PR Guru: How to work with bloggers

Welcome to this month's PR Guru where we ask how how to deal with pesky bloggers. The wider PR Guru panel includes:

Kunal Kishore Sinha, founder director, Value 360 Communications Pvt. Ltd.
Gayatri Rath, director, corporate communications and citizenship, Microsoft India
Deepa Thomas, vice president, communications and CSR, Nissan Motor India
Paroma Roy Chowdhury, vice president, public affairs –SoftBank
Sujit Patil, vice president and head of corporate communications Godrej Industries Limited and Associate companies
Sonia Dhawan, DGM: marketing & PR at Paytm
Shravani Dang, vice president & global group head of corporate communications at the Avantha Group
Aniruddha Atul Bhagwat, co-founder & director, Ideosphere Consulting Private Limited.


Specifically, we'd like to thank Godrej’s Sujit Patil, Paytm’s Sonia Dhawan and Value 360’sKunal Kishore Sinha for stopping by this week 

How to say NO to bloggers & influencers? While there is a growing number of bloggers and influencers, the way they chase brands for products, invitations, associations is really difficult to manage.
Bhuvaneshwari Natarajan, founder, Media Movements

Expert Advice...

Sujit Patil, vice president and head of corporate communications, Godrej Industries Limited and Associate companies

“Without doubt, bloggers and influencers are vital for creating the positive disposition a brand desires and you seem to be in a great space where you are chased by them, rather than the other way round. :-  )

While more the merrier maxim works here, albeit a rare phenomenon, I do agree it can sometimes become messy and difficult to manage too many bloggers and influencers.

A systemic solution to this is classifying the bloggers and influencers for your brand or service as tier 1, 2 or 3 based on their reach, credibility and seriousness.

Tier 1 could be the hard to get evolved ones who come at a huge price and tier 3 could be the wannabe’s who are figuring out the profession. Your focus could be on the ones who fall under tier 2 criteria, who would be really wanting to make a serious mark in the industry and are willing to go the extra mile without charging a bomb or as a barter arrangement.

It then also becomes easy to manage a mix of bloggers and influencers that can help achieve your objectives.  Setting expectations appropriately for each tier at the outset can be helpful. While it is imperative to have great relations with this stakeholder set, sometimes a polite “NO” will not change equations drastically.”

Sonia Dhawan,  DGM: marketing & PR at Paytm

“The blogger and influencers community is developing as a strong communication channel with a reach far and beyond. Influencers and bloggers with strong follower-ship may have a strong impact on the brand which may cultivate productively with the exchange of information and aiming towards a win-win situation.

As a communications professional, it is important to maintain a healthy relationship with all of them. However, all the bloggers may not be relevant to the company’s business objectives at all times. The market strategy of the brand may evolve from time to time. It is important to identify and prioritize the bloggers and influencers as per the brand communication strategy.

Building strong relationship is more important which will help at an appropriate time. “

Kunal Kishore Sinha,  founder director, Value 360 Communications

“Bloggers are a pivotal part of the media eco-system today and their position as key brand influencers can’t be undermined. However, often, many of them do go beyond the lines of protocol as far as the PR-media equation is concerned. When one is dealing with journalists, there is a natural sense of mutual respect that usually stems from the fact that they are representatives of a prestigious publication and are accountable to an editor for the way they behave with other professionals in the industry. Bloggers, however, are often independent and are subject to no code of conduct instituted for them by a higher authority. Though many of them are highly professional and conscious of their reputation in the market, it cannot be denied that some turn out to be difficult to handle and often have a sense of entitlement that the PR rep of a brand may not always be able to cater to.

There is one only way to handle them and that is by diplomatically turning down their requests wherever they cross a certain line of validity.  I’ve always suggested to my team to maintain a healthy and positive relationship with all influencers. So, if in some cases, the bloggers expect unrealistic favors, the best way to deal with them is to tell them that their request cannot be met at the moment and try and figure out possible associations in the future that could be mutually beneficial for both the brand and the influencer. Assure them that when the target audience of the brand matches with that of their followers or readership, a collaboration will certainly take place.

In case of particularly testy bloggers, always clarify specifics when entering into an engagement. For instance, if you are sending them gifts, get assurance that they will be doing a product review and won’t expect to be compensated for it separately. If they wish to do a sponsored post, check with your client about the cost and carefully analyze whether the follower base of the blogger and his or her influence on a certain type of audience makes the cost of the sponsorship worthwhile. “      

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