When PR Has Its Head Up Its Ass

When PR Has Its Head Up Its Ass

pr talking out its assI read a post over at Mom Blog Magazine that left me shaking my head the further I read, and reinforced why so many bloggers don’t like PR agencies.

Entitled Why PR People Get Paid And You Don’t, it was a post by an anonymous PR professional (“Sarah”) who, in her own words, is “an actual employee at an actual PR company; one you’ve heard of if you’ve heard of any.”

Basically, the post was an “explanation” of why bloggers shouldn’t get too full of themselves and expect cushy blog promotions with companies that are represented by PR agencies.

Some of the gems of wisdom from Sarah include:

But you also aren’t getting hired. You’re writing a blog post. Let’s stop pretending your blog is a world-changing event and recognize it for what it is–something transient that may be gone tomorrow if you flake out or change your mind or your Uncle Vinny finds your blog and you realize you don’t really want him to know where you live because you still owe him money.

You don’t promise to say nice things about the company. The PR person does. They have to sell a product no matter what that product is, and they sell it with a smile even if it kicks puppies and makes babies cry. You don’t have this obligation. You have the freedom that comes with NOT having a paycheck to answer to.

You are not expected to show up at 8 a.m. dressed business casual and go to countless meetings.  You get to do and say whatever you want as long as you plop a disclaimer at the end.

Inspiring stuff, huh? It doesn’t stop there – in the comments, Sarah continues to dismiss a lot of valid responses that question her logic (she does also answer politely as well, to keep the balance). She also implies that the post was humorous in some of her comment replies, but I’m not too convinced.

But humour aside, Sarah does absolutely nothing for the case of PR understanding the importance of bloggers, and a lot for the mindset that PR sees bloggers as second-class media.

Bloggers Are Your Marketers

In Sarah’s post, she’s specifically writing about mommy bloggers, but it could be about any blogger from any niche. And Sarah’s implication – which, by default, is indicative of he employer – is that bloggers aren’t really meant to be taken seriously when it comes to PR needs.

So bloggers don’t have to say nice things about a client or their products? Bloggers are fairweather transients? Bloggers get to say and do whatever they want as long as they plop a disclaimer at the end?


It’s exactly because bloggers don’t have to be all fairy dust that they’re so valuable to brands (and the PR agencies that represent these brands). The problem with too many businesses is that they have PR Yes people crawling up their butt saying everything’s great, when it so clearly isn’t. And then they wonder why new Product A failed so miserably on launch.

Getting feedback – honest feedback – from bloggers and their readers is the best focus group a company can ever have, because it is so honest. Want to improve your product? Listen to the folks that matter – the people that use it.

leaving pr industryAs for being transient? It’s a well-known fact that the PR industry is one of those that has a particularly high turnover rate when it comes to jobs.

One-off projects and cutthroat practices mean a lot of people are left high and dry at the end of a project. Or burned out, from demands of the industry itself.

The saving grace for PR professionals is that this leads to a lot of job hopping, with agencies looking to fill spaces left by previous owners. Bloggers, on the other hand, don’t have the luxury of being able to job hop. The closest they come is getting a new Mac or PC, and possibly a new chair.

And Sarah’s point about not having to go to countless meetings? Perhaps not physically, but that view discounts all the Skype meetings, conference calls, email exchanges and IM chats that regularly happen as part of a blogger outreach program. And I guarantee you that many bloggers would LOVE to be able to sit in on client meetings to offer some more insights and gain a better understanding.

If you don’t like going to meetings, don’t work in a service-related industry.

Open Up and Smell the Bloggers

I look at the whole blogger and PR relationship from both sides. I have a PR background, and Bonsai Interactive offers PR services. Part of that is blogger relations and who should be used for individual campaigns.

I’m also a blogger, and I work with PR agencies now and again to promote their clients (always disclosed) so I get to see firsthand how bloggers are viewed by PR people.

Sarah’s viewpoint is disappointing. In one blog post, she’s basically implying that bloggers should be grateful for anything PR throws their way and that they should also know their place in the pecking order (again, Sarah’s words).

I don’t know if this is just her personal viewpoint, or reflective of the agency she works at, but either way it’s disheartening to see. I know a ton of amazing PR folks that truly value all that a blogger – any blogger – can bring to the promotional table.

People like Gini Dietrich, Shonali Burke, Dave Fleet, Rachel Kay, Arik Hanson and many more. These guys are bringing great successes for both their agencies and clients – all because they treat bloggers with respect and as a key part of any communications strategy.

Perhaps Sarah’s post was meant to be humorous. If so, she missed the funny boat. She also didn’t paint her employers in a great light, as the readers of Mom Blog Magazine made clear in a lot of their replies.

Perhaps bloggers don’t get paid the same way PR professionals do. But the minute a blogger is contracted to write a review of a product, or promote a new book for a PR agency’s client, that’s being hired. As such, you should extend the professional courtesy and dealings you give clients to the blogger.

After all, they’re the ones making you look sexy to the client when they get the jump in brand awareness or sales that a respected blogger can offer.

And that’s got to be worth more than some outdated PR view that “it’s not a proper job”, no?

image: Whyatt
image: Zen Optic

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  1. says

    Hi Danny, You do have a way with titles, :-) (and graphics) but you certainly have a point there too! I am a blogger who uses blogging to build client relationships and the blog is proving its value daily. I met you when I barely knew how to write a post or use WordPress and followed you on multiple platforms. I value your opinions as a blogger and as a PR person. Shonali and I met early on via Twitter and we still connect. And Gini through an accidental connection on InterviewAngel’s blog when Brent Peterson interviewed her, has become a blog I read daily and value highly for PR tips.

    • says

      @JulieWalraven Hehe, I can but try, Julie 😉

      As you show, your blog is hugely important at building solid relationships that (could) make future business opportunities or promotions a success. So why would someone want to upset you, or throw away that opportunity, by decrying all the good stuff you do because you’re “transient”..?

  2. says

    I like the fact that her post is anonymous. I’d respect “opinions” like that so much more if someone stood up behind what they say and put their name on it.

