November 08, 2008 |
I have already said here on Profy before that unlike many bloggers I do appreciate various requests to review a website that land in my inbox. The reason in my case is quite simple – I don’t really love hunting for information and news and when something is pushed to my eyes, I will appreciate someone taking the time to send this something my way and will at least take a look.
I have spoken once about the basic rules of how startups should pitch bloggers if they want to get noticed and want to actually have their product reviewed on multiple blogs. And I don’t think other bloggers really hide their own preferences in how they want to receive such requests for reviews so it should not really be a problem to write a normal catchy email that will attract attention and will result in multiple reviews on a variety of blogs. Yet the technology bloggers often exchange examples of pitches that could make you laugh or cry but could never make you write anything – good or bad.
During the past few weeks I’ve been collecting such examples of poor pitches landing in my own inbox to publish this collection both for everyone to have fun and for entrepreneurs and various marketing and PR specialists to draw some conclusions and try not to repeat such mistakes. Though if you learn too well, I’ll miss the moments of laughter when I read such pitches but I hope this will help some startups grow anyway. So here they are along with my own comments:
Subject: family social network
Hi Profy team,
I have a new social networking website. It’s for family instead of friends. Check it out if you need some more website review material.
The worst part about this one is that not only it does not provide any details at all that could catch attention and make me realize why this particular social network is worth checking, it does not even offer the URL for me to be able to see the network introduced. And while it can easily be found as a domain in the email of the sender, why would the sender want bloggers to do this search? I myself have checked it out as I was too intrigued about this empty pitch (there was nothing unique, obviously) but I think I’m one in, say, ten bloggers who would have bothered to do it at all.
Besides, we already have enough social networks in every single niche you can think of so presenting your new project as a social network will hardly ever work – choose a buzzword of the month and try to figure out how it could fit instead of the “social networking” thing that seems to be so from the past already.
Also it is often good to check the market before launching something (or even starting to think your idea over) – in this particular case the team could have probably found all those multiple social networks focused on interactions among family members. Honestly, there’s nothing unique in family social networking any more and making it your major selling point is hardly advisable.
And finally: bloggers rarely actually “need some more website review material” – we receive plenty of such emails and pointing to our need to review something will hardly ever work. Focusing on why this particular project could be interesting to our readers is usually a much better idea than suggesting that I probably have nothing to write about.
This one had the hardest time reaching its goal as it had been sorted out as spam by Outlook and I initially deleted it but then I thought that a website with “social” in its name could actually be a request for review so I decided to extract it and take a look. SocialOyster proved to be a very interesting and refreshing approach to lifestreaming to the extent that I published a review. But my actions definitely were not typical and it could be a better idea to request a review at the same time offering at least some information about what your product is.
Sure, brevity is the soul of wit but in this particular case it has been kind of overdone with too little information that could ever make a blogger take a look (and understand that this incredibly short email is actually a review request). I think such an approach can be excused to a startup which is a one-man show (like SocialOyster is) where the founder is a developer and has no marketing skills and hopes that a good product will always sell itself. Sure, it will sell to a certain extent if you have no competitors and people actually need what you have to offer so they’ll find you in search engines – but in all other cases you will be better off writing at least some details in your pitch for a blogger to notice your product.
Dear Google’s Next Step – Global Domination | Profy | Internet news and commentary
My Name is _____________, I have been following your blog/website and I enjoyed what I see! I am very excited to share with you that we are launching a participatory ________________________________ Widget online, where you can take media, brands, or icons and turn them on themselves. Our mobile content reaches 250 millions addressable individuals through 27 carriers.
That’s the weirdest thing I’ve ever been called and it definitely demonstrates the person is very well familiar with my blog. I have no idea how exactly their software produced this weird result for our name (anyway, simple hi or hello could still work better if you are too lazy to find a name of the blogger you are writing to) but that was obviously a funny one.
You could also do the people you pitch a favor and check their websites from the beginning to at least make a decision if you’ve been following their blogs or websites. This one is too impersonal and makes one understand immediately that you have never actually been to our website and simply received our email from some peculiar database of reporters. And even the exclamation mark will hardly make me change my mind and believe you’ve actually enjoyed what you’ve seen.
And I don’t even want to mention the fact that it is incredible to understand what the product is about from the description – this is a very typical mistake.
If you haven’t heard of ____________ before, we are the world’s most popular, free to use, video learning site, now with over 43,000 bite-sized, professionally produced films on a wide range of topics – including technology and gadgets.
Any startup that is actually the “world’s most popular” something should never start pitches with the words suggesting that I have never heard about your startup. First of all, you are offending me as a blogger writing about websites and web apps daily suggesting that I may have no idea about the site that is so popular – as you are hinting at my lack of professionalism and knowledge in what I write about. But if the blogger actually has not heard the name of your site (which was actually the case with this one), you are probably exaggerating with your status of the world’s most popular website and this will hardly do you any good as well.
You can read the details in the Press Release below, but basically ___________________ has announced that it’s innovative mobile pack with integrated on-line community available on a white label service offering. ______________ provides a game-changing mobile social media and networking solutions empowers communities to engage and enhance people’s lives in real time.
Honestly, I have read it at the very least three times and still could not figure out what the product was all about and what the announcement in the press release (why capitalizing, by the way?) meant for the product. This is the most popular mistake among startups pitching their products and often even PR professionals as well – they think that if they add as many buzzwords as possible in the summary, it will be appealing. But no, unfortunately the words “revolutionary”, “game-changing” and “social media” lately as well (along with dozens of others but this could be a topic for a dedicated post) only serve to irritate bloggers as they hide the true meaning of the announcement focusing on the fact that the guys know what terms are supposed to be hip and cool among the web 2.0 crowd. And no, this can hardly be qualified as something of any interest at all – neither to me, nor to my readers.
So here is what I have collected during the last few weeks and will probably continue noticing hitting my inbox in the future as I’m sure they will keep arriving and I will keep laughing about the creativity of marketing and PR professionals working with the startups. But honestly, you’d better use the creativity to write a clear, catchy and understandable pitch that will make bloggers actually take a look at your products and everyone will be happy with bloggers having plenty of startups to review and startups getting plenty of reviews and users as well.