When I worked in Public Relations: A Blogger’s Perspective
When I was in college all I wanted to study was Journalism, after I wanted to be an actor, singer, and fashion designer. But I couldn’t because I worked in a full-time position during the day, when all the Journalism courses were taking place. So, I settled for a degree in Communications.
My position was never an executive one, I never managed a staff, I was more the person who pitched, much like the public relations people who pitch me today. I handled media alerts, press releases, and a whole mess of yucky work, like events, compiling info from Lexis Nexus, and looking up contact from Burrelles, etc. Yet, I had a nice salary, and though I didn’t work for an agency who could afford large client perks, it had its moments.
When things weren’t all rosy and happy, I had my little community of public relations family to talk to. Like for example, when a client’s expectations were incredibly unrealistic and over the top, or went beyond the allowable budget or timeframes, our little public relations family came together and figured it out.
Or when a journalist was a complete elitist, entitled, rude, and unprofessional jerk -yes, journalists, real journalists behave this way too – I had my little family there to vent with. There were times when even the lowest level reporter would come on site and be awful to work with – I can see their faces now – and there was nothing we could do, because we needed them so.
This is why, as someone on the media end, I am baffled by the comments and statements often made by some public relations representatives and their view and opinion of bloggers.
Granted, a lot of bloggers have it coming. Because just like not everyone is a good swimmer, not everyone is a great blogger and if that blogger is looking to be a business as well, then it lowers the number even further.
I am of the belief that bloggers – good, hardworking bloggers, who have invested time away from their families and lives to build their brand, their blogs, and their presence – should be compensated. Though I don’t believe public relations representatives are the ones to go to for actual compensation, but they can help us get there.
Public Relations is the bridge to the blogger’s means.
Those relationships are important and we, as bloggers, should give them the value and care they deserve. However, I believe public relations representatives should also nurture and give value to their relationships with bloggers and those in the social media world, because in general, we will treat you better.
I remember the days before blogging when I would send out pitches to major newspapers, television networks, and other traditional media, followed by phone calls basically “begging” them to pick up our stories and they knew we needed them. Less often was the case when they reached out to us for a story, and when they did, we bent over backwards and inside out, delighted that they wanted to feature our client in their segments. Each feature was a merit for us and a positive check mark on our client’s report.
I remember working early mornings, late nights or weekend shoots, catering to the reporter’s every whim and often time not getting much respect or praise for it. Oh yes, I remember.
Bloggers, great bloggers, the ones public relations and marketers crave, will never treat people poorly. We get the pitches, the last minute requests, the invitations, and we write, we feature, we tweet, we come in droves.
So why then do we merit any less respect? Why are we less valuable? Why, oh why would we be referred to as transients who shouldn’t expect anything for what we do, such as pay or the merit of being pointed out to the client as someone to note? The beauty of working with bloggers is that you don’t have to work with the ones you don’t want to. Met a bad apple? Don’t generalize, just move on. We bloggers can, and will, do the same.
We are not just housewives, or stay-at-home dads who lost their jobs, and so decided to stay with the kids and blog. Some of us don’t even have kids. Most of us, a lot more then you would think, actually quit our jobs to pursue this venture. Yes, we spend endless hours in front of the computer while in our pajamas. But most of the time, while you are out of the office, and home sleeping, we are going through your pitches, the many photos we took at your event, researching your client, so that we could write that piece that would help our readers and make you look good. All of this work in hours most public relations people, no matter what level, would never dream of putting into their jobs. And we do it more often then not, for free. Not even real journalists work that hard.
I constantly encourage my blogging and social media peers to fly right. If you want your blog to be a business, treat it as such, behave and present yourself accordingly. Set your worth and show through your work that you are worth it.
And for my public relations people I say, erase those stereotypes from your mind, they are working against you and keeping you from not only getting to know the space better, but from building relationships that can be invaluable in the long run.
A lot of us aren’t journalists, and we’re not wanting to be. We are writers. Bloggers. Entrepreneurs. Creators of lovely visions and messages. Networkers. Influencers. We connect you with them.
Bloggers are the bridge to the public relations’ means.
And more often then not, we are the best thing that could happen to your client and your business. Do your research, study us, vet us, ask around about us, read our blogs, talk to your peers and remember that this new era is not a bad or scary one, but a great new opportunity.
I have the fortune of working with an amazing group of agencies and public relations people. I’ve had to do some researching and weeding and vetting myself to know where to set my sights and who is worth my time. It works both ways. It takes time and it’s not always easy. But most of all, it takes the respect of each other’s work. Without that, we will never get past the things that ail us in this new platform and we will miss out.