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21 October 2012

Seven things to remember if you want to market via blogs

Off late, I receive at least half a dozen emails a week from PR companies or marketing teams, who have woken up to the blogging community as a cheap free and effective way of promoting their food product / beverage / restaurant. And 5 out of 6 get it wrong. At first, it would anger me. Now, it amuses me. I feel bad for the big brands who throw good money on bad PR, who more often than not, rub bloggers the wrong way. 

Dear PR Company, 
This one is for you on how to get it right with us food bloggers (or any blogger).

Seven things to remember if you want to market via blogs

What's in a name? Everything.
Most bloggers (except the anonymous ones, in case there are any) have our name revealed somewhere on our blogs. Spare a second to find it and get it right. Calling me 'Nandini' or 'Sangita' on the invite, isn't going to make me feel like reading any further. You aren't addressing me, after all. Some of you don't even bother with a name. It's just 'Dear Blogger' - that is a total fail. You are even worse than the ones who get the name wrong. 

Location, location, location
I have my location clearly mentioned in my blog. I live in Bangalore. And 50% of the times, I get invites for events in Bombay or Delhi or some other city. Dude, seriously, do you have *that* big a marketing budget, to fly bloggers to other cities? In these times of recession, I'm sure not! Then why not spend another second to verify location and send an invite only if the event is in my city.

The details
Don't be all mysterious in your mail. We do have other things to do than spend 10 minutes trying to decipher what is it that you are exactly trying to market to us. If it is a food brand that sounds baffling enough to masquerade like Viagra, you are not going to get a response. I understand confidentiality and all that - but some degree of clarity is surely required. 

Give us time
Believe me, I've got invites for events well after the event date saying please RSVP urgently and I've had to reply - "Sorry, I don't time travel well". Food bloggers are not utterly jobless people, even if you think that way. Most have a serious career, pursue hobbies, mind their kids, look after their family and blog in their spare time. Even if they would be interested in attending your event, they need at least a week's notice. Sending me a mail on the 20th October about a special cuisine week in your restaurant that is running from 13th October to 21st October is so not done. No one likes to be invited as an after thought. And that too, expecting an immediate RSVP. Sorry, no one is *that* jobless.

More details
In case you got the name and location right, and you were nice enough to contact us a week before the event, and you managed to get a 'Yes' from the blogger, please share other essential details like the exact venue, time of the event, the dress code and any other specifics that we need to know. A blogger friend who attended the launch of a certain beverage last week found herself in casuals when most of the (non-blogger) guests were dressed as though they were on red carpet. No thanks for the embarrassment.  

Transparency
Be honest about what you want from the blogger. Do you want him to tweet about the event / photograph the event and post on Facebook / write a post on her blog about the event / product. It's better than being all ambiguous and then you feeling all sore about having given a free meal for nothing in return. 

Lastly, some respect, please.
We are food-bloggers. We cook decently well. We eat out in restaurants regularly, pay our bills and leave a generous tip. Assuming that by throwing some free food and drink our way, you can get things done the way you want, is not the best way to go about it. Free food is NOT fees for a professional's service. The reason you are approaching me in the first place is that you realize that when I say a product / restaurant is good, the people who read my blog, follow me on Twitter or on Facebook will believe my word and be willing to try your product out. Since when does a free meal constitute as fees for a professional marketing service rendered? As a PR company, please realize you are the bridge between a food company / restaurant / brand and the blogger. It's a relationship that needs to be maintained if you are going to need foodblogs as one of your marketing arms. If you think foodblogs don't deserve the respect, then why bother with us anyway?


This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda
Theme : If I had the power to change something, I would...

16 comments:

Vidya Sury said...

Very well said. I got a couple of emails last week asking for contact info so they could send more details and that's it. Yes, the "Dear Blogger" bugs the heck outta me too. Sometimes I think they hire _____ people to handle their communications.

A very timely post, which, I hope, PR companies WILL see.

Swati said...

i have never experienced this , never got an invite or whatever, but given all that i hear from u guys.. wow so well written!

Kalyn said...

Well said; I am shocked at some of the e-mails I get.

Laxmi said...

Good post. But one question: When you mention fees, do you mean the PR person should pay the blogger for doing a review/mention? And if the blogger's being paid, won't the client expect her/him to say only nice things about the restaurant/product? And wouldn't they be obliged to, if they were accepting money from the restaurant/clients? Would they put a disclosure note saying this was a fees-paid-for review at the end of the post or the tweet, in such a case?

Wouldn't you rather have a free meal and let the PR and their client know upfront that you will say whatever you want to about it, good or bad? If they've invited you for a review, they have to take whatever opinion is dished out, a reviewer is under no obligation to say only good stuff, right?

Aarti Krishnakumar said...

Good post..hope the PR and brands read it... PR guys want everything FREE.. and they dont care, they just call/mail last minute expecting you to drop everything you are doing and do the tango for them!!

deeba said...

YOU SAID IT lovely lady!! I must share another link with you Nandita ...
http://iambaker.net/blogging-101-the-pitch-ugly-truth-about-public-relations/

I have been called everything but Deeba, and invites from Bangalore & Mumbai, Cadbury's Dairy Milk is the worst company ever!

Cilantro said...

Good post..I just ignore these kind of messages.

Padmaja said...

Wow Nandita... well said.. and so aptly written... so wish the PR guys are reading this article

saffrontrail said...

I am aware of those mails as you often share them on twitter :)

saffrontrail said...

I recently got a mail saying "meet Arjun Rampal" - what even makes them think i am interested!

saffrontrail said...

Laxmi: The term 'fees' is still ambiguous as is the blogger-based marketing. All i'm saying is, just because there is a free meal involved, the PR company shouldn't think they can get anything done. Also when the PR companies pay in cash or in the form of freebies, they cannot expect that only good will be written. Most bloggers (i hope) are ethical and will not paint a rosy picture because it was expected out of them.

saffrontrail said...

Deeba: Let me check this link :)

BongMom said...

Very well said. I keep getting e-mails to attend opening of Dunkin Donut stores in Delhi or Mumbai or Chinchpokli. I mean Dunkin Donuts ? And then I got some mails about Halloween events in Bangalore but amazingly not a single one of Diwali. And why waste time sending me e-mails when I have repeatedly replied that I do not live there !!!

Suma Rowjee said...

Well said Nandita, lol! I got the Dunkin Donuts invite for the Delhi event thrice! Would also say PR guys need to do their HW better about the food preference of the guests, don't invite vegetarian bloggers for a predominantly non-veg specialty event, doesn't work for you as well! (if you take a minute to read the 'about' page or recipe index, its not the biggest mystery to decipher). And do have the courtesy to say I can bring a companion if you are inviting me on a day I prefer. Not super thrilled at the prospect of eating all on my own!

www.culinarystorm.com said...

Fantastic post! Will share it :)

deeba said...

Bravo N... couldn't have said it better!

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