Dear PR, Here’s how NOT to approach a blogger

by Telling Dad on March 13, 2012

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:

————————————————-

From: ******@odorxit.com
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.

Go figure.

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.

____________________________________________

{ 37 comments… read them below or add one }

Natalie March 13, 2012 at 1:45 am

Wow, this PR person has stooped to a new low, the lowest of lows in fact. I hope his/her boss finds your post, because this person has no business being in pr! Heck, this person has no business working with people…at all…like ever…or needs sensitivity training, or a frontal lobotomy…

Reply

Allie March 13, 2012 at 2:06 am

Wow. Normally, I would totally make a joke about Wil Wheaton Collating Paper, but this isn’t even funny. So many of us were absolutely touched by the posts about the Sweet Dreams Fund and how something beautiful came from the tragedy that rocked your family. I know I’m not the only one who teared up and resolved to help the cause. Being in PR and not having basic knowledge of grammar mechanics or spell-check is bad enough. But combine that with being insensitive and careless AND using a tragedy (a FAMILY tragedy) to pitch some crappy product? Absolutely a new low. I am so sorry, Greg…

Reply

Karen March 13, 2012 at 6:13 am

I get those pitches constantly. Basically, anything that says “Anonymous” I don’t even open. Do you think they just pull a key word out of a blog and spam comments to that post? The pitch was obviously made by someone without a firm grasp of the English language.

Reply

Rob Rubin March 13, 2012 at 6:24 am

Judging by the grammar in the email, I’d say this came from the same person overseeing Mrs. Elizabeth Wilson’s will. And another thing, why no mention of the foul smell of dead bodies and go solely for the kid odor thing? If you’re going to stoop that low in a pitch at least carry it out to the fullest extent.

Reply

WilyGuy March 13, 2012 at 6:29 am

I resent that you state that none of your readers have left you their sole hair. Dude, I’d leave you my soul patch if I die.

As far as the other PR thing, I’m clearly not big enough to be pitched yet, but I would say that it was pretty shameful and embarrassing to not actually read the post.

WG

Reply

Ali March 13, 2012 at 6:30 am

I can’t believe this person would refer to that post when trying to sell you something. He calls your post “very moving!” Excuse me? I might use the term ‘very moving’ to describe how you took in that abandoned dog, not the post about two innocent children being murdered. That was heartbreaking, not moving. I still don’t like to think about what happened because it makes me feel so awful. I can’t imagine how bad it must be for your family. It’s sickening that this moron is implying that some Febreze could somehow prevent a tragedy. I guess my husbands’ hours of skin to skin time with our babies was cancelled out by the fact that I changed more diapers than him. I’m sorry you get emails from disgusting people like this.

Reply

Kimberly March 13, 2012 at 6:35 am

Word fail me right now. That is by far the most horrific, insensitive, and WORST pitch EVER!!!

Oh please let him/her pitch me. I have a thing or two I would love to get off my chest about their pitch to you. Oh please!!! I won’t hold back either. I might just have to rip them a new one, if you catch my drift.

With any luck that was that person’s first, last and only PR pitch – EVER! Time to find a new occupation. Obviously “public relations” is not their forte.

With their sh*tty pitch they need to rub whatever product they were trying to sell all over themselves instead.

I’m sorry you had to deal with something like that Greg.

Reply

Wendy [mapsgirl] March 13, 2012 at 6:51 am

That is disgusting! I agree that it is the worst PR pitch ever.

Continued prayers for your family.

Reply

Jessica Meats March 13, 2012 at 7:07 am

Wow.

Yeah, I think that even beats calling the person you’re pitching to a bitch.

How did he ever think that was a good connection to suggest?

Reply

Lynsey @MoscatoMom March 13, 2012 at 7:22 am

Greg, I am still thoroughly disgusted by this. I still think that I would have to look into speaking to a superior about this. As a business owner, I would be incensed if I found one of my reps promoting my company this way. It should be known, and documented, and you should get a formal apology not only from the idiot who wrote it, but from the owner of the company. I can only *hope* that is not the same person…

Reply

Rebeccah March 13, 2012 at 7:42 am

My advice is to take a note from Jenny Lawson’s playbook and unleash Twitter/email hell on these people. That is freaking ridiculous. We need contact information, please. Not even kidding.

Reply

Telling Dad March 13, 2012 at 9:18 am

Well, the company’s Twitter handle is https://twitter.com/#!/OdorXit but I really don’t think they have a clue about social media. They have 14 followers and their website is void of interaction. I honestly don’t think they’d care. And judging from the pitch, I think I’m right.

:)

Rebeccah March 13, 2012 at 1:19 pm

They don’t care until they get innundated with thousands, nay, millions of emails! Which will utterly crash everything they’ve got indefinitely! (this is how it goes in my head anyway) ;-)

Daddy Scratches March 13, 2012 at 8:30 am

Holy PR FAIL, Batman.
Wow. Just, wow.

Reply

Jen March 13, 2012 at 9:16 am

Sick.

