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5 mengada requests from Malaysian ‘influencers’ (and why PR people still give in)

Ever seen a Facebook post by a blogger, where brands are hashtagged endlessly? Well that’s a sign of ‘influence marketing’.

We all look up to someone to influence us into shaping our purchasing and buying decisions which are these influencers. It is to persuade you la to buy more things that you see and slowly put that brand name inside that brain of yours so that you’ll always remember them when you think about a product or a service.

And because the Malaysian English-speaking urbanites don’t relate to local celebrities (which is mainly focused on a Malay-skewed market), local influencers find themselves at an advantageous spot because they become relevant to fans. This makes them attractive to brands who wanna leverage on them through paid sponsorships. Reviews, party photos, sponsored outfits… you name it.

fake influencers

But now that you know it’s sponsored, does it still seem amazing?

If you didn’t know, sponsorship happens in most organizations. It could be in a form of CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) projects such as charity events, gala dinners etc and also sponsorship to create brand awareness by providing bloggers with products of free services to write about. Heck, even CILISOS depends on their sponsors to pay the bill! (Check out our sponsored content here.)

For instance, if a blogger has a large number of engagement on all her social media platforms she would have a higher chance of being sponsored, upon request by her or the organization itself would scout her for a sponsorship. But also if the client is interested in investing on influencer marketing, and if the blogger is a suitable figure to represent the brand.

For example, Xiaxue is a popular Singaporean blogger that is known for her critics via her blog and social media. Bloggers like her, has an average of up to 40,000 readers visiting her blog daily. Therefore, she is paid for advertisements and sponsorship on her blog and social media.

Capture

Wa, dissing people on blog also can get alot of followers, people must be so kepochi!

Sponsorship for bloggers can sometimes be tough to handle as everyone has their own views and opinions and it might be hard to find a common ground. So from a PR’s person’s experience with bloggers, a lot of them would say stuff like, “I hate dealing with them! So annoying!” If you don’t believe me, ask any of your friends from the PR industry and they’ll tell you. So we’ve rounded up some of the most outrageous things we’ve heard from bloggers over our time working with them:

 

1. “My birthday is coming up! Please sponsor my outfit?”

Sponsorships are normally requested by the blogger or is scouted by the company itself. If a blogger were to request for example, a birthday gown for her 21st from brand X, she’d email the company with details about what her blog can offer:

Screen Shot 2016-08-16 at 3.03.45 PM

When clients receive emails as such, it would be forwarded to the PR department for evaluation and background research of the blogger and how relevant their postings and write-ups are for the brand. Also evaluation on the amount of publicity she has with the media, as well as how much media value could be earned from the sponsorship.

“We also look into how we can position this sponsorship with the brand, we don’t want to associate the brand with non-related sponsorships, unless it would lead to a good conversion and purchasing value.” – A local PR specialist

After  evaluation, the decision would be made by the client and the PR specialists will directly engage these bloggers with an agreement of the postings they would need to do, what type of content, and pictures to post etc.

Photo from fashionindustrylaw.com

Photo from fashionindustrylaw.com

However, budget cuts are made especially now with the economy being crucial, hence sponsoring bloggers for an expensive dress that would cost up to RM40,000 would probably be a NO-NO. The offer would then be turned down, bloggers get disappointed > and probably doesn’t want to work with us anymore on future sponsorships or lashes out on social media about how the brand is not that great anymore.

And life gets a little more tougher for us.

 

2. “Can I get a nicer hotel? Why your PR company so kedekut one?”

We all have different ways of living. Some find joy in scoring a good bargain in Bangkok, and some thrive on high-end brands and the finer things in life. And sometimes, it gets a bit difficult when a blogger is of the latter.

Unedited image taken from TripAdvisor

Unedited image taken from TripAdvisor

Other than asking for hotel upgrades, unsatisfied bloggers have also asked for better food and services. In fact, one even asked to be chauffeured around in a swankier car and a better driver. It comes as no surprise when they claim to be celebrities and are well-deserved of a fancy treatment.

Yes we do believe that you are and we have suggested to the clients, but it also depends on their expectations to see if they are able to foresee good engagements with your fans and if its benefiting them of course.

It’s not that we don’t want to sponsor a better car, but if we were to provide you with GrabCar services of a luxury car, it would cost a fortune! Rental for a Maserati Quatt cost RM3,000-RM4,000 per day, not including driver fees. Which is pretty expensive, and sometimes we have no choice but to get it or we go for a lower pricing car.

"What's wrong with my car?" Photo from lolpig.com taken from marktraffic.com

“What’s wrong with my car?” Photo from lolpig.com, retrieved from marktraffic.com

But of course, we try our best to get clients to agree to the budget and we want the best for our campaign. And if the posting isn’t on par with the client’s expectations which is probably a reach of 600,000 engagements for a campaign, we are answerable to it. Can be quite scary one you know? It’s really not in our hands because the budget and campaign plan has already been planned and fixed in that way.

