3 New Year’s Resolutions for Publicists: A Blogger’s Perspective

From my rare position as both successful blogger (8 years) and card-carrying agency and corporate publicist (10 years), I’ve seen both sides of the media fence engage in some pretty egregious behavior during my career. Most of it truly comes down to being time poor – PR people and writers are always up-to-their-eyeballs busy all the time, on deadlines, jet-setting and whatnot.

Some of the drama can be avoided though, so in the spirit of renewal for the new year, I’ve been reflecting on ways we could all get along better in 2014, starting with some resolutions for the PR crowd. Here we go!

Back in my PR agency days, leading a press trip to The Bahamas

Back in my PR agency days, leading a press trip to The Bahamas

1. Stop sending crappy press releases.

Just today, I’ve received 14 unsolicited press releases. Thirteen of them were from people I’ve never communicated with in my life and most had nothing to do with my interests. (I don’t cover golf. I don’t cover plastic surgery. I don’t cover nail salons in Wyoming. How did I get on these mailing lists?!)

In the three years since I quit my official PR job in NYC, the nice gal/former-account-executive in me tried to respond to every publicity email I received once I made the flip to blogger/journalist. I know I always appreciated a quick note when I was the one on the sending end, even if it was to say ‘no thanks.’ But now I understand the radio silence I used to get from folks on my list – there just isn’t enough time to respond to every email about every new general manager at every airport hotel in the world.

From a writer’s perspective, yes, I do want to read about the latest travel news. Unfortunately most of what comes through my inbox rarely falls into that category. And crap wastes time.

From a publicist’s perspective, I think it’s time to educate our clients to see that 95% of press releases are just e-junk mail. They’re frequently unsolicited, irrelevant and obnoxious, and they don’t do anything to help build relationships between media & PR. That should be our focus – that’s where the magic happens. For the most part, press releases are a lazy tactical effort and a waste of client money.

Wouldn’t it be great if the PR crowd (me included!) could find new, interesting, clever ways to cut through the clutter? Knowing that most press release fodder could easily be communicated in a quick and targeted pitch, a Tweet or a blog post, let’s band together to bury the press release in 2014, shall we?

The best way to reach me with news? Know what I write about. It’s easy enough to figure out – my bio on Twitter and on Angie Away outline the specifics pretty boldly.

And I love a brief, personal email from a PR pro asking, “Hey, I represent SUP Lovers of America. I saw you visited Key West once and really seemed to love stand up paddleboarding. Would love to see if we could find a way to work together on a project this year.”

That will get a response from me every time. A press release announcing that SUP exists and I should check it out will likely get trashed.

Attending a press trip in Australia in 2013

Attending a press trip in Australia in 2013

2. Stop hosting competitions that force professional writers into social media popularity contests for press trip spots.

This is just icky.

Would you host a competition to invite say, house painters, to compete for votes on Facebook to win the opportunity to paint your house? Or a competition for doctors to fight over the chance to treat you? You wouldn’t, because that’s insulting to the professional doctors and house painters who worked for years to perfect their expertise, hone their craft and earn a good reputation. You just don’t host a competition so professionals can fight each other to do their job for free.

For amateurs looking for a break into this business, competitions can be a fun PR tactic (see Best Job in the World, which was for a $100,000 job, not just a spot on a 2-week press trip), but a barely disguised popularity contest capitalizing on bloggers’ social influences is just sneaky.

The secret that PR people know (and their clients may miss) is that while less expensive publicity campaigns like this may blanket the Internet with mentions and hashtags and vote-grubbing Tweets, the value of the mentions won’t be worth all that much. 

Spend the money to host qualified writers and you’ll get quality content as a result. Go for the cheap tactics and the free writers and you might just be left with a handful of fluff.

Fort Walton Beach. Not a work trip.

Fort Walton Beach. Not a work trip.

3. Realize that a press trip is not a vacation, a reward or a treat.

Travel is great fun – obviously, that’s what I’m here for! Most of the travel I do is on my own dime and on my own time.

