The Problem With PR (Public Relations) Companies in Malaysia Engaging Bloggers

PR companies in general are so far behind the curve in when it comes to dealing with blogs and bloggers I think some of them haven’t even seen the foothills yet.

I whined about them before in 2006 – β€œYue May Not Mail Me Anymore”

And I got pissed again in 2007 – Sometimes I HATE PR and Events People

And now I’m wondering why 2 YEARS later things still haven’t improved much.

Granted there is a couple of agencies that handle blog related stuff very well (Yay to Text100, even then they aren’t 100% on everything – but I’d attribute that to retarded client ideas/requests rather than their lack of tact/skill) and some others that are willing to listen, learn and take action.

I’ve had good experience so far with Edelman and Fleishman-Hillard who are willing to put in the effort to make sure everyone in the relationship feels fairly treated.

After all the main problem is most PR agencies treat us like traditional media, the difference is we don’t get a salary, we don’t get paid to go to events or paid to write stories.

We generally blog because we want to, if you want us to go to some event and write about it you better pay! Especially if it’s not even particularly relevant to what we generally write about.

If you do want us to go and you aren’t compensating us for our time and effort, don’t expect us to write about it. If it was a good event/product/etc you might get a Tweet dedicated to it – but that’s about it.

The problem is compounded by PR agencies telling their clients they don’t need to pay people like Nuffnang to run campaigns on blogs because they can get blog coverage for free by inviting the bloggers to ‘cool’ and ‘fun’ events and giving them some skanky goodie bag (honestly I don’t need another notepad/pen/keychain/laptop case).

You know what is more sickening? Most of the time it works, some bloggers are a desperate bunch and will write about every event they get invited to. Even when it was boring, irrelevant and no one profited from it.

This dilutes the earning capability bloggers have if companies realise they can get PR companies to engage bloggers without paying.

I’m getting sick of it again, more and more agencies are realising blogs are important but are too stupid, ignorant and incompetent to deal with bloggers properly.

If you want to treat my blog as a means of advertising, then I am the media owner – respect that. Remember you don’t spend huge amounts advertising on my blog (like you do with traditional media) so you have no rights to use it for any kind of leverage.

I don’t particularly mean you have to pay me, but if you are offering goods or services at least pay me in kind (at least the value of my advertorial rate, and if it involves working hours – more).

If you want bloggers to attend, don’t have events too early especially if the venue is KL (7pm is too early, 9-10pm is better).

Don’t have events in weekday afternoons/mornings – we have jobs.

PR agencies seem to automatically assume every reasonably popular blogger is a ‘pro-blogger’ or something and we don’t need to work – we just sit around at home waiting eagerly for their shitty press releases and event invites.

It’s not like that, and the sooner YOU poorly informed PR hacks educate yourselves the sooner you will reap real benefits from engaging bloggers and forming relationships with them.

Blogs are a powerful platform, but give the blogger some freedom. If you want them to review your product then let them criticise it (even if you paid them to write) – be mature in your approach. Blog readers are a savvy bunch and the net is full of information – ultimately you can’t hide the truth.

At the end of the day bloggers are people, generally intelligent people, people who can write, form opinions and elucidate them.

So treat them like that, treat them like someone who is giving you their precious time to listen to what you have to say, treat them with respect and treat their blog with respect.

You wouldn’t give your PR services for free, don’t expect us to blog for free ok?

EDIT:

Read David Lian’s follow up from a PR perspective here: PR people and bloggers: why engage in the first place?

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42 Responses to The Problem With PR (Public Relations) Companies in Malaysia Engaging Bloggers

  1. Kuzco March 27, 2009 at 7:15 pm #

    Well written!

  2. Pat March 27, 2009 at 7:47 pm #

    Wall said buddy!

    Kuzco: Using Chrome as well right now – works fine…

  3. Mellissa March 27, 2009 at 10:29 pm #

    Haha nicely said!

  4. KY March 27, 2009 at 10:51 pm #

    couldn’t agreed more!

  5. Redmummy March 27, 2009 at 11:30 pm #

    big clap!!!

    one slap to PR agencies ahahhahahaha!

    last few weeks, one PR agency approached me, saying that the client will give the product if i blog bout their product lah of cos, i asked for other incentive such as money, he s gone quietly. not even a single word to me till now πŸ™‚

    so we have to be firm lah with these ppl, product is optional but of cos a must for our review but ringgit malaysia is definitely a MUST too!

    not saying that we are materialistic but this PR agency got payment from the client and they surely have an allocation for the bloggers just that they are stealing and taking our portion.

    alright, too much writing dah nih!

