Friday, March 13, 2009

On Freebies, Samples & PR

I love getting PR pitches in my inbox. There’s nothing like attention from a real, live company to make an obscure blogger feel like Kind of a Big Deal. I am new media; hear me roar. But should I accept the freebies and samples on offer?

My policy is this: I’ll accept samples of products that a) fit the Russian/Eastern European theme of this blog, and b) would be of interest to my readers. (I already do occasional product reviews of Russian foods and brands.) I might also accept samples of products I consider good and would be happy to plug even if I weren’t being offered freebies. Lifeway kefir is an example.

That said, I still like reading PR pitches. The good ones are personalized and address the Yulinka Cooks theme or a specific post. Hey, we bloggers love attention and flattery. If you thought my recipe for homemade farmer's cheese sounds really, really cool, let me know! That’s an approach recommended by the Bad Pitch Blog, a collection of do's and don’ts for PR people. Truth is, even personalized pitches follow a formula, but I still appreciate the effort.

Tip #2: Don’t offer me freebies. Really. The best pitch I’ve ever received was from Red Gold tomatoes, which offered product samples to my readers. The idea was to run a contest for the best recipe that called for canned (Red Gold) tomatoes.

Readers would submit recipes through the comments, I’d pick my favorite, and the chosen commentator would receive product samples as a prize. Red Gold gets it. Bloggers live for comments and traffic. Reader interaction is a huge part of this Web 2.0 business. No one wants to blog into the void.

Now, I passed on Red Gold’s offer because it’s not a favorite brand and canned tomatoes are kind of a stretch for this blog’s theme. But would I do this for a different brand or product? You bet. (Burp!, a Milwaukee food blog, ran Red Gold’s contest and garnered more than 50 comments.)

That’s it! Go forth and pitch.


adele said...

The best - or best, in one sense of the word - PR pitch I've received lately was an invitation to review a male enhancement product on my blog, in exchange for either cash payment or a free sample of the product. I got a great laugh out of how mistargeted it was.

Mrs. M. said...

Adele--Ha ha! But I'm sure there's a food tie-in there somewhere.

Lo said...

Hey! I'm late to the game, but thanks for the shout-out.

We take advantage of the occasional pitch... but one of our big policies is that we refuse to advertise product that we don't stand behind. I'd agree that good PR/marketing is well-targeted and matched to the blog/blogger.

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