So today I received yet another unsolicited email from a media/PR company. They love bloggers. They love my blog. So do the companies they represent. They would like to give me some money to do a/some sponsored posts/s.

I’m interested in what y’all think about unsolicited PR/media emails. I get a lot of these, and they all run along the same lines.

If only PR companies would write to me on oldey timey typewriters. At least it'd be something a bit different...

Generally it’s a form email with your name and blog name inserted. It offers a vague proposal – sponsored posts or adspace at unspecified figures which will only be revealed once you’ve signed up/shown some interest…

Subject: we love you blog!
Dear (name),

We love (name of blog), perhaps for some reason that makes no sense at all or perhaps for I can’t be bothered to think of an example. My company works with bloggers and companies to make awesomeness. We will give you some money and our client (who totes loves your blog btw) will give you an unspecified amount of money to do an unspecified thing. How exciting!!!

I can’t tell you who any of these companies are or which one/s love your blog. How about you look at our website for testimonials and even more vague information? Cool.

We love bloggers. We love them because we know we can go to them with vague claims of representing brands and they’ll jump at the chance to sell us cheap adspace. We couldn’t pull this shit with ‘real’ media, that’s for sure.

Please respond to this email if you want to know more, at which point I will ask for all your personal information and get you to sign a contract before you see a penny.

Best,
(company)

I’m interested in what bloggers think about this practice. To me, there’s a spectrum of how these companies approach you. The relevance of their proposal is very much determined by how much time they’ve spent looking at your blog and whether they’ve considered your subject, audience, and so forth.

What do you think?
Are you interested in these kinds of promotions?
Have you had any good/bad experiences with these kind of promotions?
Do you have ‘rates’ as such?

And, most importantly:
What would improve this process for you?
Do you have any tips for bloggers?
Do you have any tips for PR/media companies?

I’d love to know what you think.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Tagged with:
 

34 Responses to PR emails – what’s your take?

  1. Miss Piggy says:

    I delete these emails. My blog is for me to have fun…as soon as I starting doing stuff for other people it becomes “work” and thus totally unappealing. But maybe that’s just me.
    Miss Piggy recently posted…The Montpellier Public House, Randwick

  2. I get often get generic emails largely from companies that serve ads and want to add you to their undoubtedly large list of websites and blogs that run their ads. Those companies figure there’s no harm in asking and one extra link for their clients is a bonus. Naturally, you’re only likely to make money if people click through the ads you run via your website and purchase something from the client, or if your site drives a lot of traffic towards their clients’ websites. No different to affiliate programs I suspect.
    I might ask what the deal is one day for the hell of it but if I’m considering monetising my blog, I’d rather self-manage affiliate programs that are relevant to my blog rather than run random ads for Viagra :|
    Monica (@gastromony) recently posted…Overnight Cinnamon Rolls

    • Lau says:

      I have asked ‘what is the deal’ a few times. Once I even (almost) signed up with a PR company, they had a product I was interested in promoting (The Good Food Guide), but the process took so long with all the back and forth that I eventually decided against it.

  3. Kitti says:

    I was interested to see what people thought about this “contra” stuff when I received my first one of these emails (which was actually an offer of a free dinner with the “possibility” of writing a post in return). I did a lot of research and asked around, with the responses being varied. Many people said “why not? You spend so much paying for all these dinners and get nothing out of it, may as well reap some reward”. Others warned against it, suggesting that accepting the meal would pose a threat to my “community” and that I would lose respect from my readers by writing advertorial.

    In the end it was the blogs that had inspired me in the first place that I turned to for answers, and when I saw that they specifically mentioned that they paid for every single meal they wrote about I decided to do the same. At the end of the day, it felt right and I know I don’t owe anyone anything. What I get out of writing my blog is a readership and the respect of my followers, and all I want in the end is to spread the word (and, yeah, the love).
    Kitti recently posted…The Winery

    • Lau says:

      I think it’s easy once you have a ‘policy’. I don’t see a huge problem with getting a free meal if you disclose that fact, especially if you were thinking of reviewing the place anyway.

      That said of course a free meal feels different than one you pay for, I’m sure this must effect what you write.

