PR Gone Wild – and my attempt to tame the beast

26

Rude PR Reps
I have decided to do a series of posts, as what I have to say is going to take more than one single, lonely post.  When I refer to PR, I mean PR agencies, and also companies that do their own PR.  I have worked with some amazing PR folks {I hope you know who you are – there are many}.  Most PR reps are professional, thoughtful, and value my time.  I have also worked with some that have left a bad taste in my mouth.  In the past couple of months, I have dealt with some issues that have left me angry, saddened and downright appalled.

As you all know, I do many, many review and giveaways on my blog.  When I started doing reviews on my blog as a new blogger, I was anxious to work with PR.  I took just about any offer that came along, most times not knowing better.  I was unaware of links in and out of my blog, and the benefits of linking to companies.  I was also clueless about what we, as bloggers, deserve for our time.  Many times I would agree to work with PR, posting press releases, in hopes of something bigger and better coming my way from them in the future.  I quickly learned that this usually is not the case.

EXPECTATIONS:

What some PR reps expect and ask of bloggers is nothing short of amazing.  I am sure you have received some pitches that make your jaw hit the floor.    Here are a few examples:

EXAMPLE 1:

A pitch asking you to post about something, offering nothing in return.  That is all well and fine {though annoying to me}, but to state in your pitch that “I know it is hard to come up with blog posts, so this should help” is insulting.  Are you kidding me?  I am not lacking in that department, thank you very much.  Even if I was, I am not looking for “filler” material.  As a matter-of-fact, I am doing well to find the time to write this post!  I do not want my blog to be strictly a review and giveaway blog.  I desperately want to write non-review/giveaway posts.  I miss writing about my family, events, and subjects other than giveaways.  Time is a big issue. I can barely keep my head above water just posting the reviews and giveaways.  So do not tell me blog posts are hard to come up with.  They are not.  You have not scored any points buddy, and when I saw your email, I immediately hit ‘delete’.  You might as well have spit in my face.

Of course I could go on and on about companies/PR offering nothing in return for our time, but that will take up an entire post.

EXAMPLE 2:

A friend of mine recently agreed to work with a company and everything was in the works.  She did a blog post about all of this {snippets below}.  This rep had the nerve to argue over the way she hosts her giveaways, when she refused to make ‘liking’ their company on Facebook, and posting on the company’s wall a required entry.

In the beginning phases of lining up a review/giveaway with a company that will remain nameless, I was asked that the required entry be fanning their Facebook page and commenting on the wall. With all the light being shed on FTC guidelines and even newer light on Facebook’s Terms of Service in regards to Promotions Guidelines {see Section 4.2} I said I couldn’t do that. I gave him the benefit at first, maybe this company was unaware of the Terms of Service, like many Bloggers are. Back and forth, I explained and re-worded my stance several times on how I hold my giveaways.

I felt I was being pretty clear and yet I was still being told this is how he wanted it done. It seemed to be going no where. Which to me, didn’t make sense. It’s simple. I am not only covering myself by following Facebook’s terms of service, I’m also protecting my readers. His company is also protected by me ensuring I follow the ToS that we BOTH agreed to when we set up Facebook pages…After I realized that he was clearly not naive to the rules, I began to wrap up our conversation.

She was trying to do the right thing for herself, the company that she was representing, and her readers. The Facebook rules are very sketchy, and how one person interprets them might be completely different than how someone else does, but that does not matter.  It is her blog and she can set her own rules {while also following the Facebook rules}.

She finally said to him:

This is one thing I won’t budge on. It’s also been my experience in hosting giveaways that readers are much more willing to fan/”like” a company on Facebook as a bonus entry rather than a required entry. I think it’s something about the word bonus that reels them in…  If you are satisfied with the one and only required entry being to simply visit the site and comment on my blog then we can work together. If not, that is unfortunate, but I do wish you well.

To which he replied:

I don’t quite understand what your issue is with them being required to “Like” our company.  As soon as the contest is over, they have the ability to unlike us if they want, it’s as simple as clicking one button in Facebook.

Ummm did he completely miss the point?  She was talking about Facebook rules.

It makes  me wonder if the company is aware of his actions. I felt he was trying to strong-arm me into doing what he wanted.

If she does not feel comfortable making ‘liking’ a company on Facebook a required entry, so be it! But to be rude and argumentative is uncalled for. Some PR reps are so brazen – it is truly amazing. You can read Erin’s post in it’s entirety at Slice o’ Heaven.

EXAMPLE 3:

Many wonderful companies have chosen to participate in our Step into Summer event. We have been featuring some amazing products from very generous reps who have sent us items to review during the event. You can imagine my shock when I received a comment {luckily I moderate} from a huge, well-known company, on one of the review posts. She wanted me to post about her company’s ‘deals’, and if I couldn’t post about them, she asked that she could post about it in the comments on one of my review posts. Are you kidding me? I ignored that comment, but a few days later, I received an email from her. I ignored that as well. I found it it be incredibly rude for her to even suggest that she post about her deals in the comments of another company’s review post – a company that has sent products for review, and agreed to be part of our event.

I received another email from her:

I emailed you last week about a really great ____ deal and I just wanted to follow up with you to see if you are planning on doing a post on it. If not, we would like to have your permission to comment to your latest post with the information. We just think your readers would like to know that they can save on ______ that they already plan to buy. Let me know if you have any questions!

Can you say PUSHY? Not only does your tactic turn me off in a big way, it is incomprehensible to me that you would even suggest this. You are trying to steal the limelight of the featured company. I will not let that happen. You will no doubt leave a link in your comment pitch. This is wrong on so many levels and I have no words. I promptly sent her my media kit and have never heard back. Just when you think you’ve seen it all, you really haven’t.

As a blogger, what kind of ridiculous things have you dealt with from PR?

For more PR Tips  make sure you read the Outnumbered 3-1 post, PR Do’s and Don’ts

Stay tuned for my next post on PR Gone Wild. I will talk about PR that have “issues” sending prizes.

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About Author

Jennifer Regan is the owner/editor-in-chief of Eighty MPH Mom, a family-friendly blog. She is active in Brand Ambassadorships and campaigns, and is active in social media, helping brands promote!

26 Comments

  1. I just had to comment on the facebook one. I had a company that wanted commments on facebook for the main entry, I told them why I would not do it also. He said “other bloggers do it!” They said I could suggest it, I told them it was againsit the rules and I do not break rules and I have work ethics. I also said the other bloggers may not know about the high $fines they could get. He backed down and respected my decision.

    • Exactly! Each blogger can do it the way they want. If they want to chance fines, that is their business, but it cannot be a required entry! We might just know more than some of the PR people, and I wish they would stop and listen sometimes… At least your “guy” backed down and respected you, instead of getting rude and telling you how to run your blog!

  2. Not really that familiar with PR or giveaways/reviews but isn’t an unsolicited comment having no relevancy to the post just SPAM? DELETE!

  3. Chile I had a huge company ask me to retract my opinion on their product because they didnt want my readers to get the wrong idea. These fools have a lot of nerves sometimes! I’m starting not to like doing give a ways and product reviews that much anymore. Its getting time consuming and I have other things to do more important! Where the money at?

    • LOL you hit the nail on the head! That is a lot of nerve to ask you retract it. I am going to slow down on the reviews and giveaways too I think. I will do worthwhile ones, but I am going to have to be really particular. It is VERY time consuming, especially for the small stuff.

  4. I just had someone ask me about the fan thing on facebook, but when I explained it was against facebook policy, he was more than agreeable to it and definitely didn’t want to go against those rules. Some people are cool. Some are not.

    That whole side of blogging is fun but incredibly time consuming. I’m not sure all PR reps realize that there are some of us out here who are not cut and paste bloggers and it takes a great deal of time to put those post together and that we have oodles of other requests in line for our attention too. And then administrating giveaways….that is another time consuming adventure.

    • I know! I really think some don’t know, especially if they want a quality review. They take quite a bit of time, and there are definitely more in line. Promoting them takes FOREVER, but I promote everywhere. For me, it’s a matter of pride and wanting them to be happy with their experience with me. Hopefully someday, we will be appreciated LOL

      • Well said Liz, really… Since I’ve stuck to my guns on the FB thing, I’ve actually enlightened a few companies on the Terms of Service who were simply unaware and didn’t push the issue further. I still link to their FB in my posts, but only as a networking resource. It is time consuming. Some days I just want to throw my hands up, but I enjoy what I do.

  5. I enjoyed your post, and while I’m still new to blogging (started Jan/Feb 2010) I have come across several similar situations. Recently I refused to post a giveaway-only (oddly enough the guy also wanted a FB Like as a required entry – which I refused and he sent me quotes from FB stating it was OK to do so) and tried to explain to the company that it was simply too time consuming for me to post a giveaway-only without either payment or a review item. The rep actually had the NERVE to respond back that “we are a small company with a small advertising budget and sometimes we like work with a group of bloggers who doesn’t always demand compensation.” DEMAND? Excuse me? And I am going to promote your products for what, my health? And talk about being a small company – I’m a company of one! Needless to say I explained to him that I wasn’t “demanding” anything, only stating what was fair, and quickly revised my own blog’s terms of service. Demand my foot.

