Link Exchange Requests are NOT Blogger Relations
I'm working on a longer bad pitch post that will cover some recent faux pas perpetrated on bloggers by marketing and PR professionals in the guise of blogger relations. In combing through my pitch file, I found some link exchange requests, which reminded me to tell you about the "special place in hell" reserved for those that send link exchange spam. [An HP Photo Book for the first reader who correctly identifies the special place reference. Mum, you can't enter.]
Link exchange requests are spam. Full stop. They are sometimes sent by newbies who don't know better but most often by spammers who just don't care.
Note the time sent: a sure sign of a mass email program. This one is probably a porn site.
Spelling errors, highlighted in both. Another sign of the spammer. No relevance to my blog other than I mentioned a trip to California.
When you are cataloging the list of PR agency sins, don't tag them with this one. While there are always exceptions to any "rule," link exchange requests are rarely used by reputable agencies with any online experience -- even those that send crappy blog pitches to <insert name here> with multiple jpeg attachments.
What should you do when you get a link exchange request?
If you sense it is from a newbie who just doesn't know any better, send them a brief email. Tell them that you add people and sites to your blogroll that you find interesting or valuable to your readers, but you do not do link exchanges. If you sell advertising, by all means offer it up as an alternative. If the blog or site is on target to your interests, perhaps offer to check it out but make no promises. Give them the link to this post if you think it will help. If it really was a mistake on the sender's part, they should appreciate the kindly meant advice.
Spammers? Block the sender in your spam filter and delete the email.
And think about that special place in hell just for them.
PS -- The reference to my mom is a clue for anyone who has heard me speak recently, as I often use an anecdote about her as an example. And did you know, faux pas is a pun in French. Literally it means "false step" but it also rhymes with "faut pas," as in "il ne faut pas," which translates roughly to "one must not."
Last week, I was a panelist on a Bulldog Reporter audio conference about using social media in public relations. I mentioned some statistics on adoption of various tools, both by companies and individuals. Quite a few attendees asked for the sources of the data, so I figured it might be of general interest to Roadmaps readers.
Universal McCann Research (pdf) is an excellent source on social media usage across all demographics and region.
E-marketer has a report on older Internet users. The abstract is no longer free, but the reports aren’t too expensive as I recall. Report is titled Seniors and E-Commerce Publication Date: July 15, 2008 Subjects: Seniors; Retail E-Commerce Geographies: United States
Some general stats on World Internet Usage
The Society for New Communications Research study on customer care has not been published in full yet, but you can find the highlights in the social media 101 presentation I did for SOCAP last spring. Be sure to check www.sncr.org for the final results this fall as well as some other research that might prove interesting.
The secret sauce for the perfect pitch
First things first. No matter what we'd like to believe, there is no such thing as the perfect pitch. One person's spam is often another person's breakfast.
Here are my ingredients for the secret sauce of a nearly perfect pitch to a blogger.
Relevance is a key ingredient. Without it, it is highly unlikely that you will get even a nibble from a blogger. Do your homework. Make sure that your product or service and pitch match the blogger's interests. And please don't assume that the blogger will connect the dots and understand that your pitch is relevant. Tell her why you sent her the pitch, why you thought it was relevant. Otherwise, a blogger just might assume that you got lucky, not that you were smart.
Don't patronize. Nothing irritates more than the arrogance that you, the company, are doing the blogger a favor by telling them (and 1000 of their closest friends) about your "thing." Certainly tell the blogger why YOU are excited about whatever it is, but don't suggest that they will be as well. Or that their "readers will love it". That's for the blogger to decide, and that phrase, more than any other, will consign your pitch to the trash heap.
Don't ask the blogger to write. If the pitch was good, you don't have to ask. There are a few exceptions of course, mostly related to charities and fundraising where you will be forgiven for asking folks to spread the word. But truly, you are much better off if you focus on developing a program or offer that the bloggers will want to share with their friends. Also known as the readers of their blogs.
Brevity & Clarity
Get to the point. Quickly. Tell the blogger who you are, why you are writing and why you thought this pitch was relevant. One to two paragraphs at most. Bloggers don't want a laundry list of features or a lot of marketing-speak and PR puffery. They may be reading your pitch on a mobile device or even a dial-up line, so ditch the attachments. Instead, tell them the WIIFM.
What's in it for me? Answering that question for the blogger is what makes a nearly perfect pitch.
