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Here’s how to: make PR people work for your ...

Here’s how to: make PR people work for your blog and avoid getting blacklisted – getting PRs and bloggers working together

PR is all about getting exposure for a brand. So, this can mean winning a double-page spread in a national newspaper, or creating an experiential event that gets people talking and twitter all ablaze. It can be about about national press to raise a brand’s image, or local press to drive sales.

Some PRs manage multiple clients in agencies. Some are in-house. When I worked PR, I was the latter. The client tells me what they want from public relations. They give me a budget for samples. They also give me a budget for full products which only go out to The Big Journalists. Everything, from every press release to every sample is approved by them. If they said yes, I steamed ahead. If they said no I’d fight my case, but the ultimate decision rests on them. I had measurements to think about, also known as How I Can Prove I’ve Been Doing My Job. I had targets to reach. If I failed at these consistently I wouldn’t have them a client at the end of the contract.

PR is portrayed as glamorous, full of champers and air kisses. It’s not. It’s high stress sales with creativity and ALL THE IDEAS thrown in. It’s tight deadlines with a helluva lot of expectation. There’s just never enough time. And the champers is needed just to wind down after a high pressure day.

Each blogger has value. Erica and I used to host #mybchat before life got in the way, and it was mainly full of bloggers asking for tips of getting along well with PRs.

And it got me thinking. When I had a product to send out, invites to give away or just some fun news to share, I know the value bloggers have.

How to get my blog found by PRs

How do we find your blog? There are the old favourites, bloggers who have been around the block since LiveJournal. We read these to keep up to date with trends and see what our competitors are doing. And then we see comments left by other bloggers and check out their blogs as we know they’re active in the community. We use twitter lists, Bloglovin and all manner of paid for agencies. Be active on the blogging scene and you’ll get noticed.

So. Here are my five tips for getting PRs to notice your blog, and bagging a few press invites along the way. Oh, and the big one, how to stay on side and avoid the blacklist.
[emaillocker]

Don’t be a catalogue

It’s really, really easy to tell when a blogger’s in it for the freebies. And endless beauty product reviews get a bit dull. How will my product stand out from all the others who smear lipstick over the backs of their hands or do the flamingo pose? Answer: it won’t. A blog with personality and heart will really make all the difference.

Every sample I send to a blogger means a different blogger missing out. So although we’re not paying for content, we still have to budget and allocate to the best and brightest out there.

Say I send over a press release, and you’re interested. Pitch to me. Instead of writing up your experience with xyz moisturiser, make it a bit more of a feature. Maybe give it to boy to review. Or tie it in to a post about your night out. Be creative, show us what you’ve got and let me tell my client why we should invest in you.

There’s nothing better than sending my client a blogger’s pitch who really gets it.

OMG speling n grammer mattaz LOL

I won’t consider ever approaching a blogger with grammatical errors and typos. The worst is apostrophe abuse. Idea’s. Moisturiser’s. PR’s. Too/to. Women/woman. It’s really not that difficult to get your head around and, especially if you want to write for a living, it’s something that needs attention and care. We’re not talking the odd typo here. I’m not that much of a pedant, lord knows how many posts I’ve speed edited after reading an inexcusable typo. But it’s a proven fact spelling errors cheapen a product and drive away sales, so even if a readership is high, I’d give it a miss.

I’m not going to call anyone out on it, of course not. But I do have bloggers on my radar who make far too many errors on a far too regular basis for me to even consider working with. Snobbish maybe. But if I’m thinking that on a fairly small-scale brand, you can be sure high end PRs think the same.

It’s not always about numbers, it’s about engaging with people (and even then it’s still about numbers)

Blogs with high readership are obviously the first port of call, as they’ll reach far more people really quickly. I can’t help that my client wants someone with 250,000 followers on twitter to promote their product. Sorry. It doesn’t mean the blogger’s better than you. In all honesty some high ranking bloggers I’ve never understood their popularity.

A blog with only a few hundred followers, but over thirty or forty comments on each post means that people are engaged and more likely to value what the blogger’s writing about – their blog is more than just a static site, it’s a living breathing conversation. So always keep people engaged as much as possible. Write about what your readers love, and trust me, your readers don’t love reviews after reviews. A survey I carried out for this site showed readers were desperate for more features and less reviews. So guess what we did? We turned down the invitations and started thinking of ideas.

Ask your trusted readers what they love. And what they hate. Take all criticism on board and you’ll come out on top.

Network with other bloggers and create solid friendships so I know when you write about something, your blogging pals will be talking about it too.

New blogger? It takes time. If you’ve only been blogging two months, have a following of a mere handful and post sporadically I can’t work with you.

Yet.

It’s not what you know, it’s who you know

Twitter’s great for this. Are you a beauty blogger? Get to know beauty PRs. Are you more into events and going out? Follow a few experiential agencies. Obviously there’s a level of harassment that you’d want to be aware of, but talk to them. Try and figure out who’s behind the account, as often companies are limited to what they can and can’t say from it. Say hello. Email them with your media pack, and with ideas for a few features that tie in with their client, and see what they say. Work with them on a small project, perhaps requesting images and actually posting content, before asking for all the freebs.

Be friendly, don’t overly promote your blog and keep an eye out on their clients, new wins and contracts ending. Don’t just slap up a press release verbatim. The Daily Mail are flipping awful at doing this and it’s so dull.

