Recently I attended an event hosted by a PR firm for its client Euro Pro.  Euro Pro makes Shark cleaning products and have just launched a new product called the Ninja (a food processor/blender) with the Food Network’s Robin Miller’s backing. I accepted this trip for three reasons:

1.  I wanted to see other bloggers and network – I love doing this.
2.  I like Robin Miller and her healthy cooking strategies and I was interested in a product she is promoting,  especially if it will cut down on my prep. time in the kitchen.
3.  I wanted to learn more about how PR companies are interacting with bloggers and using social media for their clients.

The post discusses reason number 3 – PR companies, bloggers & social media. To read my review of steam cleaning chemical free cleaners and the Ninja, as well as the bloggers I met, subscribe to Green and Clean Mom for updates.

PR firms have been interacting with bloggers since my career began – some better than others. PR firms still pitch bloggers with “Dear Blogger” emails but many PR firms are attempting to learn more about how to interact with and market to bloggers and engage them. Most bloggers also use social media to interact with their audience. Many bloggers have a reach well beyond their blogs. Consequently, bloggers and their networks are even more appealing to companies. As a result, PR firms want to interact with bloggers who have large nets to cast as well as those perceived to have high integrity and disclosure. Events Like M2Moms and Blogger Business are two events that companies and firms are attending to learn more about ways to respect, treat and interact with the mom blogger and visa versa – we are all learning to navigate through these waters.

Is there a Risk?

The #Nestlefamily twitter/blogger firestorm amply illustrates that both the company as well as the blogger who decides to attend an event face risks. In the case of the Nestle incident, Nestle said it was just beginning to enter the social media scene and inviting bloggers to engage with it was the first step. I get that (I’m not commenting on any Nestle family history or the boycott) but a company taking a first step should not jump into the deep water not knowing how to swim. Obviously, such a company can quickly drown as Nestle did, and the poor bloggers felt like they needed to be life guards. While one blogger calls the hashtag created for the Nestle family event as  hijacked others wonder why Nestle wasn’t more responsible. Given Nestle’s history, if bloggers tweet that Nestle is wonderful and doing great things on a public space then shouldn’t reactions be expected? It all gets very messy but there is lots that can be learned.

A very simple lesson: Companies just starting using a hashtag and announcing a big event with a blog post MUST have a social media plan in place and understand the goals of the event. Nestle did not seem to know what it wanted – it said it was just looking for input from a select group of bloggers. If that was the case, then do it privately without a big splash in public forums. It also said it was trying to create a buzz. That’s wonderful, but don’t try to create a buzz before you are ready to respond in the social media arena. Keep in mind that when a company or blogger says anything on Twitter it becomes public. There is no such thing as a private #hashtag!

For bloggers this is becoming more common, these paid trips and hastag events for buzz. This means that perhaps it is catching on as a cheaper way for a company to create buzz, get feedback and catch the publicity wave. Like myself, bloggers need to have reasons for why they are going and defend those reasons. Bloggers also need to do some due diligence. In my opinion, a paid trip does not equal an agreement for loyalty and in my case I have never agreed, promised or signed anything to say I will do something for the company or firm, other than attend the event. Granted, I have disclosure obligations should I say anything, positive or negative.

The risk for the blogger is wasting time and being under fire for attending an event. The blogger is also at risk for how she defends herself and her decision as well as how she promotes the company and uses the hashtag(s). Bloggers have to really think about how they act, promote themselves and engage with their own blog community and the companies and firms wanting their help.

What are your thoughts on this new social media tango that is happening between bloggers and companies??

Why not? Great tips for free!

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