It’s a story as old as the blogosphere.
PR firm pitches blogger; blogger bristles and sends snarky response; PR firm responds; email conversation lands on blog and is heavily tweeted and re-blogged.
That’s exactly what happened when someone from BrandLink Communications pitched a story about a Kardashian sister wearing panty hose to The Bloggess blogger Jenny Lawson. Lawson responded as she always does to unsolicited pitches, with a picture of actor Wil Wheaton (of “Stand By Me” fame) collating paper.
Allow me to pause for a moment and offer some advice: If you’re pitching a story, and something like this happens to you, there are a few appropriate responses:
1. The light-hearted: “Touché.”
2. The apology: “Sorry for the off-topic pitch. Thought it’d be up your alley. Guess we were wrong. We’ll take you off our list.”
3. Or, quite simply, no response at all.
That’s not at all what the PR professional in this scenario did. Instead, she escalated events with a threat:
That wasn’t very nice. We send certain pitches out to people so they have the chance of getting more hits on their page. We’ll make note of this email in moving forward and remember if we have any advertising opportunities with any of our clients not to go through you.
Best of luck to you.
On her blog, Lawson said she wasn’t going to offer a response, because she admitted the PR professional had a point. Plus, this isn’t Lawson’s first rodeo. She’s writes a mom blog for The Houston Chronicle and has used that space to roast PR pitches.
Seems the entire episode was over—until an exec from the firm mistakenly hit “reply all,” and the following message landed in the Lawson’s inbox:
What a f***ing b****!
Except he didn’t include the asterisks.
From there, things only got worse. This time Lawson responded, and the PR exec fired off another email to her—one that was intended for her to read. He wrote:
I get it and I was out of line by saying that however you put way too much effort into your approach. A simple “I don’t cover this, no thanks” or “Please remove” would suffice. To go out of your way to be snarky and rude is a little inappropriate. Again, I should’ve been less harsh – but I also feel like your email was rude and unprofessional as well. We will do a better job to research who we are pitching but maybe you should be flattered that you are even viewed relevant enough to be pitched at all instead of alienated PR firms and PR people – who are actually the livelihood of any journalists business. Don’t be offended, you started the cursing game so maybe we should all just laugh it off and plan not to work together in the future …
Well, as you might imagine, the blogger wrote back, tweeted about it—which was retweeted heavily—and then shared the entire story on her blog.
You can see the full play-by-play here.
Ironic that today would be the day that technology would bite me in the butt, lesson learned. All hail @thebloggess
And, in a second tweet posted on Friday morning, the company said:
We have apologized to Jenny. I don’t want the lessons that need to be learned to get lost in the reaction then all of this is pointless.
UPDATE: The firm issued another tweet on Friday. It said:
I am sad that with all the lessons to be had this is now turning into a bullying platform, two wrongs don’t make a right.
Meanwhile, Lawson updated her blog to say that the PR exec mistakenly hit “reply all” has apologized, and the firm told her it is handling it the best way it knows how.
The two (obvious) lessons: Don’t pick a fight with a blogger; and Wil Wheaton looks good collating paper.