Bandwidth » Blogger Relations http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/bandwidth Insights from H&K Canada's social media strategy team Fri, 07 Jan 2011 21:05:56 +0000 http://wordpress.org/?v=2.9.2 en hourly 1 Cooks Source firestorm: Hell hath no fury like a blogger (and her community) scorned. http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/bandwidth/2010/11/05/cooks-source-firestorm-hell-hath-no-fury-like-a-blogger-and-her-community-scorned/ http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/bandwidth/2010/11/05/cooks-source-firestorm-hell-hath-no-fury-like-a-blogger-and-her-community-scorned/#comments Fri, 05 Nov 2010 08:44:22 +0000 Michelle Sullivan http://michellesullivan.ca/?p=2007 Twitter and Facebook are ablaze. A wronged blogger has mobilized her online community (and their online community. And so on. And so on. Like a Faberge organic shampoo commercial). Her grievances have gone viral and her supporters are attacking the brand at the source of her frustration. As a PR practitioner guiding my clients into the world of social media, I see this as an opportunity for brands to (once again) learn from the very very big mistakes of others. In the age of social media, bad policy and bad customer service can bring unparalleled damage to the brand whose image you work so hard to protect. There is no escaping scrutiny and the wrath of angry consumers when a complaint captures the attention of the online community.

In case you’ve missed the drama, here’s a recap:

Monica Gaudio found out through a friend that one of her blog posts had been reprinted without her permission by foodie magazine Cooks Source (the Internet is also ablaze about the lack of an apostrophe, but that’s another story). As she explains in her blog post, she contacted the editor of Cooks Source in an attempt to understand how her article had ended up in print. Upon realizing it had been plagarized, she asked for a public apology on Facebook and in the magazine as well as monetary compensation in the form of a symbolic donation to the Columbia School of Journalism.

Editor Judith Griggs responded by email as follows:

« Yes Monica, I have been doing this for 3 decades, having been an editor at The Voice, Housitonic Home and Connecticut Woman Magazine. I do know about copyright laws. It was « my bad » indeed, and, as the magazine is put together in long sessions, tired eyes and minds somethings forget to do these things.

But honestly Monica, the web is considered « public domain » and you should be happy we just didn’t « lift » your whole article and put someone else’s name on it! It happens a lot, clearly more than you are aware of, especially on college campuses, and the workplace. If you took offence and are unhappy, I am sorry, but you as a professional should know that the article we used written by you was in very bad need of editing, and is much better now than was originally. Now it will work well for your portfolio. For that reason, I have a bit of a difficult time with your requests for monetary gain, albeit for such a fine (and very wealthy!) institution. We put some time into rewrites, you should compensate me! I never charge young writers for advice or rewriting poorly written pieces, and have many who write for me… ALWAYS for free! »

Dismissive. Arrogant. Condescending. Factually wrong (content published online is NOT public domain and copyright free). Just bad from start to finish. From a PR –  not to mention customer service — point of view, this reply is riddled with strategic landmines. We can only hope Ms Griggs’ eyes and mind were tired when she wrote it …

So where do things stand a little over 24 hours after Monica Gaudio posted her story?

  • Her blog post has 17 pages of comments (and counting)
  • The Cooks Source Facebook page has gone from about 130 « fans » to 2988 « fans » … although judging from the slew of negative comments on the page’s wall, Facebook needs to come up with an option other than « like » for pages. It is painfully obvious that these are not fans.
  • Guy Fawkes is currently Twitter’s trending topic … but Cooks Source and the newly developed  hashtags #cooksource #crookssource and #crooksource are getting their share of Twitter’s attention. The brand is being coopted by others (@crookssource) and fake Twitter accounts are being set up : @cooksource and @cookssource (at least I _hope_ that last one is fake).


Lessons to be learned:

1. Your staff are your ambassadors. They become very visible ambassadors when what they say (or write) is published online. Educate them about new realities. It’s possible that like Ms Griggs, they’ve been doing things ‘that way’ for 30 years. Times have changed and it’s high time everyone knows it.

2. Understand that what happens in Vegas no longer stays in Vegas. Your customer service emails can be published online in a blink of an eye. So can your customer service calls, for that matter. And talk to Comcast about the power of video. Make sure the quality of your customer service is always something of which you can be proud.

