Tuesday, June 21

What Australian PR's think: What do you think blogs in Australia have to offer brands?

Brands make an appearance on my blog as an extension of my every day life,   Whether organically or via the PR channels, I do try and keep my content as relevant as possible and avoid 'over-informing' my readers - their trust in what I say is paramount and it's important to me that I can be 110% honest and transparent about my experiences with brands.

I recognise I do have influence when it comes to brands, this is something as bloggers I think we really need to take on board responsibly and consciously. It is precisely for that reason my my involvement with brands has been select and few - and truly brands I know, use and trust.

I asked some of my favourite PR's who are working with bloggers to increase public awareness of their clients' brands: What do you think blogs in Australia have to offer brands?

Lizzie Culverhouse, Senior Account Manager - One Green Bean:
One of the aspects of working with mum bloggers that we appreciate the most is the knowledge that any products or services we approach mum bloggers to review will get a fair and honest write up.  We’ve found that mum bloggers often want to test things with their children, giving their kids' feedback as well as their own, accompanied by photos of the family interacting with the product.  This type of coverage isn’t something print media offers, yet is so important when it comes to items such as toys.  The reader comments following a post are also important and our clients value reading these to hear consumers reactions and experiences with their brands.

Mandy Griffiths, Account Manager - Porter Novelli

We are currently going through a believe-ability crisis due to the overwhelming amount of marketing messages flying at people. Blogs have something not many other platforms can offer – authenticity.

Kat Peden, Senior Account Manager - Verve Communications

Blogs help give a brand an authentic voice. They are perceived as being much more ‘trustworthy’. The general public has become increasingly wise to the fact that traditional media can lack credibility, particularly with high-profile people or brands ‘outing’ media for their ‘false claims’ via Twitter.

As a nation, we no longer take ‘news’ or ‘reviews’ at face value. We are more likely to seek a second or third opinion before we make a decision, such as crowd sourced review sites (i.e. TripAdvisor, Amazon). A blog could end up shaping a person’s opinion, even swaying their purchasing decision – a platform brands can no longer afford to ignore.

To support this, research suggests women in particular respond and act on the opinion of others if it's someone they trust. Shespot recently did a survey, revealing 63% of women purchase based on a referral from a friend or family member in comparison to a brand’s website (33%) or magazine advert (18%).  It is evident women want to hear from real women, not a source that has commercial interests.

  • So as a PR, blogger or a reader, where do YOU think blogs offer brands?  
  • How do you rank the advice/recommendation of a blogger say above an advertisement, a friend or your mother?  
  • Do you read blogs that you think have TOO much brand involvement, or is there no such thing?

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8 lovely comments:

Kate on June 21, 2011 at 7:44 AM said... [Reply to this amazing comment]

As a homemaker I've often tried products and talked to my friends about them. I'm also more likely to purchase a product if it has been recommended by a friend.

The key is trust and honesty for me. My blog is an extension of myself. I see working with brands as an extension of that conversation among friends and as such would only recommend products that I'd be comfortable recommending within a group of friends in real life as well.

The flip side is that I'm likely to try something that has been recommended by a blogger I love just as much as by a friend in real life.

I think bloggers need to remember to honour this friendship with their readers when it comes to PR, as you always do Liss :)

Liss on June 21, 2011 at 8:32 AM said... [Reply to this amazing comment]

Message from Bad Mummy Bec (she can't seem to comment)

*grrr* I can't respond on your blog - damn blogger.

Anyway, I do think there is such a thing as "too much brand involvement" I've seen big name blogs were two whole sidebars were filled with nothing but ads. There were so many ads and it was so hard to tell what was an ad and what was actual content that I stopped visiting this particular blog. I suppose that's more to the point, there wasn't appropriate disclosure. I don't like being tricked into lining someone else's pocket.

Bloggers have a lot to offer brands, like I said in my post on Mummy Industries (http://www.mummyindustries.com/blog/our-content/why-brands-should-work-with-mummy-bloggers) and as the Porter Novelli rep said bloggers can lend our reputations and trustability to products which is something that an ad on TV doesn't have.

Hear Mum Roar on June 21, 2011 at 9:28 AM said... [Reply to this amazing comment]

I think one key to an authentic outcome is for bloggers to aim to deal with brands that resonate with them as much as possible.

