Thursday, September 30, 2010

How to Get Products for Free Part 12

If you're trying to get stuff for free you will get rejection emails, calls and letters. Not every attempt will be successful simply because some companies are jerks (basically). So how can you handle these rejections and avoid the knock backs? This chapter includes some of my most bizzare rejection emails and a couple of tricks on how to learn lessons for the future.


Chapter 12: Rejection hurts
Up until this point I hadn’t actually received a flat out rejection. Sure I’d
received the odd “we don’t give to charity” email (which made no sense as I
never claimed to be anything other than a random person asking for
something for no reason) but I’d never actually received anything saying that
companies didn’t like the site and that they weren’t interested.
Then on a blissful summer afternoon I go my first formal rejection
and just like the high school crush that tells you she just wants to be friends it
hurt, a lot.

“Thank you for the e-mail. However, I do not feel that this 'Freebie-Man'
website is appropriate for my client. As a PR Agency, we deal directly with
the press, rather than student websites, but good luck with it all! “

So the fake sentiment at the end was a nice thought but really the rest of the
email felt like a kick in the nuts. First of all the way he says “this Freebie-
Man website” makes it seem like he is holding it at arms length (like an
unwanted puppy) almost saying “get THIS horrid beast away from me!”. I’d
love to know what he actually thought of the website but I decided to contain
my anger for that day. Then I thought more about the second line “we deal
directly with the press, rather than student websites”…

Damn, he’d seen right through me! My journalistic dreams that I had worked
so hard to create were crumbling down around me. How on Earth could he
possibly have known that I wasn’t a journalist at all? Did someone spill the
beans? Was my email sloppy and mis-spelt?

What could possibly have alerted him to the fact I was a student and
that the closest I’d ever come to a newspaper was writing a fake press
release?

Wanting some answers I wrote back:
“Just out of curiosity what made you feel the site was a 'student' website
rather than press? Generally the informal review style is going down very
well with PR firms and readers alike.”

Check that out for high quality spin, the likes of which a politician would be
proud. Not only did I keep up the ruse of being a press website but I also tried
to step around the issue of being a student. Hah let’s see what he has to say to
that!

“Freebie-Man is not something that I feel is appropriate or relevant for our
clients.”

Ah! He just had to put the boot in one more time!

“Given your profile as a 'student', the site would appear to be targeted at this
market.”

My profile as a student? What on Earth could he be referring to? Does
he have a file on me or has he been doing some top-secret research? Either
way I didn’t fancy finding out so decided to stop emailing him all together
just in case Big Brother was watching me.

Turned out that the ‘profile’ he was referring to was my personal
profile, which I had set up when registering the address for Mikeessex.co.uk.
Stupidly I’d put my occupation down as student and even more stupidly there
was a huge link to my profile on the main page of the website! This meant
anyone with a bit of doubt on the website could take a look at my profile and
find out my true credentials. Having spotted this I quickly changed my occupation to ’Freebie-Man’ but it seemed it was too late to save my reputation from this client.

Feeling pretty deflated from the rejection I decided to chat to Marie
about the site. She listened to my concern and felt bad about the rejection but
when I told her the company name she simply burst out laughing. Leaning
over I proceeded to ask her what was so funny. It turned out the company I
had been trying to get from, who I mistook for a humble £9.99 sandal maker
were in fact one of the biggest suppliers of Sandals to celebrities! No wonder
they didn’t want to give a student anything for free, celebrities have trouble
getting stuff for free from them!

There’s a couple of other odd rejections I’ve received since this one
which I’ve listed below, honestly I’d prefer no reply than some of these
responses:

“[We are] as much about the services we offer as our products we won't send
you any samples for a feature as we don't feel it will be able to communicate
the whole Bra experience.”

Whilst I have no idea what the ‘Bra Experience’ is I have the sneaking
suspicion they thought that I was going to take photos of myself wearing their
bras and then post them on the Internet. Whilst that’s not something I take to I
had just waxed my legs on a public website so I could see why they were
concerned.

“Unfortunately your website does not fit with our current marketing strategy
and therefore we are unable to help you on this occasion.”

Apparently their current marketing strategy is to not send products to people
for review… yeah that’ll work.

Whilst talking to someone at Spring Fair whose stand resembled a house built
from scratch: “I’m sorry we don’t carry out any PR or advertising”. Which
made very little sense given that they were a) at a PR show and b) the house
must have cost a few thousand to build, a free sample would have been much
cheaper…

Oh and there’s always the brush off:

“I believe that the representatives from those clients will be in touch as they
sound perfect.”

And I never heard from them again…. Sigh.

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My Policy

Every product on this site has been received for free, and given to me by the product manufacturer or their associated PR organisation in return for a review.

I have no other personal or business association with these companies, and all reviews are written truthfully and based on my own experience. If I hate a product I will say so (and have done on many occasions!).