3. Even if you’re not ready to enter into the social media space, it’s wise to stake your claim on platforms like Facebook and Twitter. If you don’t, someone else will. And you might not like what they decide to do with it.

4. Learn from the successes of others. Companies like Best Buy, Dell and Comcast have managed to turn disgruntled bloggers into brand ambassadors simply by acknowledging mistakes and by starting to work towards rebuilding bridges. They’ve entered into the conversation in a real way and it’s paid off.

5. Apologize. Sincerely. Then try to move on. There are good stories to share, so share them. And let your natural ambassadors .. your employees, your fans … share them too.

6. A fundamental shift in communication has happened in the last few years. Free yourself from the illusion of control. Invest in authentic conversations with your clients.

A message to Cooks Source Magazine and its editor: It’s time to face the music. Trust me. You don’t want to end up like Nestle, who temporarily abandoned the Facebook ship after a Greenpeace led campaign mobilized the online community and bogged down their page.  Hundreds of negative comments on your Facebook wall can seem overwhelming, but it’s feedback worth listening to. Embrace the opportunity.

I write this blog post in the middle of the night, having been violently awakened by the realization that my siamese cat had gone hunting in my country home and brought a half-dead mouse back into my bed. I see parallels, don’t you? Your brand deserves a better fate than the gift my warrior-feline presented to me tonight. Don’t let social media keep you up at night. Make sure you and all your employees manage your brand’s image online as well as off by respecting your clients, by apologizing to them when required and by demonstrating that you’re attentive to their concerns.

Social media offers you an unprecedented opportunity to engage in conversation with existing and potential clients. Grab it.

MAJ: the Internet is having fun with Cooks Source by accusing them of any of a thousand different things. My personal favourites:

Cooksource was on the Grassy Knoll

and

Cooks Source’s keyboard has 3 buttons: C, V and Ctrl

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Bloggers telling PR how they really feel http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/bandwidth/2010/05/14/bloggers-telling-pr-how-they-really-feel/ http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/bandwidth/2010/05/14/bloggers-telling-pr-how-they-really-feel/#comments Fri, 14 May 2010 16:00:59 +0000 David Jones (Former Member) 408469:4468444:7666207 Since I wrote the Bloggers and PR Payola post the other day, a variety of bloggers have left comments and stirred up their own debates within their communities. Thanks to the magic of re-tweets, I've been exposed to some bloggers that I wouldn't have otherwise read.  

A few have really stood out for me and I thought you'd get a cold slap of reality by checking out how some of our pitches land with resounding thuds:

Ottawa blogger Julie Harrison had this hilarious exchange about a review for $1.99 product, including this classic line:  

This is a product that retails for $1.99. Why would anyonespend time reviewing a product for $1.99? I just don’t get it. I wouldn’t even bother reading a review for a product that was $1.99 — I’d just buy it and try it out for myself.

The Bloggess has a couple of doozies in this post:  If I get one more press-release about baby wipes I'm going to stab someone in the face.  This response to a pitch cracked me up:

Weird.  My blog is also award-winning, family-friendly and technologically advanced.  I’m including my paypal address as you are welcome to send me free money from your account.  Thanks for your time. ~ Jenny

How do you make sure this doesn't happen to you?  I can't guarantee that it won't, but our team generally follows these rules when we pitch:

 

  • Ensure the pitch is relevant to the blogger
  • Keep it short, no attachments, bullets and a link or two
  • Give the option to send along additional info
  • Give the option to never be pitched again

 

Good luck!

 


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Since I wrote the Bloggers and PR Payola post the other day, a variety of bloggers have left comments and stirred up their own debates within their communities. Thanks to the magic of re-tweets, I’ve been exposed to some bloggers that I wouldn’t have otherwise read.

A few have really stood out for me and I thought you’d get a cold slap of reality by checking out how some of our pitches land with resounding thuds:

Ottawa blogger Julie Harrison had this hilarious exchange about a review for $1.99 product, including this classic line:

This is a product that retails for $1.99. Why would anyonespend time reviewing a product for $1.99? I just don’t get it. I wouldn’t even bother reading a review for a product that was $1.99 — I’d just buy it and try it out for myself.

The Bloggess has a couple of doozies in this post:  If I get one more press-release about baby wipes I’m going to stab someone in the face. This response to a pitch cracked me up:

Weird.  My blog is also award-winning, family-friendly and technologically advanced.  I’m including my paypal address as you are welcome to send me free money from your account.  Thanks for your time. ~ Jenny

How do you make sure this doesn’t happen to you?  I can’t guarantee that it won’t, but our team generally follows these rules when we pitch:

  • Ensure the pitch is relevant to the blogger
  • Keep it short, no attachments, bullets and a link or two
  • Give the option to send along additional info
  • Give the option to never be pitched again

Good luck!

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Bloggers and PR payola: is this the future? http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/bandwidth/2010/05/12/bloggers-and-pr-payola-is-this-the-future/ http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/bandwidth/2010/05/12/bloggers-and-pr-payola-is-this-the-future/#comments Wed, 12 May 2010 20:12:39 +0000 David Jones (Former Member) 408469:4468444:7083222

More and more bloggers seem to be trying to figure out a way to get paid for reviews that are being facilitated by PR agencies and departments.  While she’s not specifically advocating getting paid for reviews, here’s a recent post from popular Canadian blogger, Kim Vallee that inspired me to explore the topic of compensating bloggers:

I think that bloggers who write about products, stores and restaurants should take notes. With all the brands pitching us stuff that suit their agenda, it comes a time when we have to say “this is enough”. Otherwise, how we can expect to make a living from blogging. I think beyond the banner ads as a monetizing technique.

Take for example, the sales alerts and store events. I receive many emails every week from retailers about these topic alone. But announcing a sale or another promotional event is a form of advertisement that the retailer should pay for. Why not have a classified section or published a (clearly marked) sponsored post once a week announcing the sales?

And another from Michelle at EverythingMom (Update 05/17: EverythingMom has changed its approach based on a variety of discussions, including those in the comments below):

I read the debates around the blogosphere about paid reviews. Some said paid reviews compromised integrity and others said they did not want to read paid reviews because they did not believe them. Some bloggers have stopped doing reviews all together because it is too much work.

The general consensus, it seems, is that paid reviews are a big no-no. Yet here we are, going completely against the grain. Sure there are sites out there that offer paid reviews. But generally, when moms jump into the conversation, they say with gumption – no. No paid reviews for me.

I took each position in, weighing it’s merits, seeing how EverythingMom might fit in to this arena. We were already playing in it full out with our very own Reviews section. And we stood by the same position — no paid reviews. To this day, Carrie Anne has not been compensated (outside of product) for reviews. But I am out to change that.

Erica Ehm of YummyMummyClub left this comment to Michelle’s post:

I am in total agreement with you. “Mom Reviews” are a huge part of spreading the brand though word of mouth. Brands need to pay writers for their time. These “mom bloggers” are usually highly educated, thoughtful women with earned influence and a way with words. They absolutely should be paid for that expertise. The only caveat is that is should be transparent – ie posted somewhere that writer was compensated.

On my site, like on this one, we work with amazing women. I want them to enjoy some financial benefit for their hard work.

Kudos to you Michelle for putting so much thought into this. I’m right beside you on this!

They are all in agreement that as bloggers get popular and build a following through their hard work and passion, they tend to find themselves in demand by PR folk trying to get them to review products, attend events and share their experiences with their readers. That’s not a shocker to anyone in the business.

The general drift: since a PR firm is getting paid to make the pitch (in many instances), that perhaps some of that money should flow to the blogger for their time and effort.

Pay-for-post has been discussed in PR circles a lot. I’ve seen formal pay-for-post programs run by service providers like Izea and I’ve seen ad-hoc pay for play by PR agencies. It’s not entirely black and white, but at its best it feels a little like buying someone’s influence and at its worst it feels like a shakedown.

I don’t think Kim or Michelle or Erica are wrong in asking these questions and pondering how to get a slice of the marketing pie. It’s a worthwhile discussion to have in the social media community that is creating new standards and best practices on the fly. We have to keep in mind that this isn’t journalism, advertising, or PR. It’s everything mixed into a new media stew and we’re still figuring out what tastes right.

It probably won’t shock you when I tell you what feels right to me differs from Kim, Michelle and Erica. Now, I don’t begrudge anyone wanting to get paid, but my credibility compass swings towards not ever paying bloggers to post something on a client’s behalf. Even with full disclosure, it feels like it would land on readers as a paid post, sullied by the exchange of money and neither credible or trustworthy. It seems like an advertorial and a shortcut to coverage over the longer term of building editorial relationships with online publishers that are mutually beneficial.

