How to avoid this!
Or… how I would pitch myself.
My WordPress feed is quite handy for finding new and fun bloggers. I’m not sure if I’m just noticing more because I am in PR, or if PR firms are taking note that it’s Diabetes Awareness month, but man, there are a lot of pitches going around. I’ll knock on wood for now, as it seems my blog is too new to be searchable, but I’ve read about 4 blogs all covering the same thing – how NOT to pitch to a person with diabetes.
On behalf of PR gurus from around the world… I’m sorry. Let’s fix this disconnect now.
From my perspective, it is SO HARD to make a form letter that’s getting passed around to 100s of emails sound like it applies to everyone you are emailing. And then make it sound casual, as though you’ve known the recipient for years. In some ways, it works. But depending on the timing, topic, angle, and appropriateness, it probably won’t. So – note to PR folks… EVERYONE is pitching Diabetes Awareness Month now… try a different angle… please.
So what would get my attention? In a good way? Here you go:
1) Educate yourself on the different types of diabetes variations.
Have a great diet to help “reverse the affects of Type 2 diabetes” or have this awesome new drug that decreases insulin resistance? Great! Don’t wanna hear about it. None of that stuff would help me. Same goes for the folks wanting to pitch advice on how to reverse pre-diabetes. I’m afraid you are bit too late for that one. And just because obesity can cause diabetes doesn’t mean I’m overweight. (And don’t question why I’m not…) Google is your best friend. TAGS in blogs are even better. (I try to mention a Type 1 related tag in all my posts.) Know your audience. Duh.
2) We have Diabetes. It doesn’t have us.
When I did volunteer work for the Bubel/Aiken Foundation, now the Inclusion Project, a number of years ago, the organization had a specific lexicon of phrases and words that were appropriate in public domains. For example, we never said a child is autistic; we said he has autism. Or we never said he is handicapped; rather a child with special needs. And we definitely never distinguished between kids without disabilities as “normal.” Since the goal of the organization was to foster inclusion, we had to change our vocab.
If you come to me and say that I am a diabetic, it implies that this who I am, and only who I am. It owns me and controls me. Rather, I prefer to say I have diabetes, because then it becomes a trait similar to “I have brown eyes.” My brown eyes don’t make me who I am; it’s simply a part of me.
3) Guilt doesn’t work.
Pitching grim statistics, or implying that I’m horrible at controlling my blood sugar and only your product/service can help is a surefire way to make me hit the delete key. (Or fire back with a snarky response.) We all work hard at controlling this unwieldy disease. We all play mental games with ourselves, trying to wrap our heads around why our bodies work the way they do. We get enough flack from our doctors and family members. We don’t need it from a stranger hiding behind a keyboard as well.
4) I’m a person too.
Yeah, sure, I may be a statistic in some form. But I’m also a person. Make sure your pitch has human life and doesn’t just drone on about how erry’body with diabetes is suffering and blah blah blah. We don’t suffer from anything. I aim to be just as human as everyone else. (Even though I’m battery powered.)
Special thanks to Kerry, Kim, and Christopher for bringing this to my attention. Also check out NYC PR Girls for more general advice on being successful in PR.