how not to pitch a blogger: for publicists

Thank you, but no, I do not want to receive a free copy of your book to review, or interview the author who you’re promoting, or reprint your press release about your product.

As you may notice from reading my blog, I’ve never promoted a book (well, except my own), interviewed an author, or reprinted someone’s corporate-promotion-masquerading-as-career-tips. But you didn’t know that because you didn’t bother to even glance at my blog before you wrote to me to ask me to promote your client.

Yes, I’m going to rant about PR people now. The ones who are flooding my in-box with press releases that aren’t relevant to me, about a dozen a day.

This is what bugs me: Of course it’s easier for publicists to simply lump all bloggers into one group and treat them all the same, rather than taking the time to look at my blog and realize that it makes no sense to pitch me. But doing so makes it abundantly clear that they value their time and interests far more than my own: They have no problem interrupting people with an email that is of zero value to them, because they’re solely working to advance their own interests. Which makes them essentially spammers, just cloaked in a veneer of respectability.

Now, someone might counter that with: If you have a blog, you’re putting yourself out there and asking to be pitched, by nature of your existence — just like a newspaper can’t complain when people send it press releases.

But I would argue that blogs are different. I don’t get paid to write this blog. I do it because I want to, but that means doing a lot of work for free. Why would I give space here, in what I’ve worked to create for free, to a publicist who wants to promote something to make their client a profit? You might as well ask me to display your company’s billboard in my living room.

Of course, I can and do just hit delete. But it’s still really annoying to see this behavior, and they’re not doing their clients any favors.

Monica O’Brien has a brilliant post on this here. I highly recommend it.

{ 12 comments… read them below }

  1. Anonymous*

    As a former journalist, it's worth noting that I hated those e-mails too. Promoting someone's book didn't quite square with my city government beat, and just as with your blog, the one-step-above-spammers would have known that if they'd ever checked to see where my byline appeared.

  2. Evil HR Lady*

    Ummm, yes, yes, yes, yes!!!!

    I especially hate it when I get an e-mail on which I am blind copied. I know I'm part of 458 people on the e-mail, who they found by googling "hr" or "business" blogs. Bah.

    And I especially hate it when they follow up, asking if I've considered the "opportunity" they gave me. Opportunity? for me? Because I don't have 400 questions in my inbox that I'm avoiding and I want to read your lame book? Or interview your author.

    Now I'm all riled up after writing this.

  3. class-factotum*

    How about the so-called recruiters who send me an "opportunity" to work on an SAP project and ask me to review their requirements to see if I fit?

    Isn't it their job to look at my resume and notice that no, I never did two full SAP implementations and an Oracle conversion and turned water into wine in the process?

    Isn't their job to do more than pick up the keyword "SAP" on my resume? As in, isn't the publicist's job more than to pick up the keyword "HR" on your blog?

  4. Anonymous*

    I'd be really ticked if I'd paid a publicist to promote me and they spammed instead.

    Heck, I can do that myself for free!

    Lois Gory

  5. Kerry*

    I'm not that annoyed by them (yet), but I am amused. I mean, most of these books are by the people I've spent my entire (short) blogging career railing against: people who have never actually hired anyone, but want to tell other people how to get hired. If I actually took them up on their offer to review the book, I'd rip them to shreds. I'm the last person on earth they should be sending it to.

    The other ones that amuse me are the ones that are hardcore HR stuff (like stuff on leadership, performance management, etc.). I'm not in HR. I haven't been in HR for nearly a year-and-a-half. I don't talk about HR–I talk about job hunting, and even a casual reader can see that even that is likely to end soon. Why would I hawk a book about incentive compensation plans?

    Sometimes, if I'm feeling froggy, I write back and say, "I'm a housewife. Do you think an HR blog might be a better fit for this?" Usually I see someone clicking on my "About" page not long after…which is what they should have done to begin with.

  6. Sabrina*

    Kerry maybe you (or anyone else) should do a book review and rip it to shreds. If for nothing else than my own entertainment. *evil grin*

  7. jmkenrick*

    Actually, if you're not interested in promoting a book – best not to review it at all.

    I have a minor obsession with the publishing industry, and apparently when it comes to book reviews, good reviews help sales and bad reviews….also often help sales, or at the very least, rarely hurt them.

    Something about getting it on people's minds.

  8. Interviewer*

    I would enjoy reading a good shredding of some career or job-hunting advice books. I realize it means you "HR bloggers" would have to read the books, but come on. Those publicists would quickly learn an important lesson, wouldn't they? One at a time, to be sure, but they'd learn. Just pick the worst one you get in a month, and while live-blogging, proceed to rip it apart. Solely for our enjoyment, of course.

  9. Anonymous*

    I would guess there are bloggers out there that are reviewing their crap or they wouldn't be sending it.

    It's the same as regular spam. If no one clicked on it, they wouldn't still be sending it.

  10. Mary Sue*

    It could be worse, you should see the number of PR fools who think that a eating disorder recovery blog is the best place to shill their diet scams.

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