A debate was hosted in Cape Town on Tuesday afternoon re blogging, PR, and the transfer of advertising cash dollars for writing conducted on the interwebz. No – it wasn’t a mass debate.
Cape Town Girl set tongues wagging after she posted this, and the debate was arranged shortly thereafter. Unfortunately I was unable to attend the event but below are some of my thoughts, because I feel there are some things that were left unsaid based on the tweets that I read.
I have worked in traditional PR, digital PR / advertising and work very closely with several ad agencies and would love to see your feedback in the comments section. Some bloggers are feeling brands are abusing them. Some PR folk spam online influencers with blind carbon copied PR theses. Some advertisers have trouble differentiating between editorial and advertorial content. These are issues that have raised an eyebrow or two of my own:
- Advertising and PR / editorial are two different beasts that need separate attention. If we look at the example of traditional media, one cannot exist without the other. TV ads disrupt our favourite show because we are tuned into the content first. Magazines are able to sell ad space because we have paid R20, R30 or R40 to proactively engage with the written editorial content and there is a guaranteed amount of eyeballs on the page. The more popular the channel, the higher the propensity for it to charge a brand to attempt to disrupt our viewing pleasure
- This is based on simple supply and demand economics. Good content attracts more eyeballs and in turn survives through its advertiser support. Poor content is cancelled – seasons are not renewed and magazines are shut down
- (I use Alex has an example here because she is a large reason for setting up the debate) Cape Town Girl has built up a strong personal brand over several years. She did not wake up one morning and decide to sell advertising via an unknown blog. She blogged, sweated and teared her way to establish My Branded Life TM via the quirky tone of voice of an ad exec. She gained traction via MBL and her smart early adoption tactics on social networks, until she eventually reinvented herself as the Cape Town Girl brand we either love or hate today
- It’s important to reiterate that the brand and the content thereof came first and the interest from advertisers a distant second
- Anyone can start a blog, but it’s how you develop that platform and whether or not you have a real engaged audience that will determine the value of your musings
- Any blogger can charge for content but advertisers don’t have to pay – this is the same scenario in traditional platforms. Advertising guarantees placement, PR message development of a specific brand narrative can be hit or miss. Newspapers could run a story, magazines may do a product review that favours your brand – the difference is that PR cannot forcibly control the outcome of its narrative because it hasn’t purchased / loaned the medium for a message. It has attempted to persuade the publisher / journalist / editor of the relevance of the content for editorial consideration via email / telephone / or face to face sell-in tactics
- Bloggers need content to satisfy the insatiable hunger of their audience, but they don’t have to post the generic drivel that a brand bcc’s them on
- Brands / advertisers / agencies – if you are not reading what a blogger writes about then how do you know if the content is relevant for your brand to be associated with. If you arrogantly approach a blogger with the intent to post something about your brand for free, you are placing value to that platform. Depending on how badly you want to be associated with that platform you could find yourself in a position where cash needs to change hands. You can’t fault the blogger here because you approached him. You placed him on a pedestal. You fed the beast (read: some of you are attractive, don’t take this as a sleight)
- Brands / advertisers / agencies – if you are paying for advertising on a blog – question EVERYTHING. Stats, uniques, time on site, geographics – you deserve legitimate reports (read: nothing from NetDynamix )
- Bloggers – the internet doesn’t lie – so beware the bullshit stat, it will come back to haunt you
- As Nash says: ‘Know your worth!’, but you need to build the following first before you have an online, advertising worth – that is the important take out for me
Would love to hear your thoughts