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The fundamental blogger vs PR problem

“Are we still on for the video interview?” the PR asks.

“Er,” I say, “Well, look…”, I reply.

“Because I’ve told the client and they’re expecting it on Friday.”

I made the mistake of agreeing to do a video interview with this PR guy and his boring-as-hell client.

When people phone me, I naturally want to assist.

A lot of the time with MIR, we’re — frankly — the only publication that will listen. Whilst I’m getting the pitch from the PR, I’m already formulating an editorial line that would, I reckon, be interesting to you, dear reader.

This Friday, however, I’d also booked some consultancy. Now and again I help companies out with their blogger (and dare I say, ‘social media’) strategy. I set their expectations and tell them just how to deal with bloggers — particularly as I’m one of them.

It pays well — 1,500 pounds for an afternoon. That’s because it’s coming straight from the horse’s mouth. I’ll tell you exactly how I react to your sample pitches and how to appeal to other bloggers. Do not, for example, plan your new handset launch at 10am on a Monday. Most part time bloggers will be at work. Make sure you’ve got internet and a sodding cellphone signal at the venue. Bloggers will want to try stuff out there and then. And so on.

So this particular Friday I’d agreed to do this consultancy. I was double booked with this interview. So when the chap phoned to confirm I asked him to move it.

“We can’t move it, my client is only here on Friday,” he tells me.

“Ah sorry, I’m afraid I can’t do that.”

“Why not?” he demands.

“I’m busy,” I explain, “But I could do Tuesday afternoon by teleconference?”

“NO!” he screams, “You promised video! I’ve sold the client a video!”

I decide to test the guy.

I know exactly what he’s done. He’s got no one else. No other publication was interested in his pitch. But he caught me and, to top it all, I said I’d bring the camera and interview him. Double bonus for him.

“Look, if I come along, it’ll cost me £1,500 in lost revenue,” I explain.

“And? You said you’d come. I’ve got it in my diary!”

“I don’t think you’re listening,” I tell him, “It will cost me money. The site is voluntary. You understand that I pay for it?”

I briefly think about declining the consultancy offering.

Then I remember it’s my other income and funding that allows me to deliver Mobile Industry Review.

“Sorry, it costs me 1,500 pounds in lost revenue. I can do a teleconference on Friday evening if you like?”

At this point the chap threw his virtual toys out of the pram, demanding that I bring the camera.

“You said it would be a TV interview!!” he screams.

We get to the crux of it.

“Right well tell you client to cough up 1,500 in lost revenue and I’ll be there.”

There’s silence for a moment on the line.

“We don’t pay for content,” he tells me, as though I was just born this morning.

“Ok well this revenue that I’ll earn not meeting your client will partially help me deliver Mobile Industry Review.”

I can hear the guy doing the equivalent of rolling his eyes.

He then goes on to explain that no other publication wants to interview his client. He tries the begging approach.

“I can’t afford it, sorry,” I tell the guy.

“PLEASE?” he tries.

“No, sorry!” I tell him.

And we move on.

I found it fascinating, absolutely fascinating. No other publication wants to talk to his client. I’m the only one showing interest — and yet, when I explain the fiscal realities, he doesn’t care.

And why should he. He’s accustomed to mainstream media with their massive budgets and ‘service level’ approach…

11 COMMENTS

  1. To be fair to the chap – you did get double booked. It would have been good manners to have rung him ASAP to say that you wouldn't be able to make the interview.

    However, he really should realise that you need to make money. If he'd be paying, say £1,000, I could understand him being miffed that you'd ditched him for a better paying client. But £0 vs £1,500? Get real.

    T

  2. This isn't so much a fundamental problem with PR/Blogger relations as much as it is just bad PR – Did he honesly think the begging and hassling was going to work? Will you (subscription service aside) answer his calls next time he rings you?

    If people will hire a PR Agency who think the Apprentice is a masterclass in sales technique these are the results you get…..

  3. The really sad part is that however boring the client is, they have been double-cursed by having what appears to be a truly crap PR person.

    If the PR person couldn't spin the dates to be even more advantageous to the client, Lord only knows what other weak promises they have 'sold in'.

    If they really believed the video interview was a critical part of their strategy, they had the option to pay.

    If they really didn't want to pay, they had the option to accept the date move and spin it into favor.

    If they really couldn't do either – they should quit working in PR and work in a drive-through.

    Next.

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