You can argue that product demos, products to keep, products to giveaway to readers are the same as cash. You’d be right, but I don’t think it lands on readers the same way. We’ve given hundreds of dollars worth of products to bloggers, but we’ve never given cash. We have worked on a few projects with MomCentral, who reward their community of bloggers with nominal non-cash incentives ie gift cards and gift packs, that are disclosed. I’m still struggling with whether that constitutes pay-per-post or if it’s yet another ingredient in the social media stew.

Over the years several community papers and radio stations pulled the same sort of stuff: “we’ll write/talk about your client if you buy an ad.” That crosses a journalistic line in my books and I suppose I hold bloggers to the same sort of credibility standard as I do journalists: you either have a desire to inform your readers, or you have a desire to inform readers about things you get paid to write about.

These fine women aren’t the first or last bloggers to bring this topic up. But I do wonder if it is the start of a change in mindset on a broader scale. One thing is certain: both PR people and bloggers need to start understanding how each other fits into the social media universe. We really are on the same side.

UPDATE: Eden Spodek, a blogger at Bargainista long before she became a social media consultant at High Road, has written a post from her unique perspective: http://bit.ly/cuiZST

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H&K wins a pair of 2009 SNCR social media awards http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/bandwidth/2009/11/14/hk-wins-a-pair-of-2009-sncr-social-media-awards/ http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/bandwidth/2009/11/14/hk-wins-a-pair-of-2009-sncr-social-media-awards/#comments Sun, 15 Nov 2009 03:38:48 +0000 David Jones (Former Member) 408469:4468444:5807243 The social media strategy group at Hill & Knowlton Canada was thrilled to get the news that we had received two awards of merit from the Society for New Communications Research at its recent awards gala at Harvard.

Our influencer analysis work for WaterfronToronto was selected in the measurement innovation category and our successful work with War Child Canada on the Help Child Soldiers Fight campaign in the influencer relations category. 

These will go nicely on the H&K mantle along with the SNCR award of excellence we won last year with Molson Coors Canada on Brew 2.0.  Congrats to our clients and our team.

I'll post our winning submissions separately over the next few days and try to provide a few more insights into what we did.


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The social media strategy group at Hill & Knowlton Canada was thrilled to get the news that we had received two awards of merit from the Society for New Communications Research at its recent awards gala at Harvard.

Our influencer analysis work for WaterfronToronto was selected in the measurement innovation category and our successful work with War Child Canada on the Help Child Soldiers Fight campaign in the influencer relations category. 

These will go nicely on the H&K mantle along with the SNCR award of excellence we won last year with Molson Coors Canada on Brew 2.0.  Congrats to our clients and our team.

I’ll post our winning submissions separately over the next few days and try to provide a few more insights into what we did.



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Blogger Relations: whose dime is it anyway? http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/bandwidth/2009/08/24/blogger-relations-whose-dime-is-it-anyway/ http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/bandwidth/2009/08/24/blogger-relations-whose-dime-is-it-anyway/#comments Mon, 24 Aug 2009 16:15:14 +0000 David Jones (Former Member) 408469:4468444:4991655 Social media coach Leah Jones (no relation) has instigated a very interesting discussion around an age-old PR challenge:  expectations of writers that you take on fam trips. 

Her post about blogger and new media consultant, Chris Brogan accepting a blogger relations trip to CES last year on Panasonic's dime that provided him the opportunity to meet with Sony at said event on his own time and eventually begin to consult with them recently has frothed the social media world's latte.

If you can get beyond the soap opera in the comments about whether Panasonic feels slighted or Chris crossed a line or not, there is a lesson here for us agency types.  It's just another example of how we as social media consultants need to prepare our clients for working in this new arena where the lines are blurrier by the day. 

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Social media coach Leah Jones (no relation) has instigated a very interesting discussion around an age-old PR challenge:  expectations of writers that you take on fam trips.

Her post about blogger and new media consultant, Chris Brogan accepting a blogger relations trip to CES last year on Panasonic’s dime that provided him the opportunity to meet with Sony at said event on his own time and eventually begin to consult with them recently has frothed the social media world’s latte.

If you can get beyond the soap opera in the comments about whether Panasonic feels slighted or Chris crossed a line or not, there is a lesson here for us agency types.  It’s just another example of how we as social media consultants need to prepare our clients for working in this new arena where the lines are blurrier by the day.

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