    As a blogger who is contacted regularly by PR people pitching their clients’ new products / services, while there are some good PR agents out there, there are also some horrible ones. They send emails addressing me as Dear Blogger, Dear (insert wrong name here), or they don’t address me at all because it’s a blanket bulk email. They send me pitches for things that have nothing at all to do with my site or anything my readers would be interested in. They send a copy/pasted email template where they forgot to fill in custom fields. I could go on, but you get the idea.

    I wonder if she’s just one of the bad ones that hasn’t learned how to properly communicate with bloggers and constantly gets turned down when she pitches them, and therefore is just resentful.

    • says

      @KristiHines Good point, Kristi… when I replied, I was just thinking of the great PR people I know that are bloggers but I too get those requests, usually personalized though, asking for links or endorsements. Since I only link to people I care about and endorse products or services I personally have long-term experience with, I am not likely to even respond. Building relationships with anyone (blogger, PR person, marketing experts, etc., will get you much further than trashing anyone.

    • says

      @KristiHines Ha, I knew I could count on you to provid the most popular comment here, Kristi. 😉

      You’re right, though – I have a ton of copy/paste and completely irrlevant pitches sitting in a folder on my desktop, ready for a special project coming out soon. It never fails to make me smile when I see a poor approach to bloggers – people that could potentially make you and your client very successful.

      Going by some of Sarah’s replies in the comments over on the original post, it would appear that she (and her agency) deal with bloggers regularly. Of course, the anonymous angle just means that can’t be seen, which doesn’t help her argument…

  3. AngelaDaffron says

    Great title and photo!

    Over the last few months I have dealt with many publicist (many from the top companies). I have ranted on some and raved on others. I think the defining factor for a good/bad PR rep is like anything else. If they remember what they are doing is not about them rather about their client they are usually grounded and good. That being said. Over the last few months I have dealt with large egos, non-responsive to follow-up after they have initiated contacts and worse. Bottom line, who you represent (company or individual) does not make you a great rep it simply gives you the opportunity to be a great rep. Your responses (or lack there of) to anyone reaching out to you represent yourself, your company and the company/individual you represent. Golden Rule: Treat them as you would want to be treated! It stands true to anything.

    • says

      @AngelaDaffron That’s a great point, Angela – I think the tools we have now (social media, social networks, podcasts, blogging, etc) offer a great way for our thoughts to be heard and (hopefully) respected. The problem is, to some folks, respect + numbers = ego. Now this may not refer to Sarah, but it does usually refer to people who look at others as below them in the food chain.

      Which, sadly, is what came across in the original post…

  4. Area224 says

    I’m with @KristiHines below – anonymous makes me want to take it less seriously.

    We’re all going to have to resign ourselves to the fact that some “get it” and some don’t.

    Great stuff, as per usual.

  5. Area224 says

    I think one of the issues here is that the people Danny mentions – @ginidietrich and rachelakay et al – are PR PEOPLE WHO BLOG.

    I think someone in a traditional PR shop who doesn’t get it is probably not someone who makes a regular habit of blogging. Which is who this unidentified rep obviously is.

    • says

      @Area224 @ginidietrich @rachelakay That’s a fair point. Though perhaps then, if an agency does want to use bloggers as part of their comms strategy, they should perhaps make an even bigger effort to understand what makes that particular part of the web tick. 😉

  6. says

    I agree very much with Julie. The thing that stood out most to me was your second quote. The most successful PR/Marketing people I’ve met only stood behind companies that they themselves fully believed in. Not only does it establish credibility, but people can see through insincerity. In my opinion the biggest mistake people make in this field (social media, blogging, etc.) is that they don’t think that a PERSON can see when they are being fake. They can! Another great post Danny.

    • debmorello says

      @jayninesocial A freakin’ men! Although – this field doesn’t have the ‘market’ on fake… unfortnately, that is universal :-( doh

  7. maggielmcg says

    Standing ovation….I thought I was going crazy reading the comments on that ridiculous post and seeing all the compliments and reassurances that it was, indeed, “humorous” and not intended to be negative or derrogatory towards bloggers. Bullshit. I am SO. TIRED of seeing women denigrate each other in the blogosphere–of course always under pseduonyms only, though. The disrespect conveyed in the post was absolutely stunning to me, and the saddest part were all the mom bloggers–at whom the post was aimed–chiming in with “Thank you, can I please have another” comments. “You’re right, I am actually worthless and don’t deserve to be paid for the hours of work I do on behalf of the client whose paying you thousands and getting you the numbers that you then get to report back to the client.” (Ok, not those exact comments but comments essentially saying those same things). Sarah insists over and over again throughout the comments that the piece was meant to be “humorous” but I don’t see one thing funny about a PR person speaking about bloggers in such a degrading way. Someone needs to find out what agency “Sarah” works for and get word out to all the “A-list” bloggers to freakin’ blackball all pitches coming from that agency, because I’m sure Sarah’s nasty sentiments about bloggers are not hers alone and do represent the agency’s feelings towards them.

    • says

      @maggielmcg What’s sad about the post is that a few comments have been deleted on both sides (I think Sarah has had a few removed), and that only the ones where she’s more amicable are left on the post. Which gives a disjointed view to any new readers (and maybe why some were praising).

      I can understand praising someone for showing faults in your indutsry and how to improve, IF they’re constructive. But like you say, Maggie, this post wasn’t the most constructive I’ve read.

      Where it falls down is the anonymous factor – how do we know that Sarah has the expertise and years of “field work” in dealing with bloggers, new media PR approaches and the likes? Perhaps she’s inexperienced and that’s why she posted the views she did?

      But yes, if I was Sarah’s agency I’d be concerned if my image was being harmed by Sarah’s views (if I didn’t share them, obviously)…

  8. 3HatsComm says

    Well Danny, I gotta go with Julie and agree you can turn a phrase. And the pictures are pure awesomesauce. Kristi is right about the anonymous. Dave (Area224) hits the nail on the “not getting it” head. Bloggers are part of PR’s key publics, which is why they’re being pitched. They offer something of value, something the PR clients want: coverage, exposure to target audiences. Not saying that some don’t make ridiculous demands of the PR agency (sure it probably happens on occassion), but most have jobs to do and work hard to do them well. So to discount bloggers as “second class” is terribly misguided.

