We Can’t Be Professional Without Acting Professional

by Ginger on June 21, 2011

in Blogging & Social Media

I occupy a strange place in this online world sometimes. By day, I’m the person in charge of coming up with ways to work with and pitch bloggers JUST LIKE ME. By night, I’m a blogger who thinks about how to monetize and deal with pitches that come from companies JUST LIKE MINE. It’s a little bit of a mental gymnastics sometimes to see the online world from both sides of this fence.

Because of this, I have a tendency to be a little eye-rolly about some of what I see happening on both sides of the computer screen. I see bloggers who are out of their minds ridiculous with what they do, say, and expect from companies. I see companies and PR people who are out of their minds ridiculous with what they do, say, and expect from bloggers. I think there is a lot, a LOT, of unprofessional behavior from a lot of people in both camps. I personally believe that if both sides would act professionally–and really understand what “professional” actually means–it would fix about 85% of the problems we hear about. That other 15%? Well, you can’t help that there are always bad apples in every bunch. But really, be professional would solve a lot of the ills.

Of course, I’m clearly not the “expert.” See, someone in my office went to a professional conference that covered social media and working with bloggers among other things. And one of the sessions was about “How to Pitch Bloggers.” Which, YAY! Except…

The “expert” who was doing this session? She told a room full of professional PR people that bloggers expect you to know their favorite wine, the name of their dog, their favorite color. She was not joking about these items. It wasn’t “you should know their niche.” It wasn’t “you should do your research about what they write about.” It wasn’t “you should pay attention to their name, their topics, and whether they work with PR.” It was, literally, “you need to know their favorite wine, so you can reference it in your pitch. Like, Hey, I know you like that Merlot, have you tried this Cabernet? Oh and by the way, here’s my pitch about dryers”. Which…WHAT?

Look, do I think a LOT of PR people need to do a better job of researching the bloggers they pitch? Yes. Do I think that this is the way to do it? No.

But then, I’m not working with a lot of PR folk myself (as a blogger). And that’s not how my company operates, at all, when we work with bloggers. But maybe this IS what bloggers are expecting. Maybe these aren’t the outliers, maybe this is the way it’s done. Maybe I’m crazy for thinking this is crazy.

I don’t think so, but maybe.

I will say this though. If this is what is expected, this level of (bad) sucking up? Then it’s no wonder that PR people look at bloggers the way they do. Because this is not professional. This is not how major media gets pitched. This is not how you work with “traditional” media. This isn’t how pros expect to work. And if this is what bloggers are expecting? Then no wonder PR people don’t look at us as pros.

Sarah June 21, 2011 at 6:14 pm

Your blog is such fun and your header is hilarious…”net wt: none of your business” — awesome. I’m glad to be a new follower. I hope you’ll stop by my blog abode, Coffee & Cabernet, and say hi! Happy blogging.

emily @ the happy home June 21, 2011 at 8:43 pm

wow. just wow. i saw your tweets earlier, and i was hoping there would be a follow-up post. i’ve worked in PR and love my blog– but that “expert” is just unrealistic. also, if someone pitched me with that much info about my life, i might actually be kind of creeped out.

Lisa June 22, 2011 at 7:18 am

I second being creeped out. And Ginger, I agree with your last sentence. I would not expect that at work, would be unlikely to do business with someone that made it that personal, so if bloggers are expecting that…well, that’s not typical of the business world so they can expect to be treated differently (less professionally).

I know personal blogging being a business blurs the lines a bit, but I dont think it has to be that much. People have been conducting business in personal contexts forever. Look at realtors, they are selling homes. But I don’t expect my realtor to know my favorite wine.

Andi June 21, 2011 at 9:57 pm

I am in the same boat as you and I say “AMEN sista!!” Nice vent and it made me feel better after a long day on the job!

Julie {Angry Julie Monday} June 22, 2011 at 1:54 pm

Way way too many expectations for a PR person. Who is this person saying this? They must be a blogger too. Only another blogger would say things like this.

Anne June 22, 2011 at 5:14 pm

Ha ha ha – I’m in a similar boat. I blog in my personal time, and I do blogger outreach for my company. Naturally, I’ve got crazy stories from both sides of the aisle. 😉

But yeah, I would never bring up someone’s favorite wine in a pitch, and I would be weirded out if someone did that with me.

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