In 2013, I was invited to all sorts of glorious locations by DMOs and brands, and I turned most of them down because it would likely cost me more to get there / fully experience the destination than I could ever expect to make back via freelance writing assignments. (That’s not a sob story – I chose to become a writer knowing it wasn’t a road paved with gold, and I know all too well that the business model is pretty wonky. That’s why I have many pots in the fire.)

Once again, travel is super fun. So is painting, so is acting, so is playing the violin, so is photography. But you wouldn’t invite a photographer to shoot your wedding and then not pay that person for their time because wedding photography is a fun job.

The same concept applies here.

While the invitations I receive to experience one night at a boutique hotel in a hard-to-reach location are appreciated, publicists should know that I (and most writers like me) can’t afford a flight, a rental car, gas, food nor the time it takes away from my other work to get there. No matter how cool it is or how much I’d really love to check it out – I’m never going to make enough profit off a story like that to recover the investment.

(And let me be super clear in case you missed it, I’m certainly not saying travel writers should never have to pay for travel because in the spirit of keeping it real, we should continue to travel on our own dime… often. It’s what keeps us grounded, accountable and relatable.) 

I’m running a business. And it’s just common courtesy if another business (destination, hotel, tour operator, etc.) wants me to give them something, i.e. my expertise, my social influence, my opinion and ultimately my time, they must offer some value to me in return.

So, PR people and bloggers, we need to find ways to be mutually beneficial this year. Make trip invitations substantial enough to provide value. Partner with professional bloggers so you both win. And realize that offering up one free night in exchange for a post and social media coverage doesn’t cut it anymore. (Seriously, who can tell a compelling story about your hotel after staying there for 20 hours?)

A Few More Resolutions for PR Folks

  1. I will not focus on the Top 10 lists of who is who in the blog world. I will form relationships with writers who are interested in my clients and I will find creative and mutually beneficial ways to work together.
  2. I will be honest with my clients about expectations and outcomes.
  3. I will not send press releases to massive lists of un-researched contacts. Get an intern to do some research!
  4. I will take writers off my mailing lists immediately if they request it.
  5. I will form relationships with a smaller group of targeted media rather than blanketing the whole world with generic news.

BLOGGERS –What other resolutions would you suggest for the PR crowd? How many press releases do you trash in a day? Who’s the best PR person you’ve ever worked with?

PUBLICISTS – How can bloggers work with you better in 2014? Do you think we can ever kill the press release? What do we need to do to better educate our clients on better working with bloggers?

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79 thoughts on “3 New Year’s Resolutions for Publicists: A Blogger’s Perspective

  1. Melissa - The Mellyboo Project

    Thank you so much for writing this, Angie!

    Re: press trip popularity contest – I think we can all agree that the Kerala Blogger Press Trip Popularity Contest is a freaking joke. Just the other day I was looking to see who was in the top 25. #11 is a girl who runs a blog called “The Blonde Side” – a sports blog that has nothing but football, basketball and cheerleading related articles. On the other hand, Mariellen Ward of BreatheDreamGo.com (in my opinion, THE blogger to go to for India content) is nowhere NEAR the top 25. There is something severely wrong here. Furthermore, as bloggers, we can’t profess that we wish to have our ‘profession’ taken seriously if we allow these contests to happen by participating in them. It makes a mockery at our attempts to be taken seriously. FURTHERMORE- I’ve heard through the grapevine that the contest isn’t even paying for airfare (arguably the most expensive aspect of traveling to India). /rant

    A suggestion from me: If a blogger DOES do a press trip for you – have the decency to promote their subsequent blog posts about your product. IT’S YOUR PRODUCT THE BLOGGER IS TAKING THEIR TIME WRITING ABOUT!
    Melissa – The Mellyboo Project recently posted..California’s Calling my NameMy Profile

    Reply
    1. Angie Away Post author

      Couldn’t agree more on all points, Melissa! In Kerala’s case, it seems like it may just be a lack of education in blogger relations. And it sounds like the powers that be have heard the blogger side loud and clear, so let’s hope the whole project serves as a case study for what not to do for future campaigns!