    Worse, it’s plain crappy. Bottom line, in PR we’re supposed to be in the “people” biz, right? Like Angela with the golden rule, mine is this: conduct your own business professionally and treat everyone with respect, no matter who or how important you think they are or aren’t. FWIW.

    • says

      @3HatsComm Oh, there’s definitely some crappy or unrealistic bloggers out there, Davina – the blogosphre is no different from any other industry, there’s always the bad along with the good. :)

      But yeah, for a market that’s so key now to the comms industry (and especially PR), it seems a shame for someone to dismiss the good that they do with what may be a lame attempt at humour. And even it was humour, sarcasm is the lowest for of it and won’t win you any new friends.

    • 3HatsComm says

      @DannybrownThe humor in some of the replies was all over the place, even for some of those who agreed with “Sarah” and her point of view. Like Rachel, others mentioned it was the tone, patronizing, condescending.. disdainful.. IDK. I write (try) for snark and humor all the time, but this just seemed off. Which brings me back to the anonymity. I rant on things all the time, put my name on my stance. That this person didn’t is sort of a tell that she knows she’s speaking out of school?

  9. debmorello says

    Danny you buried the lede:
    Getting feedback – honest feedback – from bloggers and their readers is the best focus group a company can ever have, because it is so honest. Want to improve your product? Listen to the folks that matter – the people that use it. Dear Sarah, it’s kinda like “it’s the economy, stupid.”
    Thank you Danny, for keeping it real!

    • says

      @debmorello Hey there Deb

      It’s something I’m a little bit passionate about, and is one of the areas I speak to clients about a lot (the “free unbiased” focus group), so I probably get a little extra riled when I see it being abused, for want of a better word.

      Cheers! :)

  10. rachelakay says


    Great post – I’ve been keeping my eye on this all day – both your post and the original. Your writing always gets me thinking! I have so many thoughts around it it’s hard to know where to start. I’m going to give it a try.

    – The original post was offensive. If Sarah had any good points (up for debate) they were completely overshadowed by her derogatory, condescending tone. I agree it positions bloggers as second rate media in the eyes of PR professionals, which is completely untrue. Good PR people know that bloggers are a very critical part of a communication strategy, and that the power of a bloggers voice can do wonders for our clients. In this day and age, it’s asinine to disregard a bloggers influence. Blogger relations is such a significant part of our programs and we feel very fortunate to have cultivated some great relationships. Fingers crossed we keep them. Thanks Sarah, for making us look bad.

    – OK, I’m about to do the unthinkable and disagree with one of your points my friend. You said, “But the minute a blogger is contracted to write a review of a product, or promote a new book for a PR agency’s client , that’s being hired.”

    This may possibly be the first time we’ve disagreed, but I want to point out that we don’t contract bloggers to write reviews and we don’t hire them. If we did, we’d probably get to tell them what to write (I know I like telling my hired employees what to do :). Same goes for the few review posts I’ve written on my own blog – I don’t consider myself hired by the company I decided to write about. I’m my own boss, of my agency and my blogs, and I do not report to the subjects of my blog posts. It’s the same as a review by the New York Times. We don’t hire them either, and we don’t pay them to write about our clients. We send them the information and hope and pray and cross our fingers that they’ll write about it and it’ll be favorable. No guarantees. If we were “hiring them”, I think the dynamic would be much different. We have great relationships with bloggers, but it is not one that I’d call the same as employee/employer or client/agency. :)

    Make sense? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

    Rachel Kay

    • says

      @rachelakay Hey there miss,

      Always great to have your viewpoint – you know how much I respect the heck out of you and what you do for PR :)

      Perhaps my wording – “contract” – could have been better. Where I’m viewing that from is long-term and exclusive blogger programs that a lot of PR agencies utilize. I know there are some bloggers that get “first dibs”, if you like, on new projects to write about, because they’re on a preferred list.

      That puts the blogger in the same space as a preferred client – specials because of who they are and the relationship they have with the PR agency or person. While there might not be physical cash exchanged (though I have seen this for some bloggers), there is the kudos of getting something before other bloggers.

      It’s like seeing your competitor get special discounts because they’ve been with a supplier longer, even though you’re a better company.

      Hopefully that makes sense :)

    • says

      @rachelakay I knew I had a better example than the one I used above, haha (or at least one that makes more sense). :)

      As I mention to @davefleet above, if a PR agency employs someone like IZEA, do they become a contractor to the blogger or still just a vendor of IZEA? While the vendor answer would probably be the main one, there’s also the question of crisis comms if something goes down with the blogger’s approach.

      Additionally, if the client loves the blogger and wishes to use them more, and that has to still go through IZEA as the connector, does the blogger then become a preferred contact as a promotional platform?

      Gah, questions, questions :)

    • rachelakay says

      @Dannybrown @davefleet I can’t weigh-in on the dynamic of using a company like IZEA because we don’t do that. We do our own blogger outreach. I still stick to my orginal thoughts though, that developing relationships with bloggers might make them preferred bloggers, but it still doesn’t make them “hired” or clients. :)

      Great discussion!

    • JGoldsborough says

      @rachelakay @Dannybrown @davefleet Same here, we don’t use IZEA or a company like it. I feel like the relationships we’ve built with bloggers and the research we’ve done is a big part of our offer to clients. Plus I’ve worked at companies that outsource services — most often customer service — before and let’s just say, not a fan.

      The monetization topic is a deep one. Maybe another live event for down the road, DB — discussion of the evolving relationship between bloggers and brand and what role “paying bloggers” (which can have a ton of different definitions btw) plays in that relationship. Just a thought. Look forward to the upcoming guest post you mentioned in your comment to Dave. Cheers.

    • says

      @JGoldsborough @rachelakay @davefleet Great idea, mate, and livefyre would be perfect for that. I’ll ping over to jordan kretchmer and jenna langer as the next tester for here. :)

  11. Justicewordlaw says

    I honestly don’t know if I could leave a comment because Dan you made some amazing statements about this sarah. It is about offering honest feedback, if you want to learn about your product then you are right the best people to go to are the people that are using the product itself. This was a very passionate blog post Dan, this is going down in the book marks for sure. Thank you for sharing this.

