For the first time ever, last week, I received an email asking me why I wanted to be unsubscribed from the brand’s press release mailing list.
Context : I’m a photographer. I have a blog where I share my work and personal life by way of visuals and words. Updating and managing a blog while navigating a few different career switches means that I’ve been blogging since 2004. This has, over a period of time, made me an “influencer” in the marketing departments of some brands.
The problem is that while I’m thrilled to have an additional revenue stream and creative outlet, I am, almost always, clubbed with those who are considered “traditional media”. And woe is me. Having talked about this numerous times and written about this on my #WTFNaina series, I’m tired of requesting to be unsubscribed.
Whenever I receive a press release email in my work inbox, I respond politely, requesting to be unsubscribed from their press release mailing list. The majority of the responses to my request equate to silence. In most case, I continue to receive similar emails from them. On the third such receipt, I email them telling them that despite my requests, since I am still receiving these email, I am marking emails from their IDs as Spam. Then, I mark that email as Spam.
A handful of times, people have responded to my request, apologised and assured me that I will not be receiving such emails in the future.
But for the very first time, someone actually wrote back asking, “But why?” They also mentioned that they really wanted to work with me.
Unsure of whether I should be astonished by their sincerity or silliness, I decided to lean on the former. It was, in my opinion, an opportunity to connect with someone and possibly educate them.
I informed them that while I too really wanted to work with them, I fail to see why I need their press release in my inbox, especially when I had not subscribed to it myself. Yes. Most of these emails are from brands and PR agencies that send them in without my permission. I haven’t asked to be added. I have not subscribed.
Brands, traditionally, have sent press releases to journalists who might be interested in covering a story related to the brand’s industry or some such. A traditional print publication needs stories to fill its pages with, so that readers have interesting material to read, so that advertisers continue to buy ad space in that publication. For this purpose, a traditional print publication hires journalists / press. These journalists / press people are on a PAYROLL – the publication’s payroll. I am not.
My blog doesn’t need advertisers or advertising money. At Naina.co, we run no ads on any of our web pages. I understand this is an aberration and contrary to the norm. But if you REALLY want to work with us, you might have visited this blog and possibly noticed some things?
Each time I see a press release in my inbox, my reaction is, “And? So? What do you want me to do?” I am not going to go back to the PR person or brand person and tell them I want to do a story on the brand. That is not how “blogging” works. And that is definitely not how “photography” works.
There could be dozens of story angles I could pitch to a brand. These need to have a foundation. The foundation can be built on a relationship with the brand, the brand’s campaign, branding guidelines, new product launch, etc. But there is a pre-foundation that comes in even before this, which is INTENT. Do you intend to work with me? Does your X Brand intend to work with my Naina.co brand? That would be a bull’s eye approach. The press release mailing list is a buckshot approach.
If I want to know what a brand is doing, guess where I go and search? On the brand’s website. On the brand’s social media handles. And if that fails, I Google for them and then read whatever is available.
“But Naina, you might see something in the brand’s product catalog that your audience might love to know about!” Very presumptuous of you. And I don’t run my business on too many “might” scenarios. I genuinely do not have that kind of time. If I discover something on my own, I am more than happy to blog about it and share it with my audience and readers and listeners ( I have a podcast too ). The reason brands pay someone like me is because there is no time to wait for me to organically discover their products.
Emailing hundreds of people in the hope that some of us might find something of interest and then write about it and photograph it for free, is a silly way to conduct business.
As a photographer and blogger, the best way to utilize my skills and my platform is to hire me as a photographer. I will publish my portfolio piece on this platform. I always do. It is my way of showcasing my work and showing-off my clients.
The rest of the market in India doesn’t seem to understand this.
Until the old-guard leaves or understands how this “blogging” thing works, the best strategy is to hire me as a photographer and get the blogging in sideways. It is 2017, but clearly, not all of us are living in it.
Yes! I want to work with you! Please send me an email about that specifically and let’s figure this out. What works for your brand and what works for mine. But please remove me from your press release mailing list. Thanks in advance.