Reply

Jen-Eighty MPH Mom March 13, 2012 at 10:19 am

Unreal. This just makes me sick :(

Reply

MrsH March 13, 2012 at 10:41 am

I’m utterly appalled by this. When you started talking about getting the worst PR pitch ever, I thought “on the plus side, he’ll totally be able to one-up the Bloggess – not an easy task” but when I started reading what this PR person sent you, I got a sick to my stomach. I agree with the previous poster who said you should contact the company. It is beyond distasteful to send the sort of pitch that they sent you and they do owe you an apology at the very least.

I am so sorry Greg.

Reply

Bubbe March 13, 2012 at 11:04 am

There are no words; I’m sorry you have to deal with this kind of thing Greg.

For anyone who wants to contact the company, I agree with Greg that they may not care about their salesperson’s tactics. However, in the hope they may care, I found their website: http://www.odorxit.com and a customer service number: 1-877-636-7948. There’s an online email form you can submit as well.

Reply

Audra March 13, 2012 at 11:09 am

I’ve heard PR folks are crass and lack tact and any semblance of common sense, but that’s a new low, even for PR people.

If only those poor children had smelled better.

Really? That makes me want to cry almost as badly as I did reading the original post. Obviously they are a no-name and non-relevant company and hopefully they will stay that way.

Reply

Telling Dad March 13, 2012 at 11:12 am

Not *all* PR folks are like this. My background is in marketing and PR so I’d never lump ‘em all in with this clown. In fact, I’m dealing with one from a sunglasses company who has been nothing but cordial and professional. I take solace in the fact that most are like the latter and NONE are like the former.

mrs. r March 13, 2012 at 11:19 am

Time to send him a picture of Wil Wheaton collating paper…or perhaps a link to the entire Brandlink debacle with the Bloggess!

Reply

Wombat Central March 13, 2012 at 1:12 pm

Holy cow.

You never know who’s on the other end of the keyboard these days.

In your case, it was clearly someone whose I.Q. rivals his shoe size.

Reply

Forest March 13, 2012 at 2:08 pm

I feel your anger, and I don’t think you’re being overly sensitive. This jackass is trying to peddle his wares and benefit from a tragedy. Dads don’t bond to their children because of the smell? What horse manure! By saying this, this person is giving the a-okay that domestic violence is reasonable because a child doesn’t smell perfect. And that, in my book, is just low.

Reply

Shan @ Last Shreds Of Sanity March 13, 2012 at 2:35 pm

WTF??? The Free Range Stupid™ strike again.

PR FAIL.

I have no words other than those — unless you call my uncontrollable urge to hit this guy over the head with my cast-iron skillet a statement.

Reply

B-rock March 13, 2012 at 3:57 pm

There are no words for how appalling and horrifying this is. I don’t know what’s worse, the thought that they couldn’t be bothered to read the whole post or the thought that they did read the post and still found this to be an appropriate sales pitch. I emailed the company through their website, http://www.odorxit.com, I encourage everyone to do the same. They will pay more attention (I hope) if they are inundated with many outraged emails instead of just one.

Reply

Kate March 13, 2012 at 5:10 pm

Ick. Ish. Eww. Greg, it’s gross how inappropriate that particular PR person was, and I have to tell you that while I’m not surprised you’re taking the high road in this, I still ADMIRE THE HECK OUT OF YOU for it.

Reply

Valerie March 13, 2012 at 6:27 pm

Wow.. Just.. WOW! Maybe they are outsourcing PR pitches now? that is the only thing I could think of. I would certainly hope some dude in some office somewhere didn’t type that out, thinking to himself “Hot DAMN this is a great idea!!” Or maybe he was just looking to get fired. Either way, whomever wrote it is a douchebag.

Reply

Karen (the other one) March 13, 2012 at 8:10 pm

That was even worse than I imagined. You hold great self-restraint, I don’t know that I would have.

Reply

Caroline March 13, 2012 at 8:41 pm

He should have pitched the dog poop / Christmas air freshener post… I mean seriously, how perfect would that have been!?

Reply

valmg @ Mom Knows It All March 14, 2012 at 7:08 am

That is awful, some people have no taste.

Reply

Pete Stean March 14, 2012 at 8:22 am

That is terrible, and I sympathize. I get so many inappropriate pitches these days I don’t allow them to get me worked up anymore. 99% just goes in the bin without a second glance – its the only way to stay calm and sane…

Reply

Milo March 14, 2012 at 10:06 am

Wow…I have no words for this one…:/

Reply

Jennifer @ Also Known As...the Wife March 14, 2012 at 7:43 pm

WTF??

Not only does the PR company owe you an apology, I think they owe the Sweet Dreams Fund a donation.

Completely unbelievable.

Reply

Angel March 16, 2012 at 12:12 am

I am so sorry for the pain that this must have caused you, Heather and Heather’s family. It’s outrageous.

Reply

Kelli April 14, 2012 at 3:21 am

I just don’t even know what to say. I wish I could punch them in the face.

Reply

Tara June 5, 2012 at 11:49 am

I admire your restraint.

Reply

Ellie February 14, 2013 at 2:19 pm

I just found your blog post while trying to figure out how to approach bloggers and show that me and my company have genuine interest in their work. It is unimaginable that someone {who obviously didn’t even take 2 seconds to finish reading the original post} would think that that message was OK to send. I am so upset at people like that giving marketers bad name!

Reply

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: