Us and Them

The Dorchester

I see a lot of tweets on my TL from bloggers which go a bit like this:

‘I get really annoyed when a PR agency contacts me and gets my name wrong #Rage’


‘Why don’t PR people read my writing before contacting me about a sponsored post and a free holiday to the Maldives? #Stupid’

Writing? Fuck off. Who are you? JG Ballard? Okay, an exaggeration. But I see a lot of bloggers moaning about how PR people don’t approach them in the right way and I see this as smugness, a reflection perhaps about how they would only prefer to work with people who’ve read all their posts, know all of their children’s nicknames and know their views on everything from farmers markets, pushchairs to hats. Perhaps some really mean that they’re not confident about that PR’s approach to marketing. Perhaps the idea is, if the PR person can’t take the time to research potential marketing outlets thoroughly then they’re not worth working with.

But I see such criticism as smug. No-one is allowed to make a mistake in today’s world and some bloggers are ever so holier than thou. I see these tweets and see it as an ‘us’ against ‘them’. But I don’t want to be part of an ‘us’, or a ‘them’, which is so full of itself it doesn’t allow for a small margin of error. Ever.

On my old blog I did a thing where I criticised some PR people for calling some bloggers ‘blaggers’ – I think I said something along the lines of ‘having worked in marketing, in my experience some of the biggest blaggers I’ve ever met have been PR’s and journo’s.’ I still stand by that but I also said that not all are like that. I’ve worked with some incredibly talented people who can whack out a press release in minutes because they’re clever, know their clients, know what the fuck they’re doing and have an incredibly thick skin. And I wrote that when I read a piece about bloggers directly contacting PR’s for freebies. But that’s cool isn’t it? If you don’t ask you don’t get? You still need to buy a ticket to win the lottery.

If any PR person contacts me I usually do one or all of the following things;

1) Make an audible excited noise. It goes a bit like this. “Squeeeeeeee!” but in a manly butch kinda way.

2) Send an email back thanking them for contacting and indicating I might be interested but please furnish me with further details

3) Give myself a bit of a mental high-five

4) Re-read the email, wonder if working with someone who wants to promote dog food is a good idea, but figure, hey! I’ve been eating horsemeat for fucking years and didn’t know, so how bad can this stuff be?

I’m flattered by any contact I receive. I couldn’t give a shit if they call me Spencer, Dave, Geoff, Shitlegs, Stewart (I get that sometimes, dunno why) and/or Stud Muffin (I never get that. Hint hint). I don’t get many approaches. Not surprising if you’re familiar with the content of this blog I guess. I’m not on many lists or linked with sites which promise lots of PR opportunities but cause a small meltdown each month when people go up and down in a chart. I’ve been vocal about this in the past so nuff said, and as such I don’t get as many PR approaches as some but each one I get I deal with in a polite, friendly way because I’m pleased, in a small quiet way.

I did a review thingy for Ecover a while back and really enjoyed it. It challenged me as I had to tone down my usual bollocks and bloggle something positive with few swearwords, but I truly believed in it so i was a piece of piss, and I’ve been asked to help promote a really cool campaign about recycling which I’ll do very soon. More details are here  but to quote from their information ‘Ecover’s pledge is helping to clean up the planet one bottle at a time’ and I’d urge you to take a look as it makes a heck of a lot of sense. I truly hope all companies look at their packaging in a similar, forward thinking and insightful way but more on that another time…

I realise now that this post might sound like I’m actually pimping myself out a bit. Maybe I am. Maybe I’m saying ‘send me FREE STUFF.’ My cousin once told me ‘Mmmmm. Free. My favourite flavour’ but maybe it’s more of the fact that I have some unspent ire in my bones and find some people a bit fucking smug. And as you know, I don’t DO smug. But maybe, it’s because I want to promote campaigns and work with companies and brands which excite me.

So PR people out there, I’m available for bar mitzvahs, weddings, funerals and bank holidays. And if The Dorchester is looking for a Blogger in Residence then hit me up. Get me on the horn. You know my number.

Perhaps I’m just easily pleased by any PR contact I receive. But then I’m the sort of person that receives a phonecall in the afternoon from a cold caller selling me a new telephone package and I keep them talking, saying softly down the phone ‘But you value me right? That must mean you really love me! YOU LOVE ME! It’s BEEN SO LONG SINCE I’VE FELT LIKE THIS!’

But sadly they hang up and never call back.

What are your experiences of PR people. Good, bad, indifferent? Or are you like me? A dry old cactus in a barren blogging desert. Please let me know and, as always, thanks for reading.


19 responses to “Us and Them

  1. No experience of PR gurus here … but I am sure they are people just like other people? On a personal note I couldn’t possibly call you stud muffin … not that I doubt the stud bit but if I uttered the word “muffin” two pooches would be instantly awake and drooling over you … I don’t think that was what you had in mind? I s’pose I could spell it out you Stud M U F F I N ! the pup cannot spell that word yet. 😀 (hope that is the laughing smiley I just added and not something else)

    • Laughy smiley added. Thanks for reading and hope your pooches didn’t wake up.
      Dunno how that sounded wrong in my head but it did. As you were… 😉

  2. Love how you have hit the nail on the head with this! I get the odd email most of which I never understand as its written in some secret jargon then I get blogger inferiority complex and ignore it. Who knows what I might have turned down?!

