a peek inside the fishbowl

pitch policy

[last updated September 2014]

Dear Public Relations and Marketing types,

I hope you read this before you send me that email, because this is going to save us both a lot of time.

My name is Andrea and this is my personal website. I’m a professional writer and sometime photographer. I’ve been maintaining this little corner of the internet for over 15 years and the views I express here are entirely my own.

If you’d like to advertise here at the Fishbowl, please read this. If this is about pitching your product or service, read on!

I’m often asked what this site is about. It’s a tough question to answer because I have so many interests, but if I had to narrow it down to one wee catchphrase I’d have to say that this site is a “family lifestyle blog” with a focus on healthy living, great gear, family-friendly events, and parenting life in the Ottawa area. Some people might even call this a MOMMY BLOG. Gack! I see it as so much more. (Free tip: please don’t start your email with “Dear Mommy blogger” … thank you!)

  • I am located in Ottawa, Canada.
  • My email address is andrea AT quietfish DOT com. You can also use this form to contact me.
  • If your pitch is in relation to something for Capital Parent Newspaper or the Kitchissippi Times, please let me know.
  • I love it when PR people make it easy for me to get the information I need. Easy is good.
  • Your email should get to the point quickly, and contain enough information so I know what is being asked of me. I’d prefer not to receive a one-liner just asking for my mailing address, and if I can’t tell what you’re pitching me within 30 seconds or two paragraphs I won’t be reading page two.
  • I receive many press releases and email notices and can’t respond to every one of them, sorry! But I am more likely to respond if you’re offering something exclusive. I love being the first to know.
  • I don’t expect you to pretend that you’re a regular reader, but I do hope that you’ll have at least read enough to determine whether I’m the kind of person who would be interested in your offer. Your product has to be the right fit for me and my readers.
  • My readers are incredibly important to me and I value these individuals greatly, so I’m very selective about the products I write about. I don’t accept products or services just for the sake of getting free stuff. That’s not the main purpose of this website. I only accept products and services I will love and know my readers will love too.
  • I cannot write about something I can’t personally recommend. It’s really not fair to my readers. I need to see samples because…
  • … my goal is always to be genuine and absolutely honest about everything I review. I always disclose whether I am writing about a product I have been given for free. If the product is useful to me or my family I will keep the product I have been given. I do not accept loaners.
  • Please keep in mind that I run advertising on this site. My patrons are good people and they’re helping keep this boat afloat. It’s not cool if Big Corporation sends me a three-dollar box of cereal in hopes that I blog about it.
  • Your product or service must be easily available to Canadians. A U.S. based e-tailer with $35.00 shipping to Canada doesn’t count.
  • Please don’t just email me your press release. I prefer people to robots! I’m a person, you’re a person, so why not send me an original email? I’m more likely to respond too.
  • Overpackaged goods is a personal bugaboo of mine. Please think about the environment and don’t overpackage your goods.
  • I’ve had inquiries from businesses and agencies asking if they could pick my brain about blogger outreach. I love talking about social media marketing and mommy blogging and I’m happy to share my experience about what works and what doesn’t work. Contact me for rates and details.

Things I will likely write about (based on pitch emails to which I’ve responded) include:

  • Special events, especially kid-friendly ones in the Ottawa area
  • Family-friendly vacation destinations (like this one, and this one)
  • Home decor, home furnishings (like this, for example)
  • Great gear for families/kids
  • Some charitable causes (like this one and this one and this one)
  • Various gadgets and geekery (like this and this).
  • Also: we are gamer types and wear our geekdom with pride!
  • Photography and video gear
  • Film screenings/theatre events (like this one)
  • Healthy living, healthy initiatives (like this one)
  • Relevant websites/services to me and my readers (tricky, I know, but there it is!)

I mostly limit my giveaways to my patrons, but will consider a giveaway if it matches the criteria as above. Contact me for details.