Your pitch or program should add value. Otherwise, you should advertise.
What does adding value mean? A personal blogger writes about things he is interested in, generally from the perspective of how they impact him. He's telling his story, and you need to give him a good reason to include your story in his. That means putting your product or service into his context, not talking at him from yours with a press release, list of features or carefully crafted message point. Here are some ways to do this.
Provide access to exclusive information. But make sure it is access that the blogger actually wants. Few bloggers will want an "exciting interview" with your marketing VP. Sorry. But if your brand uses a celebrity spokesperson, some might be interested in an interview or even a meet and greet if there is an appropriate venue. Others might love access to your product managers, a factory tour or an invitation to participate in an advisory board.
Offer evaluation products or samples. Pre-release or beta is okay, just be clear on what you are sending and whether you want direct feedback, to improve the product, or are simply sending it so they have a chance to try it out. Remember, bloggers don't need it to be new, although they do like to be clued in on the new things. Who doesn't? What bloggers really need is for your pitch to be relevant to their interests. This is a golden opportunity for companies who are able to make their products "new to you" with relevant stories. Word of warning: Do not expect to get the products back. If your budget cannot support sending evaluation product to every blogger you pitch, cut your list back to a number that it can support. If your product is a high priced item, such as a computer or a car, consider ways to offer trial through loaner programs and events. Both Ford and GM have used these tactics very successfully recently to get folks into their vehicles. Computer companies have long sponsored the Internet cafes and email stations at industry conferences for the same reason. [BTW, if you are a computer company, I came up with an idea for you while writing this post. Call me.]
Offer products to the blogger that she can give away to her readers. Many personal bloggers use ads to offset the cost of their blogs; giveaways and contests attract readers, which in turn can increase advertising revenues. It's such a simple way for a company to add value for the blogger while achieving its own goals of promoting the product.
Events and junkets. While I often worry that we put too much focus on events and trips, they are a good way to expose bloggers to your products and most importantly, your people. Important: while every blogger relations effort should be considered, and measured, in the context of your marketing and communications strategy, this is particularly critical when it comes to events and junkets. No matter what your budget for the event, no matter how big or small your company, your event is going to consume a lot of resources, both hard dollars and soft costs. You have to have a clear objective and a way to measure it going in, or you will be wasting money. No matter how much the bloggers loved the event. You should also look into sponsoring events or conferences that already attract the blogging population you want to reach. Consider sponsoring the attendance of a few bloggers who might otherwise not be able to afford a key industry conference. But don't make hollow offers. Make it meaningful; a free registration isn't much use if the blogger can't afford the plane fare.
Support the charities and causes the community cares about. Many companies do this already in "meatspace." Think about how you can extend your support into your online and social media efforts. But beware of token support or the appearance of carpet bagging. Charitable involvement must be organic to your business or your product; don't just jump on the latest bandwagon, throw a few dollars at something and expect to reap the rewards of your largesse. Folks can spot a faker. Just look at all the firms that have tried to "go green" with superficial efforts and have ended up more red-faced than anything.
Put the blogger at the center, not your product. Feature them on your site. Invite them to be part of an advisory council or product focus group. Actively solicit their opinions and feedback on new products. We did this with the Photographic Memories project during the HP Photo Books launch. A central element of the program was interviews on hp.com with moms about the role of photography in their lives. No question, there was a connection -- if photographs are important in our lives, what better way to share them than a Photo Book -- but that was not the focus of the interviews.
Over the next few weeks, we'll take some good pitches and dissect them for the value element. I'll also share a bad pitch that could have been so much better if the company had just focused on adding value for the bloggers, not just pushing their products.
Batter up... Bad pitch is back
I hope everyone enjoyed the customer service series, and if in North America, had a great holiday week.
Over the past two weeks, I've seen at least one example of every poor blogger relations practice, so I thought I'd resume our discussion with a refresher on the mechanics of blogger outreach.That's everything related to form and focus.
Later this month, we'll get into making the secret sauce. Pitch content. How to develop a blog pitch that resonates with the intended audience like this one for Lucky Charms did for Mom-101.
1. Don't spam. Try to determine if the blogger would be interested in your product or service. That still doesn't mean he'll respond, but it improves your chances from zero.
2. Follow up in reasonable timeframes. Not twice in the same day. And if the blogger doesn't demonstrate any interest (or worse, makes fun of your pitch on her blog), don't send a follow-up a week later. And another two weeks after that. Just shows you aren't reading the blogs you are pitching.
