Come on, Ma. Give PR a chance!

I recently had the pleasure of attending the third annual Type-A Parent Conference in Asheville, N.C.

The majority of attendees were mom bloggers – and as the conference name implies – real go get ‘em mom bloggers. They were smart, passionate about their work and good at what they did. So it was easy for me to see why the main topic of conversation among these smart, passionate, talented women was getting paid for their talents and skills.

How to make money for their work on blogs and social networks came up in nearly every session. As one mom put it, “If I’m spending 50 hours a week on my blog and social networks but not paying any bills with that work, I’m just being a bad parent.” These women don’t see blogging as a hobby; blogging is their profession.

Hearing this, I was completely on board. Yes, you should be making money! What are these companies thinking sending you content ideas for your blog and expecting you to use your valuable brainpower and time to write about them for free! And then I remembered…wait, that’s the whole idea behind PR.

In PR, our bread and butter is “earned media.” We don’t “pay for play” – that’s advertising. PR departments spend so much time on earned media because we believe a person’s true thoughts put into an article are more credible, interesting and genuine than what a company can say on its own through advertising.

In several sessions, I wanted to shout out, “don’t rule us PR people out! We can be your friends even though we don’t have advertising dollars to pay you!” Here’s why:

  • Relevant Content. In PR, we’re not working with the huge budgets advertisers have, and that means we have to make sure our content means something to your audience if we want you to use it. Unlike advertising, if the content we develop is not interesting and relevant, it’s not going to make it anywhere past our desktops. PR practitioners have to work hard to get you good ideas, because if the idea isn’t good, it will never be more than that – an idea.
  • Keep your readers’ trust. As highlighted in the third Social Media Revolution video produced in June, 90 percent of consumers trust peer recommendations, while only 14 percent trust advertisements. Your readers want to hear your opinion – not what a brand is paying you to say. If your blog becomes primarily paid content, your readers will lose trust and stop reading. If you lose your readers’ trust, you’ll lose the following that put you in the position to receive advertising opportunities. PR professionals want to add value to your blog, not takeaway from it.
  • You don’t have to “sell your soul.” I attended one session at the conference called, “Profitable Blogging without Selling Your Soul.” This session featured a panel of bloggers who had turned down some paid blog posts opportunities because the post ideas were irrelevant to their readers. Turning down irrelevant paid posts is part of it – it protects your blog from being seen an advertising site by your readers. Likewise, if you demand a brand pay you to write about a good story idea the PR team has pitched, you are doing a disservice to your readers by keeping relevant information from them. Because PR departments don’t pay you, you’ll never feel like you have to sell your soul. You just decide if it’s a good story for your readers or not. Say yes or no, and feel good about providing interesting information to your readers or not wasting their time with irrelevant information.
  • Money. So I know I said PR doesn’t have money to pay you, but we can only improve your chances of making money. In addition to giving you good content ideas to help you attract and retain readers and advertisers, relationships with brands’ PR departments may lead to relationships with brands’ advertising departments. Here at Jackson Spalding, we have many clients who use both our Communication team for media relations and other PR services, and our Creative team for advertising. More and more, PR and advertising departments are collaborating and integrating campaigns. If you form a relationship with a PR professional without asking for money, that relationship could lead to opportunities down the road for sponsored blog posts or other types of advertising.

So mom bloggers, please don’t just dismiss the next PR professional who pitches you an unpaid story idea. Remember, paid blog posts may add value to your bank account, but PR professionals can help add value to your blog. And when content is king, you can’t afford to blow off PR.

So what do you say, will you give us a chance?