I’ve read a couple of fantastic blog posts this week that cover the perpetual PRs v bloggers issue from different perspectives. Danny Brown wrote a post titled ‘When PR Has Its Head Up It’s Ass’ that, in typical Danny Brown fashion, slated a shameful post by a PR pro that arrogantly implied that bloggers really shouldn’t be taken seriously from a PR perspective. Just a day or so later, and Sally Whittle wrote a post reciting stories of PRs who had asked her to return things after product reviews which made bizarre and somewhat disturbing reading. Others including Gini Dietrich and Lucy Thorpe have blogged similar things this week too, and all sum up why so many bloggers really dislike the PR industry and the people who work in it.
But you know what? It’s all a load of shite.
Yes, some PRs are idiots and yes, all PRs make mistakes. (I count myself in the latter but not the former.) But equally, some bloggers are less than credible in their approach and attitude. Case in point: a few months back, we at BOTTLE PR set up a blogger (via Mumsnet) with a fully paid for weekend away with her family to a specific location in the UK. The understanding was that she would write a review of the places she visited in time for the school holidays (which was the point of the trip). Having enjoyed her weekend away, the blogger went AWOL for two entire months. After continuously hassling Mumsnet, a three line review eventually appeared. As you can imagine, the client was, let’s say, ‘less than happy’.
Now nothing was ever written in stone about what the client would receive as a result of sending this blogger on an all-expenses weekend away with her family, and maybe we’re at fault for that. But the point of recalling this story is not the specifics of who was right or wrong or even the way that the blogger in question, Mumsnet or us as an agency behaved. It’s that there are two sides to this debate.
Bloggers and PRs think and work in different ways, and there are good and bad on both sides. PR as an industry has a hell of a lot to learn about communicating with bloggers and some of the stories I hear make me shudder (the tale of a PR demanding the return of a packet of seeds that had already been planted on Sally Whittle’s post is particularly cringe-worthy and something I addressed in the post’s comments). I’m making a concerted effort at BOTTLE to ensure that every one of our consultants understands blogging and how to communicate with bloggers and organised for Susanna Scott, founder of British Mummy Bloggers, to come and talk to us recently. But not every PR agency is as forward-thinking or even cares that much.
On the other side however, bloggers need to accept that PR is an evolving discipline, that not every PRO is up-to-speed and that we have bad experiences with bloggers as much as bloggers have bad experiences with us. There needs to be patience and trust on both sides. So how about we stop the feuding and accept that we’re all human and that working together is best for all involved?
Is that SO difficult? All together now: “Ebony and ivory, live together in perfect harmony, side by side on my piano keyboard, so Lord, why can’t we…..?”
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