PR people – how not to approach bloggers

by backpackingbongos

As a blogger I get a couple of emails a week offering stuff I really don’t want (sadly I never get offered lovely shiny gear that I may actually use) and plenty of other emails that leave me scratching my head. This is a recent example of one that left me scratching my head:


I work with (big brand outdoor name) and recently found Backpacking Bongos while doing some industry research. We love your passion for the outdoors, and noticed that you call out some related sites on your homepage. Would you consider mentioning (big brand outdoor name)? We feel that this page would be especially relevant to your readers:

Web page of big brand outdoor name with a recommended text about one of their product lines.

We also recently launched a blog with many resources designed to encourage more people to get outside. I think your customers would find a lot of value in that too, I especially recommend our (web page of the big brand outdoor names blog) which offers inspiration and some beautiful images

Thanks for the consideration! Please feel free to reach out to me with any questions or concerns.


(name removed)

Associate  |  Paid, Owned, & Earned Media
629 Euclid Avenue, Floor 15, Cleveland, OH 44114, USA

So, if I understand the email correctly, are they looking for me to write a post where I mention this particular brand just for the sheer love of it? In other words are they asking me to provide free advertising for a large brand for absolutely nothing? I wonder if this is how commercial websites work, do PR companies provide this sort of pitch to them, or are they reserved for us dumb bloggers?

I looked up and their strap line is ‘Rosetta is an agency focused on customer engagement. We connect rich data, engaging experiences and robust technologies to forge meaningful relationships with customers that drive business impact‘. Sounds a load of old bollocks to me to be honest and they have not in this instance forged a meaningful relationship with Mr Bongo.

So a couple of tips for PR firms / marketing agencies when approaching bloggers. First of all do your research and find out what we are about. Make a bit of effort and use our names, if you read the blog you would know that my name is James. When you have done this then work out a bit of a sales pitch, what have you got to offer? In this case absolutely nothing I’m afraid.

I responded to the email with one simple line, ‘So you’re asking for free advertising?’. I have yet to get a response.

I’m amazed that brands actually pay companies to produce this dribble. It has put me off considering using any Merrell gear in the future, get your act together and work out how to promote your brand properly. At least you have got the free advertising that you deserve.

22 Comments to “PR people – how not to approach bloggers”

  1. What a cheek…presumably you should feel honoured to be associated with them!

    • Aye yes they are a bit cheeky. I have just sent them an email with a link to this post asking if it was the sort of thing that they are looking for 🙂

  2. Had a few of them James, as you say, never any free, shiny new kit offered. A couple I marked as spam and that seemed to resolve matters.

  3. Haha well said James, gone are the days when going out for a walk was just putting your coat on, the brands have turned outdoor pursuits into a commercial enterprise, half the gear they push is a load of shite aswell, how certain company’s have the gall to charge £250 for a down jacket is beyond me, as is any idiot daft enough to buy it, I think a lot of the people who walked in the 20’s and 30’s would turn in there graves if they could see how the pursuit of the outdoors has turned into the pursuit of bling

    • I think that it has been a commercial enterprise for a few years now Simon, as long as I have been going into the hills anyway. Saying that I do happily accept nice hill bling if it is thrown my way 🙂

      Anyone with a £250 down jacket they want to give to me you know where I am……..

  4. Aye, I get them all the time James. I ignore the emails. Many much like yours you’ve presented here. Odd one or two will say they can “boost traffic” to my blog. Funny that. Why the f*** are they approaching me to talk crap about something or another to promote them? And I have to add….for free.

    Way of the world now mate. Social media. Some businesses are playing catch up. Audience reach, marketing, cheap returns for them et al.

    Granted I’ll take up some offers but only if I think it’s of interest to folks including myself. Otherwise…ignored. Besides, half the time, some of these PR companies don’t even pay attention to realise I deal direct with the manufacturers they’re keen to promote!!! Daft buggers.

    I reckon you’ll get a lot more now mate since your wonderful blog is up for a TGO Award 😉 You going to the event? Bringing Reuben? 🙂

    • The best ones Terry are those that are not outdoors related, I have received some right corkers. I am happy for the odd freebie but only as you say if it is stuff either myself or my readers would be interested in. The good ones dried up years ago now anyway.

      Aye it is good to be nominated. Sadly it is on a school night and I am working all that week. Would love to go otherwise. Shame they don’t hold it at the weekend.

