Creating a Better Work Relationship for Bloggers & PRs.

Whether you are a blogger or a PR you will be all too familiar with irritating and inconvenient last minute cancellations. My concern is that these seem to be on the up giving a bad name to both sides.

Take yesterday for instance. I attended a lovely event at a nice hotel with lunch thrown in along with some celeb guests, a fashion show and a goody bag. It was extremely well organised. We had plenty of notice for the event and were sent a comprehensive set of instructions about location, expenses, the timetable and other details.

I was shocked therefore to hear that MOST of the bloggers who had been invited had either not turned up after accepting the invitation, or had messaged the organiser during the event giving excuses and apologies. The organising PR (who also happens to be a blogger) was so embarrassed. I really felt for her. This could have ongoing repercussions for relationships between that (massive) brand and bloggers generally.

I'm sure some of the reasons for dropping out were genuine but still, that's a big percentage dropping out last minute and doesn't make any of us look good.

Now before I get on my high horse I have a confession to make. Today I had to cancel two events which I was due to attend tomorrow. My tooth has split and had an emergency extraction this morning (oh joy) and have been told to rest for at least 24 hours and to not eat solids for a couple of days due to the location of the tooth extraction site.

And twice I've missed events through menopause-related diary snafus. I'm sure I am not alone in spotting tweets and realising you have got the date/time/place wrong.

This goes to show that sometime sh*t happens and your child does sometimes get sent home, you tooth does crack, you forget stuff and relatives do die.

But when no fewer than three people email to tell a client they can't come because they have fallen down the stairs (true story) you start to think that bloggers are a particularly accident prone bunch or that maybe some last minute panicked excuses are being sent out.

I went to a menu review event recently where only four of the 17 influencers (and 3 plus ones including my husband) who had RSVP'd yes to the event actually turned up.

The  table was laid beautifully, the kitchen had prepared a generous feast and there was no way seven of us could do it justice. I kept apologising to the manager because the thing is, bad manners and unprofessionalism reflects on all of us.

There are concerns that blogging has reached its peak, that the only way is down as brands become disillusioned with the relationship between them and online influencers of all kinds.

From YouTubers failing to disclose to bloggers failing to turn up, every one of these incidents is a nail in the coffin of our industry.

This is my livelihood, my passion, my joy. I love blogging and would hate for the bubble to burst because of people who lack manners or the realisation that for many of us, this is more than a hobby.

Now if there are PR people nodding along and recounting tales of times they have been let down by influencers, let me tell you, the shoe is often on the other foot.

During this past 12 months in particular I have been repeatedly invited to events only to have my invitation withdrawn, either by return of email or even worse, on the day.

One spectacular occasion I can recall was a lovely event and I had actually even bought a new outfit to wear. I had arranged childcare and turned down another event as I was committed.

I picked up my train ticket and headed for the platform. I am an inveterate phone fiddler and as is my custom had whipped it out while I waited the ten minutes before my train was due. Usually I tweet out a nice promo for the brand I'm on my way to meet with. However luckily this time I checked my emails first.

Yep, you've guessed it. An email had come in in the previous five minutes saying they were very sorry but the guest list was actually closed. In other words, we've had a better offer and you've been dumped.

I was both mortified and furious. Fellow bloggers have since told me they would have turned up regardless and insisted on being let in but I have no stomach for doorstep confrontations at VIP events.

Instead I tried not to cry, headed back to my car and once home and out of my new clothes sent a strongly worded email asking for my expenses at least to be paid.

Needless to say, I didn't get my money and have never heard from them again.

I get it. Like 'planes, PRs sometimes need to overbook in case of last minute drop outs. But this is not the only time I have been dumped on the day. I don't buy train tickets in advance now or I ask the PR to book them so at least I'm not out of pocket.

Let me be clear - these are not events I have pitched to attend. These are events I have been approached about with lovely invitations. I laugh now at the phrases they use which all mean they've found someone bigger and more famous than me.

I don't mind being a last minute z-list blogger (I'm often sent emails on the day of an event as PRs panic hunt for someone, ANYONE to attend their event when people start dropping out and I have sometimes been glad to go) but I do mind being fed bullsh*t.

Many bloggers juggle work with family and other work commitments and being let down might cost earnings, childcare fees, missed opportunities which might have been turned down because you thought you were already busy, and the goodwill of patient friends and family members who pick up from school, babysit, feed kids etc so we can attend events.

Luckily I learned early on not to let my children get excited about promised opportunities which might never materialise, or might take a different form to the one first offered. I know last year some very young people were disappointed by a promised Santa experience which one very famous restaurant cocked up. This is unforgivable.

I sound bitter. I'm really not. I'm lucky enough to be relatively successful in this industry with lovely PR people coming back time and time again because they know that on the whole I will turn up, behave and not take the piss and understand what we BOTH want from the relationship.

We have had some amazing "money can't buy" experiences and I still get excited about opening my emails. How many people can say that about their work email accounts?

I just want to issue the warning that it might seem like it's the golden age for bloggers and "influencers" but as an ex-print journalist who has seen the slow painful death of that industry I know that complacency is dangerous and professionalism is key.

A little bit of gratitude for the opportunities we are offered and for the unique service we offer the industry would go a long way to keeping this bubble floating a while longer and lead to better client relationships all round.

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