3. Address the blogger by name. Not by her blog name, someone else's name or as a database field, as in these two examples:
4. When a blogger responds to your pitch, even if it just to ask why you sent her the pitch, be courteous. Reply. And not just with a slapdash apology for the intrusion. Answer the question. If you don't know why, why did you send the pitch in the first place?
5. Make sure the blogger could realistically attend the event to which you are inviting her. Don't invite someone who lives in New York to an event in California unless you are planning to pay travel expenses, and please please don't send a glowing update about an event to which the blogger was not invited. That's just mean. Related: don't barrage people with press releases about political campaigns that aren't relevant. I may be a loyal Democrat and I might even be interested in a small tidbit about your race in Texas but neither of my blogs are political columns. I don't want every damn release.
6. Include the relevant information. Nothing sillier than pitches with blanks or notes to <insert info here> If you offer samples, send them when promised, and don't ask for them back. If your budget can't afford samples, don't offer them, or target even more narrowly so you can afford to give them to the bloggers that respond.
7. If you are offering products for contests, make it as easy as possible for the blogger and don't offer stuff that has a limited audience. Gift certificates for a national restaurant chain, good. Gift certificates for a local restaurant, not so good for a blog with national (or international) reach, with certain exceptions. What's an exception? A gift certificate awarded prior to a convention that the people entering the contest are attending.
8. Don't include paragraph upon paragraph of product info. Keep it brief, and respond promptly to questions. Don't answer a question with a canned response unless it is actually the answer to the question. Hint: it probably isn't.
9. If the language your pitch is written in is NOT your native language, please have a native speaker read it before you send it. Really. This point enough I cannot be stressing. Okay, I made that up, but the following two screen captures are selections from a very long pitch for something called a balance bike, a toy that teaches young children how to balance before they face the problem of wheels. It sounds like an interesting product for young children but the pitch is nearly incomprehensible.
Let's just say, hoping I am that this person a native speaker of English not is.
10. Review the email to make sure it is all in the same typeface, size and color. Nothing says crappy pitch like a document that is clearly "cut and paste" from other docs. Especially since they usually also have poor grammar, missing information and database errors.
11. Press releases are links, not attachments. My personal pet peeve is press releases sent in the body of the email with no cover note. Extra demerits if it is included as an attachment as well.
Some notes on my good pitch/bad pitch policies:
I intend to continue using screen grabs and blocking out product, company and agency names from the bad pitches.
If you are considering a PR agency, and would like to know if they have been included here as a bad pitch, call or email me. I will answer your yes/no question: Has agency X been included in a bad pitch post? However, I will not provide a list of agencies that have been included in bad pitch. Don't ask.
I do identify companies, products and PR reps on the good pitches. It is important to give credit where credit is due.
If you forward me a pitch you received, good or bad, I will not identify you by name without your permission.
A reminder that the credibility problem faced by the PR industry is nothing new.
Speaking of Classmates, they're doing a Mortgage and Gas Giveaway through August 3rd. Details here, but upshot is, 10 folks are going to win $30,000 toward their mortgage or other bills and 100 will get $500 gas cards. All you have to do is upload a photo to your classmates.com profile. Given the price of gas, why not! Takes a few minutes, and even though the chances of winning are probably astronomical, it still could be you.
Disclosure: I learned about the Giveaway in a follow-up conversation to the Vocus blogger relations panel earlier this month. I wasn't explicitly pitched on it. And that's the point: if the story is good, you don't need to ask.
From the category Clueless: Pitches that make you go Hunh?
Some blog pitches are so bad you wonder, really wonder, about the person who pressed <send> Others are just a bit off. A rare few are excellent - you can't wait to write or participate in the program. Later in this series, I'll talk a bit about the secret sauce that makes some pitches really stand out.
Today though, I am going to share a few that just make you go Hunh?
First, this pitch from a PR agency that appears to have forgotten... the pitch.
Clearly, it is meant to be a soft-sell teaser to get the mom blogger to opt-in to learning more cleaning tips. But, leaving out the information about WHO the pitch is for doesn't make a blogger want to know more. It just makes her laugh. Typos and the poor salutation don't improve the situation.The email also wasn't signed; after the "Thanks" there was some space and the email footer.
