Over the last several months I’ve noticed the same phrase appearing over and over again in the pitches that pile up in my inbox. Even more than “Dear Mommyblogger.” Even more than Kardashian, and and that’s saying something.
The phrase is “partnership opportunity.”
It seems that there are many, many brands out there looking for blogs to “partner” with. Which is very exciting! After all, I think bloggers make outstanding brand partners when the fit is right.
I am so happy to learn that Pantene has just enlisted Whoorl in their new TV spot. I loved that Nicole Feliciano and The Honest Company got together to help launch their line of eco-products. If you know Tannis Miller, you know how beautiful her Special Olympics sponsorship is.
I’m cheering wildly for Rebecca Woolf’s new show on HGTV.com, and if you don’t know the story about how Kristen Chase helped Norelco shavers connect with Movember, it’s worth reading. And hey, all these years later, I still think of Intel when I think of Maggie Mason’s Life List.
So of course I get all happy when a brand writes to me about a potential partnership. Because if you look up the word “partner” on the free dictionary app on your Mac, this is the first definition:
A person who takes part in an undertaking with another or others, esp. in a business or company with shared risks and profits.
Shared risk and profits. That seems sensible. One might hope for more profits than risks, but still. It’s a good definition.
Thanks, free dictionary app!
So I respond to some of these emails (all excited-like, as you would be too) and I ask, what kind of partnership opportunity are you thinking about exactly, so that we can brainstorm some ideas?
“We would like to partner with you by sending you info about our products and then you can write about them.”
“We would like to partner with you by letting you tell our readers about our big Facebook contest!”
“We would like to partner with you by allowing you to write articles on our corporate website in exchange for a link to your blog.”
“We would like to partner with you by allowing you to beta test our new app.”
“We would like to partner with you by you giving us the name of 20 other really great mom bloggers who can do any of these things for us.”
Then I sigh, stuck with this image of Inigo Montoya in my head.
Okay, truth be told, I also have the image of a gentleman in a late model car with tinted windows, pulling up along the West Side Highway at night and asking the young lady in the pretty garters whether they might partner together–by her doing some complimentary work for him while he leans back and enjoys it.
I’m not angry about it; I just think it’s a marvelous waste of all of our time. And you know how much free time working moms tend to have. I also think that PR people who offer nothing for a blogger’s work (not a product review–their work), generally get what they pay for.
If you are reading this and you think it might be you I’m talking about, you are likely wrong. That’s just how many of these emails I’m seeing. And since a lot of them are addressed to “dear Ms. ,” or just “hi!” I know they’re going to lots of other bloggers too. I am not all that special.
Now some partnership offers are legitimate, and some are really really great, even if they’re not right for me–or you. Some demonstrate a genuine interest in finding a mutually beneficial arrangement, offering something in return for work besides links or exposure or traffic that will never come. That’s the exciting thing for bloggers, even those just starting out–there are a lot of super good PR people out there being smart and creative and trying to break new ground when it comes to blog-brand relationships. The opportunities are growing, not shrinking, and hopefully one day you’ll have the pleasure of working with them.
Because these are the people who know what “partnership” actually means. And it’s not here’s what you can do for me.
So, good folks in PR and marketing: if you are looking for a blogger to review your app, I implore you–just put APP REVIEW in your subject line and you’ll get the right people. If you want to find someone willing to write free content for you, spell it out. If you can’t afford a consulting fee but you’re a small business hoping a kind blogger will do a favor for you, by all means, ask. You might get it. And if you want a widget in our sidebar, six keywords linked in a post, and a participation in your Twitter party in exchange for a $10 gift card–well, don’t do that. But you get my drift.
Just please, please don’t call those things partnerships.