Bloggers, Stop Bashing Brands: From a PR Perspective

Bloggers, Stop Bashing Brands: From a PR Perspective

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:

snarky

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.

Erica

educational

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.

Thanks,

Erica

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 reputation

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.

Confidentiality

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.

xx

 

 

Follow:
  • YAAAAAAAS GIRL. First off, LOL @ the name Erica there – at first I panicked thinking it was my own email since I feel like I don’t really see the name “Erica” published on things, and then realized NO WAY JOSE would I ever send something like that – ha!

    Girl, this post is golden. Even your “educational” response is still super stern I think, and DEFINITELY gets the point across – being an unprofessional asshat really helps no one! A+ post. A-freakin’-plus.

    Coming Up Roses

    • Lolol no no definitely not you girl. Erica is for some reason a name I always use when I do examples!!

      And yeah you can be educational and still be matter of fact and blunt. I def don’t think bloggers should roll over and play dead, or bow down to brands and PR people just because they hold the keys to these partnerships. But you can always always leverage the opportunity to help a PR person out and build a relationship with them.

      xx

  • This is SO good! I’ve been binge reading your blog and loving every minute of it! I wish I had all this info when I was focusing the majority of my time blogging before owning my own store. Do you have any tips for small businesses working with bloggers? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

    Carrie | https://carrieeliseandkho.com/

    • Hey girl! #1 I’ve seen your online story and I LOVE that you’re doing that.

      I would say remember exactly what motivated you as a blogger and remember why you said yes to certain things or said no to others. If you can nail it down to the core motivation of an individual blogger, I think you can make that sale/purchase/whatever it may be. And be really harsh and honest with thinking about why a blogger would say yes or no to working with you – don’t be romantic thinking people are just going to help you out because you asked nicely.

      AND thank you for your kind words, that honestly means a lot.

      Hope that helps a little! xoxo

  • Kelly

    I absolutely love this post, Katherine!! I see bloggers proudly sharing their awful responses to PR reps all the time and it just makes no sense to me — kind words will get people so much farther! I’m so excited to explore your blog more and read more of your posts!

    XO Kelly | KaptivatingThoughts.com

    • Absolutely!! And PR people get yelled at, complained at ALL the time. So when a blogger goes out of their way to add on to that, it definitely makes me never want to email them again.

      Love your thoughts on this too! xx

  • As i’m reading this blogpost I can’t help but thinking about making a quick run to get a donut! But I love your blog i’m always learning something and you just never disappoint with the content!!

    • Lol, right?? That wasn’t the intention but hey, I’ll take it.

      And for real, thank you for that. I’m so glad anything I write helps you out! xoxo

  • mQs

    First off, yum- your picture makes me want a doughnut and some great iced coffee. Anyways, i definitely think there is a balance between being honest to you and your brand as well as giving a brand credit. Negativity never is a good thing, and I think as bloggers we need to work harder to find that balance of an honest opinion and being respectful towards brands.

    XOXO
    mQs
    http://www.shorelifeofm.blogspot.com

  • Wow, this is an incredible post.
    I haven’t worked very much with brands yet but I’m going to consider this my “bible” when it comes to that.
    I think it’s easy for bloggers, because it isn’t your typical professional setting to remember that they are, in fact, professionals. Especially if you’re doing this for your full-time job it is my belief that you should conduct yourself in the same manner that you would in an office setting.
    I don’t know about you but I’ve never had a boss that I could talk to like that.

    I also love that you shared your perspective from a PR side. I have a Master’s in Integrated Marketing Communications but I’m not working in the field yet so I love seeing perspectives of people who are on both sides.

    Darrian
    http://www.darrianmichelle.com

    • Random – are you going to HerConference this weekend?

      • Also random, me just thinking about whether or not I should go. Are their still tickets?

        • I have no idea! I am going for a brand that I am working with, so I have my ticket covered, but I knew you went last year. I’m only going Saturday. If you do go, I’d love to meet up!

