PR Monday: Your Reputation

Last week I had a great lunch with some blogging friends and Chris Byrne, The Toy Guy. The topic of conversation eventually turned to moms and reviews and giveaways. We all agreed on this basic truth: Your reputation in blogging is all you really have. Being a somewhat anonymous venue it is hard sometimes to remember that everything you do and say contributes to that reputation whether positively or negatively. But at the end of the day and all the SEO and traffic tricks out there, if people don’t trust you the gig is up.

So, how do you focus on being trust worthy?

  • Be consistent with your social media. Your personality on your blog should be YOU and YOU should be YOU across all venues. Don’t fall victim to multiple blogger personality syndrome.
  • If you take a PR opp, DO IT! Sadly it doesn’t always happen. Communicate with the PR Rep if you are having issues getting an opp done. They are depending on you but they also understand that we are moms first. Communicating is really all they ask.
  • Make sure any sponsored posts or ads fit into your value system and personality of your blog.
  • Take giveaways seriously. Get your winner their prizes asap.
  • Manage your offline personality. There shouldn’t be any separation in this day and age. Choices you make in real life will affect your online reputation.
  • Being real doesn’t mean being nasty (unless you really are). Also, if you get a product to review don’t write something fabulous if you don’t mean it. Talk about the pros and cons of products. No one will be believe you if everything you write about is the most fabulous thing on earth.
  • Write reviews about stuff you pay for too (I said too because there is nothing wrong with getting things for review).

Bottom line is that your readers (and PR reps) have a lot of options on where they can go. Be real, genuine, and trustworthy and you will be around a long time :)

PR Monday: PR VS. Advertising

Last week I complained about irrelevant pitches and why I think bloggers should start using the NO word. I got a few emails. Just a few but enough to make me want to clarify the difference in my mind (which is a scary place to be) and when the situation warrants you charging.

I want you to say NO when you are being used for free advertising with no personal gain to you.

I do not charge for every pitch I do! If someone approaches me with a pitch that is relevant to my blog, I am interested in or truly think you would be, I happily accept it. NO CHARGE. That is PR! That is the two way street “Win-Win” I am always preaching about here. Kinds of pitches that fall into that category for Elementary Spirits: educational games, science info,  and experiences I can share.

BUT, if I am approached with a pitch that is irrelevant, I am not interested in and I know you wouldn’t be either than in my way of thinking they are asking to use my platform to spread their advertising. That is when I would charge! Kinds of pitches that fall into this category for me are:” tell your readers about our contest” and “our newest product that has nothing to do with families.”

I just want to add in that there is absolutely a way to work with PR organically and not sacrifice your blog space. I have long said I do a ton of movie reviews. I love movies and only review ones that I would go out and buy so to me that is on “Win-Win” street. Take a look at how I incorporated the movie into this post. Brilliant if I do say so myself. OK, maybe not brilliant but you get the point that I incorporated it into my normal blog flow.

It’s a balancing act but put  simply: PR benefits my blog and friends, advertising benefits only my bank account. Make sense?

PR Monday: Stop Selling Yourself Short! PLEASE!

Sadly it seems that the middle ground for the pitches I receive is rapidly disappearing. I either get really, really great pitches or really, really bad ones. This is one of those that falls in the really bad category. I want to share it with some of you to show WHY I think this is a pitch that most people should pass on. I know when you are new to this you get all bubbly when a PR firm picks you and it is easy to get tricked into taking all the pitches that come your way. So lets dissect this one and if you still think it is worth your time at the end that is OK! We all have our things we will work for peanuts for. Just be educated about when you are doing it.

Hi, I have an item that you may like for your Blog. Blah Blah Company (I changed the name), a leading provider of school uniforms, this week launched a $15,000 contest in which kids who attend a school that has a dress code can show the world what makes them unique and special. The contest is titled, “Blah Blah Contest,” and it is designed to provide a forum for kids to express their individuality. Kids and their parents can enter the contest by visiting www.blahblah.com and following the instructions regarding submitting a video or essay along with pictures. The final day to submit an entry is September 15.