    • says

      @Justicewordlaw Hey there Justice,

      The funny thing is, you can see Sarah is (kind of) passionate about her job and what she does. And in the comments over on the original post, she does make some valid points after the post. But the sarcasm and “you’re not worthy” sense that came across in her post negated a lot of what she was trying to say afterward.

      I love passionate people – but I love passionate and respectable people more. 😉

  12. mickeygomez says

    I am not a blogger. I am not in PR. I do know humor, especially subversive humor. I didn’t think the article you referenced was funny.

    Maybe Sarah really was trying to give useful advice. It’s possible that she was going for a lighthearted or edgy humor. Let’s be honest, it’s hard to write humor (by this I mean it’s hard to write humor that doesn’t suck). Unfortunately, it appears that a fair number of audience members didn’t find her article to be either helpful or funny.

    Sarah did a decent job with some of her comments, even apologizing at one point for not responding appropriately in one (since deleted) comment. On the other hand, there’s still this feeling of “I’m right and if you disagree with me, you’re wrong” in some of her replies. Lucretia made a great point about the learning going both ways, but some of Sarah’s comments make it appear that she prefers to be in the role of teacher, not student. That may explain the condescending tone referenced in some of the feedback. It doesn’t help that she’s posting this anonymously (and the snarky bio only adds fuel to the fire, at this point).

    Interesting conversation, as always. I’ll add that I’ve learned a lot tonight about bloggers, PR professionals and some of the issues faced by both.

    • says

      @mickeygomez Hey there Mickey,

      Always good to get your view, especially since you have no “vested interest” in either side.

      I think that’s one of the main problems with Sarah’s piece (and comments, some of which have been deleted since I last read the post). It does come across as “You can disagree if you like, and make valid points, but I’ll still have my view and that’s what really matters.”

      It’s fine to stick to your guns and beliefs – heck, I’m all for pushing people to be themselves – but sometimes you just need to see that yours may not be the only view worth taking notice of.

      Cheers again, miss, always appreciated. :)

    • mickeygomez says

      @Dannybrown It’s disappointing to hear that more than the one comment was deleted. It adds an element of spin to the conversation, making the waters even murkier. It affects the conversation here, too – after all, how can we have an informed conversation based on two different versions of what happened?

      Plus, it’s mighty tough to hold someone accountable for their words and actions if they essentially get a “redo” button.

    • ginidietrich says

      @mickeygomez I’m impressed you could read the comments and that you discovered some were deleted. I like my blood pressure low so I’m not going to go read them, but I agree with you that if she said she was trying to be funny, she failed miserably.

    • mickeygomez says

      @ginidietrich Thanks, Gini! There were a lot of comments to read – I’ll admit I resorted to skimming some of them. It was easier for me, not being directly involved, to not get stressed out while sifting through. It’s also why I limited myself to commenting on the tone and presentation as opposed to the content. :)

  13. DanielleSmithTV says

    Danny. Thank you. For entering the conversation and for so eloquently explaining the issues with Sarah’s post. I’m not easily offended, but like you, I found myself shaking my head. And then closing my eyes, hoping I didn’t JUST READ THAT and then re-reading, only to find myself quite disappointed. I understand that humor (especially as it relates to people making money and/or being taken seriously in their ‘job’) is hard to pull off – but I failed to see the ‘funny’…. though I did sense the sarcasm.

    I’m grateful to you for highlighting the less than savory in a perfectly reasonable way…. you make us all better.

    • says

      @DanielleSmithTV Hey there Danielle,

      First, thank you for your really kind words – really appreciate them, and coming from your good self is a double “bonus” 😉

      I think I had to read the post twice to make sure I wasn’t having a funny moment – but, like you say, alas no.

      I think what I found really disappointing was the whole “you don’t deserve anything” mantra. I’m guessing Sarah feels she deserves a good pay, because she has to sit through boring meetings and get up at the ungodly hour of 8am to go to work…

      If I’m a blogger, and you’re using my services to promote your client, then I deserve respect for the work and promotion I’ll give you. I also deserve the right to set an “agreement” on having editorial control and any compensation that I feel is fair. It may just be that I get to keep the product, or I get first shot at the next promo.

      Either way, I don’t think that’s too much to ask for when I’m giving you what is essentially advertising space on my business’ premises.

      Hey ho…

    • DanielleSmithTV says

      @Dannybrown Danny – Funny – I latched on to the same word, ‘deserve’ – as the one that most climbed underneath my skin while I read the post. In fact, I really struggled with this paragraph:

      “Make sure your number is based in reality, not what you think you deserve. Actually, if you’re using the word “deserve” at all, you’re already sunk. You don’t deserve anything. There are hundreds more bloggers out there that are willing to take a cold, hard look at what they are producing now and how they can improve in the future. Those are next year’s Annie A-Listers–a list that no one deservesto be on, but one that women work like dogs to get on.”

      I think what frustrates me most is the dichotomy in what she says… make sure your number is based in reality… not what you think you deserve …. well – I agree that your ‘number’ or what you charge SHOULD be based in reality – and on your experience, work product etc. But I don’t believe, “You don’t deserve anything”….

      I DO deserve respect. I DO deserve to be compensated for WORK I produce. Just as the PR Firm/Brand DESERVES respect and hard work from me. And my ‘working from home’ has NOTHING to do with what I do or don’t deserve. My work product and my work ethic determine that.

      Whew…. vent complete.

      Unless we want to talk about the fact that I have NEVER determined ‘what I deserve’ by gauging what other bloggers are ‘getting’ (ie: A-List Annie and her Thanksgiving Oven) :)

      THAT is another topic entirely.

  14. JGoldsborough says

    Deep breath…Serenity now ;). First off, @Livefyre User is right on. Blogging anonymously? What is this, second grade? Maybe Sarah could ask you to ask out the guy she likes — the one who always plays with the legos — at recess. Own your comments or shut up. End of story.

