How NOT to approach bloggers to get them to "blog about our new company"

I received the following email tonight which I will edit, not to protect the guilty, but because I purposefully want to ensure that I give them no blog space. But there is an object lesson here and I want to make the point because I get this type of email frequently as do most bloggers who blog with any frequency on a specific subject. This one drove me crazy in so many ways, I had to post a public response.

Here is the edited email with the lessons below:

The below has been e-mailed to a list of bloggers (including, of course, yourself) who cover categories involving web 2.0, in hopes that you will consider it for a possible post on your blog:

(Product) is a website for indexing, tagging, and sharing movies (not the short-length type of movies to be seen on YouTube or Google Video, but rather full-length (about 2-hour long) movies which have been in theaters). Unlike general media web 2.0 sites, (Product) is specifically focused on movies. With a simple, clean, and easy-to-use interface, (product) allows users to catalogue the movies they’ve seen. In addition to tagging movies, users can choose whether they recommend the movie or not. From these simple questions, the collaboration effort of (product) emerges. Different tag clouds are generated, some of which display the most popular tags, a user’s most popular tags, (product)’s most popular tags, (product)’s most popular movies, (product)’s most recommended movies, and many other types. In addition, (product) will automatically recommend movies to a specific user with a sophisticated matching algorithm involving numerous factors including the user’s recommended movies, the user’s tags, other user’s recommended movies, and other user’s tags. (product) will also state a list of users which are similar to you. Along with this, users can write reviews for movies and contribute to a wiki-like effort of movie information (directors, producers, cast, etc.). Users can choose to be notified when one of their friends updates their movie catalogue (“subscribe” to another user). Along with tags, (product) demonstrates other classic web 2.0 features, such as AJAX, which is shown with the live-searching feature of a user searching their catalogue, and the ability for a user to create custom RSS feeds. The highlight feature of (product) is its search. Users can enter practically anything into the search, including tags, part of a movie name, directors, producers, cast, etc. and (product) will rank the results to give you the best match for a movie for your search. (product) offers its users a wide range of features for both the casual movie viewer and serious film buff.

Feel free to reply (to (address)) with any questions regarding (Product). Hopefully you will consider it for a post on your blog, to bring about a successful release of (product). Thanks!

Because I’m tired and it’s late and I’m doing my best to keep the title of “One of the meanest people on the internet” that I hold together with my friend Boris Mann, here is my response:

  • I have a blog, not a PR channel
  • First rule of marketing: WIFM – What’s in it for me? Why would I want to help you? There are about a BILLION startups doing video (and ALL of them are VERY unique, COMPLETELY differentiated, and have ROCK SOLID multiple revenue stream business models just like yours)
  • if you’re aiming at 2 hour movies, you’re definitely not addressing the campus film myself-doing-embarassing-things-in-my-dorm-room material and you’re really going to host commercially produced movies. Except you make no mention of how you’ll deal with, you know, the studios and their lawyers. Re-read the Napster chapter and get back to me.
  • blah blah blah tag blah blah blah blah blah collaborate bla blah blah blah AJAX – what does this site do for its customers, for the film producers, for the studios, for the distributors, for the sales agents? how will it stand above the crowd and maintain that competitive position for as long as possible? Feature dumps (particularly buzzword bingo feature dumps) are not interesting.
  • I will indeed reply to (address) with the link to this posting. Consider your email posted to my blog. Probably not in the form that you were hoping but that’s the funny thing about the universe. You can ask it for something and sometimes it comes to you, just not in the form you were expecting.
  • Next time you think you’re really “getting it” and decide to “leverage the blogosphere”, let me make a few suggestions.
    • Know your target and what is important to them. I advise startups and do business plan development and examine emerging technologies. Somewhere in there, there was an angle that you could have taken that would have tied your company to MY interests. (Note that one of my interests is not promoting every single web 2.0 startup I can find.)
    • Make a personal connection. The emails I respond positively to are from sincere honest individuals who wish to establish a dialogue and who may ALSO want me to blog about them (most of those I turn down) but if they are direct, honest, and stratight forward and do not send me “the below has been e-mailed to a list of bloggers)”. Sheesh.

(hesitation with finger on the “post” button……yeah… needs to be posted.)