          • Alright, you talked me into it (no kidding before I got that notification I was just thinking about whether or not I should go)!

    • 110% agree to that. Rachel says this in her post, “If you want your blog to be a business, act like a business.”

      So fun that you have your Masters! I definitely toyed around with that idea for a while.

      • Yes girl! Couldn’t agree more. Getting a master’s is a big commitment but I already see that it’s helped me in my blogging/influence game already. Whether or not it pays off is TBD! I did it completely online though which I highly recommend!

  • Ahh loved collaborating with you on this! It’s really so important that we keep the lines of communication open so we can all help each other out!

  • I enjoyed reading you post and I’m sorry that you have to deal with some bloggers that act like this! I have done my research on how to properly respond back to a brand if you don’t agree with what you’re getting in return for a post. It always important to be professional and I can’t believe some bloggers actually act like this! Thank you for the insight on what it is from a PR perspective. It is very eye-opening!

    Much love,
    Stevie

  • Love this post, girl! Like, you really found a way to turn that snarky email into something that helps bloggers.

    xoxo
    Krista
    http://kristaaoki.com

    • Thanks Krista! I think you can 100% stick up for yourself and other bloggers without turning into a mean girl or attacking someone

  • “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?”

    I agree completely. If I represented a brand and saw a blogger ripping someone else apart on social, I’d be very hesitant to work with them. My immediate thought would be, “What if I’m next?” I do think bloggers are often underpaid and I completely understand why some offers can be downright insulting (speaking as a blogger myself), but I also believe you can politely and professionally defend your work without lashing out on social. It makes you, the blogger, look just as bad as the brand.

    The only exception, I think, is if a brand actually steals your work. Then, by all means, unleash your wrath and call them out on social. That being said, I see no reason why you can’t politely decline an offer that you’re not interested in, whether you don’t like the pay or the brand or both. Just my two cents. 🙂

    Rachel Bright ✨ 🌈 🦄 | http://hellorachelbright.com

    • Oh absolutely! If someone flat our steals your work, breaks a legally binding agreement, all bets are off.

      And so much yes to that! It really makes me hesitant to reach out to someone if they have a reputation for subtweeting across social media. And when brands get wary of working with bloggers, that’s bad for ALL bloggers.

      Loving your thoughts!

  • Rachel Gordon

    This is a fantastic post. I’d love to hear more insights like this from the PR side on how bloggers come across!

  • Lili Simmelink

    Loved your post, even I’ve not worked with brands yet as a blogger! I think we can say things in many diferent ways and been polite and professional, should be one of the first things on how to do it! In my previous career, I had to be in the other side when people asked me for free products, and always took care to reject or negotiate the ‘offers’ in the best way possible! I just have a rule that I don’t do to people what I wouldn’t like them doing to me, and that includes being rude! We never know what goes on at the other end! Thanks for sharing your view, I’ll go and check Rachels too! 💜
    Lili x

  • Yag Dalal

    It’s very interesting to hear the PR side. I have corporate work experience, so I am very careful when I respond back to brands. I try to not burn bridge for eventual future collabs.

  • I’ll never get how people send such snarky emails! I totally get it, but I just try to explain everything as nicely as possible and hope the brand understands!

    Tori
    http://www.mooretori.com

  • Erika Jarvis

    Never hurts to remind bloggers to be kind and professional at all times! love all of your tips!
    -Erika-
    MyRevampedLife.com

  • Moe

    Yes!!! Love this soooooo stinking much!! Thank you thank you THANK YOU!!! professionalism is EVERYTHING …. from all sides. How do you expect to build relationships if you act snarky & aren’t helpful? sheeesh! good job outlining all the important points!!

  • The part about dividing the value of product by the amount of time a post takes to create was a great reminder for me about the true value of a single blog post. Thanks for your suggestions here!

    http://www.andthenwetried.com

  • Stephanie Hepburn

    Great tips! I get the frustration on the part of the blogger, and to be honest it may be his/her PR approach to call someone else out (gets attention and circulated). That said, I like the educational approach because it doesn’t burn bridges and could actually foster a relationship.