    Second, this comment — “You don’t promise to say nice things about the company. The PR person does. They have to sell a product no matter what that product is, and they sell it with a smile even if it kicks puppies and makes babies cry.” — is complete BS and really offends me as a person that thinks integrity is kind of important. We don’t just work with any jerk who opens the checkbook. Sure it’s a business, but I like to think we have morals.

    Lastly, Rachel is right on in that your posts always make us think. And the issue you two disucssed about contracting bloggers and what “hiring” them really means is a fascinating one we could do a whole series of posts on because it is always evolving. Perhaps an opportunity to discuss the evolution of the blogger/PR pro relationship down the road. But however it evolves, one thing will always be true — Respect the people with whom you work, no matter what level, what age, what job they perform. That’s how you build relationships. Blogging anonymously and casting stones? That doesn’t build a damn thing.

    • says

      @JGoldsborough And this is exactly why I love you so, Justin – always bringing great views to any blog’s comment section. :)

      Yep, Sarah didn’t do the PR industry any favours at all with the “we *have* to smile and like the crud we work with” viewpoint. Like you say, it negates the integrity of the great PR pros that we know abound in the space. And it doesn’t make me want to use her or her agency, if that’s their mindset.

      I think the whole PR/blogger evolution, and what defines a “contract” would be an awesome series – hmmm, brain ticking overtime now, dude, cheers!

  15. says

    Having read the blog post twice, the only words to describe it are condescending and clueless – the usual BS in huge traditional PR agencies. This girl most certainly needs to be fired. In a way Danny, she didn’t deserve your taking your valuable time to write about it. I would have just commented and spread the word, but your comments are priceless. When I read that post and then thought about Gini, Arik, Rachel, Shonali, and Dave, it is clearly the most insulting post for amazing people like them. Ugh, that is why I try to avoid these POVs. They do a disservice to us marketers who are in the trenches doing real work for our clients.

    • says

      @Anna Barcelos Well I wouldn’t want the girl to get fired over what could be just a need for better education (especially before Christmas), but yes, does reinforce a lot of views about PR being full of arrogant and condescending powermongers. 😉

    • davefleet says

      @Anna Barcelos Coming from a “huge traditional PR agency” (Edelman), I can assure you that this is most certainly not the case in our firm, on a bunch of levels from valuing bloggers (we do) to taking on kitten-kicking-companies (we won’t work with tobacco firms, for example).

      I have a huge number of issues with Sarah’s post, but @JGoldsborough and ginidietrich have already covered plenty of them, so I won’t re-hash everything (great points, folks). However, we should be focused on constructive conversation here, because freaking out over an anonymous post does nothing to change these perceptions.

      The original post focused, at its core, on the issue of people monetizing their blogs (along with the author’s healthy dose of righteousness). There are plenty of perfectly good reasons why bloggers absolutely should be able to do this (I pay an arm and a leg for my hosting alone, besides which many people are aiming to do this for a living). However, there are plenty of reasons to beware of the pay-for-post model, not least of which is that, from a broad perspective, it turns your “earned” coverage into “paid” which brings with it expectations (I wrote about the issues over here: http://bit.ly/f9BTQa (*cough* #selfpimp)).



    • says

      @davefleet @Anna Barcelos @JGoldsborough gini dietrich Oh, I’ve had a couple of bad pitches from Edelman before, Dave – glad to see you’re there to sort them out 😉

      Agree, the monetization thing is a key part of the whole PR/marketing/advertising/blogger landscape, and one that will continue to be streamlined (or needs to be). Which opens up another question (and I haven’t read your post yet, so may be covered there) – what happens when a PR agency uses IZEA for the blogger outreach? If something goe wrong, IZEA probably wouldn’t be the best crisis comms team for your client. And have you even told your client that you’re outsourcing? Say an IZEA blogger really messes up; IZEA can’t cover; you’re not sure what to do because it was out of your hands. And so on…

      Another topic altogether, like you say. Cheers, mate, always great to have your persepctive here. And look out for a guest post tomorrow from one of the most respected bloggers and businesswoman in the “mom blog” arena to address some of the monetization side. :)

    • davefleet says

      @Dannybrown Heh… assumed you had – you shared it :)

      As for bad pitches, hope it hasn’t happened recently. If it happens again, let me know.

  16. ginidietrich says

    OK. First of all, why are you reading Mom Blog Magazine? Have you forgotten to tell us something?!

    I read “Sarah’s” blog post and then I came back here and read yours. A few points from her blog:
    * Since when are bloggers paid by PR firms for their clients?
    * Since when has a blogger ever said they need to be paid just like a PR pro for the review of a product?
    * Since when does a PR person have to sell a product no matter what it is, and “they sell it with a smile even if it kicks puppies and makes babies cry”?

    OMG! I can’t keep reading!

    * “You don’t have this obligation. You have the freedom that comes with NOT having a paycheck to answer to.”
    * “You are not expected to show up at 8 a.m. dressed business casual and go to countless meetings. You get to do and say whatever you want as long as you plop a disclaimer at the end.”
    * “You don’t get to decide to be a professional blogger but then decide you want the lifestyle, paycheck, and perks of having an out-of-the-house PR job.”
    * She says no one in PR judges a blogger for choosing to be a stay-at-home mom? Doesn’t all of this sound pretty judgmental?

    And lastly, “my advice will at least make you less bitter and entitled, if you take it.”

    I’m a PR pro AND a blogger and I’m bitter and feel entitled, just because of the way she “spoke” to the Mom Blog Magazine readers. Shame on them for running it at all, let alone anonymously.

    Those quotes I pulled are the same ones that hit you, Danny. I’m seriously beyond words that there are people like this in our industry. I can’t even begin to read the comments on that post. I might blow a gasket.

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Bloggers are today’s USA Today, Wall Street Journal, Oprah, Ellen, David Letterman, New York Times, and Today Show. And they’re your local weekly and daily newspapers and your trade magazines. You don’t have to be an A-lister to provide huge value to a PR firm’s clients, if you have a certain niche. Shame on the PR pros who treat bloggers like second-class citizens.

    I guess area224 is right – the reason we get it is because we both are PR pros and bloggers. It makes me want to go back to my big agency roots and shake the people inside those organizations who behave this way. The @JGoldsborough seem to be few and far between these days.

