Today’s blog topic is something a bit sensitive I think. I thought and thought about whether I should blog about this, and I decided f*ck it Imma just write.
Today’s blog post is about how to up your PR game, especially when it comes to bloggers.
Digression: I hate the term “bloggers”!!! Anyone who has ever had a blogspot account can refer to themselves as “a blogger”. And advertisers and clients always seem to have a shit view of bloggers! Always think they only want free stuff la, very cheap can bribe them with cheap products/meals in exchange for coverage, no brand loyalty, etc etc. So I never introduce myself as a blogger. But Fatty always goes, “this is Audrey, she’s a blogger.” Fats, next time instead how about you say, “this is Audrey, the most awesome person I know” I’d totally be fine with it. Lolol.
Anyway I’ve been blogging for 10 years (ZOMG!!!!!!!!) now and in the course of it I’ve encountered many different kinds of people. As you know, most of my sponsorships and deals come through Nuffnang but on a daily basis I do receive emails from direct advertisers, PR companies too, as well as anyone who wants to spread awareness about something.
So there’s tons of emails, FB messages, tweets I’ve received. Some nice, some professional, some earnest and sincere, some written with bad grammar, some rude, some damn annoying, and some just plain weird. And I thought, (the good ones aside) who are all these people!?! How is it possible they still have jobs in PR wtf. Or if it’s a direct advertiser, who are these weirdos!? Wanna do business but where’s their work ethics? How is their business still standing?
PR stands for Public Relations. Which means a PR person’s job is to build Public Relations – to build the relationship between their brand/client and the public. And the public means everyone else! It means your customers, your mass media and journalists, and yes if you plan to go there, the social influencers you intend to work with. So why are your emails still so appalling wtf.
Someone needs to write a basic guideline on how to work with online influencers
and how to be a polite human being. I waited 3-4 years for this but since I still don’t see any, here’s my version. This applies to Malaysia only, and maybe Singapore, since I don’t have a clue how things work elsewhere.
(disclaimer: Most of the people I’ve encountered are generally nice, polite and professional. This is a minority I’m talking about.)
1. Be polite. And check your spelling/grammar
This is so basic I don’t even know why I have to say it. But I do. Thankfully, I don’t think I’ve encountered a PR agency being straight off rude, but many SMEs (small/medium businesses) and online businesses don’t seem to know this!
If you can’t even get your punctuation right, how do you expect me to convince me that you are a business I should be working with, much less that you’re a legitimate advertiser?
I received this email yesterday.
Polite enough. Got wish me good morning and inserted smiley faces.
But the background to this email was, this blogshop in question left a comment on my Instagram picture (which incidentally featured another blogshop) asking if I would be interested in sponsorship.
(1) personally, I find it damn bad taste to hijack another store’s picture by leaving a sponsorship request comment there but never mind, maybe they didn’t know it was sponsored. Although if you’re in the business you definitely know la.
(2) my email address is right on my Instagram profile. Why leave a comment there and not email me? I didn’t reply their first comment, so they left me another on another photo, to which I asked them to email me. Are you serious about wanting to work together?? Why so lazy don’t even bother emailing me or even checking for my email address in the first place?
(3) Email is templated. No sign of my name anywhere in sight. And worse, the email seems to be have written as though *I* am the one asking them for sponsorship, not the other way round. It’s full of assumptions and terms n their part, but doesn’t bother asking me what my terms are, weird considering that THEY are the ones who want to engage me, not the other way round. I found it quite rude and it turned me off towards them.
2. Be professional
This one again is not so much PR agencies la but SMEs (usually online businesses). Based on their emails/communications a lot are little more than one man shows and based on the lack of professionalism showed, I think a lot of them are probably students who have never worked proper jobs in their lives.
If they did, I dunno why like that wtf. One man show businesses are fine because everyone has to start somewhere. But if you plan on sustaining a successful business then you also have to act like it la! I’ve had people ask me to promote their stores for a discount, then further negotiate hard ball even after I say no politely. I’ve had people whom I suspect pretend to misunderstand me to get cheaper prices/max value for themselves. And I’ve had people tell me sob stories and plead with me for lower rates.
It’s extremely uncomfortable having to listen to and deal with all this. You’re putting me in the position of having to be a pasar malam auntie to bargain with you like that. Luckily not so many do this la, and I usually pass these queries to my blog manager at Nuffnang anyway, but sometimes still kena.
And worse, it’s extremely unprofessional for you to tell me your sob stories. Oh you left your job to start this business and have no money but want me to promote you for free? Oh you will give free products? I know how much your stock costs and it’s super insulting for you to imply that my value as an influencer is equal to the cost of your product.
Business is business. How can you ask someone to help you do something for free when you’re hoping to profit from it? It is essentially asking me to help you, so you can make money but I won’t. Like that why don’t you ask your supplier to give you stock for free because you just started your business and your boyfriend ran away with your savings?
I actually fell for these sob stories before a few times FML. And I ended up feeling taken advantage of and unhappy. But noone but myself to blame because who asked me to do it wtf.
3. Just being a nice person
PR isn’t rocket science what! If you want something from someone, try to build a good relationship with them. That’s the entire point of PR isn’t it? And to build a good relationship, it’s as easy as being a nice, easy to work with, professional person. How hard is that?