      Reply
  2. Lance | Trips By Lance

    Angie, this is really interesting. I’m too new at the blogging game to have many opinions about how it works. But I’ve been a newspaper editor for years, and I can’t stress enough how annoying the press releases are that have nothing to do with what my paper does. And even if you do have something interesting, get to the point in the first couple of sentences. I spend about five seconds on a press release. If I’m unclear on what you’re offering I trash it.
    Lance | Trips By Lance recently posted..5 Ways to Celebrate Elvis’ Birthday in MemphisMy Profile

    Reply
    1. Angie Away Post author

      I actually think newspaper editors have it a little worse, only because bloggers can be a bit trickier to find! Editors are right out there on the masthead for every publicist to stalk. And I say this as a former agency gal – we STALKED!

      Thanks for reading!

      Reply
  3. Jennifer

    This is an excellent post! I do both sides, though my communications manager job is in the higher education industry. I can still see both sides though.

    I find value in some press releases that I receive, but 90% of them I don’t. I too end up on mailing lists with people I’ve never interacted with.

    It is incredibly frustrating to see all these blogger popular contests when there are very professional and knowledgable bloggers who have worked to build captive and targeted audiences. Wouldn’t you want to work with someone with a smaller, but more engaged and targeted audience than someone who has an audience that only a small percentage of may be interested in content relevant to your client?

    And finally PRs, I agree with Melissa who commented above to please share content I created for you across your social media channels!
    Jennifer recently posted..Elephant Encounters at Anantara Golden TriangleMy Profile

    Reply
    1. Angie Away Post author

      “Wouldn’t you want to work with someone with a smaller, but more engaged and targeted audience than someone who has an audience that only a small percentage of may be interested in content relevant to your client?”

      Yes, yes, yes! Spot on, J-Domb. Client education is an ongoing process, and the more we on the blogger side respond to the ludicrous press trip competition invites with polite, tempered but informational replies, the better off we’ll all be in 5-10 years.

      Reply
    1. Angie Away Post author

      Absolutely, MJ. I think it’s tough for publicists because there’s so much turnover in PR AND the majority of media relations falls to the junior staff… those who haven’t quite been around long enough to “get it.” There are rockstars out there of course, but it can take a while to get in the swing of things. Thanks for reading & commenting!

      Reply
  4. Mariellen Ward

    I read this with interest, and a little apprehension, I admit (b/c I thought it was going to be a whine). But the apprehension was unfounded. Well written, well researched and I agree with you. It’s time for the industry to move forward with professionalism on ALL FRONTS.

    And then I saw my name mentioned in the comments as a nice bonus! Thanks Melissa, I really appreciate your support, and I agree that Kerala is not going about this press trip the right way. However, I am cutting them some rope b/c it’s the FIRST time India has done any blogger outreach, and they need to learn and catch up.

    Cheers,

    Mariellen
    Mariellen Ward recently posted..How I (finally) learned to travel light …My Profile

    Reply
    1. Angie Away Post author

      I’m glad you read and weren’t disappointed! I think despite the campaign being a bit of a mess, it’s going to serve as a great case study for DMOs in the future.

      Reply
    1. Angie Away Post author

      Haha, thanks for the enthusiasm, Bret! It might take some time to change the industry, but I think we’re on the way to better times and more productive partnerships all around.

      Reply
  5. Karon

    Love every word of this post. It is so spot-on. In particular, I agree with Melissa’s statements that press trips are not rewards and one- or two-night stays at far-off venues do not warrant my time and travel expense. While I respect that many travel destinations do not have large budgets, they need to realize that travel bloggers/journalists also do not have large budgets. If their funds are limited, they need to find ways to partner with vendors who can bring in writers.

    Also love the comment about promoting the content we create on their clients. Nothing irritates me more than sending links/clips to my articles and receiving nothing more than a generic “Thanks” in return. If we are promoting their clients, they need to help us help promote them.

