Monday, October 17, 2011

Today in Poorly-Aimed PR Pitching

When you think of PATSP -- and I know you do, all the time -- what sorts of topics do you think of? If you're like my new friends at outdoor marketing company Bernard & Associates, you think of game hunting. Yes, the blog header says that the blog is primarily about indoor plants and retail horticulture,1 but "cultivating indoor plants" is so close to "killing outdoor animals" that B&A sent me an e-mail anyway.

Doe. (A deer.2)

Aside from the added footnotes and the removal of the client's name, this is the e-mail I received:

Kindest Editor:3

This is Jeff Thruston from the Nevada based outdoor marketing company Bernard & Associates and we love your outdoor site!4 We have been in the outdoor industry for some thirty years. You may have seen our work with clients like Bass Pro Shops and Sporting Classics Magazine.5

We want to reach out to you with a gift from the [redacted], made possible by our friends at [redacted] Club -for you or your website's readers. In addition, we have some important news that affects all of us within the hunting and fishing industry.6

We have identified your site as one we wish to partner with.7 We would like to invite you to participate in [redacted] Club's Blogger Appreciation Program and receive a complimentary Associate Membership to the [redacted] Club.


With this complimentary membership, you will receive Fair Chase Magazine9 on a quarterly basis along with other member benefits. Please reply with your address so we can mail you your magazine. (*See below for more info on Fair Chase & Associate Membership benefits)

The [redacted] Club is always looking for like-minded Sportsmen and Sportswomen10 interested in preserving our hunting heritage. We want to get your opinion on upcoming news that will affect us along with some other things we have planned in the near future.11

Benefits of our partnership will include all of the following, beginning now and running through the upcoming months:

· Complimentary [redacted] Club Associate Membership (you are more than welcome to do a contest or giveaway on your site if you are already a member etc.)

· In depth looks at the key issues that affect us as Sportsmen interested in hunting/fishing/conservation and beyond.12
· Insider news and photos of big game trophies taken recently across North America as well as trophies entered and accepted into the [redacted] Records.

· Video, photo and editorial content for you to choose from for your site.


Please let us know which of the following you prefer:.13

1. Keep the membership for yourself (Please forward your mailing address)
2. Host a contest or giveaway on your site for the membership (then send us the winner’s address once you have selected him or her).14

In addition to selecting your gift (or giveaway for your site) we would love it if you would post this video to your site along with some info on the threat by outside lobbyists15 in an ATTEMPT TO BAN ALL LEAD IN HUNTING AND FISHING. (See attached .doc on the threats of this lead ban16)

Video direct link

Video embed code

[redacted; also the video was incredibly stupid -- almost no content, but lots of be-very-very-afraid-of-the-evil-environmentalists language]


If you have any other questions or comments please let me know. And if there's ever anything in mind in terms of a custom collaboration with your site please let me know and I will see what we can work out.

Looking forward to working with you,17

Jeff Thruston

Bernard & Associates

Find attached images for you to use along with the video above.
Also, we have an important article on the lead ban attached
About the [redacted] Club:

[redacted paragraph about the club's founding, history, accomplishments, blah blah blah]

About Fair Chase Magazine and your Associate Membership:

[redacted paragraph about Fair Chase Magazine which pretty much duplicates what was said in the main body of the e-mail about the benefits of subscribing]

[redacted and redundant bit of names, e-mail addresses, and websites]

The saddest part of this whole thing, I think, is that someone got paid to write it. Someone thought that this would be relevant to PATSP, and e-mailed it to me, and then they got a paycheck for doing so even though there was basically no way it was going to benefit their client whatsoever.

There are PR firms that bother to read the blogs they're soliciting, and learn names, and that sort of thing, and show some basic respect for the other people they're involving. It's not impossible to do, and it would get better results. (There are also PR firms that don't take rejection well. That's a less effective way to go. You should read the link, though, because The Bloggess is way funnier than I am.)

Stay tuned for the lead discussion. It'll be very.


Photo credits: Doe by Coolstock, at Wikipedia. Buck/hunter by Matthew.j.obrien at Wikipedia.

