Last week, as I began the daily task of sifting through my shameful out-of-control inbox, one email caught my eye. It was from a PR consultant that I’d been liaising with over the last six months. I opened the email and lo-and-behold, another request from him – I’m going to call him “Matt” for privacy reasons.
Now in the email, the PR consultant “Matt” not only requested we provide evidence of our social media mentions of his client’s products (because they couldn’t find proof at their end, apparently), but in addition, he asked if there was scope for an Instagram post and opportunities to mention his client within an online editorial.
My blood started to boil. The nerve. At a time when I am working hard to make Eco Warrior Princess (EWP) a financially sustainable and viable enterprise, with my role as editor-in-chief, researching and conducting interviews, following-up and writing, and using my other available hours working on my organic farm, this guy has the nerve to make demands of my time and take advantage of EWP’s promotional reach, when he and his client aren’t even paying us for our time and effort, and sent a measly $40 worth of product? Was this guy f*cking for real?
So I responded directly as only I know how:
Can you guess how he responded?
If you guessed that he went on about how my time is no more precious than his, that he went into a diatribe about how many clients he has and how busy he is, that he wants to avoid these passive aggressive encounters and manage expectations around ‘products’ he sends, then you would be correct.
So guess how I responded? I asked him to stop emailing us. Problem fixed.
Over the years, I’ve had a love-loathe relationship with a few PR people. They get paid by brands to get word of their product or service out to as many people as possible, through as many relevant communication channels and mediums as possible, including media sites like Eco Warrior Princess. But they often do this in ways that I absolutely abhor and treat us as though we’re here to serve them. Well, enough’s enough.
Here are the most common issues we have with PR “professionals” and why these problems taint the reputations of the eco brands who use them (we’re talking to you particularly PR person, so make sure to listen up…!).
1. Not respecting our time.
We know you’ve got clients to please, KPIs to achieve and personal ambitions to accomplish, but please remember that we also have an editorial calendar to stick to, deadlines to meet, articles and photos to edit, contributors to liaise with, interviews to conduct, bills to pay and a business to run. We have our priorities, and thoughtless, opportunistic pitches about your client’s lacklustre ‘eco’ products are on the bottom of that list if it’s even on the list at all. Showing us that you do not respect our time increases the chances of your emails being ignored and even being marked as junk.
2. Badly-written press releases.
Stop sending badly-written press releases full of exclamation points and hyperbolic statements about the ‘ethical’ or ‘sustainable’ product. Stop using the words ‘innovative’ ‘thrilling’ ‘exciting’ and other over-the-top adjectives that promise too much and under-deliver. Unless your client has created something truly revolutionary like Tesla has, you may want to tone it down a notch. We get enough badly-written, sensational emails from SEO hacks promising us Page 1 rankings.
3. Resending emails.
There’s probably a reason why you didn’t hear back from us the first time you emailed us.
4. Sending gifts, but expecting promotion.
A gift is a gift. Since when did sending us an eco-conscious gift valued at $20 translate to a formal advertising agreement where you get $100s worth of promotion? If you want us to feature or promote your client’s product, please check the advertising packages in our media kit.
While you’re at it, please read our Contact page carefully because we are clear on the subject of gifts:
“Please also note that gifts are gifts. We are not obligated to promote, advertise, write or post on social media about your gift.”
5. Contributor posts that suck.
Thanks for your submission, but sending us “articles” that are really just your press releases in longer-form format is a waste of time – yours and ours. Over-promotional brochure-like pieces does not an article make. Please review our submission guidelines so you truly understand what kind of informative posts we publish.
6. PR spam.
PR people use software that helps to distribute emails to relevant journalists and media publications quickly and this ‘spam’ ends up in our inboxes. These auto-distributed untailored emails are obvious – they do not consider the overall themes of our publication, our mission and purpose, who our readers are and why we even exist (we do not exist to serve PR people I can assure you). “Matt” for example, in one day, sent us five different spam emails about five different products (not even relevant to EWP, most of them). Gail, our admin officer, had to go through them all and let’s just say we both were unimpressed by his laziness. Worse still, the clients of these PR agencies have no idea what their PR consultants are up to, and sometimes, I feel sorry for them, wasting money on a PR dud whose making their conscious brand look awful in the marketplace.
7. Acting like you’re doing us a favour.
Some PR people are so full of self-importance they mistakenly think that publishers like us somehow need their client’s products for content. Newsflash: We don’t. Remember, YOU are the one pestering us, not the other way around.
8. Being pushy and demanding.
You aren’t paying us so why should we care about helping you out for the nth time? Before you send another email asking us to do something for your client, before you ask us to go into our Instagram account and do a screen dump of our mentions about your client, before you ask us to go into our Google Analytics to dig up website traffic for your client, or to add your client to an upcoming editorial for Mother’s Day / Valentine’s Day / Christmas, ask yourself: Should I risk asking them to go out of their way again for me when they’re not even being paid?
9. Laying on the guilt trip.
Refer to #8. We may be in the business of ethics and good feels, but a business can’t operate on a good heart alone. Trying to make us feel guilty only irritates us.
10. Not putting the press release copy in the body of your email.
This is PR 101. We in the media business are dealing with many time pressures as news breaks often and social media posts and comments are relentless. Put your press release copy in the body of the email and you’ll get a better response.
We know we have to coexist in this world with the PR industry and in many cases, we do so quite happily. In fact, I can name a few PR professionals who I love liaising with because they’re sincere, they understand the pressures us editors are under, and they make our lives easier by getting in touch about noteworthy campaigns, relevant products and cool events. If you’re a PR consultant with characteristics I’ve just described and represent amazing ethical and sustainable brands, we’d be more than happy to hear from you! (But if you’re like “Matt” please save us all the trouble and don’t bother).