’re being taught what’s appropriate and what’s not. But most are too lazy to actually do the work required to make it effective. Mitch Joel always says that if he’s pitched by someone who knows what he does on the blog, and it ties in to something he already does, it works 100% of the time. I just don’t know why you wouldn’t want 100% effectiveness in your pitching.

        • says

           @ginidietrich I think, perhaps, it just comes down to being lazy. Or just not thinking about it? What a waste of time and energy, though.
           
          I’ve also found I get about 100% return on pitches. Since we’re just beginning as a company, I take on only a few new projects and am very clear in what and whom I pitch. Not brain surgery, I suppose.
           
          I’m curious to know who responds to these buckshot pitches and where they actually lead.
           
          And @DannyBrown, I’ve been reading your posts for a while through my RSS, but this is the first time I’ve chimed in. Thanks for the great discussion. I’ll most definitely be back for more.
           

        • says

           @thefutureisred  Glad to have you “delurked”, miss, and looking forward to more conversations with you. Even it it means including @ginidietrich … 😉

      • says

         @DannyBrown  @thefutureisred  Gini Dietrich  Lisa Gerber I have yet to harangue anyone for swag and cash, but now I am more motivated than ever to get my Klout score up so that I can.

        • says

           @AmyMccTobin  @DannyBrown  Gini Dietrich  Lisa Gerber 
           
          Not sure if this is what you’re already referring to… but you made me think of this article:
           
          Is Klout rewarding shouty egomaniacs? The evidence is compelling. bit.ly/JmCyW2

  14. techdexter says

    Oh this made me giggle. Thank you Danny. I really would be a better marketer if I frequented your blog more often. I’ll remedy this. Kudos! Fun, easy informative read. What’s left to achieve really? Oh and I love that it pointed you st a Go Daddy placeholder. That’s hilarious. Kinda insincere?

    • says

       @techdexter Wait – you do know that the only real way to be a better marketer is to follow every single piece of advice Klout doles out, right..? 😉
       
      Thanks for dropping by, mate, and yeah, the GoDaddy placeholder was pretty funny. :)

      • techdexter says

        @DannyBrown @techdexter in general, I find consuming blindly whatever’s extolled in content marketing circles is always a good policy. It’s so fraught with sages, what could really go wrong. This email example is a fine one of this principle. The skeleton is what matters. Distance is someone else’s problem. I bet dollars to donuts the person responsible for sending this email blast is the IT guy/gal, is the company’s only SM evangelist, is the mayor, is the justice of the peace. He’s, I wouldn’t be surprised, is held to a very low standard by leadership because they don’t know how to grade his success in the space.

      • techdexter says

        @DannyBrown @techdexter in general, I find consuming blindly whatever’s extolled in content marketing circles is always a good policy. It’s so fraught with sages, what could really go wrong. This email example is a fine one of this principle. The skeleton is what matters. Substance is someone else’s problem. I bet dollars to donuts the person responsible for sending this email blast is the IT guy/gal, is the company’s only SM evangelist, is the mayor, is the justice of the peace. He, I wouldn’t be surprised, is held to a very low standard by leadership because they don’t know how to grade his success in the space.

  15. says

    “It’s a shame we have to still write about this.”  Indeed, Danny.  This pervasive lack of understanding that a relevant, targeted message that delivers on the  “what’s in it for me and my readers” message is not a social media problem or a media relations problem.  It’s a training problem.

    • says

       @BobReed Completely agree, mate. If the emailer is a “junior” person (as suggested by @Frank_Strong ), then their boss should be ashamed of themselves for approving it.
       
      Good and great people exist naturally – it’s the idiots above them that ruin them.

      • says

         @DannyBrown  @BobReed  @Frank_Strong I keep thinking about this; no EA on the planet who truly is an Exec. Assist. would get this out the door without the approval of Marketing/Higher Ups.  It all stinks.