  5. Probably some kid trying to pass the hours at work, or a pre-drafted automated message (they really care, don’t they!) I hope some actual good stuff comes your way! A similar funny thing happened to another blogger I follow, I’ll share bc it made me laugh:

    Also, though I’ve been in Utah for a year now, I just got a job in Glasgow, 3 year contract, that starts next September so am coming back!!! I’m so excited. Many more chances to explore the countryside.
    Take care. x

    • Ha that link is great, not been offered any sex toys for backpackingbongos. Well not yet anyway!

      Congratulations on the new job. Enjoy Glasgow 🙂

  6. Very good 😊 and funnily enough, kind of related to what we’ve just been talking about!

  7. “got the free advertising that you deserve” lol yes, well that backfired.

    I view this subject in broader terms concerning the signal to noise ratio on the internet – which takes many forms, not just this stuff. It’s grim. Most online activity is flyby stuff trying to milk other people for one of two things. 1) traffic 2) money. Authenticity and authentic personal voice – such as Bongoville demonstrates very nicely (Al’s good on that too) is barely registered by aforesaid riff raff.

    • I did reply with a link to this post asking if this was what they were after!

      The internet can indeed be a grim place.

  8. I gettem too – some are offering to write blog posts for me. its not az if I carnt rit I hone innit?

    • I don’t get the whole offering to write blog posts thing, I recon that there may be a bit of advertising involved in them. Would they have the Northern Pies humour though?

  9. Cheeky b’stards. I’m more than happy to post a review and some links in exchange for some free gear but this is taking the pish. Berghaus did this to me. I did a review for a jacket (which I liked and still use) but then they came back and asked me write a post with some links for free – and it was about running! Clearly not been reading my blog as I don’t run anywhere, ever (save for a the occasional sprint for last orders) and I’ve never written a post about it.

    The idea of outdoor bling I like very much. Amazing how much new gear you see out there especially in the Lakes. I normally use my gear until I look like a hobo 🙂

    • I think that all of the good offers of gear that people may actually want has all dried up now Andy. I recently got offered some air fresheners, but then maybe my wife told them about me………….

      My outdoor bling usually has Rab written on it.

  10. Hi James. PR is a huge industry and expanding rapidly. Many of my former journalist colleagues have made the leap into PR simply because the regional press is shedding jobs and PR is booming. It’s a safe bet and offers a sort of semi-secure future in a world where technology is constantly modifying the way people work.
    Having said that, it never ceases to amaze me how much worthless, sickly, badly-written, meaningless frothy garbage the PR industry produces. Most people can see though its thin veneer and recognise it for what it is – like you said, absolute bollocks. And I find this extremely worrying, because if the people who are running Britain’s big companies are employing half-baked PR people to churn out garbage and paying them good money, what does that say about the people at the top?
    All the best, Alen

    • It’s a shame that your former journalist colleagues are having to move into PR. Hopefully this will improve the generally poor grasp of the English language and how to engage with people!

      As for the people at the top………..

  11. Hi James
    I’ve arrived as the party seems to have gone home and there’s just crisp dust in the bowls and half empty tins of cheap lager lying about the worktops. Still, a lager’s a lager…

    I get approached (usually on twatter) by PR companies and their message is usually vague and poorly thought out. I answer every query and am very straightforward about it; I always ask what they want, What the product product or service is and which company they are representing. Interestingly, the direct approaches that are clear and purposeful are always the ones worth pursuing.

    Some reply (I would guess about half) and then I state my T&Cs – objectivity, the fact that I will be doing the writing, and required time frames.

    This results in three quarters of them scarpering quickly. Over the years I’ve had some decent kit to review – which is not surprising as I usually get to choose what I want to review, so I select something that I quite fancy. The best gig was probably the all-expenses trip to Jersey to sample the Channel Island Way, but some manufacturers did come up with some really good kit, that I would otherwise not have tried.

    I like being honest about crap kit as RAB found out to their cost. They still haven’t apologised for their dreadful subsequent behaviour – trying to get me removed from the TGO Challenge event. – They were event sponsors at the time.

    So I will never be promoting their stuff ever again and will take great glee in pointing out how crap their fleece was, ad nauseum.

    So – How about it RAB? Where’s the apology!


    • There would never be cans of cheap lager at one of my parties Alan, instead there would be bottles of fine ales! But they would have been drunk by now.

      I have to say that I am shocked at Rab’s behaviour after your review of their fleece. I remember that review well as it stopped me going out and buying one as I was very tempted. I’m surprised you have not mentioned their behaviour on your blog, unless I missed it. I reckon you should do a post about it……….

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