    As for the best PR person I’ve ever worked with, hands down it is Georgia Turner, who ran her own PR firm – Georgia Turner Group. She just joined the Florence-Lauderdale (Alabama) Tourism Office, and I’m sure she’ll continue to amaze those of us in the travel industry — on both sides.
    Karon recently posted..Smiles Lead to Healthier ChildrenMy Profile

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  6. Hope S. Philbrick

    I agree with you on all points except I don’t want press releases to die. They are far more useful to me than PR firms’ weekly or monthly e-newsletter naming lists of clients. I can trash, file or use a release if it’s appropriate, but it’s hard to dissect a list and I don’t have time to read millions of tweets each day. But I qualify that by saying that I agree with you that the press releases should be appropriate to me–like I definitely don’t want any about religious retreats with the kids, or a random nail salon in Phoenix–and it’s most effective to send an individual pitch. But I suspect most individual pitches are really just a mass email in disguise since it’s easy to cut and paste a name at the top.

    Reply
    1. Angie Away Post author

      You make a great point, Hope! Occasionally I do archive releases if I think I might eventually visit the destination – so I can totally see the merit there. Thank you for weighing in – I appreciate it!

      Reply
  7. Jenna

    Yes yes yes. The one-day press trips need to go for starters. I think that the expectations on both sides should be spelled out more. It’s too easy for some bloggers to think that one lousy post that barely anyone sees is enough coverage for a press trip, and on the other side, PR people should work more with bloggers to find ways that the content can be promoted better. If bloggers can find ways to use the information from a press trip to create engaging, in-demand content, it’s a win-win…the bloggers will get invited for more trips, and the PR people get the exposure they’re hoping for.
    Jenna recently posted..Art Exhibitions to Catch in 2014My Profile

    Reply
    1. Angie Away Post author

      Such a good point about spelling out expectations, Jenna. When I was an account executive, it was scary to talk so frankly about expectations with bloggers & journalists because we didn’t want to seem like we were *requiring* coverage. But this is 2014, and I think everyone knows by now that writers are invited on trips for that sole purpose. Spelling out expectations up front keeps everyone happy – I know I prefer when a publicist lets me know exactly what they expect. Then I can decide if the experience is worth my time and effort.

      Thank you for reading & commenting!

      Reply
  8. Gary Arndt

    I can count on one hand the number of PR people that I know personally. These are people who have taken the time to sit down with me over dinner or drink. I’m not saying we are best buddies, but I’ve talked to them in the past and I know them.

    Those 4-5 people don’t send me press releases and don’t contact me unless they know it is a good fit.

    They are the only people in the industry that I will actually take the time to listen to if they contact me about a client.

    Everything else is garbage. Everything.

    There are no ‘relations’ in Public Relations. There are just anonymous email lists.

    Furthermore, most PR people who contact me seem to think I’m on a deadline and always looking for story ideas for holidays. I’m not. That’s not what I do. I don’t have to fill space and I have no deadline. They clearly have never taken a moment to actually research what I do, which makes me all the less likely to actually want to work with them.
    Gary Arndt recently posted..Sunset on Gwaii Haanas National Park, British ColumbiaMy Profile

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    1. Angie Away Post author

      Heya Gary! I think somewhere in the past 5 years the distinction between journalist and blogger, which we publicists used to respect, has blurred or disappeared, and now bloggers are lumped onto the same anonymous lists as masthead journalists.

      We used to know that sending press releases and talking about deadlines to bloggers was pointless, and then somewhere the PR world lost its way. We’ve got a whole lot of education to do!

      And I think your story is a common one. We bloggers are usually happy to hear from those publicists who take the time to know what we cover because we know they won’t waste our time. It comes down to respect and knowledge of the difference between journalists on deadlines and bloggers with freedom to write what they want.

      Safe travels wherever you are =)

      Reply
  9. Colleen Friesen

    Bless you a thousand ways to Sunday. Couldn’t agree more!

    I also agree with Melissa’s comment, “If a blogger DOES do a press trip for you – have the decency to promote their subsequent blog posts about your product.”