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Sadly, PR companies end up getting bashed or our client’s brand getting bashed on social media. Either ways, both sides also we kena you know!

 

3. “The dinner in the hotel is expensive, can I claim this in your company bill?”

Photo from YouTube user Countdown w/ Fresh

“Well can I?” Photo from YouTube user Countdown w/ Fresh

Normally when there is a sponsorship done for, let’s say, a trip to London, there would be a certain budget given by the client for bloggers to claim. However, if they were to exceed the limit, the bill is charged to them.

In order for us to make those claims, we would request for them to collect the receipts and provide us with an invoice  for processing of funds. Most of the time the claims would go through on time if the invoice and receipts were sent in on time  as well. But you know Malaysian timing, it’s always later then schedule.

This is when we would need to chase these bloggers for their invoices and receipts, over again. Sometimes even till the very last minute as to when the final date to submit is closed and still unreachable. Some processes take more time, due to late hand-ins.

But we often get blamed for taking forever for the claims to be done, and it would reflect badly on our company as well as the client for not being efficient. But actually, it’s because of the late invoice or form submissions.

FYI, we don’t actually love nagging at people but we’re just reminding you of your own claims.

 

4. “Can’t you respect me? I’m her manager you know?!”

Upset Jose is upset. Photo from soccerblog.com

Upset Jose is upset. Photo from soccerblog.com

Most bloggers have managers on their sides to manage their fees and schedules. But sometimes they can be a pain in the smallest of situations, like contacting the influencer directly (instead of going through the manager), or requesting for postings and giving goods/services in return (instead of money). It’s not that we expect free write-ups and reviews, but if we have a low budget, we’ll need to find ways to make ends meet.

Yes, we understand that bloggers need to make a living, but taking orders from clients mean our hands are tied too. So for a manager to go all ballistic and demanding kinda sucks on our end… especially when they take it out on us on social media. A proper reply would be better instead of a reply that states about how unethical our company is because we are not paying. (But it was just a request?)

Some managers be like...

Some managers be like…

FYI, we don’t persuade, manipulate or force bloggers to do postings or write-ups for free. It is most of the time a suggestion, and the decision is in their hands. If they were to agree, we would try our best to cater or hike up some benefits here and there.

In fact, some mangers even request that they get sponsored together with the blogger itself or else they wouldn’t be able to participate, which can be a tad bit tough for us because we don’t have a budget for the manager but only the blogger. Normally talent managements with arrogant managers as such would be banned from our list for future events or campaigns.

But there are godsent managers, that are super nice and professional that turn us down politely, and we truly appreciate that! (Kudos to you!)

 

5. “Can I get your clients’ contact? Do you have contacts for Company X?”

Photo from animhosnan.blogspot.com

Photo from animhosnan.blogspot.com

This is something I would say all PR agencies and companies would hate very much. For context, agencies are the middle men connecting influencers with brands a.k.a. clients.

There are bloggers that meet up face-to-face with us for coffee, just to ask us for contacts so that they are able to reach clients directly for campaigns. But sadly, we are most probably going to say no to that… not only because it is against company policies, but because we need to make a living too.

“Oh we thought of doing a campaign with Company X, do you have their contacts? Who do we look for ya? If can la.”

If we are able to provide, these bloggers are in fact much nicer and faster in responding for any sort of campaigns. However if we are unable to provide, we are turned down much easily. But to be honest, it is pretty unfair for us to be placed in such situations.

We really don’t mind if you want to contact them, but please do look for contacts yourselves la.

Me.

So who exactly are bloggers to be demanding? Are they celebrities?

Photo from highsnobiety.com

Not if you’re Kim Kardashian. Photo from highsnobiety.com

Despite all we’ve told you, we have to admit one thing: influence marketing works. Check out some interesting stuff we picked up along the way:

  1. 74 percent of consumers use social media to make purchase decisions. (Source)
  2. 8 in 10 of the most influential people for teen audiences are YouTube stars. That number keeps growing every year, pushing traditional celebrities further down the list. (Source)
  3. 81 percent of marketers who have used influencer marketing judged it to be effective. (Source)
  4. 51 percent of marketers believe they get better customers from influencer marketing. That’s because the relationship began with trust in the influencer.(Source)
  5. The survey found that 92 percent of people trust recommendations from individuals (even if they don’t know them) over brands.

So can you imagine just how much your product would stand out from the crowd if you’ve got an influential social figure talking about it? Whether or not the audience knows if it’s paid doesn’t matter – the seed of the brand would’ve been planted in your head, even if you don’t purchase it.

And sometimes, it’s even useful. Imagine travelling to Europe and you Google, “What to do in Europe?” BAM. Blog postings of this hotel and which flight to fly with, from soooooo many bloggers are thrown to your face. Sure they’re paid, but their first-hand experiences told through narratives and photos become incredibly relevant – and suddenly, important – to you.

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