1 I should actually probably re-write that sometime.
2 (A female deer.)
3 Strike one. If you can't be bothered to type in my [fake, granted] name in your pitch, then you know how seriously I take you? I've basically already decided no, I don't want whatever you're selling, I don't want to promote your product, I don't care about you at all. Because that's the message you're sending me. It's one freaking line of text. Make the effort.
On the other hand, I am apparently also kinder than all the other editors of the world (the rest of y'all are apparently terrible assholes), and it's nice of Bernard & Assoc. to notice.
4 Strike Two. And it's only the first paragraph.
5 "Sporting Classics Magazine?" What differentiates "classic" sporting from regular sporting? I'm genuinely curious about this. And is hunting a sport? I mean, I don't have a huge problem with hunting, honestly -- no desire to participate, but whatever rotates your turtle -- and I recognize that there are both physical and competitive elements to it, but "sport?"
I suppose if NASCAR's a sport (and I'm told, repeatedly, that it is, just disguised as driving at high speed in large circles for way longer than any normal person would want to drive at high speed in large circles), anything can be. Maybe I should declare indoor gardening a sport. Lord knows it's way more physical than I'd like, and I suppose it's competitive in some circles: I've seen the posts about the African violet shows.
Mr. Subjunctive, Sportsman. It sounds nice.
6 Indeed they do. But just 'cause it's important doesn't mean they're not going to make you wait to hear it, and then only if you download and unzip a .zip file, which contains 40 files, about half of which appear to be references to, or misnamed duplicates of, the other half. It's a curious method for spreading important information.
7 For "partner with," read "exploit."
8 Not sure what purpose the extra spacing serves here, but it does lend the e-mail a bit of suspense and/or excitement. How many lines will separate the next paragraph?
9 I find this name amusing/perplexing. Surely it's only a fair chase if the animals are armed, too. I mean, you could call shooting high-speed, pointy projectiles at defenseless animals from a distance "fair" if you wanted to, but only if you'd consider some guy in camo shooting at a naked, unprotected you "fair" too.

Notice that only the person gets a gun. Fair chase my ass.

Again: I'm not necessarily opposed to hunting, I swear. Particularly when it comes to deer and rabbits. But I do have to call bullshit on the word "fair."
And "Fair Chase" actually just makes it sillier. A fair chase would be something like, the people track the animals for an hour, and then someone blows a whistle and the animals get to track the people for an hour, back and forth until somebody gets killed.
I will concede that hunting is more fair than some of the other methods people have devised for killing animals, because with hunting there's at least the chance that you'll lose track of the animals and they'll get away. Cows at the slaughterhouse aren't as lucky. On the other hand, hunting carries a greater risk of wounding an animal and then losing track of it, so that it dies slowly and in pain, or is permanently crippled, or whatever, which doesn't happen with the cows.
10 Capitalized for no reason because Sportsmen and Sportswomen are Important! (B & A do get points for explicitly including women, though I'll have to take these points back a few paragraphs later, when they mention Sportsmen without Sportswomen.)
11 Nope, still not telling you about the important news which will affect you.
12 And by "and beyond," I assume they mean hunting/fishing/conservation IN SPACE.
Don't know what else it could mean.
13 This may be my first sighting of the punctuation combo ":."
Actually, period usage is all over the place in this e-mail; one gets the impression that Bernard & Associates doesn't intend to put a lot of work into their blog outreach.
14 I apologize to any PATSP readers who might have been interested in this, and/or to my brother-in-law, who might be interested if he doesn't already have all those things; I assume they're not going to let me do it now that I've made fun of their pitch. (It's my position that they should write less mockable pitches, and pay attention to which blogs they're pitching. And also proofread: it's not just for sissies anymore.)
15 As opposed to "inside lobbyists," who are apparently A-OK. But hey, at least we've finally heard something about this VERY IMPORTANT INFORMATION.
Also it's disingenuous to pretend like they don't have their own outside lobbyists working on this too. (Along with lobbyists for the lead mining companies, I'm going to assume.)
16 Because I do not want to reproduce this entire document on the blog, I'm going to summarize it, in my own inimitable fashion, as another post, later this week.
17 (as long as I don't have to read your blog, learn your name, or in any other way treat you with ordinary courtesy,)


Paul said...

