If you’ve been anywhere on Twitter this past week you will no doubt have seen the latest uproar in the blogging world in which an independent hotel in Dublin declared they were banning all bloggers from their business after one blogger e-mailed them looking to collaborate.
After the hotel owner shared the e-mail on Facebook, which then went viral, the internet was rife with comments about bloggers suggesting they were all ‘freeloaders’ and ‘cheeky’ for suggesting a discount, or free stay, in exchange for blog posts or videos. As someone who works in PR I thought I’d share my thoughts.
Let’s get one thing straight – bloggers pitching to brands is not a new thing. For a lot of bloggers pitching content ideas and collaborations to brands is how they get noticed and how they get paid for their work – just as a freelance journalist would with a newspaper or magazine. This day in age it shouldn’t be such a shock that this is how many online creatives operate – how else do you expect them to build brand relationships? But unfortunately some businesses haven’t quite caught up. Believe it or not there is a world outside the internet bubble where traditional PR and marketing still reigns supreme, no matter how many followers you may have.
When thinking about blogger collaborations it has to be a fair exchange. It makes no business sense for brands to provide freebies without getting much in return. A blogger may have hundreds of thousands of followers but if they are all 16-20 year olds and your brand is targeted at those 40+ then it wouldn’t be a viable collaboration. Bloggers looking to work with brands and businesses should also note that is often very difficult for PR’s to see the direct impact that the work will have – as there is often no clear way to measure it. This is why it is often helpful for bloggers to approach brands with a ‘media kit’ – showcasing their stats and previous work. If you are at a stage where you are starting to pitch to brands give them as many reasons as possible as to why the partnership could be a success – and only approach those who you feel fit with your blog. Also be mindful that some PR agencies don’t have as much control over their budget as you may think – but if even if it’s a no now a polite introduction can still open doors for you in the future.
In defence of bloggers
What incidents like the above have shown us is that many brands and businesses out there still don’t quite *get it* when it comes to bloggers and influencers. They need to stop thinking of bloggers are some freeloading insta-famous wannabees and start seeing their platforms as just another media outlet. Some blogs readerships are even bigger than magazines and they should be treated as such. Would the hotel manager have been as rude to a journalist looking to write a review? I very much doubt it. A lot of the commenters claiming bloggers are just after freebies and discounts probably don’t realise the sheer volume of freebies journalists get too. My advice to bloggers is to seek out companies with dedicated PR professionals or teams rather than contact an owner directly. They are much more likely to understand where you are coming from.
Advice to brands & businesses
If you are approached by a blogger asking to work with you, or try some of your products, and you don’t think it is of benefit to your business then there’s no reason why you can’t send a simple e-mail response to let the blogger down gently. Just be nice. Let them know you aren’t looking to work with any bloggers at the moment or don’t have the budget. Don’t start ranting on social media, even you for some reason an e-mail asking to work with you makes your blood boil, it just makes you appear rude and outdated.
Bloggers aren’t freeloaders, they are business people. Sure you might get the odd one or two requesting more than you would like, but a simple polite decline is all that is needed. Think about how much you would pay for traditional media advertising and then pitches from bloggers don’t quite seem so outrageous at all.
What are your thoughts on the recent debates?