Because dealing with PRs is forever one of the most contentious issues in blogging, I though I’d put my spin on things. A lot of more established bloggers forget that, once upon a time, starting to get emails from PRs is actually a nice thing – it shows that, somehow or another, you’ve been recognised as having a voice and implies you’re doing something right.
Well, as Taking Back Sunday once sung, don’t let it go to your head. I’ve seen a ton of girls who’ve been blogging for about six weeks and get this idea in her head that Chanel should be sending them an umbrella as soon as there’s a cloud in the sky, and that Oliver Peoples’ PR department should be sending free sunglasses the second that cloud disappears. To those girls, I would say this -
1) They don’t know you exist.
2) They don’t care you exist.
Fluffy Fashion Beans (or whatever that, no doubt, derivative and cliched blog name is) only has 4 GFC readers and its author only has 104 Twitter followers, and you have to do a hell of a lot more than that before the superbrands come knocking at your virtual door.
PR is a business. Unless sending you a gift is going to result in at least two sales, there isn’t any point in doing it. Shocking though this may be to some bloggers, brand PRs aren’t there just to help people get a new wardrobe for free. Yes, it’s frustrating that some bloggers are like ‘LOOK AT THIS OUTFIT MADE ENTIRELY OUT OF GIFTED STUFF, LOL’, but if you’re that bothered about lining your pockets with free stuff, you should probably reconsider why you started blogging in the first place.
All too often I see bloggers bitching about PRs on Twitter, sometimes even namechecking the brands and individuals involved. On a scale of 1 to HORRIBLE IDEA, this is about an 8. (Well, except for the one by this blogger, because it made me laugh endlessly.) Yes, PRs can sometimes be massively annoying. Like sending you emails that start ‘dear blogger’ and end with ‘when can I expect this to go live?’. But just as you wouldn’t (I assume…) spit in a snooty shop assistant’s face, you shouldn’t email a PR with a massive rant. Why?
1) There’s a person at the other end, one who probably hates their day job (I’m assuming again) as much as you do. Imagine how soul sucking it must be to spend all day forwarding ‘press’ releases about stuff even they’re not excited about.
2) They talk. I’m friends with enough PR peeps (hell, even my dad is one of them) to know that they’re not exactly a quiet bunch. They sometimes make ME seem like a mute. They also, just like bloggers do, have a bit of a pack mentality. Mess with one of them, and it’s taken as an insult by all of them. Tread with care.
A while back I heard a story (from a PR…of course) about a blogger who’s pretty well known. She started firing off these snotty emails to PRs saying how lame their events were and asking to be taken off their lists, she had a semi-public spat with a paper who supposedly ‘implied’ that she lied about her stats and she now insists on being called a journalist, not a blogger. Even though the main place she does her ‘journalism’ is a…err, blog.
Seriously, I thought this trite sense of self importance was reserved for characters in Gossip Girl. I had my photo taken by a magazine once, does that make me a model? I cooked some spaghetti last night, I’m only responding to chef now. One day I’d like to have a regular column in a fashion magazine or something, but even then I doubt I’d insist that people refer to me as a journalist – I’m officially, and you can quote me on this, ok being referred to as a blogger. You only have to look at the comments on just about any article about fashion bloggers to realise that it’s this perceived attitude problem that turns the general public, as well as a lot of PRs, against fashion bloggers. Don’t give them any more ammo.
So, yes, it may be annoying when a PR emails you something starting ‘dear blogger’ or expects you to post about some fairly mundane product or invites you to an event that doesn’t even have a free bar (shock horror). But remember, there are newbies out there just wishing for emails like that to start arriving.