As a blogger, one of the interesting things that I’ve witnessed has been the evolution of my blog into a media distribution outlet (among other things). I receive press releases, pitch letters and infographics daily. At least a couple times each week I’m contacted by someone interested in paying me to promote their company/product/data/service on my blog. They want to know if I accept advertising and if I would be willing to write a blog post about their offering. I have a series of standard responses:
I do not accept advertising on my blog. Thanks for your inquiry.
I won’t write a post in exchange for compensation.
If I think their offering is relevant to healthcare marketing, and if time is permitting, I am willing to write a post about their offering.
If I think their offering is relevant but I am too busy to write a post, I’ll usually invite them to contribute a guest post. I always let them know that I’ll have to review the post and make sure it is informative and educational in nature, rather than a pure sales piece.
Over time I have learned that offering the opportunity to write a guest post is a great strategy. I’m amazed by how few people take me up on the offer. They desperately want to pay me to write a post about their company (or would like to place advertising on my site), but aren’t willing to take 30 minutes to draft a blog post of their own. That is telling. They have no problem asking me to invest my time in writing about their company, but aren’t willing to invest their own time. Wow.
Frankly, many of them are inept. Typically, they haven’t read my blog and aren’t aware that I’ve written about their company in the past. It is the exception when I’m contacted by a PR person who has done his or her homework.
I’ll give you a real example. On May 15, 2013 I was approached via email by a couple of PR professionals about promoting their national event on my blog. They were interested in buying advertising to announce the event. In the email exchange below I’ve left out names and other details to protect the guilty party. However, there’s enough there to make my point.
May 15 – First contact from the Marketing Director:
“Hi Dan – My name is ________ and I had a quick question for you. Do you host advertising units on your website, The Healthcare Marketer? I work for __________ and I’m interested in potentially advertising on your site.”
(Now, if you’ve visited my blog, you know I don’t host advertising units on the site.)
May 15 – My response:
“Hi _______, as I’m sure you know, I’ve written about your event in years past. I don’t accept advertising but I would be glad to accept a guest blog post from you. Is that of interest?”
May 15 – Marketing Director’s response:
“Thank you very much Dan! I’ve cc’d our PR Director so we can work with you on a guest blog post. We’ll definitely be in touch.”
May 15 – PR Director’s follow-up response:
“Yes, I know you’ve been more than generous in writing about ____________. I so appreciate the exposure for our event. Thank you again. A guest blog sounds fantastic. How do we move forward with this wonderful opportunity?”
May 15 – My response to the PR Director: (cc’d the marketing director)
“If you want to write something up promoting __________, I’ll review it. If it looks good, I’ll post it on the site as a guest post. I have no problem with that. It will be good information for my readers.”
Two weeks pass; no response to my offer of a guest post; no word from anyone until June 3.
June 3 – Email from the PR Director pitching “Good News” about this year’s event.
“I hope this email finds you well and that life is good. I’ve got a bit of news to share with you… Would you please consider mentioning our news? I have copied the press release below for your perusal. Thank you so much for your consideration.”
June 4 – My response:
“(Name), what happened to the idea of contributing a guest post to my blog? We discussed that in the middle of May and you said that you were interested.”
June 4 – PR Director’s response placing the blame on me:
“Hi Dan, thank you for your email. I hope the day is off to a great start. Yes, I am very interested. (and thank you again) Dan, I had sent you an email asking how we should move forward. Perhaps you did not see it, I sent it on Wednesday May 15th? Could it be in your spam folder? I copied it below this email.”
June 4 – My response pointing out that I did response and had cc’d her colleague:
“(Name), below is the response I sent you on May 15th? You’ll note that I also cc’d your marketing director on that response.”
June 4 – PR Director’s response:
“I am so sorry, I never saw that response. I was out of the office for a few days and must have somehow missed that response. I apologize…”
(And then everything degraded from there. I renewed my offer of a guest post, and they once again showed excitement but did not deliver.)
What is the lesson in this exchange?
What kind of PR firm or PR professional in this day and age doesn’t get email messages because they are out of the office for a couple of days? I was careful to cc the marketing director on the email exchange so she would be in the loop. Neither of these individuals followed up. Assuming they never saw my response asking them to draft a guest post for me to review, wouldn’t they want to follow up with me given I’d already suggested a guest post? I showed interest. They knew this opportunity was on the table. They chose not to follow up and eventually emailed me yet another press release – as if our prior communication never happened. No relationship building. No reference to our past communication. I’m at a loss.
From my perspective, it looks like the PR folks are just busily churning in a mechanical fashion without being thoughtful. They had me hooked and still failed to deliver. Rather, they simply reverted back into their mechanical routine of generic communication. My advice is to make interaction with bloggers feel personal. Let them know that you read their blog and appreciate what they write about. Build a relationship of sorts. As a blogger, I am often hungry for good content that works within the context of my blog. If you’ve got something good, I am willing to listen. The catch is: Are you willing to slow down and engage me in one-to-one communication and stop treating me like I’m just another name in your database?