It was great to read about Marc Smith’s ‘Speed Dating for Bloggers & PR’ event, although I wish I had been a part of it as this is an area that I am very vocal and passionate about. This response to the experience from Rachel Thexton a PR professional who attended the event, points out a key issue that is not being discussed when it comes to the “using” bloggers.
Bloggers have been gold for PR because of inviting journalists whose reach only goes as far as the readership of their paper or magazine, or viewers on their show the next day or set publication date…a blogger will happily report the event live to their usually THOUSANDS of avid Twitter followers. Bloggers, mostly being ordinary folks tend to enjoy being invited to things and are also therefore fairly easy to impress.
However going beyond events, and live reporting, one of the biggest issues between brands and bloggers these days is compensation for their promotional work. Bloggers are looking at receiving more than ‘free stuff’ for not only their time and writing efforts but for the influence that they were contacted for in the first place.
Rachel is quick to point out that PR is not about paid reach and that they are still apparently uncomfortable in broaching this subject. Why? Bloggers are a new media, many brands and businesses don’t really understand the why’s and hows’ of bloggers apart from what they are told or read and many just feel that they should be working with them but not really ‘getting it’ and if PR professionals and agencies are uncomfortable about explaining the why of budgets for paying bloggers, then perhaps again, we should be looking at how to change that. Or perhaps PR should not be the first contact between bloggers and brands in the first place?
Digital marketing and blogger outreach is continually hobbled by comparisons to ‘old’ media and traditional public relations outreach. This has to change. I was reading about bloggers being paid for publicity efforts in the form of Visa gift cards. Would a journalist accept this as ‘PAYMENT??’ No. They would not. If content marketing and digital publicity is so crucial to brands and the agencies they hire to reach out, fair compensation has to be dealt with.
I was glad to see Rachel the importance of taking the time to focus on the right blogger for the right project. Right now because of the lure of those big social media numbers and wide reach, I feel the quantity over quality model is being used far too much and in my opinion not pushing the huge potential that digital and blogger relationships could really do for brands. Brands, PR and Marketing professionals need to think outside the box a bit more than what we are seeing. Marc himself is a great example of going beyond the ‘norm.’ But it would be nice if it wasn’t always the bloggers teaching the ‘professionals’…the ones who actually get PAID for this stuff, to push it out creatively when it comes to digital marketing.
I say get beyond the numbers and the analytics. Find and build relationships with bloggers that truly fit that brands demographic and then go that bit further.
Perhaps instead of speed dating, Marc let’s look at some sort of round-table where bloggers and brands can hash out new ideas and concepts for the future that works for all involved. I have lots of ideas.