I'm a PR gal who moonlights as a blogger and a social media hack. Or rather, I am a blogger who parlayed my past experience and my love of social media and the blogosphere into a job. Then I morphed that experience and moved the needle forward at a new job - all of which speaks to the importance of what I did while being a work-at-home-mom who blogged between Mommy and Me classes.
Even I didn't realize that what I was doing while wearing Lululemons and bouncing a baby on my knee would be part of a picture that was larger than I could have imagined. And maybe you are too. And that's why it's important to read why taking responsibility for yourself - as a blogger - is so important.
I have blogger friends. I have friends who are both bloggers and client-facing social media consultants. And while the two are complimentary, sometimes it becomes frustrating when bloggers who simply blog do not know what goes on behind the scenes. I've seen the other side. I've pulled back the curtain and glimpsed the wizard. And like Dorothy, I’ve a much better understanding of what makes this space tick. As a blogger, it's important to share with you the bigger picture - the daily frustrations, successes, trials, and triumphs of bloggers as well as the daily frustrations, successes, trials, and triumphs of the social media folks.
As bloggers, we are often privy to the good fortune of being part of a blessed group who gets to test drive new products, experience awesome trips, and meet smart, new people. In doing what we enjoy, we get to build our brand, collect some very awesome experience, and possibly become exempt from birthday present shopping.
In return, we provide a service, a very important important service, to companies and brands. After all, giving fair and honest reviews of a new product or service is often pivotal in leveraging a brand's consumer-facing image. Moms trust moms and brands know it.
That said, it's important for bloggers to understand not only how important they are to their readers, but also to the people and/or agencies who believe enough in their blog's brand to select them to be on the receiving end of a new washer/dryer or app or food delivery service or book. Or how important it is to show up at a brand event if you said you would.
While blogging might be what you do in between carpools or how you spend those precious evening hours after a full day's work, it's important to recognize that to the brands engaging with bloggers, this is not a hobby. And to the social media team hired to select you, this is a job.
It's business. And you are regarded as a professional so long as you behave like one.
When bloggers opt-in to participate in a campaign, accept a product or service, or RSVP to attend an event and then can't find the time to write their review or even show up, it’s just unprofessional. I know, I've been there, too. The campaign seems interesting when it arrives in your inbox, but once it hits your doorstep, life happens. Maybe something more compelling has taken top of mind. Or you simply don't feel like blogging. Or maybe you decide to take a vacation.
Don't get me wrong - you are a free agent unless you are contractually obligated through a spokesperson gig or freelance contract. And you absolutely have the right to not review a product or service if you can't find anything redeeming to say about it.
However, writing an objective review where you cover what's great – and not so great about the product – is what you “signed up” to do. But to ignore the product altogether is to breach the implied “gentlewoman’s agreement” you entered into when you signed up to participate in the campaign.
If you should find yourself unable to attend the screening, test out the vacuum, or review the diaper pail, let the agency/brand person know that you're no longer able to do the review. If you can no longer attend the event, shoot a quick email off to the organizer - preferably with enough time that they can replace you. Tell them why and be honest.
To simply toss the product or not attend the event at the last minute (everyone understands that emergencies happen), is not going to help to propel you forward in the blogosphere. Plus, it's not fair to the agency who invited you to participate in the campaign.
I never thought much about the client before I pulled back that curtain. I never considered that bloggers are a part of a much larger marketing initiative. I didn't give much thought to the fact that someone else might have enjoyed participating in this campaign had I thought out my editorial calendar better.
But I do now. As a blogger, I'm part of something much bigger than “just a review.” I'm a professional providing a service in return for a product, experience or service I deem worthy of the exchange. And it's my responsibility to live up to my end of the deal. If I fail to do so, the social media person who selected me might have her hand slapped, the brand might be one review short, but ultimately I know I'll be excluded from the good stuff. And it's the good stuff that makes this so much fun to do.