Regarding footnote 9: same here! I fully support real hunters (and I LOVE both venison and rabbit. MMM!), but this 'we have the right to be poser douchebag rednecks' trip is too much.

Caroline said...

I got that same ridiculous offer as well. You said it better than I ever could. All I could muster was a "WTF?"

Tom said...

What's your damage Heather? It sounds like a great thing to be affiliated with...cuz houseplants and dead deer have so much in common! I frequently have to shoot the deer munching on my ficus in my living room.

mr_subjunctive said...


Well, of course people do have the right to be poser rednecks, though. (In a world where being a poser redneck is against the law, only outlaws will be poser rednecks!) I mean, it's a little silly, but silliness is in the eye of the beholder, so we probably shouldn't be trying to legislate it. I was more just objecting to the characterization of hunting as fair.

I'm not sure why the need to emphasize that it's "fair" anyway. It sounds defensive, but I don't know of anybody who's attacking hunting on the grounds of unfairness. (Then again, I'm not really plugged into the hunting/fishing sportsman scene, so it's possible that this is a big accusation against hunters. If so, the hunters might be better served by acknowledging that it isn't fair, because any 5-year-old could plainly see that it isn't.)


I prefer to manage my deer problems by spraying plants with soapy water to kill deer eggs and larvae, myself, but if bullets work better for you, then I suppose you should do that.

mr_subjunctive said...


Did you download and read the lead-ban document? If so, e-mail me.

Tom said...

I'll have to try that next time. I'm tired of replacing my windows every time I miss the deer.

Unknown said...

Oh my.

El Gaucho said...

You couldn't have hit the mark better with the "poser redneck" label. I'm also not opposed to real hunting, but vehemently opposed to how many people "hunt" here in North Dakota/Minnesota, which consists of driving their truck to the middle of nowhere, drinking beer, waiting for a deer to come by, then shooting at it without ever getting out of their truck.

And please don't keep us in suspense, are you going to run with this fabulous offer?

mr_subjunctive said...

El Gaucho:

Well, if they were still inclined to let me have a free membership to give away to somebody, I suppose I'd probably pass it to my brother-in-law, just because he's one of only two people I actually know who hunt and I don't like the other one. But I'm assuming that the offer is probably not still open now that I've mocked it, and they'd be sort of silly to take me up on it regardless because he doesn't blog or anything (as far as I know), so they wouldn't be getting any publicity out of it.

Also, technically, "poser redneck" was Paul's label.

In an early draft of this post, there was a footnote hung on the word heritage (". . . interested in preserving our hunting heritage."), which bothered me on a number of levels, one of which is the "poser redneck" one. ("Hunting heritage" is so poorly defined that anybody who's ever hunted, been related to a hunter, lived in a place with lots of hunters, or emotionally identified with a TV depiction of a hunter can claim hunting as part of his/r "heritage," whether there's any actual experience or knowledge backing it up. Which facilitates posers.)

I think they're using the word more to evoke an emotional response (oh, no, the evil environmentalists are trying to take away my hunting heritage!) and then insert their club as the solution for the fear they've just inspired. Or something like that. I have very complicated and wordy thoughts about the word "heritage."[1]


[1] Though a perfectly cromulent word in itself, it's often used (along with "family," "liberty," "traditional," "values," and "Christian") to put a nice face on bigotry. Which means that whenever I see any of those words, I tend to flash to an image of myself being hanged on a wall as a gender traitor in the Republic of Gilead.

Thomas said...

I'm guessing Jeff had a quota to make if he wanted to keep that position with Bernard & Assoc. (if he's not actually freelancing); maybe he threw his net a bit wide. Or maybe he was confused by the accounts of your treks into the wilds of Iowa hunting new species of indoor flora; funny he missed the concept about bringing 'em back alive.

PATSP, Indoor Plant Preserve, home of Mr. Subjunctive, Plant Hunter. Khaki and a pith helmet?

grumblebunny said...

Most entertaining. comment section. ever.

Unknown said...

Is that a Sound of Music reference? Or am I imagining it?

mr_subjunctive said...

h k:

It's a Sound of Music reference.