  • Krystal Carty

    These are great tips! I love that you gave an example of what to do and what not to do and such great explanations for why!

  • This was such an interesting post to read! This will definitely help out whenever I decide to work with brands!
    http://www.simplynancyblog.com

  • Love it! Also, more than half the time we (the agency) know a rate may seem unfair, but because it’s mandated by the client, we have to say that’s the best we can do. I am 100% okay with bloggers telling me respectfully that they can’t do x, y, and z for that rate and explaining why. We get it and are sympathetic!

    • yes ditto I love that too! It’s totally fine as a blogger to turn something down and be like, “No, sorry that doesn’t work for me.”

  • Lynn White

    I have many people to share this with. I’ve never understood why bloggers do this! The blooming world is small when you think about it and news travels quickly!

  • This is a great perspective, thank you! Also, I will be adopting the “Show your mom – I guarantee your mom will be SO fired up for you” idea in my daily life. That’s just good advice, period!

  • Keeping snarky comments to yourself is what separates professional people from…non professional people. I’ve always made sure to keep my composure in all situations of my life where someone was really pressing my buttons. In reality, you never know when that person will turn up in your life again!

  • Yes, I majored in PR so I totally see both sides of things. I definitely don’t ever want to burn any bridges for potential collabs because one agency can represent a slew of different brands.

  • I can definitely see both side of things. I think that if you are constantly dogging brands in your blog, you don’t look trustworthy anymore.

  • Lalie Jones

    It seems like today for than ever people are always trying to put people on blast when it could also be hurting their reputation too.

  • As a blogger who works in marketing communications (including influencer relations) for a brand, I have a similar perspective and agree to each and every single point you made (loved Rachel’s post as well!). I’m in a few blogger networks and have seen a few snark comments about other brands that just make me cringe. I will make note of who it is and put them on my no-no list… and yes, perhaps mention them to my other PR friends. I loved that you included an example of a professional reply regarding unpaid collaboration requests- so on point! Thanks for sharing and PS- totally following you now!

    -Amanda
    http://www.agoodhue.net

    • So cool you are so similar!! I love that. Literally ditto to putting them on my “no thanks” list. I totally see why bloggers get annoyed and angry about working for free, but the comments make me cringe, too.

      xx thanks for reading this Amanda!!

  • This was a great and eyeopening post! As someone who doesn’t do any sponsored posts yet, this was great information for me to know ahead of time as I start looking into sponsored posts.

  • Robin

    It’s so great that you’re able to take both perspectives here–of someone who works in PR, and who is a blogger. I’m a blogger in my free time, but I manage a company’s blog during the day–so getting to apply both perspectives at the same time makes you that much better at your job. This is a great post–thanks for sharing your insights!

  • thesophiadiaries

    This is definitely great ideas to consider for bloggers out there. I’m glad you and Rachel did a collab to share both sides of the story! Great cohesivity!!

  • Jane Shussa

    This is really good and a reminder for all bloggers to stay professional while growing their income. Thank you for sharing.
    https://www.dailylifetalk.com/

  • I have never worked with brands, but it is really nice to see it from both your side & Rachels. I never thoughts about this, but it really is a lesson all bloggers need to know xx

  • I think this is really great! I loved reading from a PR person’s perspective. I think it is never a good idea to bash anyone or to be rude, because you never know what bridge you are burning. I have gotten crazy offers to work for free as well, but I have always tried to be very polite and educational about it. A few times it has even turned into a paid post for me when it was initially an offer for just product. I have also gotten offers that just don’t work for my blog, so I offer to reach out to other bloggers who would be a good fit to help the company out. I feel it is all about building relationships.

  • This is a great reminder. The post is thoroughly done and is clearly written by an expert. This is great advice for anyone working with brands! Thank you!

