Tonight we had a line up of bloggers and representatives from public relations companies addressing the issues that seem to be bubbling up at the moment – that is, bloggers effectively getting ‘spammed’ by very poor quality approaches from people wanting us to talk about products that have no relevance to the blog’s theme and with no good story behind them. I’ve experienced this increasingly myself – just in the last few weeks I’ve had both an online furniture store and a takeaway pizza brand wanting me to mention them on the blog for the sole purpose, I suspect, of improving their search rankings by linking to me. Now what I would have to say about those products on a blog relating to London, arts, culture, cinema and music is beyond me really! Clearly they hadn’t even read past the first paragraph of my blog before making an approach…
Anyway, representing the bloggers we had the hirsute Tiki Chris, the sophisticated Cate Sevilla from bitchbuzz.com and yours truly – a real transatlantic taskforce given that Chris and Cate are both from the US. On the public relations side there was emo-kid Matt Churchill from Edelman (who very generously put some money behind the bar), Stephen Waddington from Speed (who has about as much hair as I do!) and la joli Lolly (Laurence Borel) from MindShare.
A very lively discussion ensued and its a shame that we can’t communicate the messages that came out of the evening – about being open to ideas, building strong relationships and having mutual respect – to those people who give the industry a bad name and who do a really poor job for the companies that pay them to promote their products. In contrast, as Steve pointed out, all of the PR people on the panel were from companies that really understand what their customers and the bloggers need and want (in fact all of the PR folks blog themselves, which helps). Personally I really enjoy some of the things that I get to do due to approaches from good PR agencies – just look at my discovery of the gorgeous El Camino restaurant and Pepito sherry bar in Kings Cross or the important Not In My Cuppa campaign – they’ve both come through that route in recent weeks and I think they’ve really got some excitement going on the blog – I wouldn’t have heard about either of them otherwise.
And the final word – if you’re a London-based blogger you owe it to yourself to come along to one of these events – they can be really eye-opening and there are always lots of interesting new people to meet!