Hi hi babes. This topic has been on my mind for a while, and when I talked with a few of you guys 1 on 1…well, it was kind of on your mind, too.
I want to talk about bloggers bashing brands.
Obviously, I am a blogger, but I work in PR in my 9-5 everyday life. That means I’m like the opposite of blogging – I’m the PR girl you guys are working with for sponsored posts, collab content, etc.
I’m the one who reads your email pitches. And I’m the one who reads your tweets trash talking brands, subtweeting a recent collaboration, or talking about how you really “told this brand off” with a screenshot of your convo.
My friend Rachel over at The Confused Millennial had the idea for this collaboration, talking about bashing brands from a blogger’s perspective and a PR perspective. You can read her perspective from a blogger, which is so insightful and actually going to give you some valuable advice, here.
Snarky vs. Educational Responses
We have to address the snarky replies…I’m also the first to admit sometimes I love seeing the screenshots of exactly what bloggers say back to brands and being like “yeah, you go girl!!” from the perspective of a blogger.
But when I’m on the flipside and I get a response like that… it’s just negative energy, negative vibes. I’m probably going to screenshot your rude response and send it to my PR friends, too. And that’s going to make them skeptical of working with you, too.
You can educate without being mean. In fact, if you do that, you’re probs putting the ball in your court for negotiating actual paid work.
Here’s what it looks like IRL:
Katherine, I can’t believe you would even send me an email like this. I am a full-time blogger, so it is so rude to ask me to work for that amount of money or pay me in product. You wouldn’t ask a marketing agency to do work for free or to “see how it goes,” right?
I’ve screenshotted your email into several blogging groups I’m in, and everyone is talking about what a horrible brand you are. I don’t think any of us will be working with you, so good luck trying to find someone who will.
Hey Katherine, thanks so much for your kind words and for reaching out to me. Your product looks really cool, and I’m sure your customers do love it.
However, I’m not accepting product in exchange for a sponsored post. Blogging is a serious source of income for me, and I can’t pay my rent, student loans, and buy groceries with free product. Additionally, you say the product is worth $25 – well, the time it would take to shoot your photos, edit them, write the content, post it, and then promote it to my readers would bring my hourly compensation to $5/hour.
If your influencer/marketing budget ever changes, please let me know.
With the educational response, I would be looking at myself like, “Oh wow. I guess I am asking her to do all that work for $5/hour.
Tip: When you get PR emails you don’t like, you actually have a huge opportunity to build a relationship with someone. If the PR pro truly just doesn’t know or made a mistake, and you kindly educate them and give them a heads up…..that PR person is going to actually be grateful to you AND you’re opening up really honest communication…something that you could maybe use to still negotiate a paid opportunity.
Your own reputation as a blogger is everything. As working with brands on collaborations gets more and more popular, it’s going to be more important than ever that your professional reputation is pretty spot on.
Just like in blogging, tons of stories and drama gets swapped in PR. We talk about bloggers we loveee to work with, bloggers we don’t, the ones who turn in C- quality work, etc. We recommend bloggers and influencers between us all the time.
You’re only putting yourself at a disadvantage for paid brand work when you’re subtweeting collaborations that obviously just ended, trashing a brand in the comment section, or just being rude to work with in general.
Tip: Like Rachel says in her post, it’s OKAY to vent. But remember your professional reputation is on the line. As bloggers, we argue that blogging is a real career and it is. So, when you work in a normal 9-5 office job, you wouldn’t take to Twitter and bash your own company, right? You would get fired.
“You wouldn’t ask a photographer or a marketing agency to work for free!”
When bloggers reply that, a little part of me dies inside.
Do you know how much work we do for free?
Marketing and PR agencies do SO much work for “spec”…which means a proposal we all kill ourselves for (and MAYBE get).
I’ve worked for a week straight on deals and proposals we ended up not getting. So especially when our paychecks are based on commission…yes, we did all that work for absolutely free. And half the time, the brands take our ideas and implement them anyway.
Tip: Again, think about how your words are cutting someone down. Take a moment to think about the pressure that PR person might be under from their boss, from the client, etc. that made them either say something bad or wrong. Also again, this is your opportunity to actually be like “hey girl, let me give you a heads up before you do any more damage” and give them the 411.
Brand bashing out in public makes me very wary of working with you, as PR person.
If I do one thing wrong are you going to rip me apart across social media? If I say one thing you don’t like, are you going to screenshot my email and blast it on Twitter, so that my boss calls me to talk about it? Are my clients going to see their name attached to being fake or a terrible brand, simply because I’m not going to pay you what you want to be paid?
There’s obviously no confidentiality agreement attached to an email, but it would be amazing not to be nervous that my email is going to get twisted completely out of perspective and blasted across social media.
We have media mentioning software, if you guys didn’t know. So every time a brand’s name is mentioned across the entire Internet, I get a notification. So I see TONS of tweets where a brand was never specifically tagged but it’s obviously being talked about.
Tip: If you just have to talk about it, talk about it in a small, private Facebook group. Or better, text your blogger friends and rant about it. Show your mom – I guarantee your mom will be SO fired up for you.
Do PR Pros Do Anything Wrong? Are Brands Out of Touch Sometimes?
ABSOLUTELY. I’ve seen some cringe-worthy emails that people have posted in Facebook groups. Emails that are rude, done with no research about a blogger’s content, have incorrect names, or truly offer outrageous pricing for a huge amount of work.
It is 100% embarrassing to see some things my fellow PR and brand people have said. They have a LOT of learning to do, too.
What Bloggers and PR Pros Both Can Learn
Clapping back to each other doesn’t get us ANYWHERE – all it does is create a circle of feeling salty, disliking each other, but having to fake it because both bloggers and brands need something from the other.
Because at the end of the day, we do need to learn from each other. As this all gets bigger, the ones on ground zero (aka us) are going to build the foundation of an entire future industry.
And I also want to clarify before the pitchforks come…I GET IT.
I know exactly what it feels like to sit here for hours, editing, formatting, writing, shooting photos, actually get people to READ your content….all to have a brand want you to do it for free.
Or even worse, they want to “pay” you with lotions, face masks, discount codes, etc…don’t you love trying to pay your student loans online with face masks and sunscreen.
This whole topic is in part a reason I built Summer Camp. When I started blogging about advice on branding/blogging from a PR perspective, I immediately saw how neeeded this information was.
So, Summer Camp is an online camp for bloggers allll about working with brands. I teamed up with 2 of my friends who work in PR to teach you guys the real deal on how bloggers get chosen for collaborations, how to pitch yourself, pricing structure, press kits, and SO much more. All from the perspective of people who are choosing bloggers + influencers every day for brands like Dove, KitchenAid, and TRESemmé.
I fully believe it’s a solid first step in the direction of understanding each other, working better together, and actually seeing each more as allies than enemies.
Enroll in Summer Camp –> here
Now that you maybe see a little more from the PR side, head on over to Rachel’s post here and see her perspective as a full-time blogger.