During one of my recent conversations with a PR professional, she used this sentence and said something like this - "Why should I pay you, when there are lot of bloggers are willing to do it for FREE". Well I wanted to say a lot but to cut the conversation there, I just responded - "I would suggest to go with your preferred bloggers, if they are able to provide value for the brand. That's how any company should operate."
The story doesn't end here. It's a common rant amongst bloggers as well. Professional bloggers also feel that lot of new bloggers are doing various blogging projects for free and that's not right. Now point is who would decide, what is right and what is not. Ultimately it's about value of time, effort and definition of success for each individual. Today I thought of putting my thoughts at one place and it's open for debate. I would encourage all bloggers, brand managers, PR professionals, Hotel/Resort owners to share thoughts through comments. My examples may align with Travel blogging but the details can be extrapolated to other blogging domains as well.
Let me first share my thoughts of first sentence which made me compile this blog-post. In my opinion any brand which needs visibility on web would also have some sort of KPIs in mind to decide if a campaign is successful or not. Now point is that how would you decide which blog or blogger can fulfill the needs w.r.t. KPIs defined. From my personal experience very few PR companies or brands do this analysis that's the very first reason for unprofessional way to deal with such campaigns.
For now, let's assume that PR company or Brand has clear stats to be targeted, which means that PR company is aware which blogs to be targeted. What should be core strength of the blog, the reach in terms of views and kind of audience they have. Reach on social media and overall influence is a particular vertical. Now ideally PR would reach out to blogger who can fulfill these needs. When it comes to blogger fees, every company wants to optimize the cost. So there can be cases where you find blogger who fulfills your need in terms of matching numbers and also willing to do it for free. In case of travel blogger, it's not actually Free as company would bear the cost of travel, stay and local sight seeing. If both the parties see value for each other, is there any harm? No, I guess. But like PR was optimizing the cost, shouldn't this blogger evaluate if s/he can charge for the assignment. Certainly yes and people do it, but it takes time. Ultimately it's all about learning the art of negotiation and bringing up the value for both the parties involved.
But if you notice, we assumed that PR has clear understanding of reach they want. Mostly that doesn't happen and PR always tries to bring more value to the brand and keep hitting the dart. So whosoever agrees to work for free, would work.
Now there are set of PR who pays close attention in choosing right influencer/blogger for a brand and tries to understand the terms. That's the way 2 parties start with values they can provide to each other and deal with it professionally.
And I know that many brands don't mind paying if they can afford and see value. Ultimately that's going to help their brand and business.
Now I want to share my personal experiences. Approximately 5 years back I was approached for a FAM trip and I felt so happy that a big brand recognized my blog and want me to fly to their place for 4 days of 5 star hospitality. That was certainly a high point for me, which gave me sense of achievement. But by that time I was not aware of value I could provide to any such business. Fortunately my first experience was great. But when I did few more free projects, I sensed some sort of misunderstanding, gap in expectations etc. Many times, such client turn out to be too greedy and expect rosy things from you. But why a blogger would do that? Ultimately we write for our followers and folks who believe in us. We can't fake it. The day I share fake details on my blog, I wouldn't see increasing traffic. That's the reason I have been seeing increasing traffic for last 8 years and going to cross 38 Lac views in few days.
So as a Blogger, PR or a Business, we need to be professional and respectful to everyone. And it's never about Free versus Paid. It's more about Value, Ethics and pleasure of working on something which would up-level things for all the parties involved.
Sentence like "Why should a Brand pay to a blogger when others are available for FREE" doesn't sound right at least :). It's OK if someone is not willing to pay or can't afford but be respectful to others. This sentence disrespect both the bloggers - the one who is doing it for Free and the one who has some charges for such projects.
Let me stop here and hear your views as Blogger, PR or a Brand owner.