  6. Ming March 27, 2009 at 11:33 pm #

    πŸ™‚ The best firm ive used..? Kim komm. For Sho!

  7. DC March 27, 2009 at 11:46 pm #

    @Redmummy; you’re sorely mistaken if you think PR agencies get money to ‘pay’ bloggers from their clients. Agencies are usually allocated a budget to organise and host events, none of which is intended to ‘pay’ said bloggers invited to the event.

    I’ve come across agencies offering certain bloggers money for a favorable review, but unless you happen to be in China, I believe there’s no such portion of vendor payments to PR agencies that are intended for the bloggers; and neither do those same agencies ‘steal’ that money for themselves.

    And no, I don’t come from any PR company; just that being in the ‘traditional’ media, you tend to come across certain facts like that over the years.

    ST is right though. A lot of vendors are treating bloggers like traditional media, expecting them to cover their events for free.

    Advertorials aside, if you really think that the vendors should be paying you for your time to attend events, you (and every other blogger pissed off about it) really should approach the vendors themselves directly.

    Don’t go through the PR.

    It doesn’t really work that way, at least, not even for traditional media. Its pretty much normal practise in this part of the world for some media parties to shun events organised by certain vendors who have never advertised in any way, but only after they’re 110% sure that their effort in providing coverage will never land them any advertising funds, or at the very least, to be put on the list of Tier 1 media when it comes to review units etc.

    After all, money can still be made by improved circulation/pageviews thanks to the ‘exclusive access’ afforded by being on the Tier 1 list.

  8. Tan Yee Hou March 28, 2009 at 12:04 am #

    Not to mention treating Nuffnang like a library.

    Hello MPPJ library arr chop stamp take a blogger home for a week.

  9. Friedbeef March 28, 2009 at 6:02 am #

    Right on target man…

  10. Michael Yip March 28, 2009 at 12:53 pm #

    Very well stated.

    We also need bloggers to realize that they shouldn’t try to be so desperate to get themselves into all those events and parties.

    Won’t do good if we try to change one side and the other side is telling them to just bring it on without any ‘demands’

  11. Chriso March 28, 2009 at 3:55 pm #

    Take note, all of you who are relevant in this topic. the sooner you pay attention, the better.

  12. kahseong March 28, 2009 at 4:59 pm #

    well said!

  13. Cheesie March 28, 2009 at 9:55 pm #

    waaaa been waiting for someone to write this for the longest time. PR people always put me in dilemma one cuz i always too thin face to reject ppl. T_T

    hope they read this!

  14. blogger March 29, 2009 at 3:23 pm #

    ST, not all bloggers are out there to get a part-time job.. we blog bcoz we feel like it just like u initialy did/felt.bcoz of the lure now u are asking for more,more than just attending parties and getting freebiz..u want cash( which is normal,everyone is greedy)but there are still alot of young beautiful sexC/good looking amature bloggers who are just out there to have fun..then blog about it. i guess wat i wanna say is that, when u treat blogs as a tool sorely to earn money, the essence writing blogs is gone.

  15. Robb March 29, 2009 at 11:28 pm #

    *nods nods nods*

  16. suanie March 29, 2009 at 11:38 pm #

    can’t help but to LOL at yeehou’s comment

  17. davidlian March 30, 2009 at 11:25 am #

    Hey ST,

    Brace yourself. I foresee this is the year when PR agencies rush to engage bloggers at clients request. I hope they at least read this before they do. Heh!

    Hope you enjoyed your trip.

  18. Myhorng March 30, 2009 at 11:58 am #

    loves that

  19. kellster March 30, 2009 at 1:35 pm #

    woah, very well said and put across!

    fave part of the entire post

    ‘If you want to treat my blog as a means of advertising, then I am the media owner – respect that. Remember you don’t spend huge amounts advertising on my blog (like you do with traditional media) so you have no rights to use it for any kind of leverage.

    * clap hands *

  20. Shaz March 30, 2009 at 3:52 pm #

    WAssssauppp!!!

    Good post! I can’t have put it in even better words than this!
    Cheerios

  21. Erna March 30, 2009 at 4:31 pm #

    You made a few points I agreed with. You may invite bloggers, but expecting them to blog about your event just because you fed them? That’s taking them for grantedlah.

