Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Most PR Bad. This PR Good.

Read this.
Jocelyn -

We haven't met; I am the 'chief storyteller' for GamesThatGive, a new startup that creates casual video games that people can play, for free, and raise money for charity. I know Change.org, I am a fan, and I thought that you might find what GamesThatGive is doing interesting. So, that's why I am reaching out.

Full transparency - I want you, or someone from the nonprofit times, to think GamesThatGive is cool enough that you will write about it, tell your friends, shout from the rooftops, and similar. Of course, I have spent a lot of time working in the PR business, so I know how awful being pitched can be. My goal is to make this email not like all those other pitches you may have received.

Ok - Here is what you need to know:

- GamesThatGive.net went live about two months ago, as a beta, but our big public rollout just started. Not only do I think you might find what we are doing on the site interesting, but we know that the people who read your stuff are interested in supporting charities and causes, and probably don't mind playing a few games every now and then.

- The model behind GamesThatGive is simple: people play really cool games, for free, and by doing so, help generate donations for our partner charities. That's it. No catch.

- How do we do this? The games are sponsored by advertisers, and we donate 70% of the ad revenue generated to the charities. If you do the math, that has the potential to be a lot of money for some really terrific causes.

- Our charity partners include Feeding America, the United Way, the US Fund for UNICEF, DoSomething, and about a dozen others. We have limited the number of charities that we invited to be on the platform, because we wanted to help raise a massive amount of money for these groups -- we have learned the lesson of other social and game platforms trying to raise money for charity and won't dilute the experience by allowing every nonprofit in the world to participate.

- Our advertisers, to date, include Dominos Pizza, Pepsi, and Mastercard. And in addition to their advertising presence, all our advertisers will be offering coupons or incentives for people to play.

That's about it. Like I said, the site went live two months ago, but promotion really begins in earnest today. We have about 3500 registered users so far and the early statistics have shown that people are coming back to play (average of 2+ times per day), and playing for a long time (average time on site right now is more than 13 minutes). Those are big numbers, and we are obviously very excited about the potential for the site.

I have a background document I can send you, with more detail, as well as a 'thinking paper' that we released providing some arguments about why we think GamesThatGive is pretty special.

As I said above, my hope is that you will think what we are doing at GamesThatGive is pretty cool and help to get the word out. If it would help, I would also love to connect you for a conversation with our CEO Adam Archer, or one of the other folks on the senior leadership team, who can walk you through the ins and outs of this in more detail.

Let me know what you think and if you have any questions. You can shoot me an email wood@gamesthatgive.net or call me at anytime (978-793-1393).

I look forward to hearing from you. Thanks.

Mike Wood
Chief Storyteller
GamesThatGive, Inc.
m: 978.793.1393

Don't just play. Give. http://gamesthatgive.net
It's an EXCELLENT example of a pitch. So good in fact that I'm sharing it with you even though I'm not into online games.

Here is why it works:

1. It's PERSONAL. I actually felt like this release was written just for me.

2. It's written for the Web. (News flash! If you want bloggers to sell your stuff don't send us traditional releases for print media. Chunk up your copy. Keep it short and sweet. This will make it easy for us to cut and paste and pass along.

3. It's authentic. Mike's voice mirrors the stuff he sells - games. This makes the release resonate. A stiff, formal release wouldn't be true to the brand/image and service he is promoting.

Pitching bloggers is different from pitching traditional journalists. Don't be sloppy but do speak in the voice of the media. Blogging is less formal than print so you can and should take this into account when doing outreach.

Also, you should ALWAYS know your customer before trying to connect. Bloggers and journalists are people too! We want good tips and we want to believe that you care about the work we do. Remember good PR is about good RELATIONSHIPS.


P.S. I LOVE that Mike's title is Chief Storyteller. Again, this title may not work for all PR pros but it's a perfect fit with Mike's brand.


Amy Sample Ward said...

I love your point that it is personal and it made you feel like it was directed at you. I got the exact same pitch, word for word, last night, too - to both my personal address via my blog as well as to NetSquared. Even though it was exactly the same message, it works - it is personal and conversational.

Thanks for sharing it and making a great example/lesson of it! It's true: pitching to bloggers is NOT like traditional pr :)

Jocelyn said...

Hi Amy,

Thanks for your comment. It's funny. Of course I knew that the release wasn't customized just for me but it sure felt that way. And that made all the difference!

Hope you are well!


Brenna said...

I completely agree with your comments about the quality of the pitch, but I do have to disagree with your broad brush title of "Most PR Bad."

It's true many media/blogger pitches are horrible and basically spam in a lot of ways, but media relations and cold pitching is definitely NOT all that goes into PR and titles like this only hurt the industry's image more and don't help to make practices better.

PR desperately needs better PR, and I like to think that it is our job (as social web marketers and possible thought leaders - relating to and with the public every day) to dispel these harmful stereotypes and work to educate and raise the bar for everyone.

Sorry to jump on my soap box, this is just a trigger issue with me after learned what real PR is all about in the master's program at Newhouse at SU. :)

Jocelyn said...


Thanks for your comment. And you're right, my headline is hyperbolic.

What do you think we can/should be doing to enhance the practice of PR so that it is more focused on relationship-building?


Kivi Leroux Miller said...

You beat me to it again! :) I thought about doing a similar post on this exact same email. We all KNOW we are getting the same thing with just a tiny bit of customization, but the point for me is that this guy sounds like a HUMAN BEING as he's repeating the same thing he's sending to everyone else. It's conversational, instead of just committee-approved talking points. Nice example.

Anonymous said...

I also received this email. Addressed to the wrong person at our org, and with the wrong url in the the first paragraph. I was completely turned off.

Just a reminder, if you're going to do this kind of "personalized" form email, check to make sure each one you're sending out is correct.

kanter said...

Great post! I wrote a post the day before this one - it was my anniversary -- and I got some really bad pitches. Anyway, this is a terrific example.

Gonna go add it as a link

Brenna said...

I think the first thing we can do is avoid hyperbole that enhances negative stereotypes and instead call a spade a spade and recognize tactics vs industry or even strategy.

And more than avoiding harmful labeling, we need to be using our public forums to educate the masses that everything we do online is a form of public relations and good PR is a conversation.

Advertising is one-way, PR is always supposed to be two-way and with the barriers dropping, the social web makes all of us PR people.

We're all concerned about branding, whether you write/post for an organization or for yourself, concerned about message reach and reaction to that message, and concerned about chatter that could become crisis and needing to be able to react in a timely and responsive manner.

I look forward to everyone's thoughts!

Joanne Fritz said...

I'm afraid I disagree. I got this pitch too and I thought it was deliberately misleading. It posed as a personal pitch and yet was sent to everyone. It acted as though there was a relationship when there is none. I'd rather have a straight news release than a pitch that is pretending to be something it is not. Ideally, I'd like a pitch that is individualized and at least based on some knowledge about me and my blog.

Joanne Fritz said...

This is a P.S. to my last comment. I'm reading Brogan and Smith's "Trust Agents" right now so the question of authenticity is on my mind. I highly recommend the book. Why am I up so late?

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