Well actually, in case it wasn’t clear, bloggers are not whores for free stuff.
I’d disagree that throwing free stuff at bloggers or inviting them to events is good for either demographic. That kind of stuff is superficial and lacks any kind of thought. Bloggers are more than Gavin Lambe-Botoxes. And I’d strongly disagree with Thomas that bloggers think they’re journalists either. That is easily proved wrong with the slightest interaction with bloggers. Journalism is way more than writing about free stuff you were given and maybe it should never have done so.
For me, the real value in working with bloggers is giving unbiased information to opinion formers, those who reach beyond their blog readership and are respected by other blogs and their peers in the offline world. Those who write and analyze because they want to, not because they got the offer of something. If you have a shit hot product then giving the gorey details to a blogger who considers their blog as a space that covers these products is good enough, they’ll be clever enough to come to the right conclusion about it. Answer all the questions they have about it. If you have a shit product though then don’t give it to a blogger, unless it’s one of the claphappy ones out there that take money to do reviews anyway. No I won’t supply a list. They might be good for search engines but they’re not respected.
Saying that, the web and the Internet might be the future but this is the present and bloggers have some influence but not a lot. PR people need to figure out the value in bringing bloggers to events and boozing them up and whatnot. Perhaps a simple email with a few attached documents might be more than enough. Many bloggers might appreciate access to someone in a company or an information source rather than samples of a product. This billable hours thing that was mentioned a lot at Collision Course suggests PR companies have limited resources and some clients might not want to pay big amounts. If that’s the case, maybe one’s time is better spent trying to get discussion of your client or their company on to Pat Kenny or mentioned in the Sunday Business Post but then again, this is pretty much the same as bringing bloggers to events. Short term.
You know, the R in PR? Working on that might be better. Proper relationship building takes much longer than that though and billable hours will probably hamper that. Perhaps that’s why the clever PR firms hand over the relationship to internal employees of their client company once the blogger or journalist is first introduced via the PR company? Good matchmakers are good PR people. The King sending gifts to his potential Queen does nothing if she has more than a few braincells. Which goes back to the first line in this post.
There is nothing new in this globally but locally it seems bloggers and PR people are learning these basics. If you’re not clever on how you work with bloggers and how bloggers work with PR companies then you will see blog posts like this famous and very true blog post from Tom Coates about his disgust with PR and Marketing types. That happened 18 months ago in the UK. Hopefully the idea of Collision Course and ongoing feedback will stop this. Perhaps next time those that aired their feelings in the pub afterwards might actually do so at the event where the PR people were.
For the next Collision Course I’d hope we can move beyond seeing how best to make contact with bloggers and ask the PR people the best way bloggers can contact their clients or get information from their clients via PR companies. It’s two-way, not one way. In addition I’d hope to get bloggers and PR people to bring along what they consider good examples of Online PR and Marketing.