My name is Debbie, Debs or even Deborah (reserved for my mum, but you can use it if you are being formal) and Betty at a push – and I’ll only give you that one if you’ve confused me with my Twitter handle – BettybooDubai! You see when I started my blog and my social media life (some five years ago now) I never thought to be one name across all my platforms, I thought even less that PR’s and Marketing guru’s would be mailing me with invites and press releases. To be honest I never expected to get a mailbox with so many random salutations either …
So it’s only the third of January, and already my mailbox, like many others I know, is overflowing with mails – most of which are not at all relevant to me, will be deleted in an instance or will keep my spam manager busy so I won’t even see them.
Whilst I’m dreaming of achieving the nirvana state of a 4 hour work-week and living a digital nomad life on a beach somewhere (thanks Tim Ferriss!! so far I’m down to 44 hours a day!) I thought it would be useful to pen down a few thoughts on how things could be better for you and me.
But first here’s a bit about my blog (in a rap style if you please)….
I’m a food blogger not a news agency, I write my own content from a – z
I write about food, travel, drink & Coffee, About expat life, and about my new puppy
I write about things, personally experienced by me, and take my own photos for my readers to see
Press releases, are of no use to me, as it’s written by you and certainly not by me
My readers love my blog because it’s written by me, It’s not a curated newsfeed or a press agency
Weddings, kids & fashion are not for me, Send me those and please excuse the delete
I’m going to try to respond to every invite that you send, & tell you why I can’t use or attend,
I hope I don’t offend, but I’m aiming you see, to make life a bit easier for you and me
and with a degree of humor I hope ….
Here’s some tips that might help get more engagement for an influencer/blogger to read your mail and/or attend an event :
Personalised Invites over Generic Ones – it’s always good to feel that you have been reached out to personally rather than just selected from list A, B, C or even D … In a crowded mailbox you won’t believe how nice is it to receive a mail starting with “Dear Debbie” Invites starting with Dear Blogger, Dear Influencer, Dear Media etc are not likely to be read with such enthusiasm.
Advance Notice of the Event – linked to the above, as much notice of an event as you can is fantastic so we can manage our diary. Also and bear in mind that if we get a very last minute invite, we know that’s because you need to fill spaces. In our heads we convert that to ‘I wasn’t worthy of being invited earlier but now that someone has dropped out you are happy to invite me’ – even if it’s true or not!
Know us by our name – Please address us by our name – it goes a long way to show you have done a bit of research on us – for avoidance of doubt my name is not Betty !
Less is More – Personally I would prefer to be invited to less events which match what I write about, than to be inundated with tons of generic invites which are not relevant. Hint – since I don’t write about Weddings and/or babies I’m unlikely to come to a wedding event or child event (unless they are carved out of chocolate), nor do I write about fashion so knock me off that list too … Relevance, Relevance, Relevance!
Content – I create all of my own content, based on my actual experiences, I can’t and won’t release press releases for future events, and certainly won’t be publishing anything for past events. The same applies to holidays, I can’t publish anything that I have not experienced. My readers follow me because I write about my actual experiences and travel stories.
Expenses – I’ve been seeing a trend in the UK of bloggers being paid travel expenses to attend events, whilst I’m not saying this should happen here, particularly given how cheap fuel is, if there is an expectation of us being served alcohol and having to write about it (e.g. wine tasting, wine paired diners etc), I think a good gesture would be to include an Uber or Careem to get us home safely and responsibly. This also applies to trips outside of Dubai for brunch etc, personally I only accept these invites where I can stay over or have an Uber/Careem, a dry brunch experience doesn’t work for me as I don’t feel that it conveys the spirit (pun intended) of the experience.
Obligations – if you have set requirements about what is required in return for the invite, please specify this at the time of the invite, this allows us to weigh up the pros and cons of accepting the invite. There is quite a lot of work involved in writing a post after the event and if there is a set obligation from the client in terms of content and/or timing it’s only fair to flag this at the start.
Press Releases/Menu PDF’s – I write my own content and take my own photos, but background information via a press release or a PDF copy of a menu etc is always helpful to speed up the writing process. Emails over USB’s please – I have enough of these to start my own shop now! Dropbox over WeTransfer (with expiry dates) is useful too!
Balancing Obligations v’s Expenditure – it’s one thing to be asked for a blog post in return for an expensive dinner or experience, it’s quite another to be asked for 2 x on-line reviews, a blog post, social media posts etc for a 100/AED sandwich and cup of coffee! I don’t want to sound entitled here, but the output has to be balanced with the benefit.
On Plus Ones … I rarely like to eat dinner on my own, unless it’s with a group of other influencers/bloggers I know (e.g. a curated tasting event etc), so if you are sending out a generic invite for a review, or an event, please be clear if +1’s are allowed or not.
What’s included – what’s not – If the venue has a restriction on how they do reviews (e.g. they don’t provide alcohol or the review is for the set menu only etc) please flag this at the time so there are no differing expectations.
Confirmation of a Booking – Unfortunately I’ve had a few occasions where I’ve been told a review booking has been made, only to turn up at the restaurant/venue and to be met with blank stares, or looks from the staff as if i’m trying to pull a fast one and wangle a freebie. A simple email with confirmation of the booking and a contact at the restaurant/venue would help greatly and be appreciated by all.
Deliverables – I would suggest if you use the word deliverables in your invite, you should also include the words please provide us with your rate card. As far as I’m concerned deliverables are in return for paid work, not lunch or dinner.
After reading the above I hope you find it helpful, I’m not a grumpy blogger, just a seasoned one who would like to make this process a little bit easier for everyone involved.