When I started blogging back in 2002, it was just a hobby and I wrote solely about things that I found or did. Things have changed over the years, and whilst most of what I write is still about things I’ve done, some posts are written on the back of emails from public relations companies. These are usually product reviews and I’m up-front about the fact that I’ve been approached to write about it.
I’m happy to work with good PR companies in a way that’s mutually beneficial – I get to review, and usually keep, a product that is useful to me and that I think my blog’s readers would be interested in hearing about, and the manufacturer gets some publicity and possibly a few sales. As I’m an Amazon Associate, I get to see what people buy after clicking links on my blog, and a few people have subsequently clicked through from here and bought the products I have reviewed.
I wish this was true for all PR companies that try and engage with me, but this isn’t the case. Some will send me unsolicited press releases, others will try and contact me about something that I couldn’t really care less about. The screenshot is a good example – it’s for a note-taking mobile app for businesses. It’s not a product I would ever use myself – I rarely need to take notes at work – and whilst I’m interested in technology and mobile apps, my focus is on home and hobbyist use.
Once upon a time, you’d get a single email from a PR firm, and perhaps a follow-up email a few days later if I didn’t respond. That email is the third I’ve had in around a week, and the company has been messaging me on and off for over a year now.
Blogging is not my day job. I have time to read all of my emails every day, but rarely have time to respond. Generally, any pitches for things that don’t interest me just get filed away in a folder, and I don’t respond. I think it’s my British mentality that I don’t like telling someone who is only doing their job to go away and leave me alone. But whilst I can understand one follow-up email, a second follow-up is annoying and a third follow-up feels like pestering. I’d rather that companies just assumed that I’m not interested if I don’t respond after a follow-up.
As an aside, My contact page has some key points about what I will and won’t respond to, and I’ve updated this today with a new policy about crowdfunding campaigns. I will not write about pitched Kickstarter, or Indiegogo projects until they are fully funded and the product is available for general purchase. I may make an exception if I come across a project myself that I would have backed anyway, but most of the time I write about Kickstarter campaigns long after they’ve finished.
Of course, very few people bother even reading what I put on that page. I get the impression that my contact details are on various PR databases and so most companies email me having never actually seen my web site beforehand. Which is a shame – the companies that actually spend a couple of minutes looking at my site and seeing what I’m about are the ones that I’m happiest to work with.