The first national speaking opportunity I was offered was to spread the word that PR spam was partially the fault of the media database companies, like Cision and Vocus, who were making blogger and media member contact information readily available. The companies responded, strengthening their offerings. But there’s still a lot to be desired.
Last week at New Media Expo, I had the opportunity to again try and carve out a better understanding with bloggers and podcasters about PR’s role, how a public relations firm or pro could be a helpful partner to them and so on.
Sure, bad PR exists. But good PR people can help a blogger or a podcaster provide more and better content, plus help that content provider monetize the content, too.
Part of the problem is bad PR, bad pitches and irresponsible spray and pray tactics of the ignorant and ignoramuses. But that problem has begotten another issue: Content providers like bloggers and podcasters have little interest or faith in even the good PR folks. The bad ones have given the good ones a bad name.
I used two analogies to reframe the blogger-PR relationship, I thought worth sharing here. I’d love your feedback on them.
The first was this: Bloggers typically think of PR folks as paid flacks just pushing a company or product. But when a PR person reaches out today, more and more bloggers respond with, “What’s your budget” or “I charge for publishing brand content.” But if the only time you mention brands is when you’re being paid for it, then that makes you a paid flack just pushing a company or product.
The second was even better: PR folks approach bloggers with content they hope to get in front of the blog audience. The response is more often, “What’s your budget” or “I charge for publishing brand content.” Yet, these bloggers often want to get their content in front of conferences and events to grow their community and influence. What if the New Media Expos of the world responded with, “Well, that’s $2,500 for a solo slot and $500 for a panel. What’s your budget?”
It’s the same thing.
Now, I didn’t offer these two analogies just to be sarcastic. I offered them to wake the crowd up and get them to think. My salient point was this:
We’re all business people. Why don’t we act like it?
We’ll come to the table with something to offer your audience. We’ll do our best to understand you, your audience, your pricing structure and how valuable your time is. You come to the table with the goal of building a relationship with us so that you help us out from time to time — because you’re a good partner — but help us develop reasons to want to pay you for your effort and the exposure.
Understand that PR folks don’t always have a paid media budget to go with their outreach. If the content is relevant to your audience, shouldn’t their needs be worthy of consideration to share the content, even without payment? When executed well, earned media benefits everyone — the brand, the PR firm or liaison, the blogger/content producer and, ultimately, the audience.
I’m not arguing that a blogger or podcaster’s time isn’t valuable. All I’m saying is that if your response is always, “What’s your budget?” I’m less likely to want to work with you than someone who’s a good partner and occasionally supports the brand by pointing to what we’re doing as a measure of good partnership.
We all want to benefit from the relationship. Maybe if we frame it that way, we all can.