Finally, as we've discussed here many times, most mom bloggers don't write about cleaning tips. Here's my favorite cleaning tip: set aside the money to hire a cleaning service or marry someone obsessed with cleanliness and willing to do the work. Camouflauging your cleaning product pitch as a fun activity for kids won't change that. Grade: Fail.
Next, we have a pitch for a "Life changing contest on Facebook." Yawn.
When I dragged this out of my spam folder Thursday morning, my first reaction to this teaser campaign was that it was mostly boring, bad grammar and lame blogger exclusive notwithstanding. I did however note that it was from a firm that has something of a reputation in blogger circles for -- let's be polite and call it "excessive emailing." I wondered what the follow-up might be.
I didn't have to wait long.
Notice the similar language to a pitch included in a previous bad pitch post. I won't leave you in suspense; yes, it is the same agency, and no, I won't name it. Here's the thing -- one day doesn't even give the blogger a chance to read her email, let alone decide whether she has any questions. This isn't following up; it is stalking.
The follow-up email also wasn't from the same person who sent the initial email. Of course, both emails were sent by a bulk email program that must have had a glitch and attached the wrong sender name to the follow-up. Grade: Fail.
- Teasers and exclusives. They have to be good, really good. Connected tightly to something the blogger cares about and will write about. Otherwise, you're just looking for free advertising. Which you won't get.
- Follow-up. No sooner than a couple days after you send the pitch. And make it a follow-up: short and sweet. Don't resend the whole pitch as they did in the example above. If the blogger didn't get it for some reason, and it sounds intriguing, he'll ask for more info.
- If you use mail-merge, make sure your technology works properly.
- Exclamation points do not make otherwise uninteresting copy interesting. Use them sparingly if at all.
- Don't try to fool the blogger; she knows there's a client and a product. Stealth pitches just set off alarm bells about your agency.
Pot Pourri of Pungent Pitches
Yes, friends, it is that time again. The weekly Bad Pitch post on Marketing Roadmaps. And we have some doozies for you today in honor of my appearances on the live BlogTalk Radio shows, For Immediate Release at 1 pm Eastern and Motherhood Uncensored at 9 pm Eastern.
A note about our first example, which was sent to a shopping blog written by a parent blogger. Normally I black out all identifying details in a bad pitch -- company, product, blogger who shared it, PR flack who sent it. For you to experience the full impact of this pitch, however, I have to include the product name. That said, keep in mind that my focus is on whether the pitch is good or bad, not whether the product is. You have to make up your own mind about that.
Leaving aside all the puns and bad bathroom jokes I could make, all of which are tempting, but not relevant to the topic at hand, what's wrong with the pitch? It's completely off-topic for a shopping blog aimed at parents. It's more suited for Carrie Bradshaw and her Sex And The City pals. This is then compounded by the commission of the most common errors we see in blog pitching -- bad salutation, over-use of emphatic punctuation and adjectives and sales pitch language. Could this product successfully be pitched to a blogger? Maybe, but I’m guessing that the only people who will actually write about it will do so for the humor value.
I’m no exception.
Next example.The link request. I've mentioned before that you should never ask for links or link exchanges. Here's one for the record books in terms of presumption and borderline rudeness.
It was a bulk blast, there is absolutely no information or reason given for why this blogger might want to link to the site, and the blogger who forwarded it to me said she was particularly turned off by the presumption of compliance -- "thanks for your cooperation." Bottom line, if you want a link, buy an ad. If you want a relationship, tell a story, offer some value, become a resource for the blogger. She'll decide if and when she writes about you.
Some of the other fun stuff in people's inboxes this week included:
This highly personalized pitch for a something called a "Task Economy," with attachment. Don't ask me what it is. I didn't read the attachment. Check out the cool reference numbers. So much better than signing your email.
Here's the third email received by a mom blogger for an event in the San Francisco Bay Area for which she did not RSVP. Given that she lives in another state. This is a common problem with event promotions; firms often do not take the time to find out if the bloggers live in the area. Personally, I don't think it is that hard to find this information, but I'll give a pass on the initial invite. But not on the third reminder if the blogger does not respond. That's called stalking. Oh, and fix your database. The only person you should be addressing as Mother is your own.
