I just wrote an article, Blogger outreach is earned media PR, isn’t it?, wherein I suggested that some bloggers are kinda jerks because they lead any blogger outreach with “here’s my advertising packet.” This sort of feels like “talk to the hand” to me because they never buy me a drink first, they just whip it out and suggest that I either have to pay a printed fee for a sponsorship, advertisement, or link; or, I have to bugger off.
Man, I was feeling a little ornery about it but Brian quickly commented on the post with words that melted my heart and made me feel ashamed:
Though many organizations have come to appreciate the role bloggers and social influencers play in generating positive branding, far too many refuse to elevate them to the level of traditional/mainstream media, and in an ego-driven world, that is a costly mistake (insofar as you do care about getting “earned media” from bloggers).
The mistake of belittling bloggers and hoping they’ll jump at any opportunity to interview someone from your company or give away a small gift to their audience is rampant, and it occurs even within successful PR firms that were launched after the “social era” had already begun.
And even bigger than that, the question PR teams need to ask when approaching blogs is how the content they wish to share will add value to THE BLOG rather than THE BRAND! A blogger might love a brand and want to do all he can to promote it, but at the end of the day, his top priority is gaining traffic and credibility for his website. Helping him do that is the best way to win him over and get your content shared.
Bloggers, in fact, are the victims and we digital and PR agencies are the perps.
These bloggers are a lot like us single people in our late 30s and 40s who have so much emotional baggage from our 20s and early 30s that we’re almost impossible to date. We’ve seen it all and we don’t like what we’ve seen so most of our romantic notions of what it is to be a lover and be loved, to be in a relationship and to even get married have been dashed: our expectations are dashed and we’ve generally armored ourselves in such a way that nobody can really ever get through to us. We’ve been chewed up and spit out and not given the kindness and respect — the personal dignity — that we (or thought we) well deserved. If you’re in your mid- to late-30s — or even 40s, gah! — and are not married yet, what’s wrong with you!?
Same thing for these bloggers: they’ve been around for a long time. In blogger years they’re pushing 40 and they’ve never been married. They’ve been hurt in bruising one-night stands with PR firms and agencies, only to be used and pushed aside. They’ve never merited the mythical business-class flights to tony hotels that big brands are supposed to offer to bloggers in order to curry favor — the wining, dining, and endless martinis and cosmos that those top bloggers (and the Klouterati) cannot schedule fast enough.
“Why them and not me,” you ask. I get it; “what do they have that I don’t,” you wonder. Totally!
I feel that way all the time, too — believe me. Both in my personal and professional life (yeah, I know, TMI).
Thing is, you’ll never make it there. The best suitors don’t “pay for it.” We do pay, but we can’t pay in the way you want. Why? Because that’s not the campaign we’re doing (I do PR and PR is pretty much always earned media) or it’s not the kind of coverage my clients are looking for (they generally have it in their mind that the only want the Romantics, they only want the Passion-Players — they want something more innocent and pure — an earned post, an organic(ish) mention.
So, what happens is we, they, our clients, whomever, end up only reaching out to either just the bona-fide celebrities and A-listers (all of whom we already do know and have worked with before and meet up with at SXSW and Burning Man and in SF or NY or even a Podcamp) or we reach out to the A-listers, give them the real exclusives, wait until they post, and then reach out to everyone else — reaching out as deeply into the content- and topic-specific blogger lists as needed until we make our numbers.
We reach out to you lonely hearts who lead with “so what do you do (code for how much do you make)” and then get judged for not choosing a good enough restaurant or for how we’re dressed — but when we’re told nothing outside, “I take Visa” in the form of leading with the rate card, we move on to folks who are still young, passionate, curious, playful, hopeful, excited, Romantic, and still passionate about citizen journalism, social media sharing, tweeting, their new Facebook Page — and if not totally psyched about their blog, at least still super passionate, child-like, excitable, earnest, and enthusiastic about what it is they’re blogging, tweeting, Tumbling, Facebooking, or Google Plussing about. We love that and we embrace that.
And when it comes down to it,. everyone runs away from an entitled attitude because everyone’s paid their own dues. I don’t expect anyone to blog at all on behalf of me or my clients — I am still completely amazed that anyone does — and for “free” — but I am always excited, I am always surprised, and I am always grateful. And if you’re not totally excited to be working with me, with my agency, with my client or their brand — really excited to be tapped or recognized at all — we’ll check you off as a “miss” and, depending on how angry you are at being bothered, we’ll either remove you from that particular campaign or, if you’re livid and really hate on us, we’ll put you into the Black Hole — the universal Do Not Contact (DNC) list, and you’ll never, ever, hear from us again.
It’s sort of better for both of us that way.
That said, these bloggers are the victims. In many cases, outside of our friends the A-listers, we’re reaching out cold and asking quite a lot. We’re asking for a post, really; we’re asking for a tweet, a pin, or a Facebook post, we’re asking to take time out of your day to read our pitch, to respond, to agree, to receive our news or review copy or book or coupon or whatever, then you’re willing to actually do what you said you’d do and write it up, add photos and graphics, maybe embed a video, and then stand by it as it come up on the front page of your “home” — your blog. That is asking a lot — and for what? I don’t know. Bragging rights? Review copies of cool stuff? Giveaways and coupons — content — for your readers? That you’ve been selected by X or Y company? That all of this writing into the void and vacuum of space resulted in getting noticed?
For many bloggers, blogging is like sending SETI radio signals out into space and getting their first professional, PR pitch from us and our clients is a little like getting a radio reply from intelligent life from space. You don’t know how many times there have been long-tail, lower-ranked blogs that have never, ever, been kissed by any sort of agency or brand. It is really awesome to make the day of someone who’s been convinced that nobody but mom and a couple cousins have been reading them after writing post-after-post, day-after day. It is very rewarding.
That said, I know that this article’s a bit — a lot — snarky, but I had fun writing it so I am going to let it lie as it and I look forward to continuing the discussion down in the comments. Thanks in advance.