A plea to PRs to please do your research

This morning I had an unsolicited email from a PR agency with a press release on behalf of a home insurance company. The press release was giving me advice about preventing home damage by a toddler.

I was appalled. It was completely inappropriate and it made me really cross.

Even the most cursory glance at my blog would have given the PR agency a clue to what my blog is about, and why their email was completely insensitive.

I responded to tell them so and give them their due they quickly sent a return email to apologise. They said they’d update their press list accordingly.

I’ve had a couple of PR emails and have just deleted them. To put it in perspective, they’re just emails. They’re far from the worst thing that has happened to me this year. Mistakes happen, and I’m sure offence and upset were not intended.

What made me most cross this morning was the lack of research. An unsolicited press release was sent to me as part of a group of bloggers as someone with whom they have had no previous contact.

It’s lazy, and gives the profession a bad name. I’ve worked in in-house PR for years, as a communications manager (which has included running a press office). Perhaps having never worked in an agency I don’t know how things work there but surely sending unsolicited emails – and without even so much as a covering note – is bad practice.

PR is a profession I’m proud to be a part of, and do well. I’m not saying I’m perfect, and have never made a PR faux pas. Believe me, I have.

Good PR should be about building a relationship that is about mutual interest. It should be about research, evidence and reaching out to appropriate audiences.

Good PR should never engage an SOS strategy (sending out sh*t), as the agency did this morning.

The reason I blog is as a cathartic therapy after the death of my precious son, Hugo. I’m also keen to use it as a platform to raise awareness about HELLP, the rare pregnancy condition that caused it all, premature babies and baby loss. It’s great my blog has had a good reach already and people have been able to learn about these issues.

When I restarted my blog in April this year, I registered with Tots 100. I clicked ‘yes’ in the ‘enable PR requests’ box. In my naivety, and with my professional background I thought PR requests were about journalists contacting bloggers about issues that are important to them. Maybe it is about that too – so many inspirational bloggers have raised the profile of issues through national media from the platform of their blog.

At the time, I didn’t realise giveaways and reviews are such a big part of the mummy blogging world. If it’s a mutually beneficial relationship for bloggers and for brands, that’s great. It’s just not my personal motivation for blogging.

Nowhere on my blog site will you find anything about giveaways, requests to review things or invitations to ask for my media pack. I respect that other bloggers are interested in that, but I’m not.

I’ve looked at my Tots 100 profile and hovered over the ‘enable PR requests’ to change it to ‘no’. I didn’t in the end because I hoped that I might one day get a good old-fashioned non-brand PR request about information. The only PR request I am interested in relates to column inches or broadcast time about any of the issues I am passionate about.

Because this is why I blog. I want to make a difference for other people, in Hugo’s name.

Mummy bloggers might be one large audience, but we are not all the same. It’s not just about the insensitivity of sending baby-related products to recently bereaved mothers. There is no ‘one size fits all’. We all have our own interests and we can be segmented according to them.

So, PR people, a plea: please do your research before pressing ‘send’.

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