The Lost Art of Communication by mbowman64
If you've had a blog or a website for even a brief while, you are bound to get emails and solicitations from various companies wanting you to write about their product or exchange links with their site. I've known several bloggers who have written about the high-handed tone that many of these companies take with them and I've even experienced it myself.
Many of these companies are used to working with huge media outlets, which receive hundreds of press releases a day, and I also think that because we are outside of the traditional publishing realm that we bloggers will be ecstatic to post up any thing they send us.
I actually have found the complete opposite to be true. Yes, there are those sites/blogs that will put up any scrap of information. Tracking down new content and taking the time to research, write, edit and publish it is hard. Most bloggers are writing because they are passionate about a topic. It's something they love. Something they'd read or write about anyway, no matter if they had one reader or thousands. So this tone can be very offensive.
For my day job, I advise clients on finding the right mix of communication tactics, offline and online. I try to educate them about what will work and how to approach bloggers using the perspective and experience I've gained having my own site. And when emails from companies come to me I try to educate them a bit as well. Here's an example reply letter to a company I had to send recently:
Hello "Company X"
Thank you for contacting me about your Product X. I appreciate that you feel I would be a good outlet for your message.
One thing you may not know about me is that I am also an Advertising/Marketing supervisor specializing in new media. One thing you may want to consider, is approaching bloggers in a new way. While there are many blogging networks, most bloggers are individuals who are writing for the sheer love of their topic. When approaching these writers, you may want to consider speaking to them in a more personal way. I feel a responsibility to my readers to not endorse or cover products and services that I have not personally interacted with. Many of my readers have become friends through my site and I like to be very upfront and honest about what I review. I always disclose if I have been given something to review or are being paid to advertise.
So, while your product does have some relevance to my readers, I cannot review it unless I was able to use it. If you would like to send me one to review I will give my honest assessment. I can return the product, if needed.
If you are still interested, please let me know.
So far I have received a mix of responses (or lack of responses, I should say). I don't think most companies mean to be offensive but they should learn a bit about a site, it's topics and audience before they pitch it. Not so different from how we choose traditional media... just more personal.
How have you dealt with this issue?