Like this. A blogshop I worked with before, Supermodels Secrets sent me a CNY package out of the blue – filled with mandarin oranges, a handwritten note wishing me happy new year and thanking me for working with them, and a bunch of other small stuff. It was so small and of little cost to them but it made such a big impact on me! So much so that I’m praising them here for their awesome PR and service. A little goodwill now goes a long way to sustaining a good relationship in the future.
I can’t understand why these PR peeps don’t see that. Maybe they should rethink their field wtf.
2. No saying Dear Editor
One of the things I hate the most is receiving emails that start off with ‘Dear Editor’ or ‘Dear Esteemed Member of the Press’. I am not an editor nor am I a member of the press so I assume this email is not meant for me and usually delete it without reading further.
Maybe it’s okay to send emails to journalists and editors titled ‘Dear Editor’ because they are editors, and no matter how impersonal the email, it is their job to read your press release and write about your event anyway. It’s not my job and sending me a press release starting with ‘Dear Editor’ will not endear you to me. It makes me think that you are just blindly spamming releases without considering the recipient. So I think it’s also okay to blindly delete your email.
3. Assuming bloggers are mainstream media and treating them as such
This is kinda related to ‘Dear Editor’. I guess bloggers can be categorized as a sort of alternative media because many blogs supply information. But PR agencies tend to lump blogs in with mainstream media like newspapers and magazines. When they send event invites, they also expect a post-event writeup.
Here’s an example. The other day I received an email from the PR firm of an alcohol company in my inbox. It started with ‘Dear Editor’ wtf so I deleted it. A few days later I got a call from said PR firm. The lady asked me if I’d received their email. Since I delete on auto pilot I said I didn’t remember and she said no worries, she would send it again. She sent it, I saw it was a press release and deleted it again wtf.
Then the lady texted me to ask if I’d gotten the press release and photos. I said yep. She then asked “whether you will be able to use them if you haven’t already”.
Why? WHY? I am not a newspaper journalist. Maybe you can expect a journalist to cover your event because again, it is THEIR JOB. They receive a salary for doing so. And you have probably bought ad space in their publication which contributes to their salary.
What do I receive!? Free photos to use!?!? I only blog about my life and myself – why would I post photos of an event that I never went to??? I really don’t think my readers would wanna read a press release of your CNY campaign lo wtf.
That’s another mistake PR agencies make – thinking that the information and photos they provide via their press release is of value to me as a blogger and I should be honored and super eager to use them in my blog.
4. Know thy blogger
This is also something so basic that I can’t believe PR agencies in Malaysia don’t do it. If your client is say, a diaper brand, would you contact an unmarried blogger for your marketing activities?
But I kena this a few times! I’ve always written about how much I hate exercise, but I still get exercise related emails.
Always receiving emails from Singapore. I don’t know how these people found me and decided they want to work with me, but don’t even know where I’m based. :X
I replied them that I live in KL and then no reply. *crickets chirping
Another incident lately which was the trigger to this blog post was the one I mentioned earlier – the alcohol company asking me if I would be using their press release.
1-2 years ago this company sent me a Xmas hamper via their PR firm. I was pleasantly surprised and appreciated that there were no strings attached so I returned the favor by tweeting a picture and thanking them.
Then a year later they invited me to an event. I politely declined because I was pregnant and wanted to avoid drinking and smoky places. Then a few months later, they invited me to another event. I declined again because I had just been discharged from the hospital and was still in confinement.
Then the fateful press release incident happened a few weeks ago. When the lady asked if I would be blogging for them, I replied, “no I will not. In fact I’m surprised you expect me to considering I am breastfeeding and don’t alcohol companies have strict guidelines against things like this?”
She replied, oh sorry I forgot.
Seriously?? As a PR firm, isn’t it part of your job to keep track of the media and influencers you (want to) work with? Isn’t that what they pay you for wtf. I’ve never worked in a PR firm but if I did, or if I were an advertiser, I would want to know as much details as I could about the lives of my influencers so I could make sure their lifestyle suited for the product, it is plausible that they were using the product/service, that their audience matched my target market and so forth.
Which brings me to my bonus point:
Not all bloggers are created equal
To advertisers, when you want to engage a blogger/social influencer for your brand, find out who they are. Like I’ve said, anyone can create a blog/Instagram and call themselves a blogger/influencer. That does not mean they have any actual influence.
To gauge someone’s influence, look at blog traffic first. And it should be unique views not page views. Unique views means unique people who came to the blog. Page views means how many times your blog loaded/refreshed. So you could have 1 unique visitor, but 5 page views if the fella keeps refreshing the page. If blog traffic not available, Instagram, Twitter, Dayre numbers are a good gauge.
Also don’t forget to look at the engagement – the number of likes and comments received. The more influential a person, the higher the engagement, obviously. And if a person has a high number of followers, say 20,000 Instagram followers but only 20 likes, it’s a big hint that the followers are fake wtf. Cos I’ve heard of people who do that. :X A normal like average based on my own observation is about 5-10% likes of the total followers.
So if your PR company gives you a list of influencers they engaged, it would be a good idea to look at the above criteria to gauge the influence and the effectiveness of their engagement.
Wah that was a huge chunk of verbal diarrhea.
I dunno maybe I’m just anal wtf. I work in social media ma (not just blogging, but in an agency too) so I guess these are peeves of mine. I don’t think all this is too much to ask for, really, if you or your company wants to work with bloggers, these are the basics right? Be polite, be professional, and know your stuff. And that will probably get you further.