Tuesday 9 September 2014

The Thin End of the Wedge

So, it's knickers in a twist time again in ole bloggy world, and this time it is a post by Media Works: Handle With Caution #PRrequest that has everyone's tail in a spin. (The word *tail* will come into its own below - oh I do love an intended PUN)!

I don't have that much of an interest in the post, because I neither stalk the hashtag, nor use it. If you can find a tweet where I have, good luck, as I can't remember doing so.

Anyway, what I find more interesting is the fall-out from the post.

My friend Claire for example views Media Works as biting the hand that feeds them, as bloggers often provide "free advertising" for PRs and the brands that they represent. She's tweeting about it quite a lot and has blogged about it too

The argument seems to be more about the fact though that products end up on blogs with little or no true original content, and that the products themselves bear no relevance to the subject of the blog.

I think this practice will reach its own demise soon enough, without us falling out over it. Or... will it?!?!?

What I did find interesting in the MW blog post was the line:
"blogging should never be motivated by a desire to profit from reviews".
There is a new wave of bloggers - not even that new - who register with HMR&C as quick as they print business cards; they have a professional presence and decent following across all of their platforms in less than a year. It's like the blogging holy grail and the stepping stones walked to get there has blazed a path for others to follow. They're doing so, quicker, bigger, better. It's a shift that's been happening for quite some time, and if Australia and America are anything to go by, it's here to stay. It's a rolling stone that's gathering momentum and a lot of it. Maybe the resistance to it, is not wanting to get out of its way. Firstly I think resistance is futile and secondly, if you can't beat 'em join 'em? No? Not for you? Well life is diverse no? Something for everyone...

Back to the quote above. Never?!??!?! Who says never?!?!?

As we all know, the one rule about blogging is, "there are no rules".

Yes, there are practices that will be frowned about. Like a flagrant use of #PRrequest, but surely it is up to the users on both sides to weed out the dross. 

Another quote from the MW post that I find of interest is:
"It’s also serving to divide the blogging community, separating those remaining dedicated to their writing ambitions and people motivated by the possibility of rewards". 
Hhhhhm, this is normal, surely?!?!? I am sure in every industry this occurs. So you are writing a book... you could be true to your art, and write about what you love, or you could write a book called 50 Shades of Sky, knowing that the very title might give you a headstart. You're making a movie. You could make a movie that follows on from your passions at Film School, and be shown at Film Festivals, or you could chase that Oscar, and be purely "motivated by [...] rewards". I really think the community being divided in this way, is a division that goes across all activities and isn't really even comment worthy.

One thing that struck me about the post, is that it is all about Bloggers and doesn't address the practices on the other side of the fence, that have led to bloggers acting in this way.

At BritMums Live, in one of the sessions, a slide was shown on the screen.

As you can see, in my embedded tweet below, there is a thin end of the PR tail, as the number of bloggers to access grows and grows.

I would say, that PRs rather than spending a great deal, on working with the bloggers with huge influence, they want to get to that thin end of the graph, where the numbers are. BUT, you can't work with THAT many bloggers and remain within your budget, so you have to offer less. 

Giving bloggers very little in exchange for their time, or sometimes, as Claire said, expecting bloggers to work for free, because you have shared interesting information with them. THIS I think is at the crux of it, as Media Works seem frustrated that bloggers aren't remaining in a niche/subject area and staying authentic to that with original content. If we did, when a juicing press release comes along, in our subject area, no doubt we would be SO excited to press publish for free. But the PRs miss the point, that the content doesn't provide us with any extra traffic, and often, dear brand, no matter how big your website, no we don't get any click throughs from you.

However, when we review your product, guess what, people on Google, wanting to read about that product, DO come to our site, and then go on to yours. You only have to look at bloggers like Inside The Wendy House, and how established her You Tube channel is, to see how this art can be honed.

So yes, there is a thin TAIL at the end of this graph. I think the battle, which caused the post to be written, and the Twitter fall out it has resulted in is because what is now being decided is:

Who is doing the wagging? 
The tail or the dog?

I'd say at the moment it is a battle to be fought and not yet won! I'll leave you with that thought ;-)

As an aside, I can't think or talk about tails at the moment without laughing as me and Aaron watch Nick Junior a lot and a song on there at the moment is "come on let me see you shake your tail feather" - it gets very funny when we join in as you can see on instagram :-)

I think, the way to do it, is to work in creative ways. Find the PRs, find the bloggers, that are a match made in heaven. When it works, it works. For example, when Costa calls, they have me at "hello" - I'll provide content that looks like this: Spring Menu Food Art Challenge. We all have brands/PRs we love to work with. I'll also jump out of bed rather quickly for Dyson too: The Dyson Cinetic and why There's No Hidden Dust

If #PRrequest is no longer the way to do it, then oh dear, you have to think outside the box. Like we've never done that before...?

Other creative ways of working together will spring up, like Collective Bias - who I have happily written many paid blog posts for.

Oh, and Media Works have gone to great lengths to state that the Twitter Account @BuyItYourself has NOTHING to do with them, but (1) they RT each other and (2) they finish their post by giving @BuyItYourself a HUGE plug. I'll let you make up your own mind on that one.


  1. I found this really interesting - never followed the hashtag but had a look at the links and the posts.

    One thing I don't understand about the MW post - what is the purpose? It is a blatant click-bait but why write it? Annoy bloggers so they don't want to work with them? Convince bloggers they should plug products for free? Try to connect with other companies annoyed that bloggers won't work for free for them?

    I've had my fair share of dodgy PR requests from companies in the past (on my old blog, my current one is far too new for that) and I am so annoyed some PR/SEO companies expect bloggers should give their time and platform to them for free (or a miserly fee). It takes time and effort to build a blog, so why should you pimp it out for the benefit of a profit-driven firm without any benefit to yourself...?

  2. As seems ot be the way nowadays my head is firmly in the sand and I had no idea anything was going on. off to read that post now! lol Mich x


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