PR people need to be careful how they frame an invite to a blogger press event. This social media invite sent to Fashionista highlights some of the issues of running blogger only events.

I was recently told by a P.R. person that I “had” to come to a Blogger Preview because it was the first one in Australia. When I pointed out I had been invited to them for a number of years now, she was shocked and insisted that this was new –  Bloggers Only. No Journalists. When I said out that I preferred to socially network with a mixed crowd -bloggers AND journos – she was a little miffed yet recovered by saying that they were giving away a special presenters pen to one lucky participant (sort of like remote mouse I think). Well, woop de doo

From Fashionista:

Exclusive Blogger Preview!
Come take a sneak peek at ______’s Summer 2010 Collection before anyone else! Bloggers who attend will receive a special gift and those who post coverage from the event will be entered in a mystery gift card drawing where you can win up to $500 at _____!

Please Note: All bloggers must post coverage from our event to their blog within 24 hours in order to be eligible.

Fashionista’s response was -ahem – interesting.

We appreciate the sentiment, but no thank you.

Sure, it’s condescending to speak to online writers and bloggers as though they’re second class citizens, but it’s worse to assume we don’t get it. There aren’t separate realms for online editors and print editors, we co-exist at the same shows, the same parties (at least in New York City) and some of us are real life friends which means we know we’re not the first to see anything.

However, we’re more than often the first to share with the public – especially when it comes to new products, new collections, etc. Which means the company who sent out the above invite, and the few who continue to differentiate between online and print in this specific way, need a new game plan.

Lucky for the PR agency that they weren’t named and shamed by Fashionista, no?

Not all bloggers are created equal. Some will accept advertising – and their readers know that. Some will be hungry to schmooze at any old party – and their readers wake up to that too. Others know damn well that PR people get paid to do promotional work, journalists get paid to publish press releases and get the goodies such as gift cards and promotional material for free. With no strings attached.  Those bloggers need to be wooed. And their readers know and respect them for that.

Social Media Fashion

Some, like me, get fed up with being lectured that we should be on their private PR industry panel as a duty to the social media industry. No payment, just we hand over our IP for their clients’ benefit. Well, sod that. I don’t look to agencies for my moral compass.

Any fashion blogger who abides by the rules above (extrapolate: any blogger that obeys a PR company’s requirements) is not going to be an A list blogger. And like it or not, it’s much harder to get word of mouth buzz online if the bloggers are second tier and willing to be patronized by ill-informed PR consultants. In other traditional terms, hire a B grade sports person or actress and you get a different result than A-grade. Hire someone who’d go to the opening of an envelope and you’ll create a different audience than getting that hard-to-get personality. The only bloggers who are going to fall for the “mystery prize if you give away Google juice to us” are new bloggers or those who rarely get invites. The popular in demand bloggers will spit back.  Recommendation?  Give that promotional goodies away (same as with journos) but don’t demand anything in return. That’s  the nature of social media: pay it forward. You are building a relationship not slipping them a drunken one-blog stand. Wham Bam Tweet You Ma’am. Respect the Brand being promoted. Respect the Blogger who might do the promoting. I’d rather not be offered anything other than valuable information than be treated like some ol’ tart who’ll blog anything after cheap champers and a corporate gift. *hic*

One of the issues with using emails (usually with an attached PDF) to invite bloggers, is that we don’t know who else is going. And that makes it a not very hot ticket item.  I was able to talk the PR person into using Facebook Events to display who was attending, which got some of the bigger bloggers to say yes, and then take-up rate started to grow.  I don’t know if journalists care who else is going to a press event, but bloggers do. Any industry blogger knows the other bloggers, and can judge the must-attendness (new word) of the event. It’s called social networking

Treating bloggers as second class citizens is just going to deliver the PR person a truckload full of woe…