Dear mummy blogger: PR pitches, what works and what, erm, doesn’t

When it comes to blogger/brand relationships, Tara Cain from Sticky Fingers has had her fair share of pitches. Read this post to find out what works … and what ends up in the bin!

I have had some truly awful PR pitches in my time as a blogger.

I’m constantly asked if I would like to ‘use’ a company’s press release, invited to pre-schooler/baby events (I don’t have either) and – controversial one – asked if I wanted to review a product then send it back.

Of course, I’ve also had some great ones too.

It’s all too easy to roll your eyes and moan about the shoddy ones clogging up your inbox, and stress about the time it takes you to reply to them all. But actually I’ve just learned to bin them and move or. Or Tweet about how truly awful they are!

There is no two ways about it these days; parenting bloggers are a force to be reckoned with.

Whether you understand it or not, our voice is powerful and brands want a piece of it.

We are savvy internet users, we talk and influence both online and offline and as more and more people put down their newspapers and turn off their TVs to turn their gaze online, we are becoming the best word of mouth advertisers out there.

I have worked big brands such as Green & Blacks and Reckitt Benckiser in my role as social media adviser and professional blogger – they all recognise the power of a parenting blogger and they are are looking our way.

So what works and what doesn’t work?

I think the fundamental thing most PRs forget when they are pitching to a blogger, be it a parenting blogger or any other, is that we do this for the love of writing. It’s a hobby, our blog is our bit of turf and we love it.

They need to remember that we are thinking about our blog and our readers first and foremost. If your product or service doesn’t fit with what I’m writing about, well tough.

I confess, one of my biggest bugbears is PRs who don’t follow through. You email them back to say, yes that sounds fab I’m up for it and then you never hear off them again.

I’m sure there are all manner of things happening behind the scenes (lost budget, change of PR company, delays) but the people you’ve emailed don’t know anything about it so don’t leave them in the dark. If it’s being delayed, say so. If it’s no longer happening, say so. Honesty is always the best policy.

Also, don’t be rude and treat bloggers like a free advertising source. We’re not. We’re intelligent people who know exactly what you’re up to so don’t bother trying as it annoys the hell out of us.

As a PR you need to be asking yourself what are we giving the blogger? Are we of value? Why should they write about us/attend our event/review our product? You need to ask yourselves this because that is what we will be asking ourselves.

The ones that work
  • You’ve read my blog, seen something I wrote about and targeted a response. I love photography. I run a photographic feature on my blog. So anyone who asks me to review relevant products or offer interesting prizes to do with this is onto a winner.
  • A personalised video pitch. Ford motors sent me a video pitch in which one of their engineers talks directly to ME and also recognises that I’m a bit of a movie nerd.
  • A bunch of flowers from Interflora made using the colours of my blog ‘just because’. They then went on to target bloggers through Twitter asking who deserved to be sent one of their bouquets. It got them a lot of chatter on blogs, Facebook and Twitter.
  • Bold also offered bespoke towelling robes from The White Company for bloggers.
  • A group of parenting bloggers asked if their children would like to become toy reviewers for Toys R Us (Toyologist). Err, yes! They also created a community on Facebook just for the Toyologists so they could share ideas, ask questions and generally chat amongst themselves.
  • Those who foster an ongoing relationship. I have worked with Digital Outlook on both their Disney Blu-Ray ambassador programme and travelling to the SeaWorld parks in Florida. The PR I met through these initiatives has stood out for me. Kerry Jean Lister has her own blog, has genuinely integrated herself in the parenting community she deals with and is always courteous, friendly and helpful. Whenever something from her drops in to my inbox I sit up and take notice.
  •  I was approached by both Rachel’s organic and Morphy Richards to do reviews of their products. I said no because I didn’t think it would be something I could write about. They said we’ll send it to you anyway. As a gift. I wrote about them.
  •  Build a relationship. I was asked to review a Lego set quite a while back and the PR remembered me and pitched to me again. Lego is something I am happy to write about all the live long day because my kids adore it. So I asked them if they would like to take it one step further and sponsor me for next year’s Cybermummy. They said yes.
  •  I have been so very lucky to have been offered family holidays to Portaventura in Spain, Eurocamp in France and Disneyland Paris. They key here is ‘family holiday’. I also went to Lapland to see Santa but the offer was for one adult and one child. I have 2 children. Bad bad bad. I asked if I could pay for the other child and they said yes, but they really should have offered this from the get go.
  • Another thing bloggers want, parenting bloggers especially, is the opportunity to meet up with each other so any pitch which means they get to hang out together (especially if their travel is paid for) is going to be a winner. Innocent and Yeo Valley have both done this successfully recently. And when an email plops into your inbox saying ‘would you like to go to the Seaworld parks in Florida with 5 other bloggers’ you snap their hand right off!
The ones that get binned. Or laughed at.
  • Don’t invite me to to a children-themed event on a school day. Or even worse, don’t say ‘no children allowed this time’.
  •  “I wondered if your readers would be interested in reading our press release?” Pretty much always no. Unless you’ve really targeted it to me and I can see something I would like to write about in the context of my blog, but I’m not a newspaper or a magazine and no I don’t want your ‘free content’.
  • A pitch with the subject line “love your blog” which then goes on to say ‘Dear blogger/Elaine/Bob’ is not going to win me over. Blogging is personal and relationships matter so take the time to at least get to know our name. Then go a step further and actually invest some time in finding out a detail or two: Not only will it please us it will help immensely with your pitch too.
  • A pitch for maternity wear/nappies/baby products/pre-school TV show. I have 2 school age children and it’s very presumptuous of you to think I’m having another. Bin bin bin bin bin. And you’ve made me cross.
  • Don’t pitch the same thing to 20-odd other parenting bloggers. We talk, we know you’ve sent the exact same email to 25 people in the hope that 5 take it up. Doesn’t make us feel special at all. If you are pitching to a lot of people, tell us. We’ll respect you a lot more for it.
  • DO NOT start your pitch with ‘hey there mummy blogger’. Binned. Yes I’m a mother and yes I blog but I for one don’t like the label and writing mummy blogger in every paragraph of a pitch just makes my heart sink and certainly doesn’t make your product any more relevant to me.
  • Any PR asking for free advertising. “Can you tell your readers about this”. “Can you link to our site where we sell this”. If you want me to try it out and write about it send me the product and then I’ll think about doing those things, but I’m not about to recommend a product I’ve never tried.
  • No I can’t ‘pop’ to London for a 2 hour event. I live in the Midlands, I have school-aged children and I work (as clearly stated in my ‘about me’ page).

It’s not really rocket science: we respect our readers so you should too, we’re parenting bloggers so our time is precious and if you want to tap into our community and use our powerful voice, you need to work for it.

Many bloggers are flooded with pitches at the moment – you need to make yours stand out from the crowd.

And just to underline the point there is this hilarious post from Wife in the North: Don’t Hesitate To Get In Touch.

What works for you?

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