It all started on Geek is the New Chic, when Sian told of the increasing number of bloggers using Response Source to blag free stuff. There are well over 100 comments on there now but it’s worth taking the time to read them. The debate continued on Mummy From the Heart and I suspect has quite a while to go before it runs out of steam.
I found it really interesting to get the PR’s perspective on this, since journalists have been complaining about PRs clogging up their inboxes with irrelevant stuff for years. Ask any journo who’s used Response Source and most will have a story along the lines of “I asked for news of new toothbrushes and the PR sent me a dildo” variety. In general the service is regarded by journalists as very useful, as long as you’re prepared to sift out the irrelevant crap. Over the last year several journalists have also noted on Journobiz that they’re getting less of a response to RS requests. Could the PRs be busy elsewhere?
Looks like it. And now the PRs are complaining that they’re getting irrelevant requests from bloggers, with some sending out requests multiple times a day.
How could this have happened? Well, I do recall that over a year ago a blogger was asking on BritMums (or British Mummy Bloggers as it was then called) about how they could contact more PRs, and I sent her in the direction of RS. Another journalist/blogger privately said to me Are you sure you should be letting her loose on the PRs like that?, but I reckoned the PRs could handle it, it’s not like they’re shy of sending emails themselves.
Did I unwittingly start off the blog/blag rush by pointing that blogger in the direction of RS? I don’t know, but it’s possible.
One thing’s for sure – it would never have continued if the PRs didn’t respond. Just as the brazen graspiness you can see under the #prrequest hashtag on Twitter would not have continued if it didn’t work at least some of the time. It’s a two way thing.
Whilst I have occasionally used RS as a journalist, I’ve never used it as a blogger. There’s no need. I get upwards of 50 emailed press releases a day, so if I want to review things they’re not that hard to find. And I don’t want to do a lot of reviews. Out of 380 posts on this blog, only around 25 are product reviews, and I’m happy with that ratio. I like writing about products, but not *that* much.
Many of the press releases I receive are irrelevant to me – for example, I seem to be on a list targeting the grey market, so I get a lot of releases relevant to older people. And bizarrely, lots of press releases about cheese.
I don’t know why this is. I’ve never written about the elderly, or cheese, and don’t plan to. I might be over 40 and enjoy a round of cheddar and pickle for lunch, but that’s about as far as it goes. So I just delete those emails and don’t give them a second thought. Perhaps this is what the PRs should do with the blogger/blagger requests.
I have noticed that a lot of bloggers get very incensed when PRs send them irrelevant information: They sent me an email about baby stuff and my child is 5 – how can they dooooo this? Don’t take it so personally guys. Again, the delete button’s not that hard to find.
Aside from this, the other issue at hand is the rise of review-led parenting blogs, and the increasing appetite of bloggers for freebies, even when their blog is still at embryo stage. I’ve already outlined my attitude to blogging and reviews here. All in all I think this debate is great for anyone involved in blogging. Bloggers – think hard about what you put on your blog – value your space and don’t give it away lightly. PRs – how have you contributed to this and what do you intend to do differently?
And if I did start the influx of bloggers to RS, well, oops, sorry about that. I was only trying to help.
Image credit: Lulu Hoeller