A couple of weeks ago I did a guest blog for Nexus PR with tips for PRs when working with bloggers. I’ve blogged on this blog for nearly a year now, but prior to The Spirited Puddle Jumper I blogged at my old (now defunct) blog for nearly a year also.
During this time I’ve been fortunate enough to have been approached by many PR companies and brands, and these initial conversations have enabled me to attend some fantastic events, try innovative and beautiful products and given me some paid work opportunities. I’m lucky in that I have generally only had positive experience with the PRs I’ve dealt with, but you only have to talk to other bloggers, or look at your twitter feed, to realise that this isn’t the case for everyone.
Most of the advice available is aimed at bloggers, and how they can work with brands better, but there isn’t much out there with advice for PRs detailing good practice when working with bloggers, and how to make our experience a good one.
Here are some top tips I’ve compiled, aimed at the latter…
1. Make sure you read the ‘about me’ bit
The number of bloggers I chat to who have had an email from a PR hit their inbox, and it’s obvious the PR hasn’t done their homework is HUGE. I’ve had peers who have received offers of breakfast cereal, when their blog states they’re a wheat-free family, or bloggers offered breastfeeding equipment when their child is 6(!) – You get the picture. Personally, I’ve had a couple of occasions when a PR has invited my family and I to an amazing event. I’ve then said ‘yes’ and confirmed children’s ages, only to be told my children are too young. Aside from the disappointment, it does get your back up slightly, as it shows the PR hasn’t really read the ‘About’ section on my blog at all (where it states clearly how old they are).
2. Make it clear what you expect from the blogger from the outset
Most PRs are great at this, but a few are not. Usually if you’re sent a product to review, then a post in return is a given. However, events aren’t always so clear. Do state when contacting the blogger if you want a post/review of the event, or whether it’s fine just to tweet/FB/Instagram about it. It’s irritating and puts a blogger in an awkward position if they’re told at the event, or afterwards, that a post is expected after all, when they might not have accepted the invite on that basis i.e. it might not be a good fit for them as a blog post.
3. Make initial contact emails personal
Many bloggers really dislike is the generic “I just LOVE your blog!” introduction emails, and can see through them a mile off. A comment about a previous post, or acknowledgement that little Bertie might like the event/product might be nice, and makes the PR memorable to the blogger. I, however, am not precious about this. I appreciate PRs are extremely busy, and if your product/event is something I like, then flattery, even of the faux variety, will get you everywhere!
4. Be flexible with time constraints
Many bloggers, like PRs, are extremely busy people. Most run their blogs alongside other jobs and family commitments, and occasionally life can just get in the way. I like to be punctual wherever possible, but I know bloggers really appreciate it if you’re approachable and flexible when it comes to a blog post, and are okay with a post being a few days later/earlier than planned. Please state if you need a quick turnaround, BEFORE the event takes place/ product is sent out.
5. Manners cost nothing
This should be an obvious one and applies to both bloggers and PRs. I’ve been lucky enough that I haven’t had a bad experience with a PR, but I know others who have had PRs send dismissive/rude emails, not emailed back or answered queries, or who have been unpleasant at events. The same goes for bloggers, and there are sadly quite a few who seem to turn into blogging divas at the sniff of a freebie!
6. Know bloggers worth
Okay, so we’re probably not going to flog your chicken sauce like Gordon could, or your dress as well as Kate, BUT things have been on the turn for a while. Talking to friends of mine, most young professionals, married, single, kids, whatever, trust REAL reviews and articles by REAL people, more than celebs. They want to see posts by people like them- it makes the product/event/ end result seem more attainable, and they’re able to see how it might fit in with their lives. We all know we’re not going to look like an airbrushed Cheryl Cole with that mascara, but we might like to see how pretty Hannah from Leeds looks wearing it. Bloggers now have influence. Therefore, bloggers should be compensated accordingly. And don’t think that just being given ‘exposure’ by the client is going to make us jump for joy!
7. Return the favour
If a blogger has written a fantastic review or post about your client, it is BRILLIANT for us if you can tweet about, or better still, put a link to our post on your website. Many bloggers are understandably keen to get their Google page rank up, or take part in blogger charts, both of which take into account that blog’s presence elsewhere on the internet.
8. Bloggers talk…
Being a social media savvy bunch, bloggers talk to each other (a lot). We will probably find out if someone has been paid a different rate to another blogger for the same piece of work, and it’s not nice to find out- it definitely makes the lower-paid blogger feel less valued, and therefore wary of working with the PR again.
9. Give us a challenge!
Many bloggers love taking part in competitions and creative challenges for brands, but the prize has to be worth the time and effort. A year’s supply of bubble wrap (yes, really!), or 50 quids worth of teabags probably isn’t going to encourage those creative juices to flow. I like holidays and vouchers (hint hint).
10. A bit about ethics…
Please don’t ask a blogger to compromise their ethics- asking them to only write a positive review in return for payment/product, is a big no –no, as is asking them to not mention a payment. It’s sneaky, and not fair. Keep it clean, folks!
11. Avoid bloggers with a chip on their shoulder.
I cringe when I see bloggers openly ranting about a brand, service or company on social media, and they give us a bad name. A blogger has every right to complain/take up issues in private, but airing your dirty laundry in public is just, well, ICK. I saw one such spat between a blogger and a big brand on Twitter a few weeks ago and it was, frankly, embarrassing (for the blogger- buh bye any further opportunities!). My advice to PRs would be to avoid bloggers with a ranty tone- it’s too risky, and in my eyes miserable, chippy divas don’t deserve the work or opportunities!
12. We like to have fun!
Most bloggers are approachable and love being given relevant opportunities by PRs. I still always feel a little a buzz and very chuffed that PRs appear to like my blog enough to approach me (providing they follow point 1!). Okay, so maybe I’ve got some rose-tinted specs on, but I’d like to think lots of bloggers feel like I do. The moment I feel blasé about these opportunities, is the moment I re-think what I’m doing with my blog.
Phew, that seemed like a lot of info!
If you’re a blogger, what else do you think PRs could do better?
Photos above taken at a Huggies event with swimmer Karen Pickering, June 2013