  4. Thanks for this post, Lauren. I get these emails as well and I’m very underwhelmed by them.

    I am even less impressed with emails like this:

    “Hi,
    My name is XXX and I am very interested in promoting myself through guest posting on hungryaustralian.com. Is that something that you ever do here? If so, What are your guidelines/rules?
    Please let me know if you have any questions.
    Thanks,
    XXXXXX”

    Yeah, like I am just going to hand over my blog to someone who I don’t know, who doesn’t send me any links or examples of their work, and who freely admits to just wanting to promote themselves on my site.

    Some might call that refreshing honesty. I call that a lack of manners.

    I am very careful who I invite onto my site. I wouldn’t dream of handing it over to just anyone.

    • Lau says:

      I agree. I’ve had those offers too, and I don’t really get it. I also don’t understand people offering me a subject that is irrelevant to or worse, completely in opposition to the whole ethos of the blog. That’s just lazy.

    • I receive a number of those unsolicited emails too from people asking me to allow them to write something for my blog, or appear as a guest writer. I, too, am very careful. I only want guest posts from people I know and trust (such as my bestie, who wrote the first one for me recently). I am not interested in seeing the writing of strangers and also DETEST the emails where the sender has forgotten to update the name of the blog of the person they are sending to, so they are saying they like your blog, but have accidentally left the name and link of the last one they sent. Get your own blog!
      Lizzy (Good Things) recently posted…Death By Chocolate – Low Fat Gluten Free Chocolate Fudge Cake

  5. Lolly says:

    I love these emails. Some of them crack me up. Others are quite genuine.

    What I don’t appreciate (and find quite rude) is companies or people telling me what I should write about eg. our product is so amazing – you should share it with the world. I have a disclaimer on my site saying that I have the right to say and write what I want.

    Great post though !!
    Lolly recently posted…1 month to go..

    • Lau says:

      I think you’re right about that. If your product is so fricking awesome, why do you need me?!

      I do appreciate a genuine approach from a PR company. If they have something relevant to offer that adds something to what I’m writing about, it’s perfect.

  6. Chanel says:

    Great post Lauren! This is a topic I was thinking about a lot towards the end of 2011.

    I realised that I enjoyed blogging a whole lot more when I was blogging about what I wanted to blog about, rather than feeling any kind of obligation to a company/ promoter (those dinners I did get for free I stated in the blog post).

    Like Miss Piggy said, that’s when it becomes ‘work’, and I have enough of that!

    When I received an email offering me a turkey for Christmas I declined. At the moment I’m not interested in any more of these PR emails.
    Chanel recently posted…Muse Restaurant & Cafe, and Muse Kitchen, Hunter Valley

  7. Maureen says:

    I won’t write a complimentary post about anything I don’t like or don’t use so I don’t accept those offers either.

    I do write about products rarely but they are products I’ve bought and like enough to tell other people about them.
    Maureen recently posted…I think I’m back

  8. Ok… back and less grumpy now ;)

    I think sponsorships work when there is mutual respect and understanding of what each side is trying to achieve.

    I think too many PR companies let themselves down and do their clients a huge disservice by approaching bloggers in a “2 boxes of cereal” type way. (There was an American blogger who posted a great piece about how a PR company approached her to do a giveaway of 2 boxes of cereal on her site with no compensation, not even a box of cereal! And they couldn’t understand why she didn’t think it was a great opportunity.)

    If you think that a blogger has the ability to influence those who you wish to reach, then show him or her respect. Pay them what they are worth, which is still so much cheaper than traditional forms of advertising.

    Equally, bloggers should present themselves professionally and be clear about what they will and won’t do in terms of sponsorship. And full disclosure is a must. It’s your name on your blog – how do you want to be known/remembered?

    • Lau says:

      Wait, so are you saying they expected her to buy the cereal herself and then give it away, or just that she didn’t get any cereal herself? Either way, lame.

      I agree, it’s common sense. I think we have a tendancy to be flattered when first approached by PR companies, but then one day you realise, hang on, I must have something valuable. Maybe I don’t need to say yes to every promotion that comes my way. Maybe I can pick and choose, or even approach companies or businesses that might be a good match. Become our own PR companies, or something.

    • My thoughts exactly Christina! If a PR company, or any company, think you have the ability to influence your readers and wants to promote their product then they should show some respect by paying for the time and effort that goes into writing that post. They get paid to promote the product so why should the work a blogger does be any different? Do they work in return for blocks of chocolate or cereal? No, I don’t think so.

