How To Get an Angry Email From Me

So you know how I keep railing on Public Relations people? Yeah… That. I’ve decided to use one such PR Representative, a Mr. Cory O’Brien, as an object lesson. Though he doesn’t deserve it, I will leave his phone number and email address out.

Hi Site Owner,

My name is Cory O’Brien, and I’m the outreach manager for Guerilla PR. We are currently working with RealNetworks to help promote the release of their new RealPlayer®, and I’d like to send you a copy of the premium version for you to review on Suicide Fan.

Real has added some cool new features to the RealPlayer ([link removed]), and it’s now the perfect way to save, sort, search and share online videos. My favorite feature is the ability to download any non-DRM-protected video in the most popular formats to your hard drive with a single click, enabling you to watch them anywhere, anytime, without the need for an Internet connection.

Imagine this: You’re surfing through YouTube, MetaCafe, or Dailymotion, looking at football highlights, when you finally come across the clip you’ve been searching for. You click the RealPlayer download button that is hovering above the video window, and it instantly saves a copy of that video to your hard drive. Then, with that saved copy, you can easily show your friends, watch it anytime, or even burn it to a disc to watch on your TV. Want to share the video with your friend across the country? Just click the ‘Share Video Link’ button, and they’ll receive a link via email to go check out that very same video.

Though I think that this new player is a useful tool, I would love to know what you think. If you’re interested, please email me back and I’ll provide you with the download codes for a free copy of RealPlayer Plus, which is normally $29.99, and includes advanced features like DVD burning.

In addition, please check out where you will find a variety of media that you can use for your post about the RealPlayer. There is a streaming, Flash-based slideshow which can be embedded onto any page, an animated viral video that explains the features, a how-to video narrated by a zombie, and a walk-through video that explains all of the new features.

Again, I would love to have you review the new RealPlayer, so please let me know if you are interested so that I can send you a download code for the Plus version. I look forward to hearing from you, so don’t hesitate to send me any questions, comments, concerns or tips you might have. Thanks!


Cory O’Brien

Outreach Manager
Guerilla PR, Inc
85 Bolinas Road, Suite #17
Fairfax, CA 94930

So let’s start at the top of this email.

  1. He addressed me as “Site Owner”. Is it difficult to figure out what my name is? I mean, here’s a hint – it’s in my email address.
  2. He referred to a dead podcast I used to do, but is no longer even on the net. Is this so hard to actually take the time to figure out. You make yourself look like a complete idiot.
  3. “Though I think that this new player is a useful tool, I would love to know what you think.” Is that so? Why would I waste my time? Besides, do you really think this is a useful tool or are you just saying that because it’s your job?
  4. “Again, I would love to have you review the new RealPlayer.” Don’t hold your breath, Cory.

Yes, I did respond harshly. I never do, but I’m really sick of PR people who think they are making the world a better place for their clients by pitching bloggers but having no idea what our world is like. I’m even more disappointed that an internet company like Real has engaged this kind of agency. Surely they could get more traction by grabbing Livingston Communications or Topaz Partners to do their PR.

hey smart guy-

Quit spamming people with your PR junk. If you had done your homework, you’d know SF doesn’t exist any longer. It doesn’t take a genius.

Go find out how to pitch your PR more effectively. Come back and talk to me after you’ve done so.

Everything you need to know.

30 Replies to “How To Get an Angry Email From Me”

  1. Of course they understand bloggers it says so right on their site:

    “WE USE THE INTERNET. We listen. We learn. We engage. We involve. We speak the language of thousands of unique communities. We motivate people to buy.”

    I’ll clear this up, let me go over to the company blog and make a comment. Oh wait…

  2. I’ll give you that the first two points are completely horrible and wrong and show that they do NOT understand how to reach out using social media.

    But, I don’t follow you on points 3 and 4. If he had written to you using your name and your current blog would these have pissed you off? I thought the e-mail (besides the piss poor attempt at personalization) was actually honest and direct and not pushing at all.

  3. I was adding those on for effect because by the time I got through #1 and #2, I was pissed off and a 2 point list didn’t seem worthwhile. Overall, I’d just say there’s a huge disengagement from who he’s trying to pitch and it’s readily apparent from the email taken as a whole.

  4. Aaron, My name is Ryan Luckin and I am a PR Manager at RealNetworks—and the guy who is responsible for PR for RealPlayer.