    I’m still so astounded, but I guess that’s why Spin Sucks, huh?!

    • says

      @ginidietrich Someone mentined you offer knitting tips in there, and it’s getting cold in Canada, I wanted to knit a sweater…

      Completely agree with you on the position of bloggers. And it doesn’t matter what “rank” you have on some influencer list – Google is *everyone’s* friend, and a post by a blogger with a small readership can get the same amount of traction as a blogger with 100,000 readers.

      Something that all businesses should remember when thinking of their next promo and who to use…

    • 3HatsComm says

      @ginidietrich Knew you’d have a lot to say. Gotta agree.. I’m for treating everyone with respect and professional courtesy, so to intentionally mistreat such an important and influential public (regardless of their particular List on the alphabet) is very bad PR. No other way to say it.

    • MommaCupcake says

      @ginidietrich @3HatsComm not all moms knit…..just say’n rofl. the only thing i know how to do with a knitting needle is stab my eyes out after reading MBC to put myself out of my own misery. I can only handle so much stupidity at once.

    • arikhanson says

      @ginidietrich area224 @JGoldsborough I think there’s a lot to be said for that “we’re PR pros AND bloggers” statement. I think that gives those of us who fall in that group a unique perspective on this topic. Very similar to former journalists who move over to PR. Since they’re former journalists they know best how journalists think, how the newsroom works, what makes for a great story. A lot of cross-over there with the whole PR/blogger angle. If you’re a PR who also blogs, you know what goes into a great post, how much time it takes, what media to look for, etc.

  17. margieclayman says

    The problem with the Social Media sphere in particular and the marketing world in general is that we all think we need to outshine everyone else. PR folk need to out-perform the Social Media gang (and where is that line of differentiation, by the way?). Social Media folk certainly can’t be compared to lowly advertisers. Advertisers don’t WANT to be compared to Social Media people or PR people.

    Folks. We’re all in the same game. We’re all actually playing on the same team. We have the same mission – help companies get their products sold. That’s it. That’s the end zone all of us are running towards. We might be doing this for different kinds of companies in different industries, but all the more reason – why not work together?

    I think that a relationship between a blogger and a PR agency could do wonders for a company. Blogger provides content, PR firm helps make sure it gets seen, maybe. Everyone has expertise they can offer.


    • says

      @margieclayman Oh, I don’t think that problem’s just restricted to social media and marketing, Margie 😉

      But I agree completely. It’s one of the things we stamp out with clients when helping them understand how to use the space. It benefits no-one to have silos in companies, where marketing does one thing and one thing only, and you better stay the hell off our lawn.

      You can replace marketing with any other service – PR, advertising, legal, etc. The best results come from working together, not apart. Oh well…

    • geoffliving says

      @margieclayman Competing with yourself gets boring real quick. I am not satisfied with just being. Call me a prick, I’m still competing.

    • margieclayman says

      @ Danny: No, the problem of siloes is definitely everwhere in business. I’m just trying to take one chunk at a time :)

      @ Geoff I don’t even call my enemies that :) I am not anti-competition.Obviously our agency competes against other agencies in our niche. But the over-arching “x facet of marketing is better/more important/cooler than yours” isn’t competition to me. It’s just juvenile and kind of pointless.

  18. margieclayman says

    The problem with the Social Media sphere in particular and the marketing world in general is that we all think we need to outshine everyone else. PR folk need to out-perform the Social Media gang (and where is that line of differentiation, by the way?). Social Media folk certainly can’t be compared to lowly advertisers. Advertisers don’t WANT to be compared to Social Media people or PR people.

    Folks. We’re all in the same game. We’re all actually playing on the same team. We have the same mission – help companies get their products sold. That’s it. That’s the end zone all of us are running towards. We might be doing this for different kinds of companies in different industries, but all the more reason – why not work together?

    I think that a relationship between a blogger and a PR agency could do wonders for a company. Blogger provides content, PR firm helps make sure it gets seen, maybe. Everyone has expertise they can offer.


  19. Marie says

    Danny, I like your post especially because if I google “PR” and “ass,” your post will probably show up. I would go through point by point but my head hurts. Maybe because it’s Friday or maybe it’s just that I never sleep any more with a newborn.

    I rarely comment on blog posts; however it’s lunch so I thought I would chime in.
    When I read Sarah’s post yesterday, I didn’t need a crystal ball to know what was going to happen down in that comment section. I just wish she didn’t hide behind anonymity, but I guess sometimes controversy is scary.

    I’ve worked with bloggers for a long time. I’m also a blogger. I love public relations. I love social media. I love other bloggers. The reality is (sadly) is that there are always going to be bad pitches and PR mistakes. On the same note, there will probably always be bloggers out there giving other bloggers a bad name. I wish I were a glass-half-full kinda gal, but I’m not.

    One of the main issues here is there is just such an over-generalization of the term “blogger” and the term “publicist” – and everyone gets caught up in the terminologies and nothing ever gets accomplished.

    There are some bloggers that want to get paid. There are some bloggers that don’t. The definition of “payment” differs from blogger to blogger. There are some amazing PR people and there are some really crappy PR people too. This is an ever-changing space, and there will never be one opinion that will be crowned the overriding opinion that all bloggers and publicists must adhere to. In my fantasy world, I can only trust that new people stumble upon these conversations and learn something, comment, interact and spark real conversation that does something. That’s the hope.

    I’ve been working with bloggers for a long time. Newsflash: there have always been terrible PR pitches. I can tell you there have always been complaints about PR people– they just used to be housed on private message boards. There have also always been not-so-great bloggers. For example, when I used to work in music, some bloggers would sell their advance copies of CDs on ebay. That caused a lot of drama back in the day.

    The truth of the matter is that now traditional media is downsizing at a rapid rate, and PR pros are scrambling looking for new places to get their clients visibility. That’s their job. The result: blogger bombardment. Bloggers are getting just slammed, and sometimes too much of something is not always a good thing.

    Blogging is work. Public Relations is work. Now we just need to find a way to work together so that everyone wins.

    Okay, lunch is over!

