Do you remember that speech you used to get from your parents, “I’ll treat you like a grown up when you act like a grown up?” I never actually got that speech because I was the acknowledged grown up in the house, but it always sounded good on T.V. Anyway, lately I’ve been wondering if bloggers need a version of it.
A few weeks ago a veritable tsunami broke out on Twitter (is that a twunami?). The Bloggess, a well known blogger (well known in blogging circles at any rate), wrote a post about an obnoxious PR pitch she received. You can read the whole story here.
The short version of the story is that bloggers are very “sensitive” about being asked to promote items for free. If you go to a blogger conference or any meeting of bloggers how to get paid for their work is a huge topic.
I get it, everyone wants to get paid fairly for their work. But, what a lot of bloggers don’t seem to realize is that asking for free publicity is what PR agents do. That’s their job for which they want to get paid fairly. They don’t ask bloggers for free publicity because of a lack of respect, they ask for free publicity because that’s what they do. They ask mommy bloggers for free publicity, they ask major magazines for free publicity. Then, they very carefully spend their budgets in the places where they can get the most bang for the buck. Sometimes that’s bloggers, sometimes it isn’t.
But the thing is, you don’t get respect, or more importantly money, by whining about it. Especially if your whining is done unprofessionally. The Bloggess can get away with sending PR people a picture of Wil Wheaton because that’s her shtick. She’s built her blog on the idea that she’s slightly insane, but oh how you’ll love her anyway (which I kind of do). But it doesn’t work for most people.
The company I work for is holding a contest for bloggers. If you have a blog you can write a post about your idea of a perfect winter party and possibly win an $800 prize pack (details here). It’s a pretty standard essay contest. For some people, it’s one of those “Sure, why not” things. For others, it’s a “No way, too much work” thing.
We sent an email out to some selected bloggers we thought might be interested in the contest. For the most part, people were positive about it or ignored it. But I got one very puzzling email back: “Wow, that’s a lot of free work you’re asking for. Good luck with your program. Sent from my iPhone while holding a tiny baby. “
Um, first of all, no one asked you to do anything, it’s a contest you can enter or not. There are no requirements to promote products in your post or do anything except describe your idea of a winter party. It’s not an assignment, not an ad, just a contest.
More importantly though, if you’re going to get huffy about not being treated like a professional then you might want to rethink your email signature “Sent from my iphone while holding a tiny baby” does not make me think “professional.” Professional writers who aren’t interested in participating in a pitch, simply ignore it.
A few years ago I read a blog post by someone who was aghast that a major brand had expressed interest in advertising with her and asked her for a proposal. She prepared a proposal and then discovered that the brand wasn’t interested in spending any money, they wanted her to put up links in exchange for product. She was just so mad that she’d spent hours on that proposal! Don’t you think she maybe should have asked about the budget BEFORE spending hours on the pitch? That’s what professionals who sell advertising space in magazines or online do before spending hours preparing proposals.
Whining and complaining feel great, but they don’t pay the bills. So, to paraphrase someone’s mother “If you want to be treated like a professional, act like a professional.”
(p.s. all thoughts and opinions here, especially those that might piss off any bloggers belong to me, and not to the company for whom I work. So, take it out on me, not them).