  16. says

    Seriously, how much effort would it take to write personal emails to all 19 people on that list? And if Ann did put forth that effort, how much more payoff would she have gotten?
     
    I’m with @BobReed – sounds like someone missed sending the training bus to Ann.

    • says

       @RobertDempsey  @BobReed Even if just a third of the recipients replied due to a more personal approach, that’s not a bad return, especially given the reach of some of the bloggers on the pitch.
       
      Ah well…

  17. GailBoyerReece says

    It’s the bad like this that make the good look even better.  I wonder how this person got the job when they lack so much knowledge let alone was allowed to send without a proof… someone is eating crow right about now.  Bad press is only good for actors & TV shows… HAH

    • says

       @GailBoyerReece Hi Gail,
       
      The more I read responses here, the more I’m inclined to think it may have been a junior or newish start, who was advised poorly by a boss who should have known better. Doing some more digging to see what I can find. :)

  18. says

    Ouch! At a minimum, this person’s supervisor fell down on the job by not checking first to make sure that Junior (had to have been!) knew his/her stuff. Great teaching piece, and perfect timing, I’m sharing this with the newbie staffer right now. (P.S. Me, I don’t think any newbies were harmed by your piece, nice that you are sensitive to the potential, tho.)

    • says

       @JuliaStewartPR Hi there Julia,
       
      It’s always the top that should take the blame for something like this. Every level of staffer will take instruction from how the top tier approaches things, and that’s why we continue to get poor pitches that help no-one.
       
      Cheers!

  19. says

    I emailed you about this stuff. People have to use the freaking GOOGLE and back up their pitch! Oops sorry I know the G word was banned here recently.

  20. cendrinemedia says

    Hello Danny,
     
    “Contrary to popular belief, bloggers do want to share your content – we just need a reason to do so.” – You summed it extremely well.I receive pitches like this on a daily basis, and they frustrate me to no end. They have no rhyme nor reason, and the senders don’t even bother hiding that they are mass emails. Not even mentioning the fact that their pitch is totally irrelevant to my blog / website.With that said, I would have blurred out the name of your sender. I’m going to share this post, great case study! 

    • says

       @cendrinemedia Hi Cendrine,
       
      There’s an interesting addition to this by @Frank_Strong further down the comment stream, where he shares the example of a company that revels in this approach. Sad and disappointing.
       
      In hindsight, yes, blurring the sender’s name too would probably have been better. I did edit the post to shift the “blame” onto her boss if she’s a junior, hopefully that makes up a little. 
       
      Thanks, miss!

      • cendrinemedia says

         @DannyBrown  From experience, I know quite a few companies revel in that approach. I do agree that it is sad and disappointing, because at the end of the day, they give all brands a bad name. By the way, I love your blog! 😉

  21. Inna N. Islen says

    Remember how as an intern (in a great PR firm) I was tasked with creating bloggers’ outreach lists; had to find out EVERYTHING possible on every “relevant” blogger and then craft a personalized pitch (of generic template, sure). By the time I sent pitch it felt like I wrote to close friend. Couldn’t stand it back then.
    Now I can’t imagine mass-pitching. Can’t believe many still think it is OK! Bloggers and journalists, please ignore people who blur PR specialists’ reputation because it seemed to be the only effective way to deal with dilettantes.

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  23. says

    Damn, I didn’t get that e-mail; just another list I didn’t make……….
     
    You made some good points in your post and for me the biggest meh, would be the ‘mass’ e-mail. Yes, it could have had a lot more impact with a few tweaks.
     

  24. jhampson35 says

    You really make some good points, especially about personal attention. If the person emailing you would have just spent a little time talking about how they could help you, or at least why they like your blog and how it could connect with their target audience, their pitch could have received a completely different end result. It is just like what you learn in public relations classes in college, create a mutually beneficial relationship. This plays out in all social media and public relations realms. Thanks for the post, it is something good to keep in mind an aspiring public relations pro.

