Mummy bloggers are growing at a rapid rate in Australia.
There are more than 2,000 mummy bloggers nationally, and to provide a one stop shop to help educate Mums how to build their blogs into businesses the Mummy Bloggers Blog was launched 1 March 2011.
I was invited to contribute an Open Letter to Bloggers from a PR perspective to help bloggers understand our place in this sphere.
This was first published here
I’ve been working in PR at Porter Novelli Melbourne for three years, on campaigns for Walt Disney Studios, Rubbermaid, Coles Supermarkets, Stahmann Farms and many others.
What I have to say here is about our workplace; I can’t vouch for others in my industry.
Bloggers vs Media
About two years ago we started really reaching out to bloggers, in recognition of the growing value and influence, particularly of Mummy bloggers.
Even a couple of years ago Australian blogging was relatively uncharted, and many PR people made the mistake of approaching bloggers in the same way as print, broadcast or other online media.
The rise of email has made it easy to overlook the art and value of building relationships, personalising contact and doing research to make sure we’re approaching the right people with the right ideas.
Paid vs Earned media
Most brand companies have a number of marketing services suppliers, and that usually includes a media buying agency as well as a PR agency. The media buying agencies plan, negotiate and book ad space. For bloggers, these are the people who work with Nuffnang and pay for sponsored reviews.
In other media, this would be declared as “advertorial” or “sponsored” content.
Much of our PR business is to earn media attention.
In principle, we don’t pay for media space.
We work with journalists and bloggers to identify information that’s worth telling other people about.
It’s not that we don’t believe your work isn’t worth paying for; it’s that content that stands on its own two feet has greater integrity and authenticity than content that is paid for.
More brands understand the influence you wield, but they are still uncomfortable putting their ideas into an uncontrolled environment that where they can’t dictate what’s said or the dialogue that follows.
Paying bloggers to write reviews allows them to feel they have some control, but readers see this for what it is: paid media. Advertising.
PR companies set out to work with you, to earn your interest, unbiased and unhindered by financial reward.
We should never ask you to change something you’ve written, or ask to see reviews before they are published.
We have no right to do that, and you have no compulsion to do what we might ask.
Your supporters value your thoughts and opinions, and that’s why we want to work with you.
But we do believe we should provide something of value for you if you dedicate time to our campaigns.
To date we’ve never asked for sample products to be returned. I understand for some PR people this can be tricky when dealing with very expensive items, but the principle is the same.
For starters, we will recommend our clients buy banner advertising on blogs.
And, should we ask something a lot larger from a blogger, such as acting as an ambassador for a campaign, we will negotiate a fee, just as we do with brand ambassadors – but we will also declare that commercial interest.
We’ll always work to offer a reader giveaway with a review. But if we can offer you a giveaway, it’s because we fought for it; brands aren’t always willing to give away product. We have to argue the case, but we know giveaways are popular and help drive traffic to the post, so everyone wins.
There are so many “Rules”, “What Not to Do” lists and PR-blogger horror stories.
If we hear somebody here has sent a “Dear blogger” email, it’s not just me who’ll have words with them about it.
This PR/blogger relationship is a new dynamic for us all.
We’re still feeling our way around and working out how to make it work for everybody.
As an example, we’ve had feedback that you don’t want to pay postage for sending out winners’ prizes. So, we’ve taken that back as one of our jobs.
I’ll be at the Aussie Bloggers Conference in Sydney on March 19.
I hope to meet many of you there. Please come and say hi, and I can ask you about life as a blogger, and you can ask me about life in PR. I’m sure we’ll get along fine.