    • 3HatsComm says

      @Marie This is it exactly, there will always be bad apples on BOTH sides of the aisle. PR will need bloggers, and bloggers will need PR, so yeah.. working together is what it takes. Blogging about it may help address these issues, but then.. are the bad apples really reading these blogs?

    • Marie says

      @3HatsComm Unfortunately, I doubt it. I tend to see the same folks commenting and discussing the issue. Rarely there are any new folks. It could be because bad apples just don’t care, so it’s left up to us good apples to keep the conversation going – even if it’s just amongst ourselves.

    • ginidietrich says

      @Marie @3HatsComm When we created Spin Sucks almost five years ago, it was with the sole purpose of discussing the poor ethics in our business. It took until about a year to really have an effect on the industry, but you’re right…the good apples are the ones reading so we’re still only preaching to the choir.

    • Marie says

      @ginidietrich @3HatsComm Hey, at least you are preaching to someone. The good thing about putting it out there for it’s there for those that are interested. I’m sure that the bad apples might not realize that they are bad apples which may be one of the problems. I also highly doubt those that are “doing it wrong” are saying “Wow, I suck at doing this I should really find out how to do it the right way.” This is actually pretty depressing to think about, right?

    • says

      @Marie “Blogger bombardment” – love that phrase, that should be a new mantra somewhere. :)

      Great points, and having been in the trenches like you have, it would appear that (unfortunately) the same issues will continue to appear until we perhaps get an ombudsman that brings bloggers and PR together to try and work a best practices solution for all. I know some have tried, but it’s clear it hasn’t worked so far.

      Time to revisit and provide suggestions and ideas?

  20. MommaCupcake says

    We are the social media stars. Stars can make or break a brand. HFCS anyone? Nestle????? Hmm. Exactly why HFCS people had to take out national tv prime time ads to try to keep the damage from spreading. Too late.

  21. MommaCupcake says

    Also I doubt very much that PR stay up till 3 in the morning writing a quality post. Taking pictures, ediiting, proofing, marketing. Kiss my pink ass PR.

    • says

      @MommaCupcake True. Although I do know there are a ton of PR folks that will stay up to that time getting presentations “just so”, and perfecting a news release, or reacting to a client crisis to keep stakeholders happy. Everyone works differently but that doesn’t mean there aren’t a ton of hard-working people in PR that do the equivalent of a blog post that’s been pored over until ready. :)

  22. says

    I planned to comment yesterday, dannybrown , but a migraine took care of that. Now I have to see if I can add any value other than thanking you again for the kind mention.

    I read through as many of the comments as I could on the original post without being in danger of a cardiac event. I wish “Sarah’s” original comment that drew so much ire hadn’t been deleted, because now I’ll never know what it was. Oh well.

    A couple of things struck me: first, we all tend to generalize. We can’t help it; it’s human nature. So props to you and all those who’ve pointed out that we all need to try to be aware of not doing that.

    Second, so much of how we react to things is governed by our experiences, and I was never more struck by this than when I saw “Wicked” last week in London (actually, I was struck by that when I read the book when it first came out, but it was reinforced by seeing the show). I’m not trying to make excuses for “Sarah” or anyone else, but more than likely she has been on the receiving end of what might have been excessive “demands.” Could she have written a less arrogant post? Sure. But there’s rarely smoke without fire. However, this again speaks to the dangers of generalization, and had she thought of that while writing, her post may have been slightly less harsh and more positively educational in its expression.

    Finally, and I’m echoing what many have already said, but I do feel it bears repeating, there are good and bad apples on both sides of the aisle; in any industry, in fact. There are those who clock out at 5 pm (or whatever time they’re officially allowed to), and there are those who will stay up and/or work around the clock to make sure work is taken care of.

    Your reply to @Marie about needing an ombudsman is something our industry – and note I’m saying “our” industry, because we are all swimming in the “communication” pond now – desperately needs. I do think some organizations like PRSA in the US are trying to bridge the divide by reaching out more to folks who would not ordinarily have been considered “PR” to participate in their events; the recent International Conference in DC was testament to that. I don’t know if similar organizations that have evolved from the online/tech/blogging world are doing that as well, but perhaps that could be a baby step.

    • says

      @Shonali Oh, for sure, Shonali, no doubt Sarah has had some intresting days and experiences, and that can grate (we’ve all had them, and will continue to do so). But that’s where she maybe should have taken a deep breath, count to ten, and ask if there was in value in what she was writing (especially as someone in PR).

      Having a bad day can work on blogs – it makes you focused and often gets a great message out. But havng a bad day, and then basically attacking the folks that can make your day better? Not so smart 😉

    • says

      @Dannybrown Yes, I completely agree. I’ve been guilty of knee-jerk reactions myself and am trying to learn not to do that so much. Sleeping on one’s irritation is always a good thing, though maybe it doesn’t make for as provocative blog posts, which I’m sure she (and possibly her editor) were trying to go for as well.

    • 3HatsComm says

      @Dannybrown @Shonali The bad day does work, as I like a good rant now and then. It’s the emotion and passion that sometimes spark that “AHA!” post or comment. But it’s the stereotyping, the generalizations like Shonali said.. this post lumped all bloggers into one category, a misguided and derisive one at that, as if it were fact beyond just this one person’s experience with one blogger.

    • says

      3hatscomm I think you’re spot on with how a bad day can be fodder for a good post, Davina. It’s just that sometimes those emotions one feels in the heat of the moment can cool down, and then, when one looks at what one wrote, one goes, “Oh, I need to tone it down a bit.” (Lot of “ones” there, I know). The heat of the moment is all very well, but I think looking at one’s post in a more rational frame of mind can make it even stronger.

  23. says

    As a longtime indie PR professional (with international agency experience) and also a blogger, Sarah’s comments sound unplugged and agenda-driven. The reality of communication today is the variety of available vehicles, the associated paradigm shift, and environment within which we now operate.

    • says

      @BeckyCortino Maybe her goal was to spark heat? If so, fair play, she achieved it. Although, with the comments over at the Mom Magazine blog as well as here (and some other places), I wonder if the negative take from the post was worth it?

