I regularly read Jason Fall’s blog, Social Media Explorer, and his most recent post on what bloggers need to know about public relations and advertising. It really caused me to want to share some thoughts I’ve shared privately with some of my peers for some time.
Here’s some of what Jason had to say:
“It seems that some bloggers (not just the mommy kind) have a vast misunderstanding of what public relations professionals are supposed to do or be used for. It also seems that some think receiving a pitch for a product somehow entitles them to call themselves consultants and charge hourly rates to someone else for writing content for their own website. Far be it from me to criticize a blogger’s ability to make money, but these attitudes deeply concern me. While the media landscape is evolving to account for new media roles, blogger ignorance to how traditional communications and marketing works may forever ruin the notion of an unbiased media.”
If you want to read his full post (and I hope you do, as well as the smart comments) then go to: What Bloggers Need to Know About PR and Advertising.
Sure I have a blog and I blog about PR as well as other topics of interest to me. I’m a PR professional first and a blogger second. I think there is a lot of gray area in blogging currently and a lot of misunderstandings between bloggers and PR pros.
I understand and respect the desire to get compensated for work done.  After all, I’m a consultant and have had my fair share of people wanting to pick my brain for free advice. To me there is a big difference between getting income from ads or sponsorships on a blog and getting payment to write about something. I feel if the blogger is taking payment for writing a post, the blog loses creditability for me because the blogger is no longer free from basis. Even with full disclosure.
Both blogging and public relations are about connecting and sharing information and points of view. I think blogging is evolving from just a shared on-line journal where people can post entries about their personal experiences to a more formal media vehicle to get information out. I think many bloggers are filling a gap which traditional media is not or cannot in this current media environment. We may need to redefine who a blogger is. Are bloggers free-lance journalists? Are they columnists? Or pundit blogging-heads? I’m not going to factor a guess here.
A lot of folks still think when they read something, even on the Internet, it must be true or it wouldn’t be published. I’m most likely opening up a can of worms, but that’s something we need think about.
What bloggers and PR professionals need to do is connect to create an understanding. Yes, it can be that simple. We need to do better developing relationships with each other. Last September, I organized a program for my local Public Relations Society of America Chapter around blogging and invited a local Mommy blogger, who is also a journalist, to speak. It was a great success with real conversations taking place and everyone walking away having learned something new about each other’s field. We shouldn’t be afraid to ask questions of each other. What is the worst thing that could happen? The person on the other end of the communication says yes to speak to you and develop a relationship?
Bloggers and PR professionals need to focus on transparency, trust, knowledge, and creditability. It is our responsibility to ensure the free flow of information.

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