    • says

       @jhampson35 Completely agree, mate – I wrote this post about the best pitch I’d ever received, and it still holds a high place today:
       
      http://dannybrown.me/2010/09/23/alexandra-kirsch-perfect-blogger-pitch/
       
      If more PR folks would only follow the lead set by people like alexandrakirsch  everyone would win. PR keeps client happy, gets more work; client gets coverage; blogger gets to work with new brands.
       
      Why’s it so difficult? 😉

      • jhampson35 says

         @DannyBrown I really enjoyed reading the post concerning Alexandra Kirsch. It really isn’t difficult one bit either. Sometimes it’s just about putting forth that little extra bit of effort that makes the difference. Thanks for the reply by the way. I really enjoy reading your blog!

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  26. says

    90 plus comments, that’s pretty cool, isn’t it. :)
     
    Anyway Danny good points, let me just add that if I receive an email not addressed to me I just hit delete. If you don’t take the time to find my name then surely what you offer is at least not interesting.

    • says

       @Andrea H. | The Hypnotism Weekly Normally, I’d do the same mate, but I’m currently collecting pitches for a special project so I need to read them all – stay tuned! 😉

  27. SpaTravelGal says

    @Kaitlin_PR I just had a doozy of a bad letter from PR saying they spent much time on my website and it was obvious they had not! Kinda funi

  28. says

    When I get pitches out of nowhere I am always on the defense because where there is scammers, there are spammers. I think when a email is sent to directly to me and not part of some blind copy set of emails I might take it a bit more seriously, but when I can clearly see I am apart of a mass email campaign, I see I am not so special anymore, which devalues the email.
     
    Nonetheless, I loved your post and it’s a good lesson for people getting pitched for anything from guest posts to other business ventures with people that appear out of nowhere.
     
    When in doubt always check em out!

    • says

       @Sonia (Sunnnee) Haha, I hear you on the mass emails, miss. I know we’re all busy, but if you can’t take the time to BCC at least, then you’re already off on the wrong foot. Hey ho..!

  29. says

    This kind of drives me nuts. I hate the “throw crap at the wall and see what sticks” strategy! When will people learn that quality will serve them much better than quantity?Thanks also for including some tips on reaching out to bloggers. I’m new to the subculture of blogging, and am always worried I will offend someone or do something I shouldn’t!  

    • says

       @brittanybotti Hey there Brittany,
       
      I think every PR person (and marketer, advertiser, etc) should blog before they become fully immersed in PR, to truly understand the mindset and culture. Maybe then we’d have less need for posts like this.
       
      You have great colleagues in Justin Brackett and Samantha Collier so you’re off to an immediate advantage. :)

      • says

         @DannyBrown You are MUCH too kind. brittanybotti is a HUGE part of our team and samtaracollier  I are already learning a great deal from her.
         
        This whole way of pitching bloggers makes me laugh. I mean, why not just “cold call” them and see if they will give you a million dollars. Your odds are all but the same. I also guess I don’t have the guts to ask someone for something like that with NO relationship or willingness to take care of you in return. When it is all about me, it means no one will benefit.

  30. says

    Wow this is a PR issue. Some people just dont know how to do it right, you should point them to this post Danny, maybe they can learn something from it. Enjoyed reading it, and I get this sort of mass-main, unrelated and un-personal stuff all the time, I just ignore it, especially if they don’t even bother finding out the name of the person they are contacting. 

  31. wade72 says

    I think many people today could still benefit from an old book. How to Win Friends and Influence People from Dale Carnegie. It was written in the 30’s but is still extremely relevant today. Actually show people that you spent the time to look at who they are and show them why what you want them to do is genuinely good for them as well. 

    • says

       @wade72 You know, it’s funny – any time someone asks me how to be successful on social media, I point them straight to that book and say “Read every word and then take it online.” Works every time. 😉

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