Don't Demand, Don't Ask WHEN a Blogger Will (Write a Blog) Post

It's still happening, and I'm afraid this will not go away. I believe education is key. From the time I started blogging in 2009, until very recently, I still hear complaints from fellow bloggers about such requests. Many of them get trapped, or they just don't know how to reply, and they eventually oblige. I've had my fair share of these follow-ups too. Most ask politely and purely out of ignorance, especially direct clients and friends that engage bloggers but don't really understand much about how blogging works. I can let that pass, then use that as a teaching moment. =) But from PR professionals? They should know better.

Read my Facebook Note below so you'll understand what I'm talking about. I wrote it right after a friend complained about irritating follow-ups from PR agency reps. Then, I encountered one too, when I received a text message with a similar request. Unethical, if you ask me. I continue to receive a few more from other people since then.

I decided to re-post the FB Note in full, here on the blog, so this can reach more people, hopefully learn from it, and practice better public relations (PR) -- in this case, social media relations.

Don't Demand, Don't Ask WHEN a Blogger Will Post - Michelle Lim, Dec. 7, 2011
I hear many blogger friends who get messages or requests, emails or texts about follow-ups for blog posts from people who invited them to attend media/blogger events -- quite upsetting and disappointing. 
People/agencies handling social media events expect invited bloggers to write and post about their product and/or event -- well, they shouldn't.  Yes, there's a 99% chance that they will write about it, but the invitees are technically not obligated to do so, right? Unless of course they are sponsored posts / paid to write about it. 
I've learned in my 10 years in the ad/PR industry that it's just plain rude/unethical to even ask! Such a turn-off.  That is why it irks me when I learn that some "PR practitioners" would even request bloggers to write, or ask 'when' the article will be published.  That's just NOT the way to practice good PR. 
I'd hate to think that reputable agencies, old and new, don't bother about this anymore. So does it mean the agency or so-called PR managers/executives, and their heads are not oriented or trained on good media relations and proper courtesy nowadays? 
Most bloggers I know just write for the love of it, for the fun and enjoyment, for sharing the experience (of attending an event or trying products or services), and so putting this pressure is completely unacceptable. 
I've been there.  It was our responsibility as the agency -- it's part and parcel of our job to do daily monitoring of all media releases AND report to our client.  We know who we've invited and dispatched our press releases to, so we know what publications/stations/sites we should monitor, AND THANK, when our press release gets published/broadcasted.  That's how we were then. 
I thank my former agency, Nancy Harel & Assoc., for teaching me how it's supposed to be done -- even writing a proper request letter with salutation is a basic!!! (That's another story.) 
So, here's my short "dedication" to all those involved in PR, whether traditional or social media.
(A re-post of my FB status last October 2011) 
Dear PR exec, 
     Pls. don't ask when I will post.  I am not paid to blog.  I don't work on a deadline. Do your job to monitor the releases (blog posts).  Better yet, subscribe to my blog and be updated. Thank you! 
My Mom-Friday

Read the actual note here plus my readers' very interesting comments! =)

I wrote that Note when I was in a bad mood. But many things have changed since I wrote it and clearly, as expressed by my fellow bloggers, some things have not changed with regards to follow-ups on blog posts - either from clients or agency representatives. It's bad enough they ask when, some are just too lazy and even ask for the link to the blog post?! Worse if it came from an agency. The blogger/writer is not obligated to advise, submit, or report anything. Again, deadlines and post-publicity reports are for paid posts/assignments.

My blogger friends and I agree that it's really all about managing expectations from all parties.

Clients and agencies have a high level of expectation from blogger (media) guests to write about the brand/event.  That is normal because it's the main reason they invited us in the first place - hoping we can feature their brand in our blogs. I understand this well since that was my line of work then.

What we did (as agency):  Invite, monitor (publications) daily, wait for days to weeks, then collate.
We'll be happy to report at least 70% output (post-publicity) from media guests. Personally, when I had a really good experience after an event or after trying products, I feature it on the blog. A few times, I write an email to thank the sponsor/organizer and even attach the link to my blog post, especially if we exchanged emails already prior to a function, or have met personally. That's just me. I also wrote my blog policies so readers, potential sponsors, or organizers know what to expect from this blog.

There were times when the organizer and/or client are personal friends of mine, or former colleagues. We are in a very comfortable level where we're completely candid with each other, so when they ask about my feature, I don't take offense. We talk about it, and joke about it. I just tell them not to ask about it from other bloggers! =)  It's simply inappropriate and should not be brought up. In the past few years that I've handled social media related projects, I think I've only asked, very hesitantly, about blog posts during a couple of instances from a few close blogger friends - but they know why I did it. Believe me, I never want to be put in that situation again!

Ultimately, it's the blogger's prerogative.
Different strokes for different folks. Do what feels right and what's fair for you, as a blogger. Each one should set his/her own policies and stick with it. Of course, if it is a blog sponsor's event or project, I refer to the MOA or campaign brief and they can definitely expect a scheduled post and report from me.

So, how do we reply to such requests?
Here are some examples from blogger friends, in addition to mine:
  • Ignore
  • Ignore, and eventually not write about it (well, they got turned-off, so can you blame them?)
  • Tell person to wait and check back on the blog
  • Tell person there's no schedule yet, or it's lined up
  • Tell person to subscribe (via RSS feeds, email) to get blog updates
  • Tell personal about the bad / unfavorable experience (if any) from the event or product, so no post (be honest, coz this happens a lot too)
Did you have any similar experience? How did you handle it? 
I would love to know your thoughts. Feel free to share this post too!

This post is not meant to offend or hurt anyone.
I simply want to share my insights and perspective - having experience from both sides of the fence. I hope I was able to get the message across and help bloggers, agencies, and clients understand and respect the roles we all play in this dynamic world of social media.
Bow. =)

I'd love to know your thoughts on this post.  If you enjoyed this, feel free to share it!
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