PR People Are Everywhere

If you’re not a blogger, I will apologize ahead of time for throwing this up here. If you are a blogger, take a moment to grab a cup of coffee because you need to be awake when you read this. You know those PR people we all want to meet and forge relationships with? Yeah, they’re everywhere. With two weeks having passed since I got home from Blogher, I think this is one of the biggest things I’m taking away from the conference and it definitely is having an impact on what I do online.

Private Groups Aren’t Private

Twice now, I’ve seen things get a bit juvenile in groups regarding what brands did for parties, what they gave away at their booths and all of that in groups on Facebook. Having made personal connections with people who just happen to also work for brands, I can’t help but cringe when I see this behavior.

When a PR rep or a blogger who has been hired by a brand enters a private group, they don’t always announce who they are and what they do. Regardless of what some bloggers think, that brands are “planting” people in the groups to spy on what might be said about them, it’s really nothing that sinister. Sometimes, they simply want to interact with people before heading to a conference, much like the rest of us. It’s easier to do that if they don’t announce that they work for a huge company that everyone is going to want to work with.

It also allows them to get a feel for the true personality of bloggers before meeting them. As someone who tends to freeze up a bit when first meeting someone, I’m honestly thankful for that. It’s much easier if I feel I know the person ahead of time, and one brand rep who did just that wound up being a great friend because we hit it off on more than a business level.

Remember your Miranda Rights when you head into “private” groups. Anything you say can, and will, be held against you. If you go off the handle, you have to be aware that there’s a good chance someone from a brand saw you and you might be headed to the naughty list.

PR People Share Information

In the customer service industry, a bad experience is many times more likely to be shared with friends than a good one. The same thing goes when working with brands. If you fly off the handle about one company, there’s a good chance other companies are going to hear about that and want to avoid working with you. No one likes a loose cannon.

There are also PR companies that will regularly ask bloggers they have a trusting relationship with for recommendations on bloggers who would be good for upcoming campaigns or whether or not they feel a specific blogger would be a good fit. If you’ve left a sour taste in someone’s mouth, what are your chances of landing a great opportunity?

Not Everyone Who Makes Decisions is in PR

While I was at Blogher, I sat down for cocktails with a friend. Her husband had come into the city to spend the evening with her and he joined us for drinks. As it turned out, he runs a very successful company that has an amazing social media presence. Now, we never talked about me working with his company or anything like that, but if the time comes, I would love to work with his team. If I had been going on and on about how crappy some of the booths were (I’m NOT saying I was unimpressed by any of them, but hypothetically…) and what a bad experience it was, what would have been his take away from our conversation?

You Are Being Watched

When you make the decision to reach out to companies as a way of growing your blog, you need to remember that everything you do, everywhere, is open to the microscope. We’ve heard this for a long time regarding job hunting, how more and more hiring managers are searching social media to get a feel for the “real” applicant, but too many bloggers don’t seem to realize that it’s even more true for them.

As an example, I recently wanted to put up a post on my views on a very controversial subject. I was upset and wanted to run to my blog and vent about it. The problem: I would have definitely alienated some of my regular readers, I would have possibly hurt some of my long term relationships and brands I would like to form relationships with because of how they fit with the current focus on my site would have seen that post as something that didn’t fit with their brand and could have hurt their brand appearance. Why? Because it was that controversial.

That doesn’t mean I can’t have those feelings, it doesn’t even mean I couldn’t publish them somewhere. It simply means that there are some things in my personal life that don’t belong here. To me, blogging is a job and this is my office.  I wouldn’t go off the handle about my views on certain things in a traditional office, so I held them away from here as well.

What tips do you have for those who are just starting to reach out to brands?

Comments

  1. As someone who has been in this space for a while–I would say that you should always assume anything you say or do online is available for public viewing and can, and will, come back to bite you. That said, I worry that companies are gaining way to much influence over our blogs and the way we blog.

    Yes, if you want to consult or be a brand ambassador or anything like that, you need to consider your blog (and Facebook, and Twitter, and etc.) your public persona.

    And, yes, I think it is tacky as all to complain about swag at a conference that is supposed to be about learning and networking. When you consider the costs involved of going to a conference, you would be better off saving the money and buying your own stuff if that is what you are after.

    However, I think we are giving way to much power in our blogosphere to corporations. And, ultimately, companies that work with bloggers need to understand that we have followings and are valuable to them because of our authenticity.

    Frankly, there are 1000s of product bloggers out there all writing the same sanitized hosannas and regurgitated press releases. And most of them aren’t going to get hired, anyway–not more than a $10-20 post here or there. If I had money to spend to hire an ambassador, I would rather hire someone with a really strong voice. If I wanted boardroom-approved writing, I would hire a ghost writer for a corporate blog.

    Which is not to say that there isn’t a place for someone whose voice is very positive and gentle…and which is also not to say that a blogger has to share every thought she has if it does not fit with how she wishes to present herself.

    I’m not really disagreeing–I guess I just see things like “You are being watched” and think, “So?” I enjoy working with some brands and it has been lucrative to me…but if all the companies took their ball and went home tomorrow, I think that they would lose more than we would. Sure, it is a nice opportunity at this point in time to partner with some ethical and strong brands–but I would still be blogging even if no companies were involved.

  2. I completely agree. While in line at BlogHer, another attendee in front of me was quite rude. She had no idea that I was in line with a PR Rep from a major brand who took note of her behavior. You just never know who is watching and listening. Always treat others with the kindness and respect they deserve.

  3. We definitely always say regardless of where you are, act professionally because you are right. As a blogger and brand friendly face, we are always being watched.

  4. JDaniel4's Mom
    Twitter:
    says:

    I totally agree. I really have to think before I post somethings.

  5. Heather, your post is simply common sense, which unfortunately too many people lack. It’s good old office politics on a globally digital scale, and really, it’s just playground etiquette. There are diplomatic ways to share negative feedback, and those brands certainly do look to our community for tips on how to do their jobs in a way that will respond and amplify their messages. Why not be helpful?

    That said, I do love a good blogger rant about bad press releases. They’re funny.
    Kim Tracy Prince recently posted..Vacation DietMy Profile

    • Heather says:

      As my ex used to say… if common sense was so common, there wouldn’t be a term for it. You’re right, it should be common sense, but there are many who haven’t figured that out and others who may be new and don’t realize how things work. Personally, I like having PR reps everywhere because there are times I may second guess myself about approaching someone and it makes it easier, like they know me at least a little bit.

  6. I love this article. Very well written and a good reminder for us all.

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