    • says

      @Dannybrown I guess we can never really know for sure what the intended agenda was. If her take and she is willing to put it out there, then I laud her for her free expression albeit in the face of a firestorm. That is her choice — and those are her words. Her comments sound unplugged to me inasmuch as it doesn’t sound like she has a full understanding of powerful tools now available outside the traditional realm. Essential to stay current 😉 It’s a New Day.

    • says

      @Dannybrown I guess we can never really know for sure what the intended agenda was. It’s her take and if she is willing to put it out there, then I laud her for her free expression albeit in the face of a firestorm. That is her choice — and those are her words. Her comments sound unplugged to me inasmuch as it doesn’t sound like she has a full understanding of powerful tools now available outside the traditional realm. Essential to stay current 😉 It’s a New Day.

    • says

      @BeckyCortino I’d agree with you in terms of lauding her free expression, except that she did it anonymously. That seems a little cowardly to me; and if the reason they kept her identity secret was so as not to have repercussions on her agency or work… well, then that’s a whole other story. If one has something to say, one should have the guts to say so openly. Just my $0.02.

    • says

      @Shonali Guess I just took it as from “Sarah’s” viewpoint, and didn’t look at it as anonymous revelations… I definitely agree with you RE: expression with full disclosure, if you mean what you say, of course. As Danny said, perhaps to spark heat? My thought — maybe to spark discussion. Guess so… lol

    • JGoldsborough says

      @BeckyCortino @Shonali Pretty simple, really, IMO. If Sarah believed in what she said, she’s a coward for not owning her comments. We are all adults here. If she wrote the post to spark heat, she’s pathetic/smarter than we give her credit for. Either way, she comes off looking ignorant. And I’d direct that comment at her if I knew who she was :).

    • says

      @JGoldsborough @Shonali …again I say I definitely agree with you RE: expression with full disclosure, if someone means what they say, of course. For sure I never said I agreed…

    • says

      @JGoldsborough @Shonali ..again I say I definitely agree with you RE: expression with full disclosure, if someone means what they say, of course. For sure I never said I agreed with her comments…

  24. says

    As a longtime indie PR professional (with international agency experience) and also a blogger, Sarah’s comments sound unplugged and agenda-driven. The reality of communication today is the variety of available vehicles, associated paradigm shift, and environment within which we now operate.

  25. says

    I run the marketing department for a family owned, small business. My education was in finance and international trade, and most of what I apply toward our PR & Marketing strategies is what I’ve learned by the age old method of guess and check(and more recently from listening to the voices on this and other blogs). However, reading her post, I can’t help but see similarities between her stance and that of many naysayers in trades of all industries and areas of life. “Because it’s not how I do it, it must not be right.” “You’ll never get that idea to succeed.” “Stop being a dreamer, and get a real job.” I blog about my business because it reinforces my belief in our mission and products – whether a single sale is generated from a follower or not (obviously a blog that drives sales is preferable). I remember sitting in an interview 4 years ago discussing my career ambitions with the interviewer. I said that I wanted to set foot on multiple continents in a business capacity before I was 25. He told me that it took years of paying my dues to reach that goal citing his lack of doing so as evidence. Well chief, I made it with 6 months to spare. I’d rather ‘stay up till 3AM’ as you guys have put it writing from my bed than toil away in a cube any day of the week. Cheers to all. Apologies for the length.

    • says

      @JamesDBurrell2 Hey there James,

      Love your story, sir, and thanks for sharing it with us. Just goes to show – there will always be those that want it; those that say they want it; and those that actually do it. Nothing wrong with any of them – but don’t be bitter because you wanted one and didn’t make it happen.

      Like you say, perhaps Sarah is bitter about “having” to do something she doesn’t want to. Writing about it doesn’t seem the greatest way out 😉

    • says

      @Dannybrown I may be reaching here, but her post could be the symptom of fear. I’m sure there will always be the need for PR Firms, but the relevance and functions of traditional PR has certainly changed (outsider’s perspective – i’m not PR whiz). Let us remember, carriage makers scoffed at & belittled the importance of auto mobiles. Thanks for the kind reply Danny.

  26. Rianne says

    Love your insights! A lot of bloggers are getting paid for their reviews and i couldn’t agree more on them being hired.

  27. says

    Danny, I’m late to this conversation (zipping in via Gini’s link on her weekly roundup) but I have to say you’re SO right to take “Sarah” to task. I’m really disappointed (but not unduly surprised) that someone in a PR agency has this kind of arrogant attitude.

    I personally hope that in some way her post comes from the fear of what blogging and social media communications are beginning to do to the PR industry, which in its current incarnation is clearly beginning to suffer. To my mind its a statement of fear that the industry is changing and that the old model just doesn’t work anymore.

    If you haven’t understood the power and reach of community and what one single blog post can do (just ask Dell!), you’re probably not on top of your PR game.

    • says

      @jonbuscall Hey there Jon,

      Always a pleasure to see you here, mate :) I’m not sure if it’s a statement of fear – Sarah mentions that she works blogger outreach for her agency and that they look after them. Maybe she was just having a bad day – heck of a way to announce it 😉

  28. jackiej04 says

    @MommaCupcake Great point. I have the privilege of seeing both sides-working at a PR agency and being a blogger (theinnovativeconsultant.com) myself. What I do see is that both PR and bloggers benefit from each other, so PR shouldn’t be putting bloggers down and devaluing what bloggers do. Bloggers can be great PR for a product when doing product reviews or hosting contests. PR does have its head up its ass!

  29. JayZeis says

    It drives me crazy when people say that blogs don’t matter. The blogs that I follow are beer related. The small breweries and brewpubs (as well as larger ones) have for the most part embraced blogs. The accept the good with the bad, but if you provide a good product, your reputation gets spread throughout a community that is willing to pay for the product. If they bash a blog, they would upset many of their potential buyers. Word of mouth can build you up or tear you down- it all matters how you work with them (bloggers).

    • says

      @JayZeis That’s a great point, Jay – sure, you can bash a blog (or bloggers in general), and that’s your viewpoint. Fair enough.

      But what happens if your customers (or clients) also read that blog, and then decide they don’t want to work with you? That’s a big loss due to opinion. Don’t stop offering your viewpoint – but just be aware of who you might be alienating.