So there I was, happily pottering away on my laptop, totally not Googling ‘Katie Price divorces again’, feeling nice and calm after having had a lovely facial this morning. And then I got an email from a PR company that was representing a major brand. And by major, I mean a MASSIVE brand.
I was happy because not only are they a great company but they asked if I’d like to take part in a Google+ Hangout with some respected journalists … and not only that, but it was to talk about something I’m actually really passionate about.
I’ll paraphrase somewhat, but here’s how the conversation went:
Them: We think you’re amazing and beautiful (OK, they didn’t say that), we love what you’ve done on G+ Hangouts before and would like to know if you’d like to take part?
Me: Why that’s very kind of you. I had a facial this morning so yes I’m looking particularly glowy. Would you be looking for me to be one of the ten participants or are you just asking me to tune in?
Them: We’d love you to be one of the participants, alongside (insert respected journalists names.)
Me: Awesome. Could you please tell me if I would be compensated in any way for taking part?
Them: I’m afraid not Kate. We don’t have budget for it. Sorry about that.
Me: Wow. (Insert major brand name) has no budget? I’ll have to politely decline but wish you the best of luck.
I took my vexation to Facebook and had a really interesting debate amongst fellow bloggers about this and being asked to work for free appears to be a very common thing within the blogging community. A good friend Tanya had actually blogged about it herself last week.
So here’s the thing. For those of you that don’t have a blog, you might not find this post particularly interesting, but let me ask you this … would you work for free? Would you put aside an hour or so of your time to work for a big, well respected, and monied corporation, that’s time away from your family … for nothing?
Nor would I.
Because as much as I started blogging for the love of writing (and I really did), I am also ‘lucky’ enough, after four years of hard graft and nearly 700 blog posts, to earn a small income from my blog. I also happen to have another job, providing a social media and content consultancy to firms, so I work really hard. I take a lot of pride in what I do. ( I also happen to be a lone parent and receive no money from my ex … so yeah, this attitude riles me a little.)
Don’t get me wrong, there have been times when I’ve worked with companies for nothing, but that’s because either I’ve worked with them before or I just happen to be a massive fan of what they do. To be told that a big company has no budget just isn’t true … they just have no budget put aside for bloggers because they haven’t deemed us important enough. To be honest, I doubt the brand even knows. That whole ‘bloggers will work for free’ approach just isn’t going down well within the blogging community.
Granted, I’m a bit ranty because I started a Paleo diet today so I’m on a carb withdrawal downer, but still … I believe I’m making a valid point. (And just to point out, the last G+ Hangout I did was for one packet of fake nails. That I didn’t use. But I was treated with respect as a blogger and it wasn’t assumed I’d work for free so I was happy to reach a compromise with everyone involved.)
Maybe there are and will be younger, newer bloggers who would jump at the chance to be affiliated with a major brand for nothing, and I won’t judge them for doing that … their blog, their rules. But I really would like PRs (and ergo brands) to understand the importance of forming great working relationships with bloggers. Rather than a quick link for the brand to Google, wouldn’t it be better, especially in the long term, to work on building a real connection with a relevant blogger – they’re 100x more likely to provide great content and word of mouth for that brand.
My thinking is slowly, slowly, catchy monkey. PRs should take time to build a relationship with bloggers, and compensate them accordingly for their time. I’m not greedy, I don’t make demands, and I’m always always polite … but I also have 2 mouths to feed and am a great believer in respect.
I respect you, you respect me. Simple.
What do you think?
UPDATE: I’m delighted to say that the brand in question had a change of heart and understood the importance of compensating bloggers for their time, so all is well again. For now!