The Bloggess vs. Brand Link Communications: The Real Problem with the Email

Yesterday I received an email not at all unlike the dozens of similar emails I receive each day that went something like this,

“The Kardashians did something. Write about it on your blog.”**

Clearly the sender of this email – who thinks my name is “There” – has never been to my blog or they would have seen that I blog about parenting, Disney, and myself not hosiery, celebrities, single moms or Armenian-Americans.

When I receive a pitch that is a bad fit from a PR firm that I know and respect such as Fleishman-Hillard, Weber Shandwick, or the fabulous ladies of Litzky, I respond with a friendly email that it simply is not a fit at this time, and we both carry on with our days.  When I get a pitch like the Kardashian one from a company like Brand Link Communications, I don’t picture the same professionals that I work with on a daily basis in the PR world. I picture a room full of twenty-three year olds who are blasting emails all day to blogger lists they have purchased and then heading out for drinks with the camera guys from TMZ.  I just delete the emails and go on with my day.

But yesterday Brand Link Communications sent this same ridiculous email to someone who did not just go on with her day.  Instead, Jenny from The Bloggess replied with her characteristic snark, which they would have anticipated had they ever actually read her blog.  What happened next has the social media world buzzing.

Jose, a PR rep at Brand Link Communications, hit “reply all” and called Jenny a f****** b****.

At this point, Jenny did what any amazingly funny and irreverent blogger would do.  She blogged about it.  For those of you who don’t follow blogger drama or maybe actually slept last night, you probably missed that Twitter was on fire over Jose’s response to the Bloggess, and in a couple of hours he will likely be dumping his bobble-head dolls and iPhone charging station into a box, headed off to find a new job at an equally seedy firm.

But my problem is not with Jose.  Beyond the fact that he is obviously technologically challenged (Reply all? Really?), he’s clearly unprofessional.  Who sends the f-bomb around to their co-workers? In fact, I’d bet our pal Jose has enough quarters in the douche jar to send my whole family right back to Disney.  He’s a non-entity.

What really upset me was the response Jenny received from the woman at Brand Link Communications who actually intended to write back to her.  As Jenny shared in her post, the response to Jenny’s very funny thanks but no thanks email included this:

We send certain pitches out to people so they have the chance of getting more hits on their page.

Remember that guy in high school who tried to convince you that if you did that to him, you’d suddenly be one of the popular girls?  But really you knew that he wasn’t worth that and so he had to try to trick unsuspecting girls into believing it was all to help them in some way.

Yeah.  That’s what this is.

So while we’re all up in arms about Jose’s douch-baggery move, I think we’re missing the point.  Not only are there PR firms out there sending out completely ridiculous blasts of pitches – which they’ll continue to do as they lose client after unsatisfied client – but there are still some PR professionals who think that bloggers really buy that they’re doing us a favor by sending us that schlock. Has any parenting blogger really received an email about Kourtney Kardashian wearing letters all over her legs and said, “I KNOW! If I post this, suddenly my blog that gets 500 visitors a month will blast to the top of Google search for the word Kardashian, one of the most highly searched words!”?

And yes, I get that earned media outlets send pitches to bloggers because we are members of the new media.  I have no beef with that and often write posts inspired by those pitches.  But if Brand Link Communications was sending this pitch to print media, would they have included such irrelevant magazines as National Geographic, The Atlantic, and Highlights for Children or would they have taken the time to focus their outreach on celebrity and fashion magazines?

Forget Jose.  Forget the bad pitch.  Just stop patronizing bloggers, believing that we’re stupid enough to fall for the “we’re doing you a favor by allowing you to cover this story” line.  It’s so very 2006 and this blogger is over it.

**Actual Email

Hi There!

Just wanted to share this season’s Mommy must have accessory! Have a great day and if you have any other questions please don’t hesitate to ask! Thank you.

“Teaching Mason the ABC’s is as Easy as 1-2-3!”

Our favorite celebrity mom Kourtney Kardashian is proving that fashion doesn’t have to stop on the streets, but instead showing that “education is chic.” And what better way to teach your little one the ABC’s than by wearing this season’s hottest accessory, House of Holland for Pretty Polly hosiery. The Kardashian’s once again show they are right on trend, and this is on Mommy’s are all going to want to follow.

Brand: House of Holland for Pretty Polly

Description: Pretty Polly

Retail: $30.00

Written by: Amy

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48 Comments

  • Jessica

    I agree. The initial response from the PR was ridiculous and unnecessary. I hate that there are PR people out there who think WE need THEM.

    Also, I can’t seem to get past the lack of proofreading in that initial pitch message (Kardashian’s?). Just shows an overall lack of interest to me.

  • sing it girlfriend, sing it!!

  • I completely agree with you Amy. I hope anyone following along understands that the reason this isn’t a good way to reach bloggers is because most of us write about very specific things.

    It’s still surprises me that a PR company uses ‘increased page views’ as a way to lure us into posting. If that same content is being posted on 60 million other blogs how does that help us?

