I love marketing and promotions. I probably should have had a career in Public Relations. I did take a few courses on top of my Communications minor but then got distracted by children and social media exploded and that was even more distracted, so here I am.
Where am I? Oh yes. I love marketing and I love marketing concepts used in social media. One of those concepts consist of using bloggers for outreach. I am a personal or “lifestyle” blogger too and therefore am on a LOT of mailing lists when it comes to the various PR firms out there. This means I get a variety of pitches…personal and directed at my blog, general blog outreach and say it and spray it press releases.
I find all to be useful even the ‘dear blogger’ one’s AND the say it and spray it releases. Many bloggers don’t and get a little miffed if the release is not directed at them directly. This, in my opinion is foolish. The general press releases are just that…..information to you and all the other media that they are trying to reach. They are not trying to piss off bloggers. They are not trying to lure you into doing free work….it is just that: Information that might be of use to you and your site. Nothing more and nothing less. In fact, I have use these general releases to contact the PR firms and collaborate on a more personal campaign when the event/service/product was a good fit for my site. PR firms LOVE bloggers who come to them with big ideas.
Which leads me to the main point of this post. As a blogger I am in a lot of groups and forums that consist of brand friendly bloggers. I am part of the Digitally Yours team where one of our main goals is to create an even playing field for brand/blogger relations. Brands and bloggers can do amazing outreach together and there are some amazing PR professionals out there and brands who trust them who have wowed bloggers and there are the outreach campaigns that seem to just piss of the bloggers.
The anger seems to rise mostly when a blogger feels ‘used.’ This feeling comes when they feel they are being asked too much for “free.” Free is a weird word when it comes to bloggers and blogging as most are happy to have service, events or products as payment. But many of the top review/brand bloggers only work for dollars and this is where PR and bloggers tend to get into hot water. But it is still a very fluid word and its definition changes depending on the blogger you talk to.
When I am on blogger forums I seem to spend a lot of time explaining what a PR firm actually is and what they are supposed to do for a brand versus an inhouse marketing team for example. PR companies work in the “Earned Media” world. Earned Media is where the customer or blogger becomes the marketing and word of moth channel for the brand. This includes word of mouth (social media channels), reviews and viral content. This is why you get a general press release in your inbox. It is not to piss you off…it is a general announcement going out to their media list. PR does not generally pay for promotion. That would fall under marketing or advertising or “Paid Media.” PR firms would rather create awareness campaigns that a blogger can be a part of….this leads to much more impartial marketing for the brand.
The biggest thing PR agencies have to remember is that a blogger is not a professional media business or journalist (mostly) and that when approaching a blogger, probably a brief explanation about what YOUR place is in the grand scheme of marketing for the brand is and why you want to work with that blogger. A lot of the forums I frequent are filled with bloggers trying to decipher what the PR person is trying to get them to do and if they are being ripped off or not. I think if the PR firms could take a moment to show WHY they value that blogger – for their site or their social media channels and then be happy to negotiate a bit (some $ are nice), then bloggers would be understanding of what part of the great marketing machine that they are now part of. Conversely I think any blogger that is keen on working with brands for product or monetization needs to take some time and do their research about social media marketing Find out what a PR firm does and why a brand hires them. Find out where and why YOU as a blogger might be important to a brand or agency and then create your niche….make yourself a marketable commodity and in demand.
Knowledge is power.