I just returned from the Travel Bloggers’ Exchange Conference (TBEX) in NYC. I learned a lot of things and met a lot of great people in both travel writing and PR. At the “Working with PR” panel, it was eye-opening to discover that many bloggers don’t understand the role of PR. I was dismayed, however, to discover that many are loathe to work with PR. I would venture to say that they, too, don’t understand the role of PR. Or let me rephrase: they don’t understand what the role of PR should be.
The relationship between a blogger and PR pro can be a beautiful and mutually productive one. Travel bloggers/writers, please don’t feel like you have to go wash after you’ve worked with us.
Our relationship should be one of collaboration; an understanding of each others goals, and how we can help each other to achieve them. You want to travel and tell stories of the places and people. We want to encourage that. We have destinations and products that can help create experiences. You have a dysfunctional business model. If you are trying to generate revenue, you can’t possibly afford to experience everything you write about it if you had to cover all your expenses. We can help bridge that gap.
The truth of the matter is, there are good writers/bloggers and there are bad writers/ bloggers. There are good PR reps, and there are lame PR reps. Our jobs are to scope each other out and make sure we are each dealing with the “good” and not the “bad”.
I’ve created this Good PR/Good Blogger Manifesto aka The Eight Step Program to a loving PR/blogger relationship:
- Understand Each Others Goals Part 1: (understanding travel writers’ goals) In the Saturday morning TBEX10 panel, Travel Writing: Upping Your Game, travel, writers Don George and Alison Stein Wellner said that good travel writing is not about recounting the situation, it’s about telling the story. Your goal is to weave a story, a lesson. My role as PR is to facilitate that, and get out of the way. We’ll establish that in our initial communication. How can I help you find your story? I’ll point you in the right direction, or set up an introduction, and then I’ll get lost.
- Understand Each Others Goals Part 2: (understanding PR’s goals) I have to show my clients the value. This will never go away. I’m guessing this is why some of you hate us; because you are an artiste and are opposed to defending your worth. I understand that. But you are also a business, and my clients are a business. So we have to “sink to this level” and make sure we’re a fit. If you are contacting me, I need help understanding who you are and who your audience is. Just like I do my research before I pitch you, please do yours and let me know that this indeed can be mutually beneficial.
- Research before Reach-out: If I’m contacting you, it’s because I’ve been following you and I’ve done the research. I enjoy your stories and I think my client might have something interesting to offer you and your readers. Rene Mack with Weber Shandwick said it. “We are not trying to reach an audience of a million people.” We are trying to reach an audience of 10 who will take action based on your stories, then tell their stories to ten others, and so on and so on. (wait, isn’t that a shampoo commercial?)
- Just say no to Group Fams: I know you hate them. I do too. If I wouldn’t want to go on the trip, why would you? Where’s the story in THAT? the reader doesn’t want to hear about how the OTHER journalist on the bus spilled his coffee all over your lap ruining the day and all the museum tours for you.
- Spam sucks: A good PR person promises to never spam and mass email lame press releases. I do send pitches out, and news updates. It’s a great way to keep in touch, and I do my best to make sure they fit. I won’t send you, the sustainable travel blogger a pitch on an ATV tour. I might, however, send you something about refillable wine bottles. I don’t expect you to act on every one of my updates/pitches. HIT THE FREAKING DELETE BUTTON AND MOVE ON. sheesh.
- PR does not control the story: I never require visiting writers to write about something specific. I know, and my client knows, we don’t control the story. We trust you won’t take advantage of us because we’ve had lots of communication prior to your arrival. Of course you wouldn’t accept our offerings if you knew it wasn’t a fit for your audience. If you have a negative experience, we know you will write about it. That’s the risk we take.
- We Love What We Do: the good writers and the good PR people just love what we do. I am passionate about my clients, you are passionate about your outlet (blog, podcast, etc). I swear, I am not a cheeseball talking head. I am a normal, fun person to work with. I get to make new friends, and share with them destinations and products that I truly believe in. I get to meet you for wine, coffee, a bike ride, or a ski day. I introduce you to people you might find interesting. I listen to your needs and plan appropriately.
- You; appreciate it by being a friend back (ok, well, we’re not ALL going to be friends), and sharing your stories with your audience (the good and the bad). You don’t ask me to be your babysitter or your concierge. I know you can look up the weather yourself. I also know you know how to use google maps.
If we have a deal, sign on the dotted line, and let me help you create great content.