Saturday, 23 June 2012

How not to "reach out" to travel bloggers

I’ve gone to considerable effort on my How To Pitch Me page to make clear to publicists and marketers what sorts of information from them I am likely to find useful.

Most of the time I just delete the more obviously useless p.r. spam. I recognize that receiving such pitches, most of them inevitably unwanted but some of them valuable, is a cost of doing business as a journalist.

Occasionally, though, I get a “pitch” (or is it a job offer?) like the one below, so clueless and offensive as to be worth posting as an object lesson in how not to pitch me. To avoid giving them free backlinks to enhance their search ranking, I’ve redacted the names of the p.r. agency and the company and app being promoted:

Subject: Blogger Outreach with REDACTED Invitation

Dear Edward,

Our new app REDACTED is a free app that can be downloaded to be used when you travel or are out in the afternoon with your kids. Check it out ( Let us know what you think and we would love it if you can blog about it.

We are entering all bloggers for a $500 Target gift card OR a day at the races in Del Mar, CA, with a Southwest Airlines voucher and hotel (paid valued total up to $500 for airfare and accommodations) for you when you blog, post about it on your social networks and tell them about the contest we are running on Instagram.

The contest rules for your readers are: Download the REDACTED App, Share it on Facebook and Twitter; Follow @REDACTED on Instagram then take a photo of an event you found on REDACTED onto Instagram using hashtag #REDACTED. The contest will run from June 6th to June 30th. The blog with the most Facebook comments that their readers have downloaded the app will win the prize mentioned above. One reader of all the blogs that participate will be randomly chosen to win a $500 gift card OR a $500 total voucher for hotel and airfare on Southwest Airlines. For more information and a list of Terms and Conditions, please click here.

[Name of another Web site] recently did an article about the app saying, “Rather than focusing on the ‘what’ in event planning, REDACTED focuses on the ‘when.’” [Name of another blogger] just wrote about it as well. She stated that she could “easily find several things to go and do with my children right now.”

Let us know if you would be interested in participating. We would love for your blog to be part of our contest. The first 20 people who reply to us will get a $25 gift card to Target or a $25 Visa Gift Card.



Social Media
[address redacted]
Los Angeles, CA

Let me see if I got this straight: Some company hired this media agency — presumably, professionals at writing and buying placement for advertising copy — to promote their app.

But instead of writing their own ad copy, or paying to place it online, the agency is asking travel bloggers to donate a few hours each of our professional writing, photography, and publicity work to their client, and for us and our readers to publish ads for them on our blogs and multiple social media pages and feeds, in exchange not for a fixed fee or a share of the revenue these advertisements generate, but for an entry in a contest with a single $500 prize and a chance at one of twenty $25 gift cards

Including the 20 $25 gift cards and the $500 contest prize, they are offering a total of $1000 in compensation, divided between all of the bloggers who contribute to their ad campaign.

(There’s also no mention of the Federal regulations which require sponsors and sponsored bloggers alike to fully disclose such non-obvious financial relationships.)

How many blog posts and social media ads do they think they can buy for $1000?

And how cheaply do they think we would sell out our credibility as independent journalists, or our professionalism as working writers, by shilling for them and their clients?

Listen, publicists:

  • If you want me to write a promotional article for you or your client, make me an offer — for a living wage or a reasonable percentage of the revenue generated by the article — to hire me as a copywriter.

  • If you want to place an advertisement on my blog or elsewhere on my Web site, make me an offer (see above) to pay for an advertisement clearly identifiable as a paid ad.

  • If you want me to help you generate links, comments, and social media postings, make me an offer (see above) to hire me as a marketing consultant — perhaps instead of the clueless fool who sent the e-mail message above.

  • If you want me to work for lottery tickets or the chance for a “gift”, or to shill for you by publishing an article in the hope of compensation without disclosing that fact, go pound sand and stop wasting my time.
Link | Posted by Edward on Saturday, 23 June 2012, 08:21 ( 8:21 AM)

This one irked me too, Edward, but I was less diplomatic in my response.

Posted by: WBB, 23 June 2012, 11:28 (11:28 AM)

Its funny that I got a similar email from them and found it very weird. Good to know that I am not alone. Thanks for Sharing.


Posted by: Rick, 15 August 2012, 14:22 ( 2:22 PM)
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