I’ve known for a while that PRs target bloggers.
Now I have seen it at work and reaction to it among members of the bicycle club of which I am a member.
One of the members of the club runs a blog that mentions his cycling exploits, and received an email from a PR to this effect:
“ I work on behalf of [an energy drink] . I came across your blog when searching for Australian blogs that focus on sport and noticed you’re a keen cyclist.
We recently launched [new energy drink products].
We would like to know if you would be interested in receiving some free product … to help you reach your cycling goals. Please note that this is a gift, [Energy Drink company] do not expect you to write or comment on the product but given your interest in sport would like you to sample the new products. However, if you do chose to write something, we ask that disclose that [Energy Drink company] provided the product sample as a gift. “
Reaction to this offer on the forum has been interesting.
The recipient of the offer decided to ignore it, thinking it was an imposition. unwelcome intrusion.
A couple of folks declared it Spam.
Another couple said “Cool! Free stuff!”
One said that it is a cynical ploy he finds distasteful and that a better idea would be to sponsor grass roots sporting organisations, which would create more goodwill.
My reaction? I can imagine this is quite effective, although risky if a blogger/rider feels the drink did not help their performance.
If can also imagine a rider shows up to a bunch ride with a few bottles of this stuff, there will be a lot of talk about it during the ride and it could spark other riders to try it.
But that is where it gets cynical, for me. Instead of sending out a few bottles of this stuff, why not actually help out the grass roots? Our club could use a sponsor. Even $500 would make a difference.
By the time the PR has couriered the drink into their offices, couriered it out to the blogger and charged their hourly rate for the whole exercise, I reckon a $500 bill is not far fetched.
If a brand simply handed over $500 and some branded goodies (cyclists often wear bandannas under their helmets, to soak up sweat and I cannot imagine those cost a whole lot to make) it would make the whole club more disposed to try their goods, and possibly also more disposed to use them in the long term. And seeing as most clubs have online presences, including forums, I think the $500 could go a lot further used in this way because it would expose the brand to enthusiasts for a longer period, rather than just in a single blog post!
Today I checked my Hotmail account, something I do only once or twice a month.
I got the energy drink offer too!
I have emailed the PR concerned and asked if my club can get sponsorship instead of energy drink, disclosed this post and my role as a journalist who grazes on this space.
Let’s see what happens next!