In the realm of blogger outreach, the term “cash for comment” comes up a lot when discussing how to fairly compensate a blogger for their participation in a brand campaign. If this is how you feel about paying bloggers then please read on…
For most, blogging is a hobby that can quickly become a
obsession passion; one they invest significant time and money into. With brands on the scene more bloggers (particularly in the parenting space) are talking about what the dollar value is, or should be, on the promotion they offer brands. It should make a lot of sense; bloggers have a social media presence, social media skills and the target audience – all of which are of great value to a brand.
Supply + Demand = Win.
Or so you would think. But PRs (in particular) can’t get past the idea of paying bloggers as being like “cash for comment”.
Here’s what you need to understand about bloggers. These blogger whose reviews you covet, are investing heavily in creating a space and readership that have a real connection with. Blogger don’t just “write stuff on the internet” but create amazing, vibrant communities. You can’t pay them to jeopardise this – any endorsement, paid or otherwise, is never going to be as valuable to the blogger as their readership. That’s what makes their “gold”. BUT, that doesn’t mean that you can expect it to be free all the time.
It’s been said before, but would you work for bottle of shampoo? Would your PR company accept product as payment for your services? I know the hours you guys works, blogger are working those same hours, crafting posts that are a credit to themselves and great for your brand.
To be blunt, PR if you want to be the main players in this space you simply have to start thinking about how to monetarily compensate bloggers for what they do for you. You need to get over the idea of “cash for comment” and stop applying old media paradigms to blogger outreach. Already bloggers are talking about bypassing PR and going straight to the company to work directly with them. Australian bloggers are savvy, looking to the mistakes that have been made by the bloggers who have gone before and learning from the things that have worked. They want to offer the brands they endorse something of value, but they don’t want to work for free. Are you going to find a way to be part of this?
The simplest way is to start educating your clients that working with bloggers isn’t free and start getting them to allocate budgets that allow you to engage meaningfully with bloggers, treating their knowledge and time with respect.
I am not suggesting that you pay a blogger for editorial comment…Gail makes this point well in her post Is Impartiality in Media and Blogging Even Possible?
Bloggers can’t be paid for positive comment, but they can be compensated meaningfully for other types of partnerships and promotional activity.
This doesn’t mean that bloggers should be paid for everything – I personally think that a product or great content can suffice in exchange for content and that’s there’s something really great about making that work well. What it does mean is that if you want to stay in the game, that this area of compensation cannot be dismissed as simply “cash for comment”.
Don’t just take my word for it though…
The Cost of Free Publicity: How Much Is Too Little If you don’t have time to read the post then just read this excerpt:
Here’s the rub—too many people (brands, PR firms, ad agencies) believe that bloggers blog just for fun. That wasn’t even true in the early days of blogging and it’s patently wrong-headed thinking now. Bloggers with a devoted readership work hard to build the right audience. They take their blogs and content seriously. They attend conferences to learn how to be better bloggers and how to do professional reviews of products and services. They spend time and money on design and functionality, to make their blog search engine friendly. They connect their Facebook pages, Twitter accounts, Google+ and other social tools to their blog, in order to offer multiple touch-points to brands they work with.
And if you are in PR and haven’t yet read this post then you really need to do so: Bloggers Are Promotional Partners, Which Is Bad For PR
Bloggers, I know you are wondering what this looks like. Stay tuned, that post is up next.