Old Publicist… Meet New Media

I used to spend a good bit of time poking at publicists who didn’t understand bloggers. To be perfectly candid I didn’t understand publicists, and to a large degree I still don’t. I also don’t understand brain surgery, but like bad PR I can recognize malpractice when I see it.

I want y’all to take a moment and read the email exchange between a blogger with a massive audience and publicist steeped in tradition. I know what I think, what do you think?

This is the unsolicited introductory email. 

Hi [blogger],

I hope this message finds you well. I wanted to pass along information about our new client [redacted] along with a look book and information about their Fall 2011 collection.

[Redacted], known for their collection of [redacted], began their business by creating accessories for today’s sophisticated and chic parents. With this notion, [redacted] differentiated themselves from the other purely iconic [redacted] brands, transforming their company into a lifestyle collection with an ability to provide something for everyone.

Expanding their product offering this fall, [redacted] is introducing a collection, including messenger bags, handbags, and a variety of totes, in addition to their diaper and baby bags. The collection will fit the many needs of all parents, male or female.

Compared to their competitors [redacted] has always offered a more approachable price point featuring vibrant prints [redacted], endless versatility with reversible options, smart straps with memory foam, custom hardware, and a protective lining with a natural anti-microbial treatment.

One of the newest additions for Fall is [redacted], [redacted] selection of earth conscious[redacted]. With innovative engineering and extensive research, Earth Leather is completely animal-free, machine washable, and friendly to the environment without sacrificing style. This collection includes[redacted]’s most popular styles with their classic approach to wearability, extending to accessories such as a variety of wallets.

[redacted]’s growth can even be seen by the attention they have gotten through the media as [redacted] can be seen toting around a [redacted].

If there are any styles from the look book that are a fit for any stories that you are working on, please let me know! Happy to send them to you! I will follow up with a phone call tomorrow morning.

Best,

[Publicist]

Product Marketing and Placement, Television and Film

 

And the response: 

  [Publicist], I would be happy to share some of the current styles and links to [redacted] in exchange for a [redacted].

Sincerely,
[Blogger]

Which to me seems like a great response, right, the publicist had written, “If there are any styles from the look book that are a fit for any stories that you are working on, please let me know! Happy to send them to you!” Remember this is to a blogger not Elle Magazine.

The publicist follows up with:

     Hi [blogger],

Please send me a media kit.

Best,

[publicist]

Hmmmm????

[Publicist], I dont keep a media kit becuase, as you know, blogs change on a dime.

Currently I have a PR5, last month I received over 179K uniques, my forum houses 400+ active social media bloggers and does approx 400K page views a month. [Site name] has been seen in over 24 major magazines and newspapers, this month listed in a [redacted] story and am in the July issue of [redacted] magazine as a [redacted].

I am happy to provide screen shots of stats.

[Blogger]

The next email seems like things are smoothed over

 Hi [Blogger],

We would love for you to review one of our [redacted] on your site. Please send me your mailing address.

Best,

[Publicist]

And this is also benign. 

         [Publicist]

Its
[Blogger, address, city, state, zip]

However I dont want a mystery [redacted]. I would need to approve the pattern/style before its sent.

thankyou!

[Blogger]

And then the email is forwarded to someone senior. The senior publicist replies to all with: 

 Hello [Blogger],

We would be happy to send you a [redacted] to review for your site. We are happy to send you the style [redacted] you are interested in reviewing- pattern and print seemingly would be inconsequential given you are testing the [redacted] and its features.

Please do let me know which style you prefer and we would be more than happy to send it to you to review for your site.

All my best

[Redacted]
Senior VP Public Relations
Fashion Beauty Lifestyle

I’m going to chime in here with the fact that with anything lifestyle the print and color matter. Especially if you’re looking for web shoppers. Just my two cents.

The blogger kindly follow up with this (yes, I clearly have a bias):

  [Senior VP],

Since you most want to advertise the [redacted], lets go w/ the [redacted].

You can ship to
[shipping information]

The sooner the better since the [event is] in 2.5 weeks and I want to get your review up before then! OTherwise [sic] its gonna be a few weeks [sic] before I get back to my normal online posting schedule.

sincerely,
[Blogger]

And then the hammer comes down: 

 

  Hello [Blogger],

I am confused, are you looking for a [redacted] for yourself? Unfortunately we are not able to fill personal requests.

All my best,
[SVP}

[Redacted]
Senior Director of Public Relations

She replies

 [SVP], see our email trail…I thought you offered a review for the site? I dont send reviews back. You said to pick the pattern and colors? I would run the review article?

Now you have me confused.

[Blogger]

And then….

 [Blogger],

I said we do not send specific patterns and or colors.

With sites that have fewer than 50,000 uniques and or monthly viewers we only send images, and do not fill specific product requests. I have reviewed your site in depth and have to take a pass on your request. I see that you were previously in PR and I am sure you understand my position.

Apologies all around for the confusion below.
All my best,
[SVP]

And then the blogger replies with a list of her accolades, press, 200k+ traffic for the past year, national campaigns and more. She asked the SVP to review the email thread and mentions that she runs a prominent group forum. The SVP then sends this. 

[Blogger],

There is no need for threats.

