Being a blogger involves so many things I never thought about before that first post went to air and one of the things is dealing with PR companies.
As my blog is only around 18 months old I do not have a wealth of experience when it comes to PR companies but I can say I have had experiences that have been absolutely wonderful where the PR consultants involved have been so professional, genuine and caring that it has caused me to send off emails thanking them so very much for the association.
Sadly, not all experiences have been that way.
There is an overseas company that is launching here in the first quarter of 2013. Their stores are currently being built. A PR consultant recently contacted me asking if I would be interested in promoting their brand through not only blogging but also through pinterest, instagram, twitter and facebook. There was mention that by return I would be given product and remuneration for the work I did.
It sounded like a great opportunity. I love the brand and would have been honoured to work with them in seeing their business established here in Australia. I was asked to come in for a meeting and so drove across town, spent 20 minutes looking for a parking space and then hurried to the meeting.
I was met by a rather young looking PR consultant who showed me to a table in the cafe where we sat down. What surprised me is that she hadn’t brought anything with her; not even a folder. The first thing she said was, ‘So Charlie, tell me all about Hotly Spiced’. And that shocked me because I thought I had been contacted because she was aware of Hotly Spiced and because prior to the meeting she had asked me to forward my Media Kit and this would have told her everything she needed to know.
I asked, ‘Have you had a look at my blog?’
‘Oh, yes’, she replied.
‘And did you get a chance to have a look at my media kit?’
‘Yes, yes I did’.
‘Oh, okay; well that would tell you quite a bit…’ and so I went on but I was confused because if she had seen my blog and media kit she would know quite a bit and I wasn’t sure what more I could tell her.
Fifteen minutes into the meeting she then asked, ‘Do you have children?’ And I tried to suppress the shock I was feeling because if she had seen my blog she would know I have three children. It tells you that on my ‘About’ page and almost every blog post mentions one of my three children. And if she had looked at my Media Kit she would have known that the very first page states I am a mother of three.
She then told me the company is looking for bloggers from different genres to promote their brand and that the day before the stores open we will be invited for a private tour (after the media has been through first) and that any products we wish to blog about will be available to us (but they need to be returned) and that it was up to us just how much blogging and social media promotion of the brand we would like to do. And that the bloggers from the other genres had already been selected but that they were still looking for a food blogger. And then she added, ‘But there isn’t any money to pay you’. But she also said, ‘And this will be a mutually beneficial relationship’.
And I was confused because I couldn’t see the part where I stood to benefit.
She told me that it would be up to me to decide how much work I would like to do between now and the opening of the stores and that she would be there to support me in any way possible and that any products I would like to use could be made available to me. After the launch money would suddenly appear and there would be an opportunity for me to be paid to continue blogging about the brand.
There’s four months between now and when the stores open. That’s four months of this company gaining free access to the social media audience each blogger has established. Some bloggers have already decided this is an attractive offer and have not only agreed to the terms but have already started promoting the brand.
I asked for a contract and was told the company wouldn’t be offering contracts.
I came away from the meeting feeling disillusioned and unsettled. If the PR company was suggesting this was a mutually beneficial relationship then I was failing to see how this was of benefit to me. I wanted a guarantee that I would be given paid work after the launch. I emailed the consultant and stated that before taking on the work I would need a contract. This is what she said in reply:
“I have not yet selected the bloggers that I wish to work with. As I mentioned to you during our meeting, I am taking this time to meet with as many bloggers as possible in order to select the top bloggers for the first campaign. I made no promise that this would include Hotly Spiced.’
This had me reeling as it was a complete contradiction of what had been discussed at the meeting. To now know that I could promote this brand for the next four months for nothing, only then to be told I was to be dumped for another ‘top blogger’ meant this was exactly what I feared in that one party stood to gain while the other gained nothing. Now that the terms had been so plainly stated, I turned down the ‘opportunity’ to work with this company. Anyone with any business nous would know this was not a mutually beneficial relationship.
It has been my experience that all too often bloggers undervalue themselves and will be so flattered that anyone of any significance is interested in their blog that they will agree to giving themselves away for free. Not all PR companies seek out bloggers for a freebie though; some will make very attractive offers to the right blogger. But sadly, there are a few who will not only waste your time by turning up to a meeting under-prepared but who also feel that it doesn’t matter which blogger they secure to the campaign as long as they get one for free.
I believe bloggers have value and that value, as with any profession, be it lawyer, doctor, plumber or journalist, comes with a price.
We need to rise above the expectation that we are there to be used and put a value on what we do.
There’s a scripture in 1 Timothy that says, ‘The worker deserves his wages’.
And bloggers are workers.
Bloody hard workers.
And not for a complete turnaround. I’m still creating the recipes my mother served at our Christmas Drinks events. Here is something savoury.
Mushroom Port Pate
Makes: 3 cups
Degree of Difficulty: 2/5
Cost: Considering how much you pay for pate at the shops, pate is surprisingly very inexpensive to make.
- 500g chicken livers
- 125g butter
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 125g mushrooms, sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 250g lean ham, chopped
- 1/2 cup port
- 300ml carton thickened cream
- 100g clarified butter
Clean and trim livers, chop coarsely.
Heat butter in saucepan, add onion, cook until onion is soft. Add mushrooms, garlic, livers, ham and port. Cook, stirring, 10 minutes or until livers are tender. Add cream. Blend or process until smooth. Pour into serving dishes. Refrigerate several hours or until firm.
Melt clarified butter in a small saucepan (or microwave). Place a sprig of rosemary in the centre of each pate dish. Pour clarified butter over pate to seal. Place in refrigerator until firm.
Serve with melba toast.
This recipe has been adapted from The Australian Women’s Weekly Celebration Cookbook.
And Melba Toast is so easy to do. Just buy a loaf of sliced white bread and remove the crusts and cut into triangles. Place on a baking tray in a hot oven (mine was on 200C and is fan-forced) and keep an eye on it! The bread will dry out beautifully and turn a lovely golden colour. They may need turning. Takes just a few minutes.