When I get a pitch I try to only take on things which I know I would be likely to use or try anyway, also that I think my readers may be interested in.

I think if a blogger is reviewing every single pitch that comes their way it's a bit of overkill, and I find blogs that do that (and are in the minority) don't seem to give a very in depth or authentic message about the brand anyway.

I also write about products and brands that I like that I've bought myself, without being asked to. Not for the hell of it, but because at the time I think it'd be something worthwhile to share.

I find readers are genuinely interested in reading about this stuff if they're not bombarded with it, also if it's highly relevant to them.

I think the most useful thing bloggers can do is to be very specific about what they will and won't write about. I knock back more pitches than I take on, and it's not because I'm a nasty person.

I don't want to saturate my blog with pr pitched posts, and if there is nothing positive to be gained from it, then there's no point. An example would be two things: I get a lot of pitches about fruit juices or sugary drinks and protein bars.

These might be excellent things for others to talk about, but they have no relevance to my readers or I, and I know they'd read it and be thinking, 'huh?' So be discriminating!

I think some new bloggers get so excited to be on the radar to get the offers in the first place, but honestly, if you don't take on those first offers, you won't miss out on more in the future

DanniiBeauty on June 21, 2011 at 10:30 AM said... [Reply to this amazing comment]

Great post and great to see what PR's think.

I started my blog to empower and inform readers of all the great products I like to use and try.

I mostly review products that I have bought, but that can be a costly exercise in itself, so working with PR's for me is great.

To keep up with current products/brands I welcome media releases and pitches that are relevant to my blog and me.

I am happy to work with PR's and brands, if something doesn't suit me I will let them know why.

I have had many readers who have bought/tried products because they read about them on my blog. I also trust reviews that I read from other bloggers, because I know they have tried it and are giving their true opinion on it.

Di-licious on June 21, 2011 at 11:57 AM said... [Reply to this amazing comment]

I think bloggers can potentially offer brands an authentic review.

I have never been approached but then again, I'm a baking blog based in Australia... so I don't yet have an informed opinion of how to handle advances from PRs.

I kind of like not cluttering up my blog with ads and when I do independently review a product, it's my own initiative and I think my readers appreciate that.

I wholeheartedly agree with Kate and Bec that there is a trust issue. If a favourite blogger speaks highly, I do listen. But I also weigh this up with their record of reviews in the past. Honesty really is the best (and most valued) policy.

Diminishing Lucy on June 21, 2011 at 11:58 AM said... [Reply to this amazing comment]

This is such a good range of posts Liss - it is so useful as a blogger and as a consumer to see how PR folk view the blogging medium.

I have recently started doing a few more reviews. I have a few "rules" for myself:

~ No more than one a week.
~ I will only review a product if I genuinely love it.
~ I will review in detail rather than a quick flick mention.
~ It has to be win win win - a win for readers, a win for me ie I have to enjoy reviewing and writing the review) and a win for the product.


katepickle on June 21, 2011 at 2:33 PM said... [Reply to this amazing comment]

I am really enjoying this conversation on blogging!

I have to confess that I am so cynical about regular advertising on TV etc. So it was interesting to read Porter Novelli talking about believability...

I'm currently thinking through ways I can ensure that any PR partnerships I develop don't become 'unbelievable' and fake. One guideline I have set for myself is to be picky... to only work with brands and items that I really have something to say about.

I also really feel that my blog's main goal is to be a blog... not an ad. I want to create content that is useful and interesting, and related to 'me' (since mine is predominantly a personal blog) and my topics of interest. Remembering that helps to keep my focus where it should be.

Bake Escape on June 22, 2011 at 10:51 PM said... [Reply to this amazing comment]

Such an interesting topic! My previous career was in publicity and now I am a blogger (amongst other things). It is weird to receive offers from people just like I was...My rules will be pretty simple, if I wouldn't be interested in using or hearing about the product I won't bore my reader with it (no matter how enticing the offer!) That said I am already writing about things I love (that I have purchased) and I will continue to do that. I think PR's are just learning the true value of blogs and that the traditional methods of media are no longer always effective. Each to their own in terms of how much is too much though!


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