I’ve had the good fortune of being given the opportunity to participate in some really fun social media marketing campaigns. Here are a few examples:

  • I worked with Sobeys as part of their Love Food campaign.
  • Ford let me drive an Explorer around for a week. And then again the following year.
  • Loblaw paid for our groceries for a month so we could try some of their new products. Read the kickoff post here. Some of the resulting posts are here, here and here. The wrap-up post is here.
  • I was flown down to Toronto by Hellman’s in order to participate in a discussion about their Real Food campaign. Food is good. You can read about that campaign here.
  • I went to Disney World for the day – woot!
  • Canadian Tire redecorated my back porch.
  • Check out the campaign I participated in for the rebranding of Mark’s (Part I and Part II)

I’ve also worked with Ikea, Samsung, Camino, Xbox, Kobo, Telus, terra20, KitchenAid, Chevy/GM (and others!) in different ways.

Things I will likely NOT respond to (a.k.a. pitch emails I’ve deleted):

  • Events in Toronto (I live in Ottawa! Unless you’re planning on flying me down there I cannot attend your event.)
  • Chemical household cleaners
  • Hollywood insider stuff. (Sorry. I don’t care.)
  • Junky convenience foods. Emails about frozen pizzas, mini-yogurts, single-serving overpackaged snacks, frozen turkeys, and sliced ham are deleted without pause.
  • Anything that begins with “Dear Mommy Blogger.”

That’s it for now. I expect this document to change over time, but I hope this provides a good starting point.

Any questions? Please contact me. Thank you!

p.s. Props to Kate Trgovac from whom I swiped this idea!

Patronatus

NAC Ottawa family events


Fall family fun fun at Saunders Farm!


Creatures of Light Nature's Bioluminescence at the Canadian Museum of Nature, Ottawa


Mrs Tiggywinkle's - the best toy store in Ottawa


Litterless lunch solutions at terra20


Zen Kitchen is open! Use code FISHBOWL for free dessert


Nepean Visual Arts Centre


Visit tThe Village Quire in Westboro Ottawa!


Click me!


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Me and my pet projects

bucketlist


etc.

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  • andrea tomkins: I'm grateful too, very much so. Our day had a happy ending. Mark arrived home from work, the girls came home from school at the usual time, and it
  • Safe and Sound: To me and no doubt others out there, the thunderous gun battle video is incredible because we see law enforcement officers running towards this hell.
  • andrea tomkins: Hi Brenda, I suggest you contact PC Plus about changing your account information. You can do that right here:  https://www.pcplus.ca/loyalty-help.
  • Brenda: I always received an email saying it ws time to Load My Points for the week and it was very simple to just make one click of the mouse and my bonus po
  • andrea tomkins: The winner is commenter #52, Lynn Vandenbroeck, who wrote: "I host weekly board game nights. I would love to allow the group to enjoy some new boa
  • Elnaz S: I would splurge on board games! Apples to Apples, Pandemic, Trivial Pursuit..so many to choose from!
  • Mel: my kids love playmobil. This would help with the Christmas list. thanks for the chance!

The Obligatory Blurb

My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our two daughters Emma (15) and Sarah (13). I am the editor of the Kitchissippi Times, Capital Parent Newspaper, and a regular contributor to MediaSmarts.ca. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger, and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999... which makes me either a total dinosaur or a veteran, I'm not sure which! The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

If you'd like to contact me, please use this form. If you're so inclined, you can read more about me here. Thank you for visiting!

 


My right hand is actually a camera

Connect with me at these places too!

The #dailylunches project – 845 lunches and counting!

Every day I eat lunch and take a picture. Here's the latest:

Created with flickr badge.

Click the photo for details: what it is, where I ate it (if it's worth a mention!) and how to cook it (if there happens to be a recipe). You can also read more about this project right here.

Sideblog

  • I'm sharing some of my favourite lunch-related items over on the terra20 blog today. Whether you're packing a lunch for work, for your kids, or just eating at your desk at home, I bet there is something there for you. Check it out!

    - #
  • I have a new post up at the MediaSmarts blog this week. It's my response to a question that I'm asked quite often: What’s the best age to give a kid an iPod touch?

    - #
  • My latest post at the MediaSmarts website is about passwords. Is this something you've talked about with your kids? Given the proliferation of devices in households (often one per person now) it might be an important topic for discussion. How have you handled passwords in your household?

    - #

On the nightstand

... check out past nightstand reads right here.

Got kids in Ottawa? These posts might be worth a click too:

All hail the mighty Twitter