It happens all the time—PR agencies sending out bulk emails beginning with Dear Mommy Blogger. A few weeks ago an email was sent out to the masses that was clearly supposed to be a mail merge but someone forgot to actually do the merge part and the email was sent out addressed to: Dear [First Name] [Last Name]. Oh the tweets about that one!
I've read the rants time and time again—bloggers complaining about PR people being 'lazy' and 'I'm not just a mom blogger' and 'that term is so insulting.'
I get it. I really do. It used to irritate me as well.
But we need to get over ourselves.
Before you hit the comment button to massacre me, please give me a chance and keep reading.
Do you remember a time when you got no pitches? And inside your head you were all "Damn, I'm a good writer, I can help this brand. Why are they not asking me?"
Then suddenly you get on THE LIST, and yes, trust me there are magical lists and if you get on one you will receive pitches galore. The downside of this is that you get pitches galore and those pitches are quite often sent out in bulk. Sometimes they don't even make sense. You want to send me a princess outfit? But I have boys!
Stupid, lazy PR person.
I look at it in a different way. They probably have a boss breathing down their necks telling them to send the mass email. So instead of getting all offended because they dared to call me “mommy” or they accidentally sent out an email without merging it, or they wanted to see if they could send me a slew of dolls when I have boys, I take it as an opportunity to build a relationship.
You see, you're not as special as you think. Don't get me wrong—you're special. The stories you write? They're special too. Those stories are unique, just like you and you need to keep sharing those stories—it's important. As an aside, don't ever get Ali Martell or me started on the lost art of storytelling. You will be cornered as we go on a diatribe about how we NEED MORE STORYTELLING. We'll probably give you a glass of wine before we get started though, we're civilized that way.
You and your stories are most definitely special. But being a blogger? That is not special at all. There are millions of us and it's growing exponentially every day.
I remember when I was in my 20s and thought I knew everything. I was working at a shoe store and felt my manager was doing a terrible job. I mean, she kinda was considering we got fined by the mall twice because she was too hungover to get out of bed to open the store on time.
She was in her 20s too.
I was going on and on and on about it to my uncle who's a pretty smart guy—he launches space shuttles for a living—telling him how the store needed me and would basically fall apart if I wasn't there. He looked at me and told me something I have never forgotten.
'Replacing you is like trying to punch a hole in water. The minute you remove your fist, it's filled.'
The rest of dinner was a bit awkward, but he was right. If you get offended and decide you'll 'teach those lazy PR people' a lesson by not responding because they dared to call you a 'mommy blogger' or worse, you decide to complain about it out loud on the internet—remember people, the internet is forever—they'll move on to the next blogger.
Like I said, I used to get all irritated at the whole mommy blogger thing too but then thanks to a very smart woman who is my mentor, I got over myself. I no longer get offended, instead I look at it as an opportunity to build a relationship.
I email the person back and tell them that yes, I’m a mom—but I also write about how families can be active with their kids, health issues, and oh, I'm a great research-based writer. Also, did you know I'm interested in speaking opportunities? Or I’ll tell them that my boys aren’t interested in dolls but if there’s ever anything to do with Lego, we are so in. Sometimes if it's not a fit I’ll even direct them to another “mommy” who might be interested.
Of course I appreciate when someone has researched who I am. It's a total ego boost—I'm all Sally Field when I get a personalized pitches—They read me! They really really read me!
But I will tell you this, the number of opportunities I have gotten by complaining about a mass pitch is zero but the doors that have opened because I looked at those emails as an opportunity instead of an insult have been many.
Also, we need to remember that there is always a person behind those emails. The person who forgot to do the mail merge? Maybe she was up all night with a sick baby. At YMC I am known for an infamous 'reply all' story that happened because I was sleep deprived and sick.
WE ALL MAKE MISTAKES.
The thing is, you wouldn't sit across from this person, look her in the eye and tell her that she's lazy. I know you wouldn't because you're a nice person. And yet we have no problem writing this on the internet. Oh computer screen, how safe you make us feel.
I'll end this by saying, you can't change other people, you can only change yourself and how you react to a situation. It's quite possible the PR people will never stop sending out emails referencing you as a Mommy Blogger.
And that's okay because now you're going to write them back and introduce yourself.
It's how relationships are formed.