Having been in this business for 21 years and running my own PR firm for 10 currently the senior director at [redacted] I am very well versed at process and procedure. Often times we need to make a judgment call. We received hundreds of requests for [redacted] product from the look book mail out. I then look at each request- check their alexa and compete ranking and decide if we can fill the request. I assume you are the same [Blogger] that is wearing a micro mini skirt in the photoon page one of your site? Or I am mistaken?

I want to be sure your site is [redacted]- correct?

[Redacted]
Senior Director of Public Relations

 

Unlike 21 years ago when the SVP was starting out carving her press releases into stone tablets, this email exchange has been shared with a community of bloggers who cumulatively have more than 10 million impressions a month. Why would they offer an item and then become so difficult? It wasn’t like the blogger emailed them asking for a product.

 

Facebook Comments

  • I have gotten crazy emails like this before as well.Or they go through all the rigamarole and then say OK,w e will send you some photos and press release. I say stick your press release up your ass. I prefer cash but if not it should( at the very least) be a product that I actually want..I don’t take payment in lip glosses and dildos.I’m full up and don’t need anymore. These people would PAY any other advertising avenue but for bloggers they treat us like subhuman indentured servants that are supposed to say “yes and may I have another.” GRRRRR!That’s all I got w/all the frustration!

    • John Ramsey

       I just spit beer up my nose reading your comment.

  • Well, I had trouble getting past the initial publicist’s poor grammar in the first email. ;) Beyond that, I thought the exchange was ridiculous. How pompous can you be? And how is someone supposed to write an honest review without a sample of the product? The blogger in question was far too nice and patient IMHO. That mini skirt was so over the top its not even funny!

  • Thank you! How annoying for the publicist to ask to place a product and then retract because the blogger wanted to SEE the product they were going to review. Clearly 21 years in the business doesn’t prepare you for the “new world” of the Internet. :) 

  • Jen

    Decades of experience are a detriment if you’re in PR. Some of the best publicists I have worked with are straight out of college. Some of the most experienced publicists I’ve worked with have no idea how social media, search engines and blogging work. The rules change so quickly, and if you don’t keep up you’ll be left behind.

  • Kat

    Considering how many PRs I have throwing crap at me in the UK, I find this almost humorous.   Only it’s not.  This blogger has a lot more patience than I do.

  • It feel strange saying this because in nearly every other profession my feelings are the exact opposite, but I have better relationships with young, new publicists. Perhaps this particular agency needs to attend a blog conference or at the very least Google “how to work with bloggers” or better yet, hire you to teach them the ropes.

  • ThisBirdsDay

    It sounds like this PR person has been in the business too long and really doesn’t ‘get’ new media. This is why I don’t respond to 98% of these pitches. I only respond when they are specific and direct in their FIRST email. Sounds like this firm needs to look for a better pr person to represent them.

  • I wouldn’t put it on the length or background of the publicist – she sounds like she was clueless to begin with. You don’t solicit people to cover your client and then tell them they aren’t good enough. That’s just plain old-fashioned stupidity. 

    But I would say that a fundamental lack of understanding that bloggers aren’t dependent on PR agents for stories is hindering her ability to realize when she should stop emailing and start apologizing.

    The irony is that this “21 year veteran” of the PR industry seems ignorant to the fact that even *Publicists* have a reputation to protect online. I think she might suffer a bit from feeling invisible after being the person-behind-the-story for so many years. It’s rather akin to the issue that photographers have after being behind the lens when someone decides to take their picture: the sudden, acute feeling of being exposed themselves.

    I suspect Mrs. “I-am-very-well-versed-at-process-and-procedure” is suddenly realizing that both process and procedure have changed radically online.

    • p.s. that phrase “Earth Leather” that isn’t redacted? Makes the suspects a little more likely. (You can delete this if you decide to update)

  • KimC

    Ouch. Right now I work in PR and I struggle everyday with convincing the higher-ups to relinquish old habits and embrace new media, etc. It’s a new world – and it’s vital to keep up with new technologies, new ways of doing business and new ways of promoting products, services, etc. My favorite line was “send me a media kit.” WTF????

  • GreenInOC

    Right hand, meet left hand.

    In the interest of transparency, I don’t understand why the email from the blogger to the SVP is not included in the above exchange? (“And then the blogger replies with a list of her accolades…”)

    • Because then you would know who the blogger is and who the client is.

  • Well done!

  • Nightowlmama

    Honestly makes me speechless. My favorite is offering a photo for review. To be honest from the looks of photos people can’t tell much and that’s why BLOGGERS are hired to share personal hands on experience with items.

    The whole correspondence is just plain strange and the fact that she misquotes her own experience in PR makes me wonder. It’s all very sad!!

    Thanks for sharing

  • Anonymous

    This = disgusting.

    Amount of time wasted unspecific color/style unknown product likely costing < $50.

    Cringe, Ew, and Ugh.

    Wow publicists can be bad.

  • No Ordinary Momma (michelle)

    I am late to the party, but just found your blog.  WTF?!?  They reached out to her…not vice versa…and then to go back and forth in that manner…insane.  I give this blogger a big chest bump for taking the time to engage for that long.  I may have responded with, “Take your Earth Leather and shove it up your stylish eco-friendly ass”…perhaps this is why I don’t get contacted by PR firms :)