Go to any meeting of bloggers and mention “public relations” and you will be able to sit back for an hour and listen to a stream of unending complaints about badly targeted emails, persistent harassment to attend product launches and visit places.
You might think that being offered all these offers of free food, drink, trips to places would be fun, and indeed some can be – but the floodgates never close, and worse – so many of them are totally irrelevant to the target audience.
Now, before this turns into a rant – many people within the PR industry are perfectly fine, and some are actually very good. But like the proverbial bad apple, there are too many bottom feeders in that barrel and they are ruining it for everyone.
Why am I writing about this – have I received another badly written press release? Nope, but I got this message on Twitter.
Now, I wasn’t aware that the Great Blogger Collective was organising a project to improve how blog writers appear to PR people, and judging by the flood of PR fluff that many of us receive, I doubt there is actually a problem in persuading some PR agencies that bloggers are an audience that is ripe for plucking.
Now think about it – is a Blog that doesn’t really have a core theme, but seems to be mainly about what’s happening in London from a slightly offbeat focus, likely to be interested in an overnight stay in a Brighton hotel? Nope. Reviewing hair products? Nope. Apple’s iPad? Nope.
The “design guru Linda Barker”? OMG – what have I done to make anyone think I would be interested in Linda (bloody) Barker?
(these are all emails I have received and filed under the “facepalm” folder in my email programme)
Would I be interested in a visit to the Crossrail station at Canary Wharf? OH YES! A visit to a science lab? OH YES! A chance to watch an ancient ceremony? OH YES!
More accurately, would you the readers be interested in reading about such places?
All of these have been arranged by press people who know not only that I am likely to be interested as a person, but that people reading this blog will also be interested in the topic.
If I am interested in the topic then I am likely to write a better blog post, and after all, the PR person wants publicity – preferably good publicity – and will want to target publications likely to deliver an audience interested in their product/event.
That is the best relationship – a blog that wants to write interesting things, an audience that will read the blog post, and a Press Officer who can deliver such opportunities.
Yes, I will attend PR events that are likely to lead to blog posts that will interest my readers.
No, I wont write about hair care products – because YOU are unlikely to be interested in them, and wouldn’t be coming here to read about them anyway.
As it happens, I am right now talking to a couple of agencies about things which I think will lead to interesting blog posts. They will be slotted into the usual stream of random history, offbeat events I attended on my own volition and whatever else peeks my interest.
I don’t think that we should forget that rather a lot of these PR events are “work”, not just a chance to get pished on free booze (although that happens sometimes). Oh, OK then, I will occasionally indulge myself.
And onto the final issue – time.
Most bloggers have full time day jobs. Many of us will adjust our work schedule for something that will lead to a really good blog post.
I was offered a visit to an Elizabethan House that is hosting an art event and wanted to point out how convenient it was for Londoners to visit. An old house that is close to London – sounded interesting.
Expecting maybe a quick early morning trip or a mid-afternoon jaunt, I was presented with what was effectively an entire day out of the flat – and we would get about an hour with the art, and no tour of the house.
A whole day out for a single blog post about modern art?
Yes, I will respond positively to well targeted enquiries from PR agencies, but will unleash fiery fury at the sort of crap I get far too much of.
Please remember that most bloggers have day jobs and have to fit writing into their spare time, or use up work holiday allocation if something simply had to be done during the daytime.