A Rant on Poor Public Relations

by Rodzilla on December 4, 2012 · 15 comments

Who the hell is Quang Hong? Actually, I found out who it is. He’s the author of a popular fast-food blog, and obviously he isn’t me.  This post has been a long time coming, aside from truly horrible food writing, I don’t think anything bothers me more than shitty outreach from public relations accounts. 

The opening example wasn’t actually so bad. It’s no secret that these companies work from mass media lists, and send them out to tons and tons of addresses.  Although a quick look at my site would tell her I probably wouldn’t make the best Quiznos blogger, there was at least an incentive for participation.

Now, this one from Whole Foods was a truly poor example. In fact, it was so bad that I decided to respond.
I haven’t heard back…
I’m not going to pretend that positive exposure from my site alone will make or break a campaign, but in order to get a positive response from anyone there are a steps that can increase the chances:

Find out their name  - Make sure it’s the right one. I’d actually rather be called Quang than Rodney.
Look at their site  - Oh you read the title of my most recent post and thought it was “really interesting”? What else did you pretend to read?
Tell them why they’re content fits with the campaign - I was once contacted about hosting a girls night at Applebees – still not sure if I should be insulted or flattered. However, when King Oscar asked me to try out their line of Sardines,  they really didn’t even have to tell me why.
Offer an incentive –  publishing posts can take a considerable amount of work, and there is rarely an equal payout for the effort put in. That’s okay, I didn’t start my site in hopes of getting free stuff (though I may have if I knew about the girls night at Applebees) but PR account executives should be respectful of the amount of time put into these posts.

Feel free to offer your thoughts and experiences, I’m considering making this a routine topic. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a citrus showdown to prepare for.

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Tupp

Awesome post Roddy! Or is it Quang? Ha!

2 cybele

Actually, anyone who offers me an incentive is off my list, pretty much permanently. Saying that I have have two packages of candy IF I include a link and the full name of the product with a positive review is all kinds of skanky. (Actually, they don’t care about the positive part any longer, it’s all about the google juice … it can be foul juice for all they care.)

I’ve been taking them to task for not getting my name right or including it at all. But what bugs me most is PR people who engage with me to write about something that I’ve already blogged about. Or they neglect the fact that I have an existing relationship with the company that they want me to cover … sometimes I know the owners/makers personally. The fact that this PR group just charged my buddies to alienate me is pretty shocking.

3 uhockey

I never get these – thank goodness. :-)

4 Godiva

Hello Quang. I mean Rodney… Oops Roddy! Haha. Wow, you’ve experienced some great examples of poor PR. Thanks for sharing, it’s fun to read about what I call PR Bloopers and I encourage you to post more thoughts and experiences on the topic. Aside from being entertaining, perhaps someone out there in the blogosphere might learn something useful!! In the meantime, eat well Rodzilla! Rargh!!

5 Heidi

I’d be offended, but probably not enough to turn down that free gift card :) You’ll have to let us know if you ever receive a response from Miss Whole Foods.

6 Chuck

I can completely relate in a similar fashion– As an English major it PAINS me to read these emails, and what are even worse a emails from work…. I find myself re-writing our writers…


7 Rodzilla

Haha thanks Tupp, and Pav and I have gone back and forth on similar things many a time.

8 Rodzilla

Mike – I’m surprised no one from Red Lobster has invited you in for the Endless Shrimp Tasting. It’s as many courses as you’d like, and the bread service is said to rivals the cart at Robuchon

I have seen Laurent Quenioux leaving comments directly on your site though..has to be annoying.

9 Rodzilla

Cybele – I have always liked your rule about sponsored reviews, but incentives don’t have to be free product. Reviews are often inferred, and that’s okay with me, but I’m not okay with it being presented as a requirement.

I’ve had similar instances with restaurants. Knowing an owner personally and then watching an outsourced PR company unaware of the relationship. That’s why I always think it’s best to keep things in house.

10 Rodzilla

Godiva, Heidi, Chuck…you guy’s/gal’s want some gift cards?

11 Hannah

This post made me laugh. I had a company contact me the other day asking me to review something, I agreed but when they realised I was in the UK they changed their mind…well if they had actually read my blog they would have seen that I am always moaning how it’s not fair that we don’t have x product in the UK and it’s pretty obvious where I live. Then to make matters worse the same company contacted me a week later asking me again!
Also I love it when random people email me and ask me to put a link to their website on my blog, I don’t know these people, their website is of no relevance and I wasn’t aware I offered free advertising so erm NO!

12 Carly

It’s really pretty gross and insulting how PR people target “bloggers” in their own way that seems to assume they’ll just do whatever they’re told – especially if they get something, anything for free. Of course, there’s no shortage of bloggers that operate that way, which only encourages them. But I also write for a blog that is associated with a paper, and the difference between the sort of correspondence you get is laughable. Like, no, thanks, I would not love the opportunity to post a giant free ad for you on my site, and you would never ask a journalist to do anything like that.

What’s worse, who reads these blogs that actually post stuff like a Whole Foods-branded clementine vs. satsuma battle or thinly-veiled Swiffer ads?

13 Brandon @ Kitchen Konfidence

I always get a good laugh from these types of PR emails. Quang Hong – that’s pretty bad though. I’ve never been called by another name!

14 Kirk

Nice post Quang-zilla…… I never read these anyway since I don’t do freebies, PR stuff, nor try to monetize. So I basically delete them without reading….maybe I should read them.

15 donuts4dinner

I was so shocked when I started getting e-mails like these. I wanted to write back and be like, “Do you KNOW how little traffic I get?” I don’t really need free stuff for me, but I love doing giveaways.

But, um, there has to be something to give away, Whole Foods. That e-mail was hilaaaaarious. I’m absolutely sure that the “discuss further” part was the part where they offered you cash and prizes, though. Must be. Has to be.

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