    I really don’t understand how something so basic gets missed…

    As for the Kerala Blogger Express, I feel like Mariellen…I’m cutting Kerala/India some serious slack in the hopes that they’ll figure it out. I thought too, that it would be run very differently. I accepted their invitation, signed up and then discovered it was a big popularity mess. I am not comfortable with the process and feel no need to even begin to compete within the system. I have sent them a note to that effect, but am pretty sure nothing will come of that.

    My favourite useless press releases include fake nails, tanning systems, salon openings and hair extensions…oh yeah, and books about UFO abduction. WTH? I have never written about anything remotely connected to these subjects.

    Thank you for a great post. You’ve summed up so much of my experience.

    Onward! Ever onward.
    Colleen Friesen recently posted..Forest BathingMy Profile

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  10. Laura

    You have the perfect and perspective and background to comment on the PR/blogger relationship, and I agree with everything you’ve said just based on personal experience or what I’ve seen. And oh if only the useless PR emails would go away and be replaced with something I actually care about!
    Laura recently posted..Two Nights in BudapestMy Profile

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  11. Amanda

    GREAT post, Angie. It’s really interesting to hear it from your perspective, since you’ve been on both sides of the fence. I completely agree with you! I, too, usually just hit the delete button these days on those unsolicited press releases, and the popularity contests disguised as a way to find bloggers for press trips… that one makes me SO MAD.
    Amanda recently posted..Resolutions for Life and Travel in 2014My Profile

    Reply
    1. Angie Away Post author

      Yep – MAD is right. It took me days to respond to the invite because I was just so frustrated. But then I remembered my days as a publicist and figured somebody probably just never learned that there’s a right and wrong way to work with bloggers. I suspect next time will be different!

      Reply
  12. Christel

    This is off topic, I never visited your site before, but I’m flabbergasted by your header. Self-adulate it, then sell it! Ha!

    Reply
    1. Angie Away Post author

      Ha, that’s funny. It’s sort of the nature of a blog… it’s the blogger’s story. So yeah. Pictures of me traveling in the header. #adulation

      Reply
  13. Megan

    I actually yelled out “YES!” while reading this post.
    I think a lot of PR reps lose their heads a bit when dealing with bloggers. The stuff they try to get away with would never fly with traditional media. Imagine asking magazine journalists to compete for spots on press trips?
    Although as much as PR reps need to get their act together, bloggers also need put their foot down and demanding better. I completely agree with your point about one-night stays. It’s usually not worth our time but if companies can keep finding bloggers keen to go anyway, they aren’t forced to re-evaluate their approach. We need to start knowing and respecting our worth.
    Megan recently posted..Travel: From resolution to realityMy Profile

    Reply
    1. Angie Away Post author

      “We need to start knowing and respecting our worth.”

      Like x 100000. If we don’t do this as an industry, it’s never going to be respected. The question is, how do we get people to stop working for free so we can all make a living at the end of the day?

      Reply
    1. Angie Away Post author

      SO time consuming and SO difficult to form relationships, but as a publicist, it’s SO worth it. The time I spent getting to know bloggers only made my job easier.

      Instead of sending a press trip invite to 1,000 people, I could call up 10 that I knew and fill that trip in 15 minutes vs. days and days of follow up with strangers. It’s a lot of up-front investment, but it makes the job so much easier in the long run.

      Reply
  14. wandering educators

    Agree! I had 47 press releases in my inbox this morning. And, a lovely surprise, a nice note from a PR person I’ve worked with in the past, telling me about a new dvd series that she knows I’d be interested in. BINGO. We have a relationship, she knows me, and I’ll work with her. Love this article, Angie. Thanks for being so clear.
    wandering educators recently posted..7 Things to See in PeruMy Profile

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  15. Heather

    I liked this post, especially about the contest being all about the popularity. Not just blogger contests, I’ve had emails from my friends asking me to support their new business initiative, their grant proposal, or research project in similar ‘contests’. It makes me wonder what some of these projects will actually ‘qualify’ for if they win? Judging on merit seems like it would probably work better. You have confirmed that such an idea is NOT crazy talk!
    Heather recently posted..Are Volunteers Underpaid? The Cost of Living in Lusaka CityMy Profile

    Reply
    1. Angie Away Post author

      TOTALLY agree. Not everything is appropriate as a contest. I wonder if reality shows have blurred the lines too much? I’m thinking Apprentice, American Idol… they take talented folks and make them fight for approval. We live in strange times!

