Wednesday, July 27, 2011
My Q&A for Marketing Magazine
A few weeks ago, I had the good fortune of being contacted by Erica Ng of Marketing Magazine who asked little ol' me to do a Q&A as "advice" for PR people working with bloggers. It just came out in print in the July 2011 issue (don't think it's online), along with responses from other Hong Kong bloggers - beauty blogger Meling Lam of Apple113, tech & gadget blogger Jonathan Sin of Fun Lockr and travel blogger Michael Taylor of Accidental Travel Writer. As with most cases in print, because of space limitations, a lot of it was edited out, so I thought I'd share my original, unedited version. I imagine it also answers some of the questions people (like my own mother!) have about why I blog etc.
1. What’s your content focus?
Food and restaurants in Hong Kong, occasionally China and Southeast Asia or wherever travel takes me.
2. How often do you blog?
I try to blog once a week.
3. Do you charge companies to blog about their food?
Not at all. There would be no point!
4. How do you monetise your blog?
I don't. I don't get enough traffic to warrant disturbing banner ads, and if I write for money it won't be for my blog (I'm a writer and editor by day). My blog is the only place where I can write whatever I fancy, and I'd like to keep it that way.
5. How should brands approach you?
I'd like to know too! Usually restaurants or brands email me with invitations to meals and events - I'm not particularly comfortable with that, as I want to be able to keep going back to that restaurant as a normal paying customer. Once staff (eg. the maitre d') recognise you, that could be the end of normalcy. Perhaps I'm thinking too much, but I'd rather be safe than sorry. I would, however, be more than happy to liase with PR to acquire (hopefully accurate) background information on the chef/restaurant/brand.
6. Biggest junket to date?
I don't usually go to press events or tastings, but I must admit that I've made friends along the way who happen to own or manage private kitchens, restaurants or be in the food business somehow, and I have, on occasion, helped them with tastings - though more as a passionate foodie than a blogger.
7. Did you write about it?
Not as a standalone blog, but I might draw upon the knowledge gained in these situations in later related blog posts.
8. Any tips for PR folks?
- Get to know the blog/blogger you're contacting. Read their "About", policies and so on.
- It doesn't hurt to send bloggers press releases and information about what's happening at your company/client's company, provided it's something they'd be interested in. Even if they don't feature it in a post right away, it'll serve to remind them of your brand and that information could well crop up in a related post, or be mentioned in conversation on services such as Twitter, Weibo or Facebook (many bloggers exist/interact way beyond their blogs, and really, they're normal people with mouths and social lives too).
- People blog for all sorts of reasons. Be wary of blogs that exist for the sole reason of getting free stuff, or earn money from writing positive reviews. Positive responses might look good, but many of these blogs have no credibility in the blogosphere - check ahead.
- Be nice. I've received many emails from PR teams written in a condescending, rude tones and I've dismissed them immediately, or worse, complained about them on Twitter.
- For invitations to meals or tastings, be clear on whether there is payment involved.
9. How are you different from journalists?
Unless it's a group blog, it's a one-man band. The integrity of the blog depends on the blogger alone. There are no editors, no pressure to fact check or do background research, and personal opinion is the order of the day. You could be a journalist by day, but on your blog, you're a blogger, there's just one voice and almost no limit to what you can say. Bloggers can also put a lot of personal character into their blogs, which is why many people enjoy reading them, whereas overly sharp personal opinion or voices are often edited out of mainstream publications.