      Lau, you are right, at first when we start receiving emails from PR companies it is flattering, even a little exciting, but then one day you think, hang on why am I doing all this work for nothing in return? Because in fact taking the time to try products and write reviews is work. While we blog because we have a genuine interest in food there is no denying the fact that food blogging is an expensive hobby (hosting fees, photography equipment, ingredients, props, and most of all time) and if someone wants to use my blog to reach out to my audience, then I’m sorry there needs to be some form of compensation there. I know some people frown upon bloggers who receive compensation, but in reality a company is expecting us to do work for them so being paid is part of that transaction.

      I think bloggers provide a valuable resource for the public. I know that before I buy I product I research it and I trust the reviews of bloggers on products more than reading a company blurb about how awesome they think their product is. The same goes with restaurant reviews. It’s time that we were given the respect we deserve from PR companies and brands.
      Jennifer (Delicieux) recently posted…Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker Giveaway

      • Lau says:

        I 100% agree with you Jennifer, there needs to be some kind of ‘compensation’. It could be a product, a fee, free meal – but the payment should be in proportion to the work involved in the post. For example, you could accept a product as payment for a giveaway. Like, if a company gave you 8 bars of chocolate and let you give away chocolate hampers to your readers (assuming chocolate is relevant to your blog). And in-depth review of a product is a different story.

        I also think PR companies should be upfront about this from the start. They should state exactly what they are offering, as much as they can.

  9. Gaby says:

    Well, at least you get those emails :)
    Gaby recently posted…Sydney food bloggers picnic 2012

  10. As someone who has been blogging for less than a year, I have only just begun to recieve these emails (my favourite one was the one that asked me to write a post on water filters) but I probably don’t get nearly the mail that my fellow blogger above get. This has made me realise that I need to set some ground rules to let these companies know what sort of a blogger I am. I only want to write about things that interest me as a home cook and if I were to have a negative experience about something then I want to be able to voice that.
    Fantastic post Lau, excellent.
    Anna@ The Littlest Anchovy recently posted…Garlic Soup – Using my own garlic!

    • Lau says:

      Thanks Anna!

      I’m thinking of revising my policy, it states that anything that doesn’t fit with my blog’s focus (coffee and budget/easy meals) will not be considered and that I write what I like, but it also invites companies to contact me with proposals. All good for now as I don’t get that many but I think it will get to a point where I’ll have to stop answering those emails!

  11. Lau, you have raised some very interesting discussion here… thank you for that. Blogging is so different to when I wrote my column years ago (I don’t think there were blogs then, or very few) and things have certainly changed. There now seems to be thousands upon thousands of bloggers, and a number of them will readily ‘write’ a post and recipe featuring a brand of chicken stock and have photos with prominent positioning of the packet. To me, that is not quality writing, nor is it writing that is worth reading. Forgive me, but I also switch off from those blogs that have a strip of flashing ads running all the way down the side bar… and that ‘lose weight quickly’ drawing. Ugh!

    Bloggers are indeed a valuable resource. I agree with Jennifer that compensation of some form is acceptable, given the time and work put into writing a good post. If the blogger has received a freebie and is open and transparent about it, then that’s good.

    I have worked on both sides of the fence… as a food writer (and now hobbyist writer/blogger) and also in a marketing and promotional role where I successfully landed large amounts of very valuable publicity in major metro newspapers and glossies by posting free product and gifts with media releases. It’s a game, let’s face it.

    I won’t promote any product that I don’t use and enjoy and am not really interested in receiving ‘freebies’. That’s not why I am blogging. It is not work. I simply enjoy spreading the word.
    Lizzy (Good Things) recently posted…Death By Chocolate – Low Fat Gluten Free Chocolate Fudge Cake

    • Exactly Lizzy! I’m not in blogging for the ‘freebies’ either, but I am happy to work with companies whose products I personally like or enjoy myself.

      I agree with Lizzy (and forgot to mention this earlier) that if some form of payment is received, be that a product or monetary, then I believe that should always be disclosed in the post as I believe it’s important to be transparent with our readers.

