Pitch Me

Credit: Rob Cottingham (Noise to Signal)

Credit: Rob Cottingham (Noise to Signal)

A personal note before you consider pitching me:

On September 17th, 2012, after moving to central Mexico while trying to stay relevant in the Canadian blogosphere, I decided I was doing too much and I took an extended leave of absence. Trying to hold down a full-time job while writing 5-10 blog entries per day was incredibly time-consuming and it was sucking the living life out of me. So, while I am back blogging in 2013, I am not accepting pitches anymore unless they are related to travel and tourism. I will consider FAM (familiarization) trips, with full disclosure of who is paying for my trip. I do not accept sponsored posts, nor do I accept advertisements on my blog. Receiving a pitch does NOT guarantee I am going to accept it. I also don’t accept co-axing (e.g. “you helped me before, would you want to help me again”). It’s my blog and these are my rules.

Profile and audience of Hummingbird604.com

Hummingbird604.com is an award-nominated blog, Raul has been nominated to the Canadian Weblog Awards in 2009 and 2010 for Best Overall Blog, Best Personal Blog, Best Blog (Lifestyle), Best Blog (Food) and Best Blog (Readers’ Choice). Ranked in the top 10 blogs on Urbanspoon Vancouver food bloggers directory (currently at #9). I have used Hummingbird604.com as the canvas from where I tells Canada’s (and the world’s) story. Raul was recently profiled in BC Business as one of the most influential lifestyle, travel, food and theatre bloggers in British Columbia.

I have decided to stop writing about purely Vancouver-, BC- and Canada’s projects. Therefore, I will primarily accept pitches that have to do with travel and tourism. Because I love showcasing my country and the nations I visit in my professional life, I am happy to write about the local food, customs, lodging and accommodations, and touristy things to do while travelling.

Hummingbird604.com is frequently pitched to review products, restaurants, theatre, dance and fine arts projects, promote charitable causes, administer contests and giveaways, undertake media trips to showcase different provinces and regions, report on events, and provide readers with a taste of the lifestyle that Canada and in particular the province where he used to live in (British Columbia) can offer (and the country where he lives now, Mexico).

Pitching stories/projects

I am NOT “a professional blogger”. My main (income-generating) activity is academia (research, consulting and teaching). I write Hummingbird604.com because I love showcasing where I live and the places I travel to.

- Don’t send me non-targeted, blanket press releases. Doing this may be very popular with traditional media and journalists, but it doesn’t work with me. It makes me feel part of a REALLY LARGE LIST of media outlets that you are hoping to get attention from. Even worse? If you have sent me a pitch before, you’ve succeeded and THEN you add me to a blanket press release process. That irks me, and you’ll get ZERO coverage from me. Simple as that.

- Read my blog. At least a few entries (5-8). I write about a VERY broad variety of things (restaurants, local businesses, my personal life, my travels within the country, both in Canada and Mexico, as well as product reviews).

- Don’t pitch me with a generic “Hello” or “Dear Hummingbird604″. My name is Raul. It’s clearly written on every entry. Try to personalize it as much as you can. You may even want to use the first paragraph of your pitching email to customize it and make me feel appreciated and read.

- Give me a unique and different angle for your stuff. This is particularly important if you pitch several influential bloggers who may share a bit of the same audience. So, for example, pitching me environmental stories is a good idea, as that’s what my research and teaching are about. Pitching me new restaurant openings, theatre/dance/arts performances is also good. When a film festival approaches me, I usually pick the environmentally-focused films. That way, I can provide a different angle to my fellow bloggers.

-Tickets/freebies/giveaways are great ways to promote your client’s business. I am always more interested in giving tickets away than receiving complimentary tickets myself. Of course, if you invite me to review your artistic event, it does help to set aside tickets for my review, but I find that my readers love freebies, and sponsoring a contest usually is a very good promotional tool within my blog. Full disclosure – I will be disclosing ALWAYS who sponsored the ticket giveaway. Moreover, since I no longer focus primarily on the arts, but on travel, if you pitch me for an artistic event, it better be where I am or where I’m planning to visit.

- I’m very transparent and keen on disclosure. I write fairly long paragraphs about who pitched me, what I’m giving away, who sponsored the giveaway, etc. (for a couple of examples, see my reviews of the HP Canada printers and my printer giveaway). Even though the FTC regulations only apply to US bloggers, I’m a big overdiscloser, so be aware of this.

- Make it easy for me to blog about your stuff.Given the volume of requests I receive to write about stuff, you’d make my life 3 times easier if you provided me with text that I can just cut-and-paste. PDF press releases are usually hard to maneuver.

- Help me enhance my post with visuals (video, photos) Photos – it’d be fantastic if you could send me links to Creative-Commons-licensed photos from the get-go. Makes it easier for me to insert in my entry. Please, when you send me photos that I can use, send me also the name of the photographer(s) and if they have a website, the URL for them. Photographers should be credited for their hard work.

- Follow up. I receive hundreds of emails a day. If I tell you “yeah, I’d love to write about this but I may forget” – please follow up. I won’t get mad if you send me three emails. Trust me, I’m way more understanding than people think.

- Don’t take it personally – don’t be disheartened or disappointed if I don’t write about your play/event/dance exhibition/performance/resort/restaurant/etc. I do keep a file of those things I do want to write about and things that I wish I had written about but didn’t have enough time to do so. One of these days, you’ll score a home-run!

- Email is the best way to pitch me. Pitching me via Twitter works only if you send me a personalized email to follow up. I receive hundreds of @ replies every day. I can’t recall everything even if I want to.

- Train your interns to pay attention to details as you would: This is a new tip. I have been approached in the past by PR companies themselves. In the process of gaining experience, many PR students take on internships, or volunteer their skills. This is fantastic, but the one drawback is that if the intern doesn’t pay attention to detail as you (the PR agency) have done in the past, you’re doing a disservice, both to yourself as a PR agency and to the intern him/herself. Lately I have been receiving non-customized emails, blanket press releases and non-personalized pitches from PR interns. This is not a good approach to receiving coverage on Hummingbird604.com. It’s YOUR duty as you hire interns to train them in how to approach bloggers. I’m an educator, first and foremost, and I take it upon myself to educate people, and I am keen in providing learners with tips to improve. Learning how to pitch me properly is key if you want to get covered on my blog.

EDIT: If you pitch me something and I don’t pay attention to it, please read here why it may be the case.

Hope this helps!