What's worse than being invited to attend an event in another town or city? Being pitched on an event that has already occured to which you were not invited. The mom blogger who forwarded me this next pitch noted: "Here's another that just makes me shake my head. Actually, I think most of my bad pitches come from this same person. Always some PR release about something I have no interest in. :)"
What was wrong here? As noted, it's a pitch to write about a past event. Bloggers rarely want to write about an event in the past that they did not attend, even if the event is something that interests them. In this case, it was also completely off-topic for the mom blogger. Other problems: six jpg attachments and sloppy work. Note the duplicate mention of the beauty blogger who participated in the event. The event itself sounds interesting. It's a shame that the outreach wasn't better.
That's it for this week's supply of pungent pitches. Friday, we'll have an analysis of a near-miss, a pitch that could have been much better with just a little more thought.
The proper role of the news release
My recent post about the direction this blog was heading led some folks to think that I didn't see any value in press releases. Nothing could be further from the truth. The press release, or more properly, the news release, has a very important communications job, whether it's the old form or the fancy social media form with links and video. Quite simply, it conveys news to the media in an understood format. Or at least that's what it should be doing.
The news release is not and never has been the optimum form for communicating that same company news to our customers. There have always been much better alternatives - face to face, telephone, direct mail, annual reports, email, newsletters and now blogs -- for speaking directly with our customers.
The rise of the search engines in the 90s, however, led to a bizarre and mistaken transformation of the news release, in its natural and somewhat inaccessible form, into sales collateral. The story went something like this:
- Customers are searching for information online;
- The search engines index news releases sent through the newswires;
- Therefore we should disseminate all our information in news release form to improve our discoverability. Even if it isn't exactly, strictly speaking news.
I suspect if we did an analysis, we'd find a correlation between the decline in the quality of press releases with the rise of the search engines.
This has got to stop, full stop. We have got to get back to a model where the news release is about news -- real, interesting, viable news -- aimed at journalists covering that news. If customers, bloggers and search engines "find" our releases, that's just fine, but we shouldn't be writing our news for the search engines. That's what leads to crappy releases with less than zero news value. With or without links.
Write your news release for the news media. If customers and bloggers find it through search engines, terrific. Consider it a bonus. But write news, not product brochures.
Write your website for your customers, and yes, for the search engines too. If you write a good site that sells your product effectively, it should be fairly well optimized for search. .
That way, when you sit down to write a customer communication, whether a customer newsletter or a blog pitch, you can focus on developing a story that connects with the customer. Not on shoehorning your communication into a format for which it is not suited.
Preview of coming attractions:
Until today, this was pretty close to the worst pitch of the year:
Today, a friend forwarded one that absolutely tops it. In fact, it's so pungent, I'm not sure anything can top it.
Once I find the words, you'll find it here.
Pitch clinic: When good pitches go bad
Changing up the promised order a bit because I want to do justice to the Jim Beam social media pitch and haven't had the time to really dig into the program itself the way I'd like before commenting. So today I'm going to share some ways good pitches go bad, and what you can do to fix it.
The first comes via Twitter pal and environmental blogger Chris Baskind who tweeted the other day about a bad pitch. Never shy, I asked if he would share. Here's the scoop.
Chris got a product pitch that interested him for EcoTech Daily, but there was no link to pictures. Strike one: if you are pitching a product to someone who covers products, it's a good idea to include a link to some pictures. No images made an otherwise interesting pitch a failure for Chris.
Why do PR people do this? Often it is because they want to control access to images and additional resources. Know who is getting what. Old school, my friends, do not do it.
Chris asked the PR rep for images, and got... two shots that looked like they'd been taken with a cameraphone. Strike two: poor quality artwork.
Eventually, he did get some decent images and wrote the story. But this PR person was lucky. Chris gave him more than one chance. Not everyone will .
How did this good pitch almost fail? By not giving the writer the information he needed in the form he needed. First no pictures, then bad pictures. How do you avoid it? Find out what the blogger wants. EcoTech Daily covers "green technology, gadgets and news." Product pitches without good pictures are pretty useless.
Word of caution: Do not attach the pictures to your email pitch. Include a link. If a blogger needs you to send them in email, he'll ask.
The second is the meandering pitch that wanders around, here there and everywhere, but never quite seems to get to the point. For example, this one.
This is well-intentioned, and gets good marks for its opening paragraph. And then it falls apart. Instead of telling the blogger quickly and succinctly how they might work together and the benefit to the blogger, the email goes into the message points for the web series. Then it sort of wanders around how the blogger might work with the show but there's nothing specific.
Too long, no specifics, no benefits.