  • if your teaching your child 1,2,3 off your legs – there is a good chance for therapy later in life…

  • I don’t know what’s worse: that pitch or the GRAMMAR! How do these people actually pass themselves off as professionals.

  • I completely agree! The initial pitch and response were overlooked when the more obvious ‘reply all’ incident caught fire. But, like you, I was bothered by the attitude of the 1st PR person’s response. One would think that after Jenny’s FIRST email, they would have at least THEN done their research. Just wow.

  • I think that the firm, or at the very least, the people on that account have made themselves a very uncomfortable bed to lie in. Even with the pitch that was the standard drivel we see every day, they had several chances to take the high road.

    They should have dropped it after The Bloggess’ original reply and when they didn’t, Jose should have taken his lumps and left it at an apology. The fact that this continued through several emails (and later last night through half hearted Twitter and Facebook “apologies” that proved even further that they don’t get what they REALLY did wrong) speaks volumes.

  • I can’t believe you receive pitches like that regularly. It makes me want to pellet those people in the head for giving PR reps such a bad name.

    I read Jenny’s post earlier and again, it’s a low moment for the industry and I really, really dislike those people because they make it harder for people like me. Not only that, but it’s completely unprofessional and disrespectful. I would despise any person for that sort of behavior – PR person or not. I would just expect more from someone that makes a living working with the public. BTW, thanks for the positive company shout out! 🙂

    • Pitches from your fine firm vs. pitches from some of these daily spammers are the difference between the guy who asks you to prom with a 50 foot banner & roses and the guy who whistles, “Hey Baby, wanna?” while you’re walking by in the hallway.

      Thankfully, bloggers know the difference 🙂

      • My father used to give me advice on picking up girls when I was in college. He told me to walk up to one and ask her to sleep with me. (I never said it was good advice!) No, I never did that. I told him that if the girl said yes to me (a random guy asking to sleep with her out of nowhere), I probably didn’t want to sleep with her (who knows what she had)!

        I think these PR firms should adopt a similar rule. If a blogger would accept and run their pitch just because they were sent some random pitch, chances are they (the PR firm) don’t want it running on that blog.

        Of course, the good PR firms understand this, target their pitches and make it worthwhile for bloggers. The not-so good ones walk up to bloggers and say “Hey, baby. Wanna run my content on your blog?”

  • Dismissing all that has transpired in this unwholesome situation, I think one thing notable about this whole thing is that the same “mistake” is committed by both sides. There are “bad apples” in the PR world as much as there is in the blogger’s world. The stigma that taints both side is undeniably the culprit. No matter how bad or misconstrued PR pitches are if there are willing bloggers out there that accepts bad pitches, things like these are bound to happen again and again…the irony of it all.

    • While I’ll certainly agree that there are bad apples on both sides, I’m not sure that applies to this situation. To say that there “are willing bloggers out there that accept bad pitches” is like placing the blame for spam on people who have inboxes. No?

  • SuZ

    Obviously I should go right out and buy these. 🙂 But you made a great point in this post. I’m glad you looked at it from this angle.

  • Another obnoxious travesty is the horrible horrible writing of the pitch email. Come on, people. You’re supposed to be PR professionals and you don’t understand basic grammar or punctuation?
    How do these people have jobs in PR?

  • You know what I’m so sick and tired of pitches that start with “dear blogger”. Even worse sending me stuff for kids. I don’t blog about kids stuff. Oh and then the press releases. If you don’t want to send me the thing to review, which would be much more advantageous to you, then why would I blog about it. UGH!

    • Candice, FREE high res images don’t excite you?

    • I love the ones that come to me addressed “Dear Mom.” Um… I’m Techy DAD! It’s right there in the name. You actually have to type it twice to e-mail me (TechyDad at TechyDad dot com). I don’t know how I could be clearer that I’m a dad and not a mom.

  • As a PR professional, I was also horrified by issues outside the accidental email & bad grammar. I agree that there is too much focus on the wrong thing. I posted my professional opinion about it on my blog.

  • Oh my gosh I must run out and buy those hideous tights immediately just because a Kardashian is wearing them, yeah uh huh.
    It’s sad that the PR guy handled the situation so poorly but you gotta love how Jenny handles situations.

  • I’ve been following this since I discovered it sometime in the wee hours of the morning. It’s very informative for those of us who are not bloggers and have no real clue about what bloggers have to put up with.

    My understanding (and I could be wrong) is that Jenny didn’t start blogging immediately after the F—ing B—h comment, but after he-who-shall-now-be-known-as #PantyJose said “maybe you should be flattered that you are even viewed relevant enough to be pitched at all instead of alienated PR firms and PR people – who are actually the livelihood of any journalists business.”

    To which she replied with what I consider the best phrase of 2011: “Please stand by for a demonstration of relevancy.”

    Then she blogged.

    It’s been over 24 hours (I think) and it’s still not over. Do an internet search for Brandlink Communications and see what comes up. Also, notice the 1030+ comments on Jenny’s blog post.