      Reply
  16. Pola (@jettingaround)

    GREAT points here, Angie!

    I have unsubscribed from a bunch of press releases from folks that never bothered to send me a “it was nice to meet you at xyz event” email. They simply added me to their lists, not paying attention if what they’re trying to promote even fits my blog’s profile (e.g. I don’t write about beach resorts). And those blogger contests? Not my thing at all.

    I too have turned down press trip invitations, simply because they weren’t worth my out-of-pocket cost.
    Pola (@jettingaround) recently posted..Photos of the Week: Winding streets of KrakowMy Profile

    Reply
    1. Angie Away Post author

      UGH! So frustrating to get immediately added to an email list. That is NOT why I gave out my business card!

      Thank you for reading – I appreciate the solidarity!

      Reply
  17. Andy Montgomery

    An excellent post, I agree with all your points and love the assertive and clear way you make them. I hope lots of PRs are listening to you and taking note. I’d like to add a couple of resolutions if I may – one for PRs and one for bloggers:
    PRs
    Stop selecting people for trips on the basis of their (frequently) bought Twitter followers and the fact that their mates will all re-tweet them. Find quality writers who will showcase your destination to a market of actual holidaymakers.
    Bloggers
    Be honest with yourself and your followers – don’t accept trips that do not resonate with your readers. If you predominantly write for backpackers, don’t accept a week of luxury in The Caribbean/Australia/Croatia and then not deliver the goods, thus damaging the whole industry.

    Reply
    1. Angie Away Post author

      BINGO. I have a future post planned that talks about just this issue: followers can be bought. Just because someone has 100,000 fans doesn’t mean they’re real people… anyhow, another topic for another day, but right on target. And that’s why relationships are a much better way of sorting through the stacks of press trip candidates…

      Thank you so much for popping by and commenting!

      Reply
  18. Jean | Holy Smithereens

    I love this post! Very honest and straight to the point.The worst PR ‘trick” i got (and I say TRICK because thats what it is!) got an email saying ” I’ve been reading your blog its great etc etc..I would like to invite you and a select group of bloggers to visit (name of city in Europe) to show the luxury hospitality industry in XXX..” which did sound believable because I write about luxury travel. And then when I asked for more info, the “PR” person goes ” I am actually a travel agent, I own this comapany (link) we have a lot of tourists come from Australia (where i am) , and you must make your own way to Europe, and from London (or any hub) we can work out a discount for you to arrive in XXX (her city)”. ONE WORD: SCAM!

    But having said that I have worked with a lot more professional ones who I still have long-lasting relationships with (those you still keep in touch with long after the deal is done). These PR people have one trait in common – they look at a blogger as a professional to forge relationships with that will yield long term results, rather than see bloggers as Ad generators and eager folks who are happy to write FOR FREE or with the most minimum business exchange.
    Jean | Holy Smithereens recently posted..Flight Review: Etihad Business Class Abu Dhabi to DublinMy Profile

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  19. Captain and Clark

    #2 and #3 really hit home for us! When we were new to travel blogging we thought that press trips and voting competitions were incredible opportunities. That’s not to say that they aren’t, but we soon realized that we were doing insane amounts of work for free. We’ve had to become very selective in the trips that we take now.
    Captain and Clark recently posted..Adventures in HawaiiMy Profile

    Reply
    1. Angie Away Post author

      I think that’s one of the most important lessons I’ve learned over the years… you can’t say yes to every opportunity! And once you really hold every “opportunity” up to the light, only a few are really worth the time and effort that goes into them. Thank you for reading & commenting!

      Reply
  20. Sheila Scarborough

    I’m also amazed by how many PR emails/press releases do not have an Unsubscribe link as required (in the U.S.) by the 2003 CAN-SPAM Act. Yes, 2003.

    These so-called pros have had 10 years to learn to do it right. Why do they risk me hitting Spam and royally screwing up their account with their email service provider?

