The Bloggess: Lessons on Pitching to Bloggers

Sketch by Angelia Melick of Wasted Talent

One of my favorite bloggers on the planet is Jenny Lawson, aka The Bloggess. She is a columnist for the Houston Chronicle who also blogs for the sole purpose of using the F-word, writing about ninjas and discussing the creative ways she comes up with to drive her husband crazy. I am not sure what this says about me as a professional, but it speaks volumes about my own twisted sense of humor.

Other than buying large metal chickens named Beyoncé, Lawson also likes to post about the various ways PR professionals fail in their jobs. In her Oct. 6 post, she describes in detail what happened when a PR rep used a form email to pitch her about pantyhose. The pitch went something like this:

“The Kardashian’s once again show they are right on trend, and this is on (sic) Mommy’s are all going to want to follow.”

Other than the number of grammatical errors presented in that pitch, one of Lawson’s biggest pet peeves is to receive an unsolicited form-letter style pitch about some random product paired with some random celebrity (her words are a bit more colorful than mine on this matter). This is particularly annoying since she does not write about celebrities and does not typically do product reviews. So to counteract this, she has come up with a particularly creative way to deal with these “professionals” that involves a picture of Will Wheaton collating papers (yes, that kid from Star Trek: The Next Generation) and a detailed list of things that irritate her.

In this instance though, Erica the PR rep responded by threatening not to send work to Lawson in the future. As if that was not bad enough, Jose the VP of the company hit reply-all in an email where he called Lawson a not-so-nice B-word. Lawson responded in her usual snarky way and Jose offered an insincere apology shortly before suggesting that she was irrelevant. 

As you can imagine, it only went downhill from there. Fast. Not only did she tweet out the name of the company that pitched her and what they had done, that tweet quickly garnered 164,000 Twitter impressions. You can read the entire dialogue between Lawson and the PR agency on her blog, but don’t say I didn’t warn you about the language.

All of this leads to a very important list of Dos and Don’ts when pitching bloggers.
  1. Do your research. Make sure the bloggers you are contacting actually write about the people/products you are pitching. Few things are more irritating to a blogger than to be pitched something completely irrelevant.
  2. Don’t send out form-letter style emails. Naturally, you are not going to write a new pitch for every single blogger, but at least take the time to make sure that the pitch is tailored to each blogger before sending it out. That little bit of personal touch will go a long way. Making sure you get their name right, of course, is essential.
  3. Do sincerely apologize when you make a mistake, and be sincere.
  4. Do be professional if they get angry with you for your mistake. Remember that in many ways, we are in the business of customer service. Treat the offended blogger the same way you would treat an outraged customer: with respect, humility, and an offer to make it right.
  5. Don’t threaten the blogger. Remember they blog for a living, hence the reason you were pitching them in the first place. Their reach is wide and their anger will spread your mistake quicker than a West Texas wildfire.
  6. Don’t be condescending towards the blogger. If you made the mistake, then it is your fault and your responsibility to make it right. At this point, can you blame her for being outraged?
  7. Don’t use profanity in your emails. This should seem simple enough, especially when using your professional accounts.
  8. Don’t hit reply all – especially when writing that unprofessional email that contained profanity.
  9. Do call them to resolve the issue if things get ugly. A phone conversation will go a long way to making amends rather than arguing via email and has the added bonus of not being easy to forward to the entire blogosphere.

Remember bloggers are people, not just some website you can use and abuse as you see fit. Their time is every bit as valuable as yours is and nobody likes to have their time wasted. Treat them with respect and only pitch them ideas that are relevant to their blog. If you fail to follow these rules, expect to find yourself staring at a picture of Will Wheaton collating papers.


One thought on “The Bloggess: Lessons on Pitching to Bloggers

  1. Ana says:

    OMG! That was epic. Thanks for writing about it because I love The Bloggess, but I always manage to miss the cool things. Plus, it's good to know that we aren't the only ones scratching our head about how dumb people can be. I can't believe someone made Jose a VP…of PR! I would have told him, "No way, Jose!"

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