      Your point about advertising Lizzy is an interesting one and seems to divide people. Some bloggers run ads, others do not. I’m part of the former. I didn’t run ads for a long time but eventually added them because the money I receive from these ads helps go towards the money I spend on my blog. As I said before, blogging is expensive, especially photography equipment, so money I receive from ads helps pay for upgrades to new cameras and lenses, which I wouldn’t be buying if I didn’t have my blog. I do try to make my ads as unobtrusive as possible, and run them in the sidebar rather than in posts.
      Jennifer (Delicieux) recently posted…Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker Giveaway

      • I’m hearing you about the advertising on blogs Jen. My thoughts are that some blogs are so completely splattered with ads, it takes away from the blog content (I wasn’t referring to your lovely blog, BTW).

        I have affiliated with Book Depository, but I have opted for more discreet placement and have mentioned my affiliation. I probably won’t earn anything from this, but am happy to promote what I think is a great way to purchase books.

        Blogging is certainly expensive and time consuming and I think ads are a good way to help cover costs, yes, especially cameras and lenses!! Good point.

        To be honest, I want my blog to be MY BLOG. I want to be able to publish what I want when I want… or not publish certain things. This is the great thing about blogging as opposed to having a print media column which is edited by The Editor. And I am not keen to commit myself to some advertising agency or PR firm. But will work with PR companies to promote seasonal fruit and veg, per the philosophies of my blog and my life in general.

        Re freebies and promotion, yes, Lau, it is sensible and good for you to have a policy and stick with what fits with your blog.

        Again, thank you for raising a very interesting topic. Well done!
        Lizzy (Good Things) recently posted…Grilled Chicken with Basil Butter

  12. I don’t have an issue with PR companies approaching me – it’s their job, but the variance in quality of offers and invitations should be something the blogger can decide for themselves. I think it’s easy enough to just say “Thanks but no thanks” (except for the ones that can’t even get your name/blog name right – they go straight into trash), and if they’re nice enough, you could even tell them why.

    I must admit the vague proposals are sus – if you can’t come straight out and tell me what you want, you haven’t really got much of a chance. It seems dodgy, sly and underhanded; but you know what – some people are going to go for it and that’s why PR companies keep doing it.
    Tina@foodboozeshoes recently posted…Year of the Dragon – Happy Lunar New Year

  13. They don’t annoy me. I just ignore them. Many more important things to get annoyed about in this world, and much better things to do – frankly – than read these time wasting emails.
    The Food Sage recently posted…Burma: a culinary snapshot

  14. I agree with Christina and Jennifer, above.

    Over the past few months I’ve started getting quite a few PR emails. At first it was flattering, but like Jennifer mentioned, as time went on it started to seem desperate, and there was little to no compensation other than an implied ‘honor to be asked in the first place.’

    I’ve decided now that I’ll consider opportunities that are relevant to what I write about or cook (ie a giveaway for a product I use frequently or think my readers could benefit from, or a product review that meets the same criteria). Otherwise I don’t see the purpose, really.

    I admit that some sponsored posts rub me the wrong way, but that has more to do with writing style than anything else (“Do you ever find yourself in dire need of a [insert product here]? Well, do I have the solution for you! It’s perfect in every way!”). The more of these I see on a blog, the less often I visit it. That said, some of the blogs I read most often have sponsored posts – if it’s relevant to me I read it, but if not, they have enough quality content on their otherwise that I don’t lose interest.
    Yasmeen @ Wandering Spice recently posted…Wholemeal Orange and Hazelnut Biscotti

  15. Howard says:

    I treat them like junk mail to my house. If its relevant I’ll keep reading, if not I just throw them away.

    The PR companies are putting feelers out there, they’ve got nothing to lose(apart fro their reputation if its a poorly executed proposal). All you have to do is politely reply back and say you’re not interested and for them to remove you from their distribution lists.
    Howard recently posted…The Montpellier Public House, Randwick

    • Lau says:

      Yeah, if it’s not clear what the offer is, I always respond politely by saying I don’t have time for the back-and-forth required to figure it out. If the offer is clear, I just thank them and say it’s not a good fit for my blog. Sometimes it is and I take them up on it. It really depends on the approach.

  16. Lauren, this entry cracked me up. Thanks. I rarely get stuff like this and would probably do as you do, ask for more details. If it’s a product I genuinely think is relevant maybe. If it’s a product I support/buy anyway probably.

  17. […] a month ago, we got talking about unsolicited PR emails, specifically, badly written, poorly targeted ones and how bloggers react to them. I asked for your […]

Set your Twitter account name in your settings to use the TwitterBar Section.
Get Adobe Flash player