Monday, December 12, 2016

5 Things to Avoid When Contacting a Tea Blogger


+Tea for Me Please turned the ripe old age of 8 this year. As far as tea blogs go, you could say that I've been around the block a time or two. In that time I've experienced the best (and the worst) of tea company PR. A good portion of the faux pas have been committed by marketing firms but occasionally it was industry folks who should know better. This is a topic that has come up at every Tea Bloggers Round Table that I've been a part of so I thought it was about time that I talk about it here on the blog. Here are some things to avoid when contacting a tea blogger:

Getting our names wrong


This seems pretty self-explanatory but it happens more often than you would think. A PR firm has their intern send out mass emails and somewhere along the copy and paste they forget to change the name. While it's not really a huge deal it does have a smack of cold, impersonality to it. Sometimes it's more of a language barrier issue. They call me by my last name and assume I am an American male named Martin (despite the fact that I consistently use a picture of my face across all social media channels).

Neglecting to read our blog and or/review policies first


I spend A LOT of time responding to emails from companies that very obviously never even looked at my blog or my posted review policy. Other bloggers consistently tell me that they deal with the same thing. I can't help but wonder why they would waste their time (or their client's money) in this way. After writing hundreds of tea reviews, the blog has grown and changed to reflect my own tastes. It has now changed to a singular focus on directly sourced, unflavored loose leaf teas. Although this is the case I still field lots of emails from folks wanting me to promote their flavored rooibos K-Cups and skinny tea blends.

Adding us to your email list without permission


My inbox is a neverending pile of junk that needs to be sorted through in order to find the good stuff. Part of this is because a ton of tea companies and PR firms have added me to their email list without my permission. In a lot of cases, there is no opt out and I don't receive a response when I ask to be removed. Not only is that illegal but it's really annoying (and makes me much less likely to be interested in their brand).

Having unrealistic expectations


For some reason, tea companies get the idea that a good review on a blog will magically equate to a ton of sales. The truth is that this is not really the way that things work. What I do is a niche within a very small niche. I am no Michelle Phan and my influence is not that large. While some readers tell me they do use the search function on my site if they're curious about a particular company, most of them are not clicking "Buy Now" as soon as I publish something. I felt guilty about letting companies down for a long time but eventually realized that their expectations just weren't achievable.

I also get a lot of messages, especially on Facebook, from people saying that they want me to promote their brand. This immediately makes me recoil because that isn't really what I do. I simply love tea more than the average person and sometimes that involves sharing my experience with a particular tea. These kinds of communications usually contain very little information about the person or what their brand even does. It also bother's me a bit because brand promotion is something bloggers in other niches are compensated for but that is never part of the conversation.

Information (and/or tea) overload


I love it when companies are excited to share what they do with me. However, sometimes they tend to overdo it. Sometimes this can take the form of four copies of every press release. Other times it's sending more tea than logically makes sense. If they send me thirty samples at once, my mindset quickly goes from "Yay, tea!" to "OMG, how am I going to get through all of this?". Complaining about too much tea probably seems a bit odd but it can really get out of hand at times.

Sorry to be a negative Nelly guys. At some point, I think I'll write a post that is the opposite of this one. I've withheld the names of the guilty for their own protection. Fellow bloggers, have you had experiences like this? I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

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