Don't Be a Baiter
I recently experienced the fine line between bloggers who write and bloggers who get paid to write – turns out, it can be (and perhaps it often is?) one in the same. I followed the “rules” that I highlight to others on my team – that is, read what they write, don’t pitch unless it fits their interests, and even then CHECK AGAIN and be sure to be personal. I read the blog, found several signs pointing to yes, Mr. High Profile Blogger would be interested in my client’s product, wrapped these signs up into an email (note: I don’t like to pitch in the comments – I like to comment in the comments) and hit send. Apparently I was right on in thinking Mr. HPB would be interested – he replied immediately with interest and asked to receive the product for review. Once received, he played with the product, found it to his liking and, for my purposes perhaps even more importantly, in the best interest of his audience. So he told them about it. With video. In a positive light, with a positive recommendation. The client was thrilled and presumably so were Mr. HPB’s readers – so much so that they tweeted about taking his recommendation to the store and plunking down their own money to buy the gadget.
From my client’s perspective, this was a mini-case study in PR driving sales. From Mr. HPB’s perspective, this was a one-time “gimme” that he would now charge for going forward (he made me aware of this in subsequent emails after his audience’s Twitter commentary).
Was I naive to be surprised by this turn of events? Perhaps. I took to heart the “treat bloggers like traditional journalists” cry that they, and those in our industry, have propogated. Perhaps that’s not what they want after all? There is a part of me that sees his point – he’s built up this following and he wants to charge others an entry fee to it. I get it – it’s not easy building online communities. But if that’s where we’re going, just tell me up front. Charlie Brown isn’t the only one that doesn’t like the bait-and-switch routine.