grumpy old women
With the New Year has come a flurry of unsolicited emails from Australian PR folk.
By the time I got number three this week I was feeling particularly grumpy. I’ve not opted on to any PR-friendly blogger list, nor have I signed up for any press releases. Yet I keep getting these insistent communications.
Often they say how much they like my blog then ask me to flog a product. Beer for instance. Yes I wrote a post about homemade ginger beer and years ago I wrote how didn’t like beer but had a pleasant experience drinking a radler in my homeland. So no, you wont see me writing about this great new lager I tried at a well known Fed Square drinking hole.
Nor will I respect any blogger who does so – well, not without a huge flashing disclaimer about it being a freebie at the behest of the promoters.
I’m more than ambivalent about SBS’s featured food bloggers. This is a straight swap for publicizing the channel on your blog. SBS is a commercial station, it runs ads on both its TV channels and the website, why should we give them free advertising? So, no offence, being a featured blogger is nothing special – all it means is that you have an unpaid advertising deal.
Bloggers will never be taken seriously if we promote without full disclosure. Anecdotally, I'd say it's currently something like 1:10 disclosures to mere gushings.
So, when I sometimes grit my teeth and say – please remove me from your email list, I haven’t signed up for your media releases – the odd PR person gets equally as titchy as me. I guess when you have a job that’s about giving people freebies you’re used to sycophants, not grumpy types who say they aren’t interested. I think I unintentionally offended one recently who replied by email:
“i was of the impression that bloggers were starting to be worthy of the same respect as other media and so have recently added a number of the key ones to my media database
i wasn't aware that you had to live in a city to be interested in writing” (this is a cut and paste; she used no grammar at all. Cool or illiterate, I’ll leave that to you?)
Trying to get someone to promote your product or service for free, is that about “respect”? I’m meant to be flattered to be as respected as a hack? I wouldn’t mind a journalists pay packet for my scribbling but that aint going to happen. The city reference was in response to me pointing out that what she was flogging was in Sydney and perhaps it was better to actually read people’s blogs to see if what they are promoting is at all relevant to what the blog is about. Sure I’m going to fall over myself to post about something in a different city that I couldn’t attend, just so I can feel worthy public relations respect.
I’ve grappled with this gnarly subject before, nothing changes - except the increase in numbers of emails for PR people. If you want to work with bloggers you need to understand us, we aren’t journalists writing to a deadline with space to fill, grateful for a press release to regurgitate. Most of us write for enjoyment, eschew advertising and have very specific niches.
And as you know – no publicity is better than bad publicity.
UPDATE 11/2/10: The latest offer to come my way has been jewelry - a complimentary piece to give an honest review or mention. I turned it down because it's something that wouldn't fit into any of my blogs. But I didn't mind the email. Why? It was personal, from a small business owner not a PR person. It was a short and honest email. The product was good, though not my style. I took the time to reply and wish her well.
Any one else had interesting offers lately?