    Even now, Brandlink doesn’t seem to understand what they have done wrong, as I have read the following on their facebook and/or twitter accounts: “mistakes were made” and that she (Carol Bell, founding partner) is “disappointed in how cynical and nasty the world has become and tha (her spelling, not mine) lack of compassion some people have” references to “witchhunt” (her spelling, not mine)and bullying.

    On the Brandlink Facebook page, Carol Bell referred to #PantyJose as “a very well respected publicist and beloved by so many in the media.”

    Carol also says: “This was an isolated incident and not representative of who we are.”

    Wrong on both counts, Carol. #PantyJose is a joke, and this incident has defined your company.

  • This reminds me of the pitch that I got from another PR company who kept subjecting their emails as RE: (whatever the heck product I can’t remember now) and then jumped right in to asking me if I had received the book yet that they were pitching and when I’d like to set up a time to talk to the author. I finally got sick of deleting the emails and emailed back the guy and replied that I never got a book (no one asked me if I wanted it, just kept on asking if I’d gotten it) and that because I don’t review anything un-seen I don’t think it would be fair for me to conduct an interview with the author since I never actually got the book to read.

    The reply back was not so pleasant and I was told he wasn’t looking for reviews of the book… Um okay. Why keep asking then if I got the book if you don’t want me to review it?

    Stuff like that and Jenny’s experience makes me glad that I’m working away from unsolicited pitches. It also makes me happy to know that when I’m doing blogger outreach for my clients that I’m doing it right.

  • Lucretia

    What I really want to know is why anyone still thinks it was an *accident* that Jose hit “reply to all”?
    If nothing else confirmed to me that it wasn’t accidental, the five year old Gawker post showing that this same guy contacted Perez Hilton to tell PH that ‘someone pointed out’ a slight snub on PH’s site and to threaten him? Confirmed that Jose is no stranger when it comes to this sort of thing.

    I received my own variation on this once. The guy who did accidentally hit reply-to-all. Had the decency to be mortified and the sense to not dig the hole any deeper. That’s how you react when it’s an actual accident.

    • OH! Lucretia, my brain never even went there. INTERESTING.

      • Yeah… I would’ve written it off to “oops!” except that the way that he responded to her was incredibly aggressive. Then there was the Perez thing (http://gawker.com/153068/perez-hilton-makes-us-hate-ourselves) which just screams “guy who likes to try and go out of his way to pick a fight with a blogger.”
        The thing is? I doubt that Jose had any inkling of the level at which people would rally to Jenny’s side in this. Which only leads me to believe that he hasn’t ever spoken to a blogger who knows what it’s like to have to sift through countless spray-and-pray press release emails trying to make sure that something actually relevant or important doesn’t get missed.

        Well, now maybe… given that his own inbox was doubtless swamped with unhelpful emails.

  • Great post, Amy. You know who I feel got the short end of the stick? Because it is clear that Jenny, The Bloggess, has her own back and has been the cream rising to the top in this incident.

    I feel bad for House of Holland for Pretty Polly – the makers of the panty hose. But then again, maybe they are as much to blame. Let this be a lesson to brands and to PR firms who need such lessons (hopefully a smaller group than many think).

    Was the brand not involved in the pitch concept meetings? Did they know Brand Link Communications planned on pitching $30 panty hose to mom bloggers for the exposure they sought?

    There is an audience for such items. Fashion, celebrity, trend
    bloggers & media to name just a few.

    Just like in all media, content is key. In PR, research is key. Brand Link and all the fall-out post this embarrassing incident will pay the price. Their clients can’t be pleased. I doubt they’ll gain new client work from this exposure. I’ve said this elsewhere but a PR firm should not need to rally their crisis communications strategy because of their OWN missteps. Major fail and it seems to be a team failure.

  • haha! LOVE IT. I actually got that same pitch but completely ignored it until all this buzz happened. Now I think Kourtney’s legs are getting way more attention than anyone should give legs.
    But seriously, you’d think by now all PR firms would have a grasp on the power of bloggers and social media. I mean this whole brand link thing is just more proof.

  • btw – those panty hose are HORRENDOUS!

  • Paula schuck

    I was anxious to read your take on this. It was a ridiculous email in the first place. What really upsets me about it is that I know some bloggers who will blog about the topic of her nylons for that very reason.

    Paula
    Thriftymommastips

    • If I were a fashion blogger, I might blog about it – MIGHT – but I wouldn’t blog about the fact that babies will learn the alphabet if their moms wear those tights. That is so silly I almost thought it was a joke!

  • […] The Bloggess vs. Brand Link Communications by Resourceful Mommy […]

  • I’m actually really pissed that BrandLink thinks that I (as the READER of parenting blogs) actually have THIRTY DOLLARS to fork over for a pair of really ugly pantyhose, or that as a mother I get to dress up in pantyhose all that often in the first place.

    Question: Do those ugly ass Wicked Witch shoes come with the pantyhose?

  • […] The Bloggess vs. Brand Link Communications by Resourceful Mommy […]

  • Chris

    While the idiotic pitches are pretty bad, the discouraging part is that 3 years later, Jose is still VP and people are still reading about his gaffe. I took time to note what companies he represents and will not be using their products and will e-mail them to let them know why.

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