Lee over at My Sentiments ExactLee wrote a great post about public relations, marketing and blogs. Here is my response:
Thank you for this, Lee. I've been blogging for quite a while and no one ever visited. Of course, I wasn't out promoting my blog. It was more of a daily diary for me, and I hoped someone would notice it. For the last three years or so, I've been visiting a lot of blogs to enter giveaways, and I started reading some of the blogs, like yours, more regularly, because they speak to me, I feel like I have something on common with the person or people behind them.
It didn't take long for me to start becoming a little envious of the opportunities that some of the bloggers are getting. I haven't kept up my "post to my blogs every day" resolution, but I have posted at least once a week on each, which is an improvement. I started hosting a few giveaways as well, to build my traffic count. I mean, a niche audience is one thing, but no audience isn't going to do anything for someone trying to sell a product.
I can see where the PR people are coming from. I mean, I work in public relations myself, at a local non-profit theatre. I belong to an organization of PR professionals, and I read some marketing trade publications, and one of the things we all think about and talk about is how to qualify what we're doing. ROI (return on investment) is all important. Social media may be "free" but it costs time. Someone has to recruit the bloggers, create the electronic press kits delivered to them, pack and ship the review samples, pack and ship the prizes for the giveaways, deal with the missing package or item that got broken on the way. The sponsor has a budget for each promotion, which may involve using staff or outsourcing to an agency that specializes in using social media. So let's say they're giving away a $100 prize and it costs $10 in postage, boxes, labels; it takes 10 minutes to pack the box, toss in the "congrats" letter, print an invoice, and slap on the label. At $12 an hour, that's $2 in cost. Assuming the $100 retail is double what it cost the company to produce, you're already up to $62 for each prize winner. And that's not counting the cost of making arrangements with the two-dozen bloggers who are going to post the reviews, following up on their posts to get copies of everything for the file. The CEO or the CFO for that sponsor wants to know that the $2500 they spent on that promotion is going to bring them actually cash money customers. A sudden spike in orders may be an indicator, but what if I don't buy it for three months until I have some extra money? What if I use a coupon - how does the marketing person prove that the blogging promotion worked and it wasn't just the coupon that did it?
They produce numbers. 25 blogs hosted giveaways. The total readership of these blogs during the period of the promotion is x-thousand people, therefore those x-thousand people were exposed to the production. Y-hundred people commented, therefore they have decided that they want the product, and if they didn't win, they might buy it.
If you tell the CEO that the social media promotion reached a potential 250 new customers, he's not going to be as impressed as if he reached 25,000, even if his niche product is perfect for the 250, and the 25,000 figure if they win, they can sell it on eBay.
Remember, a lot of these people are used to running ads on television or in newspapers, where millions of people might see it. We know that newspapers are folding, readership is down, people are watching TV by Tivo or Netflex or Hulu, so they're not seeing as many commercials. They used to mass messaging not personal messaging.
I think we're going to see this turn around, but it's going to take a major shift in mindset, because it is time intensive, and time is money. So the front line PR people have to do as much as they can with the small amounts they're allotted, then they have to give the big guys the kind of results they can appreciate, so they can get more money to do the job right.
That's my two-cents, for what it's worth.