OK, so lets look at this in specific regards to me. I HOMESCHOOL. Now, I do say that my older one is going to Catholic school next year so maybe that was their thought but he has a liberal dress code so right off the bat I am not interested.

The link above? Right now has a google page rank of 0 and an alexa rank in the 4 millions.

On November 1, Blah Blah  will be posting the 10 finalists and the public will be able to vote for the grand prize winner – who will win $10,000 in cash and their school will receive $5,000 in vouchers from Blah Blah. The grand prize winner will be announced on November 30.

More than 1 in 5 public schools now have a dress code, and that’s on top of the many private, parochial and charter schools that have dress codes. Please let me know if you need any additional information, or if you’d like to speak to someone at Blah Blah.

As part of this outreach to parents and kids, Blah Blah is looking for 25 Blah Blah Brand Ambassadors (the first 25 who respond in the affirmative), who will help make moms and kids aware of the contest. As a Blah Blah Brand Ambassador, we will expect:

OK, this is where is gets good. Ready?

–         A total of three mentions/discussions of the contest – 1) A mention of the contest on your blog during the first two weeks of the contest, a follow-on mention/discussion in June, and a third in September.

–         At least two mentions – 1 in May and another in June – of our contest to your followers and fans on Twitter and Facebook

So, they want a total of three blog posts and 2 mentions to my social networks. Lets do the math. I get at least $10 for each ‘commercial’ tweet I send through Sponsored Tweets (referral link) So, I could make $20 for those two social network contacts leaving me $30 to run 3 posts on my blog.

We have established that this blog is not really the most organic place for this so these posts fall into ‘advertising’ in my book. Depending on which blog, time of year and my schedule I charge anywhere from $100-$300 for a sponsored post, usually around $250. I know putting my rates out there may be silly but honestly new bloggers need to know that $10 a post is INSANE. $10 for a tweet–sure, not bad, but a mention in a post? No freakin’ way. I should say, I can get that on some of my niche blogs (and I really don’t post advertorials here) but in talking with other bloggers I have found out their rates are $30-$75 per 300 word post. I, also, want to clarify that this is for a post that is ‘advertising’ not a product review or editorial for something that is organic to your blog. I don’t charge beyond the product for those.

In return, Blah Blah will provide a reciprocal link to your site on the Blahblah.com site and a $50 gift certificate after your last posting in September.

A link? On a PR 0 site? Oh yeah….I covered that above.

That giftcard? Given the average mark-up of 43% for family clothing they are really paying you $28.50 that you can only spend in their store. That $5.70 for your five points of contact. Minimum wage in my state is currently $7.24. Granted those 5 points of contact are probably not going to take you 5 hours. It took you a hell of a lot longer than that if you figure in the time you put building your blog audience and social networks. To essentially have a company come bless you with the opportunity to use your platform for less than minimum wage.
Sadly, I am sure they were flooded with responses. Mine was this:

Thanks for your pitch. However, you do realize you are compensating bloggers less than $10 per post…

I currently charge $250 for a featured post on my tween blog in cash, not a gift card to the company. Thanks

Something interesting: I did a quick scan and according to PayScale.com the average full time journalist position in the US pays $26,000-$47,000 a year. If you go on the low side of $30,000 a year and you post 350 times that year you would be making $85 a post. Even if you aren’t interested in being a full time blogger, you are a media source! You are a journalist.

Mom-101 wrote a great post about this as well. I hope you go read it. For some reason I can’t link direct to her post but right now it is the third one down.

We all do things to get “in” with a company but take it from me, the pitches from these companies don’t tend to get better.

I will leave you with this….

you work really hard on your blog, don’t let someone take advantage of you!

Since we are all working on our own, I think it really helps to know what average rates are. I would love it if you shared yours below or any other thoughts on this.