  • This is something that cuts both ways. I am a blogger and I had a 30 year career in PR. It rankles me to get emails asking me to run an infographic free on something only tangentially related to anything I write about–or not at all related. It’s clear that the “PR person” has never actually become familiar with my content and really isn’t a PR person at all. I don’t believe in the slash and burn theory but I do think that many brands do not take bloggers seriously and do not respect them as professionals. If they did, they not approach a blogger unless they really have looked at the blog well enough to connect the dots to their product and would fairly compensate them, for one, NOT expecting freebies. I probably get 10 of these requests a month and none of them have ever been something related to my blog.

  • Beauty and the Ballroom

    This is a great post and I agree about slating anyone on social media is risking your reputation. As far as I’m concerned, when I write or post something to social media I’m representing my website and am hoping followers and brands alike would want to engage with me…not be seen as trouble! haha! Very informative post thank you!

  • Awesome post! It’s a great way to see everything from the PR side.

  • I so appreciate seeing this from the PR side! I try really hard to be educational in my responses to companies who want to send products in exchange for promotion. The only way I’ve reached the level of blogging I’m at was by doing a LOT OF FREE WORK! Free work really proves how far you’re willing to go and I think a *little* spec work can be beneficial in the beginning! When I tell people how much I get paid now for a sponsored post, or that I’m being sent $700 products, in ADDITION to being compensated twice that amount for a campaign, their jaws drop, and I proceed to mention that I STILL do some ‘free’ work to build relationships. I don’t think I’d be a good blogger if it was all about the $$$ for me.

  • This is a refreshing post. Every time I see those posts about bashing a brand, I also cringe. There is a person behind that email, even if it wasn’t the greatest. I’m always in the thought of treat others how you want to be treated.

  • I love y’alls posts! Seriously everything said is so important. I cringe so so so hard overtime I watch bloggers bash the brands they’re working with. I just don’t get it!

  • Shani Ogden

    I love this. Thank you! Thank you for calling out those who bash brands and pointing out that with the way the internet works, word gets around (and fast). I always try to be kind in my replies, regardless of if the brand wants to work with me or not. Your summer camp sounds awesome and super helpful!

    • That is a great point too! Even if there is truth in it and the brand is in the wrong, it’s still the blogger’s reputation on the line. I’ll always pick keeping my rep more intact than getting 4 seconds of satisfaction from telling someone off 🙂

  • This is gold! Your advice on how to be tactful and professional is so good! Bashing other brands is unprofessional and will make companies wary of working with you. It is all abut networking and building relationships. I think a blogger just isn’t taken as seriously if they go around bashing other brands (no matter how much truth is in it).

  • Love this! As I told Rachel every blogger needs to read this because recently it’s been a “trend” to bash.

    • For sure absolutely. It does kind of feel like collective group think when everyone wants to hop on the train of “educating” brands when they get an email they don’t like.

      Thanks for hopping back between me and Rachel’s posts !!

  • Very interesting read! I graduated from undergrad in communications so I see where you’re coming from. I definitely think there’s a right way to do it and a wrong way to do it. I don’t think anyone should be bashing anyone because that’s just not nice. However, bloggers have a right to make sure they are being authentic to their followers, which means that they should give an honest and respectful review of whatever product they’re talking about. As a follower to some bloggers and YouTube personalities, it bothers me when I’m given false information just because the person is being paid to essentially give a good review (in this context a good review of a bad product).

    -GG
    http://www.girlingamba.com

    • Yes absolutely! It is 100% on both parties to treat each other nicely since you want to be doing that in business anyway. Bloggers definitely NEED to be being authentic to their followers, so if that means turning down brand collaborations, absolutely do it.

      Thanks so much for the insight here 🙂 From majoring in Communications yourself, you probs have a lot of thoughts on these topics!

  • Carly Ned

    Love this! I didn’t realize people bashed brands so often!

  • SashaMoniqueTalks

    I worked with a company who sent me substandard products and I had to conceal the fact that the items were falling apart and this was done on video, I didn’t publicly tell people that the product was bad but I did tell some of my associates privately about their products; you really have to research in advance about these companies and their track record. I learned some things in this post how to approach these things in a different manner.