9x1 does not equal 3x3. It's a well understood communications concept. In any given conversation, sharing nine different ideas one time each will never have the same impact that repeating three core ideas three times each has. Modern PR practice is pretty much based on this idea; develop three messages and repeat repeat repeat. These messages are about the company, its products and sometimes why the customer needs/wants it. But they are rarely about the customer.
And that's why so many blog pitches fail. Because they are based on the standard messages about the products and how the blogger can promote them. Not the blogger and how the products can help her.
What's the fix?
Do your blogger relations math. Write your pitch. Count the number of times you mention your company, product and what you'd like the blogger to do for you. Then count the number of times you mention the customer and what she gets from the deal. First time through, you'll probably have far more mentions of YOU than of HER. That's what you fix. Go back through it, and make sure you've got at least as much about your customer as you do about your products, and please, do not fool yourself that the privilege of buying your products is about the customer. It's still about you.
The pitch above could have been done in two paragraphs:
- Introduction, one sentence about the show and a specific offer about a way the blogger could engage with the show with clear benefit to the blogger
- Indication that the show was open to other ideas from bloggers and close
Finally, for another perspective on what makes a good pitch, check out this post from Chris Brogan. Make sure you read the comments. Quite a variety of opinions.
Good pitch, bad pitch
Well, I hope you are enjoying my good pitch, bad pitch analyses because I'm sure having fun doing them. Today, for giggles, we are going to look at a few bad pitches. Then tomorrow I am going to tell you about a campaign from Jim Beam that I was pitched last week... as an example of a good pitch :-) Later this week, we'll discuss one simple way to turn a good pitch into a bad pitch. Note: this is not a recommended strategy.
The pitch to me for the Jim Beam campaign gets points for cleverness. Jason Falls pitched me a social media marketing campaign in response to my posts and tweets about social media marketing campaigns. But when I asked the him for more detail on how he pitched his client's program to other bloggers, Jason ponied up. And sent me some of his pitches. So extra points for guts, dude, because you know I often use screen grabs. Then again, fits with the brand, and that works for me too. More tomorrow. [Jason -- if you are counting, as I know you are, that means you get two hits from me. For whatever that's worth.]
Today, however, we shall laugh at some stupid crap from PR agencies.
Our first victim -- a pitch for a video contest for an ice cream bar. Totally unmemorable, says the blogger who forwarded this to me, until she got to the part directing her to post it on her site.
That did not go over so well. And why the pitch made it to MY inbox :-) Good blogger relations practice: Never ask a blogger to write. If the pitch is good, you don't need to ask.
And then of course, there was the end of the email:
I black-box company names but the "X" -- that was all them, my friends. Talk about a cut-and-paste pitch. This rep didn't bother to sign her own name before she launched the email blast. I can't repeat this enough -- of preference, do not use email blast programs to pitch bloggers. Send individual emails. With some standard explanatory verbiage for sure, but hand done, each one. But if you are going to use an email blast, at least make sure your technology doesn't suck. Signed X. Jeez..
Next, one of my all time favorites, false familiarity. Even worse when combined with poor proofreading.
Hey, buddy. I don't know you. "Hey" is a dicey form of address when it comes from someone you DO know. Totally inappropriate to someone you do NOT know. Try "Hi" instead. And then there are all the grammar errors. Needless to say, this one goes straight to the round file.
The lesson: proofread. More than once. Be appropriate in how you address the blogger. Hi followed immediately by who you are and why you are writing has always worked well for me: Hi Susan, My name is Susan Getgood and I am working with company X to introduce bloggers to XYZ.
And finally, another example of why is important to tailor the pitch to the blogger AND have something of real value to impart. A contest or drawing usually isn't enough, unless it offers real recognition based on skill to the blogger. Or a kick ass prize. And even then... those are a dime a dozen these days. How do you distinguish your offer or contest?
Here's the pitch. What makes it bad?
It's all about the product, the service, the offer. How the blogger can help this company promote their contest and their site. For free. Not about her at all. Just a pitch for some free coverage.
The sad thing is that this product might resonate if the pitch had been better targeted and better written.
Am I being tough? Absolutely. Because these are wasted opportunities. If I was allowed to give one piece, and only one piece, of advice to companies considering blogger outreach it would be this: Lead with the customer, ie the blogger. Relate to a real problem or concern and then introduce your product or service.
We don't care about products. We care about how they help us, meet our needs, make us happy. Start there. We'll fill in the rest.