    Reply
  21. Anna from The Blonde Banana

    As a full time PR person AND a blogger I definitely agree with all these resolutions!

    I really do think it boils down to PRs being way too busy / overworked and their clients having small budgets.

    That being said, you shouldn’t add a blog to your media list without even checking it out and making a note so you know when it’s appropriate to pitch them :)
    Anna from The Blonde Banana recently posted..3 Sights to Visit in the Medina of Marrakesh, MoroccoMy Profile

    Reply
    1. Angie Away Post author

      Couldn’t agree more, Anna. The bottom line is that PRs are overworked… and establishing quality relationships with quality bloggers takes a disproportionate amount of billable hours. No client is going to foot the bill for relationship building! So it’s a tricky situation – one no one quite has the perfect formula for. Yet. Someday!

      Reply
  22. Nancy D. Brown

    Wow! It’s great to see that this post received so many comments with such great suggestions from both bloggers and pr peeps. (Notice I don’t use the phrase “pr flack” b/c as an APR-accredited pr professional myself, I don’t view pr’s as flacks.)

    As a freelance journalist, travel blogger, equine blogger & lodging editor, my pet peeve for pr folks is “read my blog before you pitch.” Don’t ask me to write about your hotel based on a quote from the general manager and offer to send high resolution photos. I actually sleep in the hotel, take my own photos and then write my review. I don’t write reviews based on press releases and I don’t consider my hotel stay a “free vacation” when I could be at home with my husband and kids.

    I also want to echo the statement of pr folks (and their clients) not promoting our links and articles. I always send links to my newspaper & magazine articles, blog posts, tweets & youtube videos. I also promote posts on FB & Google+ I actually take the time to explain the importance of giving my link a “1+” on Google with the “help me, help you” explanation and rarely receive any response on the other end. Often times, this is a result of PR people not seeing this promotion as essential work. Certainly, agencies do not build this type of promotion into their budgets & clients would question why they should pay for agency time to promote blogger links & social media.

    I’ve worked with a lot of talented pr people from DMOs and agencies. Nathan Kam & Rebecca Pang of McNeil Wilson Communications and Wendy Harvey of Social Flutterby do a fantastic job of engaging with writers & social media, as do all the folks at Geiger & Associates and too many others to mention.

    Helpful post, Angie.
    Nancy D. Brown recently posted..Healthy Travel SnacksMy Profile

    Reply
    1. Angie Away Post author

      Thank you for weighing in, Nancy! I definitely get frustrated when PRs ask for coverage about new hotel wallpaper or furniture or menus, etc. in a hotel I’ve never seen nor am I invited to experience. What the heck am I supposed to do with that info?

      McNeil Wilson is awesome – couldn’t agree more!

      Thank you for stopping by!

      Reply
  23. Wendy Harvey

    Thanks Nancy Brown for sending this link and for mentioning me in your comment!!! I’m very honored.

    I have always relied on relationship development in finding qualified travel writers. And I’m happy to say most friendships I’ve found as adults started off by my hosting a writer. I get to know them, their passions, their audience and tailor an itinerary for them. However, I can only be as good and flexible as my client allows and luckily, Maui and Molokai see the value in choosing quality writers and developing lasting relationships.

    Thank you for writing this article which helps all of us focus on quality! The more we discuss it, the more PR’s bosses, GMs, presidents, and board of directors will stop focusing on quantity and start paying more attention to quality. And when that happens, everyone wins!

    Reply
    1. Angie Away Post author

      You hit the nail on the head, Wendy! This whole issue is a matter of education for the bosses, GMs, presidents and management… those who mandate less effective, more intrusive tactics instead of realizing the inherent value in relationship building. We’re going to get there one of these days, I just know it!

      Thank you for reading!

      Reply
  24. Nathan Kam

    Great post and this has been a mission of our team at Anthology Marketing Group/McNeil Wilson Communications. Continue working smarter and more strategically with writers. And mahalo to Nancy Brown for the kind shoutout. Relationships in this industry are two-way and respect and understanding go a long way.

