This is such an insider topic, that I don’t even know if anyone is going to care about it. In fact, I’d say it’s deeper than insider – this topic is one that is probably more exclusionary than anything. You are going to read this and if your initial reaction is to eyeroll I TOTALLY get it! That said, I still want to write it. I started blogging in the first place as a kind of therapy that helps me clear my mind and put a topic behind me. Whether I click publish or not… that question is unanswered. (Unless you’re reading this…)
This whole topic actually ties into when I started blogging and what I initially wrote about. I started this blog as a personal place to write whatever I wanted to write. I had no plans for it ever being something that would result in being paid, or sponsored content, or anything else. It was just MY place to write about anything I wanted to. Time has a way of changing you. The former content was different – it was more personal, featured some curse words and very infrequently dipped into what some (and myself on occasion) would call controversial. I have grown as a person since then, but every now and then I just need to get something off of my chest – and this is one of those times.
I hold grudges. I used to hold them against people, but I’ve grown as a person and no longer have any towards individuals. I get that people make mistakes or may unintentionally hurt you or intentionally try to hurt you or disrespect you or a variety of other things. I get it, and I stopped caring about it as much. It still bugs me, but I let it slide and move on with my life. I’m less forgiving when it comes to brands these days. Let me explain… (again, I get if your eyes are starting to roll!)
I genuinely love to help others be better at what they do, offer advice, insight, suggestions etc. I do it to a fault and it will soon come an end thanks to the advice of a new mentor who said ‘you need to start charging for your time, your expertise is far too valuable to be giving away for free’. But, up until recently I gave away everything – all my insight, suggestions and research. As such, I’ve become a secret weapon on content creators in Toronto (and to some extent Canada). I have PR people who ask to pick my brain on the regular for suggestions on new influencers, email addresses for specific bloggers, and who I would recommend working with on sponsored campaigns. To date, I’ve given all that away. In exchange, I get access to office rumors, gossip and other info about influencers in Canada. It’s interesting, but it’s never very directly useful.
Now what IS useful is when that information is about me. On a near weekly basis, I hear that my name is brought up in a meeting to talk about a product launch, or writing work or a sponsored content opportunity at a variety of different PR/brand meetings. That kind of information is GREAT to know, keeping your name at top of mind is crucial to any creator. But with that said, 25% of the time, I also find out that there’s a ‘BUT’ attached to it. That but is generally one thing – controversy. “They love your content but the boss thinks you’re too controversial,” I hear this too often and it drives me mental. The last time (besides this post?) that I wrote anything controversial was in 2011. Do you know why the bosses/account execs think I’m controversial? They haven’t read anything I’ve written since 2011 which is usually right around the time they were promoted to their current roles. They hold on to an antiquated notion of what I do because they don’t need to be on the ground reading any more.
I hate hearing that people base their opinions on me from what I was in 2011. That’s five years ago. I assure you, people change.
— Zach Bussey (@zachbussey) April 21, 2016
I know the names of these bosses who have this opinion on me and all it takes is a LinkedIn search to confirm that almost EVERY time, you see they were “PR Rep” 20xx-2012, followed by a title change to something higher up 2012-current. I know writing this changes absolutely nothing – but it speaks to one of the BIGGEST complaints that influencers had about PR people. The survey I conducted of influencers had a section about what PR could do better:
- “Work with newer bloggers/influencers.”
- “I have found most PR companies have their “go to” list.”
- “PR seem to be 5 years behind creators.”
- “They only work with the same people.”
- “Try different influencers.”
- “There are more bloggers than 10 in Toronto.”
I could go a lot deeper down this rabbit hole – I could talk about the brands/PR that have asked for something with the promise of paid campaigns coming… to never deliver. I could talk about the PR company with over 100 employees that has me blacklisted because I had the nerve to give a bad review about a product they sent me (literally the week after posting the review, they canceled the talk they had scheduled me to come in to their office and do – and never contacted me again, until I found out the blacklist from someone who started working there). I could talk about the brand that’s such star effers, that it’s gross – literally the tweets make me cringe. Or the PR company that pay cash for people to tweet – knowing they have fake paid followings, but ‘the brand just wants to see the numbers, not engagement’. I hold grudges against these brands. If they approach me in the future, I’ll give them the ‘grudge’ rate – and they’ll decline and I’ll maintain my grudge against them. Much like how some of these people hold onto their ‘controversy’ grudge about me.
I COULD go a lot deeper into all those things…. but I won’t, because I don’t create controversial content any more. Time has a way of changing you.