Tipping the Scales

Sir Millard MulchSo there’s been plenty written about why bloggers hate PR people.

From lazy pitches to not knowing names and audience, there’s a veritable mish-mash of scorn poured on us PR nuisances from a lot of bloggers.

And, yes, some of it is warranted and trust me, I’m the first to call out bad PR practices.

But you know that just like anything, there’s always a flip side. Here’s an example.

I was speaking with a very good friend of mine who runs her own PR agency. She’s established a terrific reputation as one of the best PR people around and has deservedly won awards for her approach. Simply put, she’s a role model for great PR.

We were talking about the relationship between bloggers and PR and how we can improve it (“we” being both the blogosphere and the PR industry). This was when my friend shared one of her examples as to why that improvement might be further off than hoped.

She was working with a client whose core audience were “mommy bloggers”. The client’s product was ideally suited to the thousands of moms that have families of their own and blog about products in that niche. So, it would make sense for the PR campaign to connect with the blogging audience it’s suited to. So far, so good.

When my friend approached some of the key bloggers in this field, she had this response: “It’s $75 for a positive review, $100 if there’s an image attached.” When my friend queried this, she was told, “Get your client to splash the cash. If you’re getting paid, we want paid too.”

Say what?

Now, I understand about paid blogging and I have no qualms with it, as long as the blogger is upfront that it’s a sponsored post and that the review remains unbiased. Heck, we all need to make a living, but if you can’t offer full disclosure and non-bias then don’t take the money.

But this isn’t paid blogging – it’s simply a company asking (through their PR agency) if you’d be interested in product testing. You get first shot at the new line and you get to use and keep the product.

But you’re saying that if I pay $75, I’ll get a “positive review”? Isn’t this false advertising, or marketing, or whatever you wish to call it?

What happens if the product is crap? Will you still tell your readers that it’s great, because you’ve agreed to offer a positive review? How do you think your readers would feel about that? After all, aren’t they your most important audience?

Or is this just another point in your one-upmanship game with the PR industry?

Now, I’m not saying all bloggers (mommy or otherwise) are like this, either when it comes to product reviews or in the relationship they have with PR. I have some fantastic relationships with many bloggers and I couldn’t do a lot of my work without them.

But to those bloggers that my friend had the misfortune of dealing with?

A blog is your personal voice. Your readers are your community. Is both your voice and community something you’d happily sell down the river for a few bucks?

Because if they are, then that’s the real bad PR.

Creative Commons License photo credit: rick

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