    Thanks for the email heads up on this that you sent. As painful as it is to read, you are right to flag it as a good example of bad PR. Guerilla is a marketing firm hired by our RealPlayer product team which is understandably eager to get the word out. I have already talked to the product folks to make sure they know the right way to do this versus a sure-fire way to elicit angry email from a blogger such as yourself.

  5. Wow. Painful outing. This is the third one I’ve seen in a week.

    Just way too much of a hard sell. In general, blogger relations work better when you are already active in the community. Thus relationships are established. A pitch letter is not necessary, but But it seems like RealPlayer did a great job responding to your post. Hopefully they’ll amend their blogger relations program.


    P.S. Thanks for the hat tip.

  6. Boy,
    I am not related to PR, but I am into marketing. That mail was a nothing but a Email Template. I cant believe a mail was sent out in this fashion. For these kinda mails to be successful, they have to highly personalized and aptly written!

    Good response Aaron. Maybe the guy would learn something from it! Maybe he should read the 21 Tips to pitch a Blogger by Darren sometime! lol


  7. I find it a novel concept that bloggers, quite literally the cheapest form of fake reporter/columnist, would think themselves worthy of any form of formalized contact, let alone to your standard. Who are you? The White House? If a PR agency had to personalize their correspondence for the 10 million bloggers out there, they’d get about as much done as you guys do… Nothing.

    Do us all a favor, go back to doing whatever bloggers did before YouTube and LiveJournal gave anyone with a keyboard and limited understanding of the English language the idea to force their opinions on the rest of us. Working at McDonald’s, bagging groceries, living in your parents’ basement.

    On the plus side, I like being one of the only six people who have been to your site without you sending them an email to see how smart you are. Its like a club, except this one sucks.

  8. I came for to read Seth’s comment and all I got was this pain in my side after reading your reply? :)

  9. “Seth” just shows how broken the view is of PR in the blog world. Do people *really* think that to reach the “10 million bloggers out there” you would have to send 10 million emails?

    That’s not how it works guys. Get a clue. Or buy one.

    Aaron, keep swinging that clue-stick dude, seems like you might be making progress :)

  10. Sadly, my first thought after reading Seth’s comment was, “is he from Guerrilla PR?” Sounds like sour grapes to me.

    So Aaron: if you’re “quite literally the cheapest form of fake reporter/columnist,” does that make Seth “quite literally the cheapest form of fake ‘letters to the Editor’ writer”?

  11. Seth – In the blogosphere 10 quality is worth more than 10 million spammed. Choose 10 bloggers, not 10 million, read the blogs before you act, join the conversation and hone your approach. If you do well with 10 bloggers and your product is really remarkable (hint key ingredient for viral anything) you can hit 10 million or some other crazy number that is on your powerpoint slide for 08 projections.

    On your view of bloggers and our place in the world, all I can say is ‘don’t bet against the Internet’ – if you do I hope you take lessons on how to swim in the deadpool.

  12. Seth is probably coming from traditional PR, who hate social media like cancer because it’s SCARY.

    There are no rules! (Actually, yes there are, but you haven’t bothered to learn them.) There are no qualifications! (Qualification in the blogosphere comes from trust and referral. It’s complicated. You probably aren’t going to get it based on that 45-minute workshop you did at the last Ragan conference.) There are no standards! (You’re on the breaking edge of a radically new form of communication. Things will change. Deal with it.)

    I have some sympathy for folks whose jobs are changing overnight, but I wish more of them showed a little curiosity and initiative.

  13. Mr. Site Owner,

    What a timely post, as Wired’s Chris Anderson just whacked PR spammers with his Long Tail.

    Thanks for the Topaz hat-tip (yes, disclosure time, I am a PR person from Topaz Partners). We hope people see we “get it” and live to stay away from pitches like the one you outed above.

    But you know that from PodCamp Boston. Love the rants, keep ’em coming!

  14. “Sadly, my first thought after reading Seth’s comment was, “is he from Guerrilla PR?” Sounds like sour grapes to me.”

    Travis, I think that’s pretty much what we’re all thinking :)

    It’s that “I wear a suit and regularly attend SEO/SEM seminars- I don’t need you nerds to tell me about the internets” mentality that any ‘new media’ company selling websites (while their site is built with frames! Hello 1999!) and can say things like ‘Social Movement Creation’ with a straight face.

