PRs need to change their approach towards bloggers

financial mos vicky dayDiscussing the best ways for brands and PRs to work with bloggers, this is a guest post by Vicki Day, author of the blog MrsD-Daily

I enjoy blogs – both reading them and writing my own. But over the last few years the nature of blogs have changed. Real-life stories on topics both personal and niche have now gone mainstream, curated and created simply for marketing brands.

However, while brands piggybacking on bloggers is understandable, and can even be rewarding for all involved, the approaches used by brand PRs can drive me to despair. Here’s why:

Bloggers are never asked, they’re told

PRs fail to get the intended brand message out when they don’t consult with bloggers on what works for them. Bloggers know what excites or best appeals to their readers, but they are seldom asked, but rather told what to write. We need to stop treating bloggers as mere advertising tools and instead work with them to get the best out of their writing style and perspective. 

One size doesn’t fit all

Instead of carpet bombing every known blogger, PRs would do better to select only those blogs that they have read and feel best fit the profile of the brand in question. PRs should discuss the project individually with each blogger they approach and ask them how they would like to get involved. The blogger will know what works best, be it a sponsored post, an advert or, if they are on an affiliate scheme, a sequence of themed posts. The important thing to remember is that no two blogs are the same, even if the topics they cover are. Using a one size fits all approach is not viable.

Affiliate That

Bloggers love affiliate schemes for a wide range of reasons and I do feel they are under-used. First, they give the blogger a chance to earn commission through the links for the life of the post, and second, the tracking links give great data to the blogger and valuable information for brands to track purchasing patterns. In my experience, PRs don’t always realise the significance of this data and just want to push the product/service out.

I often interact with PRs wanting to work with bloggers during the pre-launch phase of a brand or product.  On many occasions I have explained to PRs that it would be better to cover the launch after using the product in question, using affiliate links to prove the campaign works. However, my suggestion falls on deaf ears. 

Cut out the competitions farce

PRs have a tendency to ask bloggers to promote a brand through competitions in which entrants “might win” a prize. Far too often, what these magic words actually mean is that no one actually wins anything at all.

If the PRs’ main objective is to maximise coverage and create brand awareness, then that’s really all they have to communicate. Bloggers are the best judge of what peaks their readers’ interests and gains long-term loyalty, so let them get on with it, and don’t force on them short-term attention-grabbing gimmicks.

Communicating with transparency and honesty – that’s what blogging was all about in the first place, right?

Our guest blogger Vicki Day has been in retail for 30 years ‘from being Santa’s boss to running an Ikea store.’ She has been blogging since 2009 and sees herself as a cyber-sales assistant.

What do you think? Are Vicki’s suggestions practical? Comment below or tweet your response to @CisionUK



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2 replies
  1. Robert Marshall
    Robert Marshall says:

    If anything, too much attention is given to bloggers by PRs, sometimes at the expense of professional journalists, because a blogger might be given preference at, say, an event or product launch. Sadly, they are becoming the paths of least resistance for PRs, who are so keen to get their message across ‘independently’, while retaining control of it, because so many bloggers are simply not professionals in the art of communication. Most of them are neither trained, nor experienced, in either writing, journalese or even versed in questioning the material that is put in front of them. ContentClick has discovered that as many as 61% of bloggers are hobbyists, who do so for their own enjoyment, and a further 21% are corporate executives or entrepreneurs, which leaves a tiny percentage of professional, independent writers. Importantly, it has been found that most bloggers to not earn a fee for their work, a survey from earlier this month revealed that 95% of them earned a fee that is less than a standard London cab fare.As blogging is far from a professional discipline, so many bloggers will simply reiterate (sometimes verbatim) what PRs feed them. After all, it’s an easy way to fill up space. Bloggers may have been treated as advertising tools but this is because many of them do not have the competence to realise that they, and their readers, are being manipulated. Therefore, how can bloggers be the best judge of their readers’ interests, when they are so easily cajoled into conveying a message that is controlled by PRs? Put simply, many bloggers are simply modern-day citizen journalists, which are at the complete opposite of the professional entity. Maybe the time has come for blogging to up its game?

    • Michael Kenward
      Michael Kenward says:

      Well said Mr Marshall, despite a few, well two, writing lapses. Not something that I would normally mention, but such lapses seem to be the bread and butter of many bloggers. I have winced at semi-literate copy from “award winning” bloggers.

      Does this matter in these days of the text message? Of course it does. Poor writing is a warning sign to discriminating – as in educated – readers. Do PR people check the quality of the writing of the bloggers they schmooze or do they just look at the numbers?

      Then again, how many PRs can judge writing quality? An acquaintance trying to staff up a new communications operation bemoans the dreadful writing in the CVs of people seeking jobs. As he said “if they can’t write good English on their CV what hope is there for our content?”

      Beyond the ability to write, another sign of a good journalist is in what they decide not to write about. That leaves most PR material floundering. That is why the PR people turn to the uncritical world of blogdom to get their messages across. It is just another “metric” that they can throw back at clients to convince them that they have earned their fees.

      The good news is that the era of the blogger may be short lived, as the “me me me” generation rushes to Twitter and equally inane “outlets”. The bad news is that PR people seem determined to cosy up to these even shallower twerps.


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