    Reply
  25. Sandi McKenna

    Angie … I too am a former publicist and present travel writer/segment producer. I can relate to everything you have written. It is exhausting reading through dozens of releases daily most of which don’t even have anything to do with travel or lifestyle. There are days I dread opening my inbox.

    In 2014, I’d like to see contests that require voting disappear. I’d like to see bloggers adhere to professional codes of conduct while on press trips. Drinking everyone under the table at dinner isn’t going to win any points.

    I love what I do. I take it seriously. While I love to travel (after all this is why I chose this profession) I am a consummate professional and take what I do very seriously. I take great pride in representing my brand and the brands I work, they are precious to me.

    I look forward to relationships between PR and Bloggers evolving in the coming year. We’ve already begun to see progress on both sides.

    Reply
    1. Angie Away Post author

      Thanks for your comment, Sandi! I think we’re on the way to professionalizing the travel blogging industry, but there are many cooks in the kitchen and many different opinions on what professionalism means. We’re getting there, like you said. Progress is happening!

      Reply
  26. Jeffery Stewart

    Aloha Angie! This was a very good read. I’m not in PR but the subject is intriguing.

    With that said, I think clients (such as hotels) that attempt to control every aspect of an experience is bad for PR as well. I don’t understand why a hotel would invite writers, but control their experience, limit their experience and essentially limit the writer’s imagination. It reeks of dishonesty to me personally.

    Reply
    1. Angie Away Post author

      I agree with you, Jeffery. I think most hotels and DMOs have realized that offering a true experience, rather than a canned itinerary of site visits and dinners with the GM, is much more beneficial for storytelling. I know I won’t go on a trip that doesn’t offer me time to go explore on my own. There’s just no authenticity in that!

      Reply
    1. Stanzi McGlynn

      I’ve read both of your articles within the past week, and it’s so refreshing to get the writer’s perspective as a PR manager – for that, THANK YOU! I am always appreciative of pieces like this because they give me the insight I need in order to remind myself that my communication and relationship building tactics can always improve.

      As for press releases, I seem to go back and forth regarding their ultimate value. I believe they do serve a purpose for the right time and place, and I don’t think that they’ll disappear altogether. When you’re working with a limited budget, sometimes mass communications (such as press releases) can be a cost-effective way to reach your intended audience as well.

      That said, doing your research is always important – and I strive to do a 90/10 ratio with my outreach efforts broken down between individual, highly researched efforts and mass outreach.

      But… as much as I would love to research and build relationships with all of the bloggers and journalists I reach out to, A. There isn’t enough time or resources to do so, and B. Who says just because I DO my research that a writer will get back to me with a positive and interested response?

      90% of the time, probably not… but with enough persistence, I’ve found it pays off.

      Regardless, this is an ongoing conversation that adds value to improving communications between PRs and writers – thanks again for both of your great articles.

      Reply
  27. Arnette RTW

    Thanks for sharing this post! How true!

    While I’m fairly new-ish to the whole travel blogging world I came from marketing and PR from a different industry. It was funny to see random press releases come into my inbox after coming from the other side. I worked with different bloggers in my past jobs but never sent press releases to them. If I liked a blogger, I reached out via social media or email and formed a relationship and we would see how we could work together.

    Contests. Seriously! I entered the mydestination.com contest last year. I was pretty new and got sucked in. I’ll never enter a contest again. Have I been back to mydestionation.com? No. I do watch the winners videos because we are IRL friends on Facebook and they post links to their Youtube channel there.

    I have been on a few press trips now and the ones that I like and share the most are the ones where I am able to organize myself or at least have a large say in the activities that I want to partake in. This will be the most sincere and honest coverage as well the most publicized because I was able to pick and choose things that truly interest me.

    Thanks again!
    Arnette RTW recently posted..RTW Flashback: 3 Years Ago Pre Trip, 2 Years Ago In LondonMy Profile

    Reply
  28. Pingback: Travel Bloggers: How to Find, Work with Digital Writers | Nancy D Brown

  29. Pingback: 10 Tips to End Up on the Infamous Press Trip Blacklist - Angie Away

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