  15. Hi Aaron,

    We corresponded through email, and I just wanted to make it clear here on your blog as well that the initial outreach email that I sent to you was intended for your Suicide Fan podcast, which is no longer up and running, and was not intended for your Technosailor blog. Regardless, I should have double checked to see if your podcast was still active, and for that I apologize. (As I did in the email I sent you.) We did pre-qualify and select your podcast from many others because our staff liked it. Being “outed” in such a manner is not something we are accustomed to, because we understand the importance of tailoring a pitch to a specific blog, podcast, website, etc. The original email was tailored to the topic of your sports related podcast, and showed how the player could be used to capture football highlight videos, which seemed like it would provide both you and your readers value as a tool.

    To be clear, it is my intention and the intention of Guerilla PR to be honest and direct in our outreach to bloggers and webmasters alike, which we have done for 5+ years. We never intend to spam people. There is a long list of blogs and sites with which we have developed quality relationships, but every relationship has to start somewhere.

    Cory O’Brien
    Guerilla PR

  16. Cory-

    I appreciate your sentiment, but… yeah. My network is speaking for itself here. I have nothing to add that I haven’t already here and in my email to you. Welcome to the wild west.

  17. I came here through Sarah Wurrey, and I thought the name Guerilla PR sounded familiar. Turns out one of my favourite bloggers, John Scalzi, had a run-in with them sometime back. They sent him some PR detritus, hoping he’d schill for them. Instead, he took apart the letter and compared it to a more successful PR plea.

    Also, if you’re interested in other PR campaigns that went astray, as well as the perils of astroturfing, you can generally find a lot of info on astroturfing at the blog, Making Light. (Teresa takes apart astroturfers with glee. Just google “Making Light astroturf” for fun and hijinks.)

    Here the Making Light crowd discuss the woefully misdirected campaign for Michel Gondry’s The Science of Sleep.

  18. To give them their due, they seem to have improved slightly since the Scalzi analysis. The tone seems less inconsistent. Would still be nice if they could do a little more research on your site.

  19. Aaron – More PR people than you realize feel your pain and agree with you. We’re just as tired of hearing our industry railed on due to the laziness of its minority.

    So I am trying to do something about it, put up or shut up right?

    The Bad Pitch Blog is trying to educate and entertain folks. We out some of the offenders as you do here. We also try and point out the right way to conduct media relations.

    The best response we’ve gotten so far has been from academia — professors and students. So we might have to wait a few years before we see a huge difference. All too often, the people we out are too far gone to figure it out. Sigh.

  20. Yes, it shouldn’t have been addressed to “site owner.” That said, I thought the pitch was pretty good and that’s coming from ex-PR media specialist who’s seen more than her fair share of crappy pitches over a decade.

    Two other thoughts to save you future frustrations: you might also want to tell this PR person what you want to be pitched in the future – if anything. If you don’t want to be pitched by any PR people, why not put a graphic saying that on a sidebar?

  21. Aaron, another Topazer here. I heard Sarah Wurrey’s utterz on “Seth” and just had to check this one out.

    “Seth,” are you for real? With all due respect, incompetence and arrogance are not generally a good mix of character attributes. Incompetence can be slightly endearing (sometimes) and arrogance can be deserved (occasionally) but when you combine the two, it isn’t a good outcome no matter what.

    You need to get with the program, drink the Kool Aid, get on the bus, etc. — if not for your “personal growth” at least for your job security. Things have changed. In the New Media World Order, you will be deservedly flamed unless you acknowledge the power and influence of the blogosphere. You have been warned.

  22. Come on, Mr. Site Owner – what’s the IP address for Seth?!? Oh, yah, Seth – those are pretty easy to find with comments, and not hard to track the people.

    It’s getting to be a sad story that PR is not moving. And, well, it’s tiring.

  23. God forbid people want to make money and promote their stuff over the net. You don’t like it? Don’t look at it!

    If I get mail I don’t want, I throw it away.

    And to get up on someone for doing their job? You need to chill.

    No matter what job someone has there always has to be someone to complain about what they’re doing.

    I wonder what high respecting, non-soliciting, earth saving job you really have.

  24. I’m in PR, too. That pitch was way too long. I don’t read six paragraph e-mails from my mother, so why would anyone want to read one from a PR guy?

    I’ve always had success pitching media and bloggers by e-mail by first asking if they are interested in receiving a pitch on a specific product/topic in a brief e-mail.

    If they are interested, they let you know. If not, they say no or ignore you (which also means no).

  25. Hi Aaron,

    In my organization we do work with PR agencies. But clear guidelines are given to them about the campaigns and we used to monitor the responses from the affected clients.

    This email needs a lot of improvements. Thanks for this post, I\’ll use this as an example in the upcoming discussions with our PR agencies.

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