Should PR Leave Bloggers Alone?

Bloggers are the “big it” right now and just about everyone wants a piece of them and front of the queue are PRs

Why? Because bloggers provide the potential to reach audiences other media can not. Many people are becoming harder to reach because they no longer read a  newspaper every day, we may also fail to consume other mainstream media in the old patterns which used to be well understood.

If a blogger can be persuaded to become a conduit for PR messages, then this message stands a good chance of spreading. Add in retweets and link sharing on social media and the message can potentially flow into a huge hinterland previously untapped and it all sounds like a very good idea indeed.

The problem is that in many cases neither side really “gets” the other. PRs are frequently guilty of cutting and pasting a list of Britain’s top bloggers in the relevant sector into their to do list before hitting them en masse with a press release and expecting the blogger to be grateful.

But of course, the majority of bloggers don’t blog in order to please third parties, they do it because they feel compelled to write, because they love their subject or because they feel the need to share. They might be persuaded to blog about a product in the right circumstances but that is not why they are there.

At this stage I must point out that I work in PR but I blog as well so I can see  both sides and having spent time talking to bloggers about the subject I have begun to wonder whether PRs shouldn’t just leave bloggers alone.

But of course things are not as simple as that.

Sometimes the marriage between blogger and PR message can be very good indeed. If I were a blogger who talked about how to make life easier for mums with small children then a product review for something which did just that would be great. But I would not expect to be told what to say and I would  want to see the product I was reviewing – in most cases I would expect to keep it too.

Bloggers want something in return and content is not enough. That is the message I have been getting loud and clear. One thing that’s easy to forget is that journalists get paid by the publication they write for, bloggers do not.

So treat bloggers with care and respect. Read what they write before you hit them up, make them a good offer and don’t fall off your chair if they turn you down.


4 responses to “Should PR Leave Bloggers Alone?

  1. I’m a PR and also a blogger (about being a mum) and I think bloggers know that they have the PRs just where they want them at the moment.
    PRs have blogger outreach at the top of their to do lists and have a certain amount of product to place.
    Yes bloggers expect to keep the products and write what they want about them, but they also want to be offered more reviews so don’t want to risk that by trashing a product. Personally if I don’t like something I just send it back and ask if it’s ok not to write about it.
    Bloggers don’t get paid, so freebies are their payment. Where PRs get it right is when they build a personal relationship over time.
    Where they get it wrong (like a case I had this week) is when they blanket email maternity products to people who aren’t expecting – just because ‘they thought yours readers might be interested’.
    Bloggers write for themselves as well as an audience so targetting them with products their readers might want to read about is a waste of time. As is asking for a review without sending a sample – or sending a sample without introducing yourself by email first.
    It’s complicated, but the relationship can work. I do think it’s going to be very short lived though.
    Really enjoyed your post. Thanks for spurring me to write this essay!

  2. Good post. Same rules apply for on and offline media folk (and I include bloggers in that genre). Make it interesting, make it relevant. The best way to secure editorial is for a writer to experience the product or service and so many people forget that. Bloggers are not there to be abused by lazy PR’s.

  3. Nice post, Lucy. I commented on a post this morning elsewhere that was debating whether or not PRs should ask for products to be returned after reviews. This is what I said:

    “As a general rule I would say that at BOTTLE PR I/we would never ask for products to be returned. Some of the examples you quote above are completely senseless, where the cost of retrieving the product outweighs the cost of letting a blogger keep it, or where it’s simply idiotic (the seeds example).

    That said, maybe I should clarify that general rule further. I/we can only advise clients and some clients aren’t necessarily open to advice on certain matters! If the client is insistent that the product be returned then there’s little we can do about it, no matter how uncomfortable it makes us feel or how silly it makes us look. So you shouldn’t necessarily tarnish the PR agency/agent.

    There’s also the cost of the item in question. For high value items clients may be less inclined to let a blogger keep the product. But define ‘high value’ as you will!

    And finally, though this definitely isn’t the case at BOTTLE, I can imagine that some less-informed PR agencies may feel that by letting a blogger keep the product they are effectively ‘bribing’ them and that they may come in for stick for this. Like I say, this is a bit of guesswork, but many PR agencies are used to dealing with traditional media/journalists and are not educated in the ways of the blogger. More fool them…”

  4. Thanks everyone – this subject is everywhere at the moment- some of the best stuff I’ve seen was sparked by Commschat and Sally Whittle’s contribution there, so well done to them. Lets hope the fact that it is on the radar means we can do something about it before relations break down for good.

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