    On the flip side of the coin:

    You just might have unleashed the equivalent of a plague of locusts.

    Aiyo, dielah if all the bloggers expected to get paid for attending. Which some of them might feel they’re entitled to now, LOL.

    Which might then end up in companies being pickier in deciding which bloggers attend an event. Might be good or bad, depending how you look at it.

    @Redmummy: “just that they are stealing and taking our portion”. I think DC clarified that no, companies don’t have ‘pay the bloggers allocation’ in the budgets for an event. Some PR clients pay a set retainer per month which is sometimes all an agency has to work with.

  22. LogicYuan March 30, 2009 at 4:50 pm #

    You can invite me and I might go if I feel like it and might blog about it if I feel like it. If I don’t like whatever I see or feel about it,I’ll either criticize it or forget about it.

    I consider it humiliating and degrading if a PR invites me and expects me to blog about it eventhough I don’t like it.

    “Thou shall not expect anything from bloggers without courtesy.”

  23. pinkpau March 30, 2009 at 5:30 pm #

    /eyes
    /eyes
    /eyes

  24. davidlian March 30, 2009 at 7:53 pm #

    Your thoughts sparked my thoughts!

    http://www.davidlian.com/2009/03/pr-people-and-bloggers-why-engage-in.html

  25. Huai Bin March 30, 2009 at 8:53 pm #

    Amen brother!

    I couldn’t agree more. Especially with the timing issues – most of us work full time so 9 pm is the earliest I can make it.

    I like the analogy between paid staff in traditional media. Nice one, there.

  26. Jane March 30, 2009 at 11:30 pm #

    Good post *thumbs up*

  27. shengmae* March 31, 2009 at 2:23 pm #

    Aye aye. πŸ™‚

  28. ShaolinTiger March 31, 2009 at 3:10 pm #

    Thanks all for the feedback.

    Kuzco: Thanks! Send to all clients yeh to forward to their PR agencies.

    Redmummy: Yah have to agree with the others, PR agencies aren’t directly stealing anything. They aren’t paid any allocation for to pay us – they may charge billable hours or include in the project for blogger liaison but they aren’t keeping anything back. The problem is they are telling clients they can get the same coverage Nuffnang provides for free/in exchange for some cheap stuff.

    Ming: 100% for shizzle!

    DC: Yah traffic can be increased from certain things, but then it’s gotta be relevant to the readership of the specific blog and interesting/exclusive. Which is rarely given and in the Malaysian blogosphere there are very few niche blogs which concentrate on specific subjects. Most of the abuses come from ‘lifestyle’ clients anyway where the ‘story’ is of little or no value.

    Tan Yee Hou: Yah that’s the really underhanded part. Get the contacts from Nuffnang and the proposal then cut them out and go direct.

    Michael Yip: Yup, the desperadoes/freeloaders make it worse for everyone else too. They publish everything on their blogs too, the problem is though no one reads their blogs so it doesn’t matter.

    Cheesie: Next time send them to this post la! Haha, and grow thicker face – PR people got thick skin la don’t worry.

    blogger: I think you missed the point, I’ve been blogging way before Nuffnang existed, before advertorials, before text link ads before all of that. I still blog because I want to and I’ve been getting these kind of stupid PR people coming to me since 2005. Plus FYI not one of the ‘top bloggers’ in Malaysia that I know blogs for money or started their blog for extra income.

    Erna: Yah I agree, that’s why I mentioned that some of it is bloggers behaving badly. It’s a two way street and everyone involved needs to understand.

    LogicYuan: That’s how it should be, if you pay it guarantees that I write about it and I might consider not being so harsh or I’ll tell you it was horrible it’s better if I don’t write about it. If you don’t pay I have 100% freedom to whack you kau kau or not write about it. They have to realise blogs have no editor/sub-editor/whatever controlling what is published. So bad PR can backfire really BADLY when dealing with blogs.

    pinkpau: /wu /wu /wu

    Huai Bin: Yup, 9pm onwards for all events please. And keep them out of KL too if possible.

  29. babe_kl March 31, 2009 at 5:58 pm #

    the worst kind i came across was these firm just tell you to be there yada yada but they never explain to you what the whole event is all about! very unpro!

  30. ShaolinTiger April 1, 2009 at 6:19 pm #

    babe_kl: Yah those kind are just trying to fish you into going when there’s nothing really interesting happening.

