The discussion about to pay or not to pay a blogger for mentioning you or your stuff will never die. There are COUNTLESS posts going on – currently Lorallee (a product and sponsors dream blogger) chimed in with her opinions and the folks behind the Clever Girls Collective have come up with five reasons TO pay bloggers.
And yes, there is much that should be compensated…in some for or another. Bloggers do have influence and are a huge part of the online marketing world.
But what part are they? This is what is confusing to PR departments and marketing agencies. Each blog is different. Some present themselves like news sites with section covering various topics. Some are portals with multiple contributors again on various topics and resemble print magazines with their style of content.
These sites tend to have sponsors or paying advertisers that cover overhead and even pay their staff. For these types of sites it makes perfect sense to have them on your press release list. They are looking for relevant news on various topics, not unlike their print counterparts.
But a blog written by a individual, no matter the subject or size and popularity will tend to wonder why you are asking them to discuss your totally irrelevant product, just because.
I will admit, I love being on so many PR lists. The majority of the information that passes through my inbox may not be fitting for my sites, but can be worth mentioning on Facebook or Twitter. Many, though are completely ignored.
Why? Time is one thing. I just can’t keep up with my inbox and maintain a life. The main reason though is that my site is a personal site that accepts relevant items for reviews or giveaways AND enjoys sponsorship in the form of paid advertising.
The key for me is relevancy to my lifestyle and my kids. It has to be something that we WOULD use or see or talk about. Other sites are not like this. Some are purely review sites. Some are information sites. ALL vary, and this must be a nightmare for the PR people to streamline into manageable online campaigns.
What I have noticed recently is the increase in followup emails I am receiving about some of these releases. The followups cause me to go back and see if there was something vital that I missed….something that was making it worth my while to type up a blog post with provided images and logos.
But no. Nothing. The followup emails really want me to (for example) discuss Whirlpool’s new and fancy Double Oven on the off chance that it may be relevant to my readers.
And yes, sure….I guess it looks great and will be of interest to some of my readers. But see, it isn’t to me, and it is my blog AND my time. A post about an oven with no sort of hook like a giveaway or SOMETHING is free advertising. My time on my blog for your clients product.
Last year I was invited to check out some new models for washers and dryers from Whirlpool and Maytag. This was at least fun and interesting and myself and my fellow bloggers enjoyed a chance to talk to the experts. That there was an effort to reach out to ME made me more inclined to put the effort to mention the event in my social media circles.
Another time a bunch of us fellow bloggers were asked to check out a new car seat. Not only were we served snacks, but given amazing gift bags and some had the chance to take the seat home and test it out with their own kids. Again, this caused much buzz about the seat.
Now granted, you could call this bribery. But what is the difference between reaching out to online media (professional or not) and traditional press junket? Traditional journalists are sent ‘gifts’ all the time. Sure, their editorial bosses may have rules about said gifts, but the stuff is still sent out. If bloggers are helping build brand awareness the same way print advertising or print or television reviews do, why then are there still so few companies providing relevant budgets for online marketing?
Granted there are a LOT of bloggers out there and only a few with a massive reach. But smaller bloggers tend to cost less to advertise on and may not be part of a syndicated ad network either. A PR agency with small monetary budget could have advertising on multiple sites and with those ads get posts included.
I tend to be perfectly happy to throw in a post for people who do pay to advertise on my sites. This would be an example of a Sponsored Post.
As Lorallee states and takes from yet another powerhouse Kristen Chase…
What is the difference between editorial and sponsored work? The Sway Group put up a post that had a really general (yet great) definition in it from Kristen Chase with the difference between sponsored and editorial content:
If [they]‘re saying, I’d love to send you product to try to see if this is something you might want to feature on your site = editorial.
If they’re saying “We want you to try this, mention this, tell your readers about this, and include link graphic etc” = sponsored post.
I have done sponsored work for non-monetary compensation. Heck, I’ve done it totally and utterly for FREE. Because what drives me is the product or the brand, not my pocket book. And some of my best memories and experiences did not come with an amount of dollars in my pocket.
Like Loralee, I have done this type of content for free, but it was because the brand or the cause appealed to me. Sadly though, my bank account and my time does not appreciate this sort of altruism and I have found myself becoming more and more picky about what I choose to spend my time writing about.
Which brings me back to the these follow up emails. These cause me to reply back to the PR people…which I am sure they appreciate, but many times their response to me when I say no is basically to take me of their lists.
This angers me. I would like to see PR and marketing agencies instead start speaking up for bloggers to their clients. Instead of selling online media as a cheap and easy way to promote a brand, to sell it as something worth spending money on. The golden age of big dollars in online advertising has lone gone, but online marketing campaigns need far more respect than they are currently receiving.
This is connected to quantifying the return of investment (ROI) for marketing on blogs and through social media. That is a whole other blog post and I have discussed it over on SAHMedia.
The Whirpool campaign annoyed me for many reasons. One reason is that this is the Canadian Whirlpool. In the US Whirlpool is spending big bucks on branding with the mom bloggers. To the point of GIVING bloggers washer and dryers to review. This does not happen in Canada. Again, not saying I want STUFF (stuff IS fun), but Canada is so far behind the US when it comes to online marketing initiatives. Another reason was that this campaign came from Harbinger, who I LOVE. I work with many of their people on many campaigns and have enjoyed the relationship and their apparent willingness to listen to my ideas.
I love doing product reviews. It is fun. I greatly appreciate the opportunity. I consider not only the product, but the cost and time it took to contact me and ship out said product as well as marketing material etc, as my compensation.
But please, don’t ask me to promote your brand using MY time and MY blog, which is VALUABLE to me for free. YOU don’t work for free do you?