Being as important as I am to the blogosphere, I tend to receive a considerable amount of email from PR representatives hoping to take advantage of a monthly readership that numbers in the dozens.
And because I’m also incredibly lucky, I tend to receive a lot of email from foreign lottery departments, widowed princesses, and dying bazillionaires hoping to bestow plentiful riches upon me in exchange for my social security number. While I have yet to actually receive any funds, it’s nice to go through life knowing you’re a winner.
A few days ago I received two emails. One of each kind. Try and guess which one infuriated me.
The first email was from a Mrs. Elizabeth Wilson whose last dying wish was to send me $7.6 million before she died. According to her, she had intended on divvying up her bankroll amongst the downtrodden, the sick, the orphans, and the poor.
But due to a (and I quote), “cancer problem, stroke problem, and deaf problem,” she’s unable to do God’s work as she intended. With only seven months to live, clearly not enough time to scribble out a check to the local shelter or orphanage, she asked me to become her new beneficiary.
As luck would have it, I’m a benefactor’s dream. A living, breathing, quadfecta of need.
I’ve been downtrodden, especially considering last week’s emotional roller coaster.
I’ve been sick. Why just a few months ago I had a biting cold that didn’t clear up until I downed a few fizzy tablets of Airborne.
I’ve even been an orphan. If you count the time my parents abandoned me at college.
And the good Lord knows I’m poor. I have three children.
If it seems odd that someone from the Ivory Coast would email me, understand that as a global influential blogger, I have rich dying fans in all kinds of African countries. And they LOVE me.
Far more than you do.
After all, have any of you ever offered to make me your sole heir? If you have, I have yet to receive your request for my banking and social security information. Heck, I’m half willing to bet that none of you has even left me so much as a dollar in your wills.
What a bunch of cheapskates. Here the lovely Mrs. Elizabeth Wilson is willing to hook me up with $7.6 million in ex-orphan dough and none of you can even find it in your hearts to pencil me into your wills. I don’t need it all, I’m not greedy, just gimme a little taste. I’m happy to Tweet you all of my sensitive personal information should you need it.
The second email that I received was from a company called odorxit.com. I won’t provide the name of the person who emailed me but I must say that I have never seen a pitch more out of line in all my life. And having been on both the sending and receiving end of countless marketing and public relations pitches, I’ve seen more than my fair share of bad pitches.
Anyone who blogs for any length of time will undoubtedly receive an email that follows a canned formula and structure. In this pitch’s case, the rep tried the ol’ “Hey, I read one of your posts and you are so awesome” tactic.
The key to making this type of pitch work is to refer to a particular post by name, find a way for it to be relevant to whatever it is you’re selling, and then use it as the “in” for initiating contact.
For example, when I was pitched by a rep pimpin’ out a bankruptcy attorney from Scotland, he referenced my “Bankruptcy Sucks” post and said how much he enjoyed it. He then followed with the same canned copy/paste portion that everyone else receives.
This tactic tends to work because it at least feigns a genuine interest in the blogger’s writing. It’s far easier to connect the dots of relevancy if the blogger feels that a rep enjoyed something they wrote. That, and reps know that if they just launch right into their pitch, most bloggers will ignore it.
The pitch I received the other day from Odorxit.com used this same tactic. Unfortunately, their execution was so poor that I have no hesitation in naming it the worst pitch in PR history. In fact, it’s so far in first place that others can’t possibly rival it unless they come laced with Ricin. And even then, these poisoned pitches would be a distant second.
As many of you know, my wife’s family suffered an unimaginable tragedy that dominated my blog, rocked my life, and gave me new purpose. In fact, today we’re making a donation of cash, 200+ boxes of crayons, and 200+ coloring books to a local Domestic Violence shelter from the very Sweet Dreams Fund that this tragedy inspired. The same fund that many of you have supported.
For any PR reps reading this, I implore you, please think twice before you write. Not every post will provide an “in.” Not every post can be twisted into pitch relevancy. And not every post is a proper springboard to commercial opportunity.
Case in point:
If you want to sell odor remover to dads by claiming that bad smells are a common reason why fathers don’t properly bond with their babies, so be it. Your assertion can remain ridiculous and irresponsible all on its own.
But what you don’t want to do is reach into the depths of distaste and allude that this malodorous ‘failure to bond’ may have been a contributing factor to triple murder.
Maybe I’m overly sensitive. But I just can’t grasp why the rep chose THIS post out of the 300+ on my site to pitch me. With dogs and children running amok, I think I mention bad smells at least once a week.
In my opinion, the pitch was low class, insensitive, and way out of line.
But I’ll let each of you interpret the pitch for yourselves:
Subject: making money
I read you posting on the 2 kids and grandmom who were killed by the father
of the kids. Very Moving! and you idea about the pillows etc is a good one.
I would like to offer you a deal you may find interesting.
One of the reasons babies and dads don’t bond very well initially is that
part of the interaction smells really bad. I have a product that you can
market and sell either as an affiliate or distributor.
The key is to get to dads that recoil at the smell of vomit and poop and
offer them a safe, cheep, effective and very fast way to eliminate the odor
even as they are performing the smelly tasks.
You make 20% on affiliate sales and 40% on sales from you location.
If you are interested, send me you address and I can send you a couple of
small bottles for you the test/try yourself.
Look, I get it, kids smell bad. But couldn’t you have exploited a less macabre post to pitch your vomit and poop dispersal formula? As offensive as the pitch and chosen angle were, I’m almost more insulted by the insinuation that fathers don’t bond with their babies because they stink.
I can count the number of diapers I’ve changed on twenty hands. My wife? 6,000 hands. But I don’t need to wipe an arse to feel love for someone or to properly bond with them for a lifetime. I consider my wife my soulmate and I’ve never done that for her. Yet even without me applying so much as a dollop of Desitin to her buttocks, we’re still in love after all these years.
Same deal with my children. Even during their “why potty train when I can pee and poop as I play” days, the entire changing procedure took maybe six minutes. As difficult as it is for you to believe, they still managed to remember who I was and how much I loved them when they exited the changing table.
How you made the connection between bad smells and bonding and child murder is beyond me. As a blogger, it baffles me. As a PR & Marketing professional, it embarrasses me. And as a father, it sickens me.
I think a bloggy buddy named Lynsey from Moscato Mom said it best:
“I think I’d have to ask if there was anything he could recommend that would make his PITCH smell less like sh**…”
Well stated, Lynsey.
But in truth, you don’t need a product for that.
All you need is compassion.
And perhaps a dollop of common sense.