  31. Precious Pea April 2, 2009 at 12:03 pm #

    Well..the best and most memorable offer I got so far is a product in exchange for a post of it in my blog..guess what it is?? PENIS ENHANCER!!!!!!!

  32. ShaolinTiger April 4, 2009 at 12:50 pm #

    Precious Pea: Hahah that’s funny.

  33. goldfries April 4, 2009 at 11:17 pm #

    Fortunately for me, the PR / agencies that I come by have NEVER once placed such nonsense requirements.

    As for my product reviews, I usually get my review samples directly or if not – I’ll buy them! And thankfully the people I work with so far have no objections of me giving NEGATIVE feedback as long as it’s justified.

    On a side note – I like what ST mentioned about the TIME. πŸ˜€ 7pm in KL is crazy! Then again if it’s an event is scheduled to take up 3 hours then starting at 9pm would mean it’ll end really late.

    Oh and let’s not forget, those events usually start late. If ever they state 7pm – you can bet on it (and win almost all the time) that it will not be starting at 7 sharp.

    Why? Even with the best traffic and weather conditions (eg, empty streets, no rain) the general Malaysian is based on Thai-side Time. πŸ˜›

  34. ShaolinTiger April 7, 2009 at 11:55 am #

    goldfries: You have the advantage of being in a niche, and tech at that. PR people in tech tend to be better versed with online stuff, blogs and social/peer media. The most clueless of the bunch are lifestyle PR companies which are the ones I tend to deal with. I do buy stuff and review myself still, what to do πŸ™‚

  35. Hemanth April 13, 2009 at 5:28 pm #

    Bro, completely agree. I am a strong believer in credibility and freedom of speech. In my view, blogs are suppose to be the thoughts and feelings of the blogger. I encourage bloggers to write on their train of thoughts about a product, brand or even lifestyle.
    I sometimes like dealing directly with bloggers like yourself because genuine thoughts have no price to it.
    Well done.

  36. ShaolinTiger April 19, 2009 at 5:36 pm #

    Hemanth: Indeed, liasing with bloggers takes a different approach from traditional PR. It also takes a certain understanding of bloggers and the dynamics involved. I respect companies that can appreciate genuine constructive criticism in a mature manner.

  37. Sharizal Shaarani May 6, 2009 at 6:38 pm #

    sweeettt…

    btw how u been dude?

  38. ShaolinTiger May 9, 2009 at 1:15 pm #

    Sharizal: Not bad not bad, been a long time πŸ˜€

  39. venus August 12, 2009 at 1:30 pm #

    “If you want them to review your product then let them criticise it (even if you paid them to write)”

    That phrase is not fair to the corporation. People likes you, thats why they invite you for the event and hope you could help them in some way, you take people money and not helping them. Thats not fair and way totally earn even worse respect from them. You could communicate clearly thats all. All the complains above is not valid if you know how to negotiate and speak up..not write up, i did not see other famous blogger complain anything.

    And your attitude so familiar, did you need to complain out and not resolve your 2 yrs problem with those not-related? FYI, i am not related to blog or any PR work, i am a reader and could see thru your writing of what type of people you are. Learn boy.

  40. ShaolinTiger August 12, 2009 at 5:06 pm #

    venus: I engage with clients that allow criticism, it’s a mature approach. The rest of what you say makes no sense, you need to learn how to write boy.

  41. David February 21, 2011 at 10:29 am #

    Very good article. But i feel that your complaints can be related to most creative based industries out there.

    Take the music industry. Event companies try to get the cheapest acts stating “we will give you exposure”. As much exposure as you can give, musicians still need to get paid. Think about the gas we spend going to not only the event, but practice, the money for practice rooms, equipment maintenance etc. Exposure is great but seriously, money is better.

    And it really sucks cause new bands are really spoiling the market. Hungry for the first shows they can get, the offer their services for minimal prices, giving the upper hand and leverage.

    It truly is time to take control of this situation. However, i don’t think this starts from the PR companies or event organizers or clients. In a business aspect, it is always better to get the cheaper price. Saves money.

    I think the way to handle this is actually eliminating the free/cheap services. There should be a standard which everyone uses. You must educated those new to the industry and those hungry for stories to STOP offering their services for free/cheap.

    With this, corporate companies will have no options but to actually pay! Union anyone?