There are some bloggers that let the rest of us down and I can't help but take a dislike to those that give the rest of us a bad name.
Who am I talking about? No one in particular, but since I've been blogging I regularly hear about bloggers who, on the surface, call themselves professional bloggers, but don't act like a pro when it comes to working with brands.
The ‘let us down' evidence
So what was this message that I received which prompted me into finishing this post? Well, without naming names or people, here it is verbatim:
Hi Lauretta, We had a lot of problems with influencers from this collab so we pulled out on sending any more product. Basically, product was sent and nothing was done and messages ignored. We know this has nothing to do with you but it really made us rethink things and we have to be sure of who we will work with in the future. I hope you can understand this. We will be sending out collabs again in the future.”
When I receive messages like this it saddens me. I also feel the need to apologise to brands on behalf of the bloggers that have let them down. Who would just ignore messages after they've agreed and entered into a contact for a collaboration? Why do some influencers think that it's okay to do this? It's unprofessional and unacceptable. No wonder some brands are suspicious of bloggers and YouTubers – thinking that we're all just out for a freebie.
And to be tarred with the same brush as these so-called influencers doesn't make me happy. In fact, it's because of these bloggers letting people down that makes my job so much more difficult. I have to go over and above to prove myself to brands; reassure them that I'll do what I'll say I'll do.
I'm not alone
I'm not alone in my thoughts. Two of my good friends work in the PR industry and both tell me that they are fed up of false promises from bloggers.
One of my friends had this to say:
I‘ve had bloggers come along on trips promising rainbows and then don’t deliver a single piece of coverage! They just vanish, no thank you email, no ‘I'm sorry but it just wasn't up to standard and I can't feature it’. Nada.It has happened twice already that a blogger asked for a free trip again, having totally forgotten that they mooched before. When I then asked for the coverage from the first trip again … silence … never to be heard from again! So, as a PR professional I just prefer journalists over bloggers in the hope they have a better work ethic as I've had too many false promises from bloggers.”
I don't blame my friend for the way she feels. When I worked as a journalist we were taught to take pride in our work, back up stories with facts and always follow through on promises. It was called being professional. And yet somehow that has been lost with some bloggers – and this has given the rest of us a bad name. That's why I make sure that when I'm dealing with brands, I never over-promise and under-deliver. I will always err on the side of caution and I'll always ensure that they are happy with what was agreed.
I'll request the ‘content deliverables' (what they need me to deliver and the time scales) and if there's anything that I don't understand, I'll ask. I take pride in my blog – why would I want to jeopardise that?
I spoke to another friend who has her own PR and marketing company and she offered some interesting insight – and advice to bloggers in general:
It’s been really exciting how content creation has changed the media landscape, providing PRs with additional opportunities to engage with genuine enthusiasts and experts on their own platforms.
I've worked with bloggers and influencers for nearly ten years and have seen talented bloggers grow from what started out as a passion, to establishing a business where they can quite deservedly charge for services. Their rise was authentic – one built with integrity, focussed on providing value to their reader. Where I've seen active engagement and interaction, I have no hesitation in recommending clients spend their budget with blogger campaigns.
It’s here where you see the greatest return on partnerships – and these bloggers have understood that the business of blog partnerships needs to be accountable and far beyond audience reach and pretty posts. It’s about conversion; they work with the brand, ensuring they’ve understood and agreed on the right objective for the campaign, and created a message that engages with their audience but equally important, they also track and measure results to provide back to the client as well as clients checking for visible uplift in traffic or sales.
There is no value in spending money on a platform that doesn’t move the dial in some way – this is true for all marketing activity whether it’s traditional press, blogs or online communities. With budgets getting tighter this will be increasingly the case going forwards. Bought followers, gimmicks and fake lifestyles can be blagged for so long before you’re found out and left in the cold by not only your audience but also by potential clients.”
Her insight and advice wraps things up perfectly. Integrity should be the key word for bloggers that work with brands. Treating the brand/blogger relationship with respect is key to being a successful blogger – and it will also set you apart from those bloggers that let the rest of us down. You'll become a trusted and preferred blogger for brands launching campaigns; I've worked with a few brands that keep coming back to me because they know I'll deliver what I promised – and I always keep up the communication.
So my advice to those who feel the same is to distance yourself from the others; show brands that they should take you and your blog seriously – and that you are worth your weight in gold. And of course if you've got no intention of following any of this advice, then there's just two little words that you should be saying if brands contact you to work with them: “no thanks”. You'll do the rest of us a favour if you do.
What do you think? Have you had any experience of bloggers that let the rest of us down? Or perhaps it's the other way round and you've experienced brands that have been unprofessional? How do you go about working with brands? And what rules do you follow?