    • I guess if it’s something you’re interested in respond with questions. You’re not inferior to anyone at all, and I’ve always loved your blog. I may not comment but I do have a look. 🙂

  3. A breath of fresh air, I couldnt have said it better myself.
    When I saw this initially I thought it was going to be a PR rant. Im a PR and I work with lots of lovely bloggers. However there are some bloggers who do exactly what you say. One very big blogger slagging off PRs approaching her ‘looking for free advertising’, and ‘dont they know I write what I want to write about’. Then I see them having free laser eye surgery later on, reviewing freebie holidays etc. Or the ‘dont they know who I am’ moan, dont they read my blog etc etc and on it goes. Im so glad you wrote this! Thanks!

  4. I never get approached by PR’s and I’m one myself..ha,ha.. the irony. neither my blog nor my business is big enough to warrant it yet but yes I’ve seen those tweets and they are posted by the same people who worry about stats and positions in blogger charts and tables. I write because I enjoy it and it, hopefully, makes a few people laugh. Nothing more complicated than that. On the other hand if companies wnat to send me free stuff I wouldn’t say no…. what? Oh come on I’m only human.

    • Precisely. I think there’s a connection in a way with stats and rankings and that sort of comments. Rank high in charts, stats big = more PR opps. Perhaps. Sad as often it’s reviews in a true and honest voice which mean more and those are quite often the ‘smaller’ blogs. People who write for love and enjoyment.
      Thanks for your comment.

  5. Oh Stewart you’ve summed it all up nicely as ever. I do a little jig every time I get a PR contact 😉 xxx

  6. I used to work in PR and there is no way you would have been allowed to read blogs during work to find out what they were about! Not enough money in PR for that, I’m afraid… No it would be a mass mailing and you kept your fingers crossed that someone would reply.

    These days I’m just delighted when someone notices my blog enough to contact me at all, even if they’re offering baby toys to my teenagers 🙂

  7. I don’t get many approaches, and if it’s any of those I do get, aren’t really for me, then I politely decline. There really is no excuse for bad manners and slagging people off (probably why I’m not on twitter much) . Mind you if I do get a PR contact, I’m usually over the moon, but that’s not why I blog.

  8. I don’t get many approaches, but when I do I try to reply, even if I’m turning them down (which reminds me, I’ve got a few replies to write).

    Like others have already said, that’s not why I blog, but it’s always nice to be contacted. Even if my first reaction is always “I doubt I get enough hits to be worth your while”. I don’t say that of course. Especially to the nice lady who contacted me yesterday.

  9. I’ve tweeted a few times about PR’s but mainly when they ask me to do something illegal like non disclosure. That frustrates me because not all bloggers are clued up on the topic and may do something wrong.
    However like you the volume of PR emails I get is pretty low and given that I blog for the love of it only really accept the ones that are interesting. Ecover was also one of my favourite ones and a great cause to support. I do tend to find actually that the interesting ones also involve the best/nicest PR’s…

  10. Mmm… Interesting one this. I whole heartedly agree with you that slagging off PRs or indeed anyone for that matter is pretty crappy. But I used to be PR myself back in the dim and distant past and I was always taught to cultivate my media contacts by reading their columns/articles and learning a bit about them before I approached them. Perhaps there isn’t time these days or perhaps blogs just aren’t taken as seriously yet. Should they be? Interesting debate. *Waves hello to stud muffin*

  11. Hi Spencer, I happened across your post as it was retweeted by someone I follow and wanted to thank you for such an honest and open post. As an ex-full-time PR and now ‘mumpreneur’ come part-time PR (for myself!), I can honestly say that it’s impossible to be totally clued up about every single journalist or blogger you will ever have to contact. But, you should always do your best to research each person and to read at least a few of their most recent articles or posts – this only takes a few minutes and it also saves you a whole lot of embarrassment in the long run. However, no matter how well you have done your research in my experience, most PRs – well, at least those I know – dread making the cold calls and most of all the rejection they are likely to get. And believe it or not, when you get a positive response, there will be a little dance or high five or pat on the back at the PR end of the line too 🙂 Luckily, I have never been at the receiving end of a horrible rant and the worst was probably someone on the Sun newsdesk slamming the phone down on me, but that’s part and parcel of this job and you just have to pick yourself up and keep going! I totally agree that there is never a need for rudeness and all it takes is a polite ‘no thanks’ if you’re not interested. So, Stewart…oh sorry…Spencer ;-)…great post and I’ll bear you in mind for the upcoming Bank Holiday, seeing as you’re available!

    • Thanks for your comment. Always good to hear the point of view of someone on the inside of this industry. I think it’s one that some people feel justified in moaning about/belittling because they’re a bit superior/up themselves generally, but those sort of people make my shit itch in general.
      Thanks for reading and I wish you well.

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