Somewhere around a year ago, The Tender started to get contacted for various promotions. About six months ago, when we finalized dropping “blog” from the name, this stepped up even more. Given that we write on the site for free, promotions where we actually get something for our trouble are worth something to us and our writing about them is worth something to those who want to promote locally as we have a large readership focused immediately on the downtown area of San Francisco and no one else has that.
Unfortunately there are many marketing people out there who still think that people writing a smallish, blog-type website are just sitting around in their parents’ basement and can be bought off with free pizza. I actually experienced the free pizza bit when brought in to a “brainstorming” session with a television news outlet that had no clue how digital media worked. Needless to say, it wasn’t a fruitful meeting as this TV station didn’t understand why we wouldn’t give them our content to use freely on their shows with paid advertisement.
Most of the time though, some PR firm that was hired by a larger company will send in an email via our general “tips” account. A recent one of these was a “VIP invitation” to view the footrace course of a very large mobile phone company’s promo event. That was it. For promoting the brand of this massive, billion dollar company, we would get a “VIP invitation”. That’s worth nothing to us. We have more content than we can keep up with and promoting a phone network does nothing for us, especially as all those who participate in the race get a fancy phone and they’re obviously dropping a great deal to promote the race. As is usually the case, local promotion was probably an afterthought and for some reason this old school marketing firm thought that our being associated with their brand was actually worth something to us. Quite the opposite gang. Quite the opposite…
But, every so often a group comes along that does “get it”. For instance this Sokenbicha bottled tea brand brought on a firm that I assume must have been younger as they seemed to reach out to us very early on with (and this is very important) heavily defined expectations. For promoting an event they were putting on in Union Square, we got a pretty awesome swag bag that was worth something to us and more importantly, we were invited to bring along several of the site’s readers for the bag as well. For this, they wanted articles, tweets, and general promotion at various points. They communicated openly and in addition to promoting their brand, they worked to create good will with those who were not getting paid outright for the promotion. This is so, so simple to understand, yet is completely lost on most in marketing who still seem to think that a $30,000 print ad in San Francisco magazine is a “good campaign”.
For those not “getting it”, ask yourself if you’d walk in to a well-read newspaper in a well-regarded city and tell them that if they wrote an article about something they didn’t personally care about they’d get “VIP access” and nothing else for their trouble. They’d not only laugh at you, but also tell their dog to piss on your car tires and make sure you always get the middle seat on plane flights. To all marketing agents at large, it’s time to understand the worth of blog articles, otherwise the new generation that do will beat the rest of you out of the game.