Before you get on your high horse, I'm not saying I was destined for a wonderful, charmed life, or anything else, but intellectual pursuits were rather more appealing to me than frequenting pubs and nightclubs; decent conservation preferable to idle chatter about celebrities and television programmes. Always have been, always will be. Those choices meant not meeting my Mr Right until my late thirties, and more than my fair share of quiet nights in, which I didn't always appreciate at the time. But in the end all has worked out well.
I thought the angst about such things was far behind me when I reached proper adulthood and the world of work, but more than once I fell over the primped and preened 'look at me's in one work place or another. Teaching, alas, is rife with them!
You know the sort, all style and exterior, with no real substance. Happy to spend hours on hair and make-up, rather than learning and discovering more about the world and the (other) people in it. 'Cos that's the thing, those types don't actually seem to know there are other people, even - gasp - people who don't give a monkies whether their nails are bejewelled, or their hoohas vajazzled. Shocking.
Anyway, deep breaths, those types have become fewer and further between the older I've got, as even they realise there is more to life as age and reality hits them. I thought the whole 'popular girl' thing was well and truly over. But then I started blogging.
Now, don't get me wrong, I have met some lovely bloggers, both online and in real life, but there are so many other bloggers who appear to be so wrapped up in their little pre-established cliques, that they barely manage to reply when you attempt to engage them in conversation at an event; that don't bother to reply when you tweet them directly, and more.
I'm sure they are all perfectly nice people, and in other situations would be happy to chat, or maybe they are just very shy, but what gives? I'm not asking for much, just a few words, to say hi, or chew the cud about something. I don't require lifelong undying friendship, but even a hello seems too much of a challenge for some.
And then there is the other aspect of the popularity contest - your stats. There are various rating schemes which determine your rank in this blogging lark, and various vectors which determine whether you go up or down each month. Some people care, a lot don't. From what I can tell, the ones at the top seem to remain at the top, and the others shuffle about underneath them.
Your stats and your rankings apparently determine whether PR companies notice you, and I'm sure other vitally important things. Some people seem to do nothing but reviews and giveaways, with an 'oh yet another vast package arrived at my door this morning, yawn' attitude, I think intended to make everyone else wildly jealous. (Not sure it works!) Others only review the odd one or two bits that they absolutely love and believe in, but most bloggers fall between the two camps.
When I first started blogging, I had no idea about this whole review thing, that people will seek to send you stuff for you to write about it. Great idea though - really cheap publicity for companies, plus free stuff for us. I can do that, I thought, more than happy to help out if it's something I like or believe in. And we have had some lovely things to review, some lovely approaches from companies and PRs, and some nice events to go to. (I shan't mention here the huge long list of reviews I owe people...)
I can also see why the PRs need to know a blog has a certain number of people looking at it, so they will notice the product being reviewed, and I am happy to send my stats over, when requested to do so. I have heard some horrendous PR stories from other bloggers, but so far mine have been nothing but good. So far...
Not so long ago, I saw a PR company asking on Twitter for bloggers to review toys. It was a company I'd met a couple of people from already and chatted happily to, so I said yes, I'd be happy to help out. Several weeks later (today) I got a reply telling me that they had been monitoring my blog and social media, and my 'coverage' isn't good enough for them. Apparently, I don't engage with, or link to, other bloggers as much as they'd like, but if I'm a good girl and work hard to improve all that, they might approach me to review a product in the future. [I may be paraphrasing slightly on the 'good girl' part ;o)]
Just to clarify, we are talking about a toy here - not a few grand's worth of electronics or a new car, a toy.
Apparently my working hard to 'expand my blog' will help both of us, and they are delighted to tell me that they will be monitoring my blog over the coming months to see that I do that.
Here's my shooting myself in the foot reply:
I can see why rankings, figures and whatever else you have considered matters from your perspective, but I'm getting a bit tired of the popularity contest which blogging involves.
I blog about what I want to when I have the time to do so, but my family and real life will always come first. Some weeks/months I will blog a lot, engage with people (relative strangers) on Twitter, Facebook etc, some I won't. During the latter, I will be too busy enjoying life with my husband and children.
I am happy to review products for companies, but am more than capable of buying a twenty quid toy for my daughter myself. At the end of the day, PR companies sending toys, or other products, to bloggers for review is a means of garnering cheap publicity. In this case, the toy company will only be incurring the cost price of a few toys + postage (less than a hundred pounds at most), which is chickenfeed compared to the cost of high profile magazine or TV advertising campaigns.
When you asked on Twitter for bloggers to review your products, I answered favourably largely as a favour to you and your clients, not for any prospective huge gain for myself and my family. If specific figures and/or outreach were required, perhaps you should have approached the bloggers you perceived to meet your criteria directly, rather than ask generally for bloggers to review and then go through this charade.
If, in the future, you deem me deserving of your review opportunities, I will be happy to consider them, but will obviously have to consider your figures, engagement (very poor at the moment) and outreach first.
I enjoyed meeting representatives of your agency at several events I attended recently, and am surprised that their approach to talking to bloggers and yours seem so poles apart.
Good luck with your campaign,
Now I am quite sure I will never receive a toy from them, but quite honestly I can do without the hassle. I know where the shops are after all!
I am getting very tired of no reply or rude replies, whether from bloggers, admins, or PRs. I have no wish to enter the blogger popularity contest, and am quite happy bumbling along writing my drivel for whoever wants to read it (over a thousand people a week much to my surprise - not showing off, just making a point! Honest.)
I am the first to admit that I don't keep up with my blog as much as I might, and I have lists upon lists of things I both want and need to do, but I have a baby, a toddler and a husband, I live 2 minutes from the beach, and its summer, so let it all go hang. I'll get round to it all eventally, and if that's not good enough, well so be it.
To those PRs and companies who do think me and my blog are all right, thank you! We love working with you, and will do what we can to help. If you want to join us, there's always room for more. To the rest, go look for the bright shinies and give them your 'opportunities'.
But, more importantly, thank you to all of those who do take the time to read my blog, thank you for commenting on posts, thank you for entering giveaways, thank you for following me on Facebook and Twitter, and if you do remember to say hello somewhere along the way, even in real life, I'll be your BFF - but only if you want me to be ;o)
In the meantime, I've already won the only popularity contest I'm really interested in - Lara, Sophia, Steve, Yuri, Taya and Misha think I'm amazing! :o)
UPDATE: Regarding the e-mail which prompted my rant, I have exchanged e-mails with the account manager today, who has explained that his assistant was supposed to be talking about boosting our Google page rank, as that was what they had based their criteria on. The e-mail wasn't supposed to come across quite how it sounded, and he was keen to maintain their blogger relationships. Fair play to him, and I have been most appreciative of his attention to the matter.
As I have pointed out to several people who seemed to think I was upset at being knocked back, I have a thick skin and fully understand that PRs need to get the best return for their client, and stats are a big indicator of that. Having gone .com my Google page rank went down from 3 to 0, so no hope for me!
Anyway, I just wanted to update you, and to reiterate that most PR approaches and companies are great, but please do speak up when you feel unprofessionality or rudeness creeping through - from either side!
Thank you so much for all the supportive comments, tweets and e-mails I have received, so kind!
Have a good night everyone, enjoy the Bake Off, Lx
And don't forget to enter our competitions!