    • LOL I don’t get the demanding part…and we are also a “small company” – one person, just like you said. I guess we are chopped liver and we exist to be their personal billboard?

  6. Girl, I LOVE it!! I couldn’t agree more!!

    My other favorite is when I write to them to explain that for simply a post about a product with nothing in return I do charge a small fee…and they never reply back. Seriously??

    And I am so sick of the plethora of pitches just asking me to write for their company. What good would that do me? Ugh!

    Loving this series honey!

    • Why thank you! I just had to get it out, as it really has been extra crazy over the past couple of months. I get pitch after pitch too, and honestly, I don’t have the time if they don’t want to offer something. I would rather spend that time doing other things with my blog, networking, putting my best efforts into the “good” PR folks and their products.

      Stay tuned – it gets better!

  7. I’m already loving this! I’m just starting out with this whole PR and I’m still completely clueless! I can’t wait for your next post! 🙂

  8. OMG! Best series/post ever I love it! I have a few horror stories I could tell too! Some of these PR folks really have a lot of nerve! I’ve also had 3 pr reps cancel my product to be reviewed because I “won” the prize from a fellow blogger! I think that is beyond cheap to do that to me. Of course they all 3 still insist on the review only with my free item I won! Isn’t that cheap of them or is it me? barb g. directorylanesuperstoreATgmail.com

    • Wow! I don’t think they should expect you to review the item you won after you agreed to do a review with them. Unless maybe they offered a giveaway for your readers. Otherwise that doesn’t seem right to me!

  9. Paula Hafner on

    I’m not a blogger but I love to read the reviews and enter the giveaways. I do appreciate all you all go through to bring us the contest. Doing a review/giveaway without some sort of compensation is crazy. You’re putting the reputation of your blog at stake if the company reneges on the prize or otherwise doesn’t follow through completely with the prize. You have the hassle of writing the article, monitoring the giveaway, picking the winner, contacting the company with the winner, and then making sure they get their prize.

    • Thank you for commenting! You are right, we do all of the above. The sad part is sometimes prizes take so long to get to the winner, and it always makes us look bad. Thanks for the kind words for the blogs that do giveaways, it’s nice to know people understand!

  10. I recently had a company ask if I would rewrite parts of my post to add some keywords linking to their post (I always include a few links attached to the company name, but keywords are a whole different matter).

    I responded that I would be happy to add text links, but as she probably knew they hold more weight in the eyes of search engines and, thus, I charge for this service. No response to that, but a week later she had the audacity to email and ask if I would add their badge to “my blogroll” on my review blog. Ummmm . . . that’s called a banner ad. Again, I said I would be happy to do so and if she would like to send me the required payment for ads via PayPal, I’d be happy to include her company’s badge on my main page. Not surprisingly, I didn’t hear back!

  11. Oh I LOVE you for this!!! I have started to just simply respond with the price for me to post their “pitch”. Needless to say they don’t bother me anymore!

    I , too, feel the same way I have more then enough and usually more then I can handle. Filler posts are the most annoying “favor” I’ve ever heard of. Why is their time worth more then mine?

  12. I’ve just started sending a link to my PR page, and stating “If you are willing to work within the guidelines of my PR policy, that would be great.” I will never host a mandatory entry that requires someone to “Like” “Follow” (me or anyone else), and I will never post for a product that I haven’t seen and felt and worked with myself. Like you, I have a difficult time finding the time to do my own posts, and I also really would like to get some personal posts in, so .. I will continue doing my main bulk of book reviews with a few product reviews thrown in the mix and enjoy myself without my readers being bamboozled or my own and my blog’s integrity being compromised.

  13. Wow! That was a great post! You are a fantastic blogger! And let’s not kid ourselves, I am many, many steps behind you. I am shocked to hear that you go through so many rude PRs though. I assumed that with you being as well of a blogger as you are that you would have the more respectful PRs. I truly dislike that they are this way with you (or any other bloggers for that matter), but especially you – you’re a wonderful blogger, a great teacher, and a super person!

    On the topic of PRs leaving rude comments:
    I had that happen to me in one of my recent posts. The oddest thing though, the PR that wanted to post on the other company’s post, I had never even worked with. But, like you, I moderate my comments (something that you taught me to do about a year ago!!) 🙂

    Thanks for everything, Jennifer. You are truly astonishing, in all aspects!

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