Missing the Mark


Image by farlane via Flickr

I harbor no delusions about the size or popularity of my blog.  If anything, I may be slightly delusional in that I assume that it is only read by a small handful of people.  I don’t check blog stats, so I don’t really know.  But getting back to the point–since I tend to think of my blog as pretty small, I’m always surprised and very flattered when I get contacted by people asking me to review something or partner up with them in some way to help promote a project or initiative that’s related to the topics I post about.

I received one of these emails yesterday, but instead of being excited about it, I was disappointed from the second I read the subject line.  I’m not going to say what company sent the email, but I will say that it is a company I follow on Twitter, and that their primary interest could be called “quotidian fitness”.  Here’s the email, with only the identifying details redacted:

Subject: icametorun.wordpress.com* Working with [redacted] and its New My Calorie Counter**


As a member of the [redacted] team, the #1 online health destination with 27 million monthly unique visitors (plus, a health nut, calorie watcher and exercise enthusiast, myself), I’ve been following your site, and have noticed you cover healthy lifestyle choices regularly in a fun, enticing way. We have had a lot of success partnering with sites like yours, and I’d like to send you a copy of the first ever [redacted] book (launching now) to review and share feedback with your fans.

On its own, the book guides your weight loss process, but when coupled with [redacted]’s My Calorie Counter online tools…and mobile apps, it is as though you have a concierge weight loss specialist at you [sic] beck and call any time of day or night, when cravings can be their most powerful***.

You have created a successful site**** (kudos!) and we can create a mutually beneficial relationship to provide relevant news, giveaways, and exclusive content moving forward. In addition, we have a “Low Calorie, High Taste Recipe Contest” starting now through June 20th on Facebook…and our message board…that we would love for you to participate in***** as well as share with your visitors–for the chance to win a healthy basket of snacks and gift cards worth $150.

If you need additional information on the book’s value, including interactive quizzes, success stories and other material, please don’t hesitate to ask. We’re happy to send you whatever you need and as many copies as of the book as necessary.

I know it’s not uncommon for bloggers to receive all sorts of spam press releases that don’t really have anything to do with the content of their blogs, and that as a result the releases can range from laughable to offensive.  The one I’ve reposted above included contact information, the job title (which seemed to be a pretty good title, the kind of title I would like to have in a company like this one, as a matter of fact), and the full name of the sender.  Although I don’t know for sure that it was actually sent by that person, the Outreach Director, the personal touches make it seem like a little more effort was put into this than your run-of-the-mill rapid-fire email blast approach.

Sadly, though, the email is overwhelmingly disappointing, and as a result of it, I don’t think I would pair with this company even if they did send me a more appropriate offer in the future.  Let’s review some of their biggest mistakes, which I’ve helpfully indicated in the passage above with asterisks.

*icametorun.wordpress.com?  That’s not the web address of my blog.  In fact, that hasn’t been the web address of my blog for months, and verifying that information would have been incredibly easy to do.

**I don’t count calories, and although I know it can be a technique that works for some people, it’s not a technique that has worked for me.  Moreover since I consider my blog to be a resource for ED recovery, I think that endorsing a book on calorie counting would be problematic, to say the very least.

***This entire paragraph bothers me.  First, I don’t write a weight loss blog.  Second, I am very open about being in ED recovery, which makes lumping my blog in with weight loss blogs pretty insensitive–not to mention the fact that it’s like a flashing neon sign that reads, “I’ve never actually read your blog!” (just in case that wasn’t already clear from the subject line).  Third, I don’t believe it’s healthy to promote the idea that cravings are a thing that need to be feared; instead, I think it’s important to recognize cravings, and, if you’re in a position to do so in a way that’s healthy, honor them.  Finally, if I were in a position where I wanted to lose weight, I would first consult a doctor or a dietitian.  Not a book and a website.

****A comment that is entirely invalid considering that you’ve clearly never visited my site.

*****Again, if you’d read any of my blog, you’d know that cooking, recipes, and food in general are very problematic and difficult topics for me.  Suggesting to me that I participate in a recipe contest strikes me, once again, as insensitive.

Overall, the email has a mixed message–“I commend you for your great blog that I follow and read regularly, but I know nothing about you or your blog and want to offer you an opportunity that is completely unsuited to what your goal is as a blogger!”–and it’s a message that really makes me lose faith in the company.  If their outreach director doesn’t feel that it’s necessary to do any research prior to contacting people about a potential partnership, then I have to assume that the company isn’t all that interested in responsible partnerships in general.  I mean, without my blog having been vetted beforehand, how could the company be sure that I even promote a message that is consistent with their concept of health?  For all they know, I could be writing a pro-ED blog.  On top of that, it makes me wonder about the quality of the information contained in the book itself–if this is the sort of attention to detail that is common across the company, I’m concerned for anyone who uses this book and the accompanying resources as their “concierge weight loss specialist.” 

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  1. Very good analysis! I agree that their approach here makes you wonder about other aspects of what they are selling. I imagine that some bloggers who do care about their numbers are enticed by giveaways that may drive up traffic, and so might be less discriminating.

    1. Thanks! Yeah, I’m guessing that a lot of the people they emailed will be interested in the offer. I just think it’s important to take a good look at things like that–the last thing I want to do as a blogger is endorse something that’s ultimately not in line with my beliefs!

    I’ve found that there are some companies who are very adept at tweaking a couple items in emails to make it seem personal, but they obviously aren’t. (I received one that rambled on about my “entertainment blog” – huh?) This one is particularly offensive in regard to topic material and your site’s content though.

    Companies often expect authenticity from bloggers they partner with, why wouldn’t they expect the same on their side?

  3. i’ve gotten emails like this… they’re written to seem personal yet are so wrong! i know it’s time consuming to read a bunch of blog posts, but some things (like calorie counting in particular) you can get a good feel for just by browsing a main page. the ones that offer something relevant / something i might like i’ll email them back. ones like this one… i’d just ignore 🙂

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