How NOT to Work with Bloggers: a True Story

In my spare time I write a personal blog to help people live their lives more effectively. And it’s interesting to be on the other side of the fence for once.

I was always aware that working with bloggers was an art-form. Having spent the last 5 years building solid relationships with Australian Bloggers, and working with a number of Blue Chip clients to create earned content that’s mutually beneficial, I know first hand that it’s not as easy as it looks.

The Contagious approach has always been about tapping into earned media in a way that’s beneficial for blogger, brand and reader. What I wasn’t aware of was quite how many charlatans were out there professing to be ‘experts’ at delivering digital content for brands via bloggers.


A few weeks back I was approached by a ‘PR-person’ who for the sake of this article I’ll call ‘PR Bob’ (I’m not in the habit of publicly shaming people). He did not divulge he was from a PR agency, but let’s just say his email address gave the game away somewhat.

PR Bob approached me via my personal Simple Life Strategies blog (unbeknownst to him I have put several strategies together for blogger campaigns for brands – had he spent 2 minutes to read my bio, he might have clocked my ‘ad agency’ background).

I’m not sure what irritated me the most – PR Bob’s blatant dishonesty or his pseudo-puppy-like over-enthusiasm.

You can read the email he sent me below (I’ve copied and pasted it word for word including spelling mistakes for the sake of authenticity):

On 17/10/12 9:33 AM, “PRBob” <> wrote:

Subject: Guest Post

Message Body:

Hi Zoe,

I loved reading your 10 tips for getting up early! it’s so important to get a jump on the day and take time to center our bodies and minds, think about what we’re thankful for, and think about what we want to accomplish

I wanted to reach out and get in contact with you because, like yourself, I’m extremely passionate about self-help tactics and feel the need to share what I’ve Learned with others. I really enjoy the content on and I was wondering if you’d be open to a guest post?

I have an article on tips to be successful that I’m confident with resonate with your audience while also providing useful information. If this sounds like something you’re interested in exploring, let me know and I can send it right over!

I’m excited to hear what you think about the post and I look forward to hearing from you!



After reading this post you would mistakenly have taken PR Bob for someone who genuinely shared my passions. Alas no. He had an ulterior motive.

Like an avid fisherwoman I reeled in my prey with an innocent request to take a look at his guest post.

To my surprise (I’m being ironic here) PR Bob, did not in-fact share my genuine passion for human potential, he was just trying to pimp out a post for a completely irelevant brand – and to add insult to injury, he also wanted to do it for free.

This is his reply:

On 18/10/12 9:10 AM, “PR Bob” <> wrote:

Great! I was thinking, you have all these wonderful articles about how we can improve our lives, so what about an article that helps us protect our lives, something a little different, but still relevant. You can view my article here:


Let me know what you think!



Bless him, he tried his best with a tenuous link between ‘a mobile device security solution’ and ‘self improvement’.

Seriously – what does he take me for??

It’s inauthentic, approaches like these that give Blogger campaigns a bad name and restrain forward-thinking clients from taking the plunge with what should be a low-risk, high return activity.

When we work with bloggers at Contagious, we use the wealth of marketing and blogging experience we have to build genuine relationships based on trust and a mutual objective to provide value to blog readerships. It’s about understanding that these campaigns work both ways – for blogger and brand. We believe in transparency and never ‘pretend to be something we are not.’

A lot more goes into our process, but for the sake of this piece, you get the picture.

Some might say my reply to Bob was somewhat scathing – in my opinion it just demonstrates my passion for honesty and transparency.

If you’re a client and you’re planning on working with bloggers, please, please do your due diligence when deciding who is capable of representing you in this space. The last thing you want is someone like ‘PR Bob’ creating negative word of mouth for you – because the one thing we should never forget when it comes to bloggers is – the power of their voice.


I thought to myself it best to give you the benefit of the doubt just on the off chance that there was some truth in your first email.

Clearly there was not.

No I will not promote the mobile device security system.

I suggest you change your approach and instead of trying to ‘hoodwink’ bloggers into promoting your clients by pretending to a) be interested in their content and b) have a genuine personal interest in what they write about, perhaps give good old fashioned ‘honesty’ a whirl.



What’s your experience when working with bloggers?



Zoe Boalch

About Zoe Boalch

Zoë Boalch is co-founder of Contagious Agency. Zoë likes: hot chili, yoga, learning new stuff, positive people, taking risks Zoë dislikes: naysayers, grumpy people, rather large egos
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