Again, network at events when you can. You never know who you’ll meet. If they don’t know you exist, how will they ever contact you?

And now for a rant: Don’t get all bitchy because PRs don’t personalise. Lose the entitlement because if actual journalists don’t care, you really shouldn’t either

Ah, the topic I so passive aggressively tweet about so very often. Entitlement.

You know how many bloggers I have on my press lists? 300. 300 bloggers of all shapes and sizes, of varying ages, of different genres. All of whom I know have value to me and my client in some form or another and are a damn fine writer to boot. I’ve read their blog at some point and thought ‘yeah, you’re awesome, on the list for xyz’. I have another list dedicated to women’s interest magazines and papers. And male interest. Health, beauty and medical too. Newspapers, online, magazines… lists upon lists of names for each release.

So guess what little old me, in a one woman team, isn’t going to do? I’m not going to spend a week emailing each blogger individually waxing lyrical about how great their blog is for the sake of pleasantries with no guarantee it’s going to be worth it. What if I spend an hour reading a blog, crafting a pitch and the blogger doesn’t reply?

x 300.

You see this?

Screen-Shot-2014-07-11-at-16.13.23

You see where we rank? After the Daily Mail, who just went with the press release with a few extra images, and ShortList who used it as a small feature. We got the same information. The Daily Mail didn’t get a personalised email. Neither did ShortList. Neither did I. And yet a blogger deserves one because…?

I think the main problem comes from bloggers having no idea what a press release is.

Screen-Shot-2014-07-10-at-16.12.17

It’s this. This release has no value to this magazine. But all press releases look similar. They’re sent via a mass emailer by the hundreds and thousands. There’s no indication of my name, even an opening greeting. But you bet your ass if music was what I was about I’d be emailing Red Bull back for more details and building that relationship.

I’d be crazy to think that OMG no name *bin* was a valid reason for burning that contact to the ground. I don’t get all stressed that WE DON’T DO MUSIC WHY HAVE YOU APPROACHED ME. Have you ever considered sometimes agencies have more than one client? Or that someone has moved from one agency to another and taken her oh so valuable black book with her?

If a blogger has a sense of entitlement (HOW DARE YOU, LOWLY PR LADY, TAKE YOUR SAMPLES AND ADDRESS ME BY NAME AND READ THE LAST YEAR’S WORTH OF POSTS AND PERHAPS THEN I WILL DEIGN TO INDULGE YOU IN CONVERSATION) they’re blacklisted.

Oh I’ll still read their blog, I’ll even like them as a person.

But if a blogger cant appreciate my job, set by my client, my deadlines, set by my client, my press releases, approved by my client, and my strategy, created with my client, if they can’t understand the absolute stress of creating a story from nothing, of chasing leads all day, of clients demanding results, of there only being 24 hours in a day in which to do this while sleeping for five of those hours, and of the sheer damn unreliability of bloggers, then I don’t see that person as a viable business partnership. Ignore the release, fine. But whine about your name not being on it and OMG HAS THE PR EVEN READ MY BLOG?!!!11!?!, in my eyes at least, you’re unprofessional.

Can you believe I once sent out a release, hand written and personalised to around thirty of the most up and coming blogs of 2000-whenever. I addressed them by name, read their last few posts, did a bit of background research and tailored the experience to them. It took an age.

The invitation was for a night of free drink and fun. A bar tab in the hundreds spent in each venue, taxis to all the hottest bars in London, private tables with bottles of Cristal waiting for them with a hotel stay thrown in if they missed the last tube. Spared no expense.

There I was standing at the bar with my colleague. Ten minutes passed. She wasn’t there. Half an hour. An hour. I’m still waiting years later. What a damn waste of my time. All that effort I put in for her not to show meant another blogger down the list missed out.

How many of you would have passed up that invitation just because you weren’t flattered by the PR first, or your invite wasn’t addressed to you by name? Seriously. The bigger bloggers know not to get all hot and bothered by this because they view PRs as we do them: there are thousands of you, and if you can’t offer me something, someone else will.

Blogging is a hobby. And as that’s the case I take a chance on every blogger I collaborate with. So of course I’m going to hedge my bets and approach more than one at a time – whether that’s for a review, samples, an event or a release. I can’t afford for a blogger to promise the world and give nothing back. It happens on a monthly basis and makes me look like a damn fool every time. I can’t afford for bloggers to mail back a week later showing interest, my deadline has already passed.

Because for the blogger it’s a hobby.

For me it’s my neck on the line.

So sometimes it means offering samples to get an idea of how much interest there is, then allocating according to budget. Yes to some, no to others. Annoying I know, I’ve been there myself trying to arrange a review at a great venue, only to get a ‘sorry, someone bigger wants to come along so we’ll have to miss it this time’. I hate it. But I understand. A client has a budget, and we need to stick to it. It’s nothing personal, just business.

If you get a press release, even a mass-emailed one, take the opportunity from the PR who views you as valuable and use it to form a working relationship so they can start getting to know you as a reliable blogger.

There is an exception. For paid opportunities PRs should know the beat which means knowing a blogger’s brand, what they represent and how the partnership will be mutually beneficial. There is an element of ‘I love your site, let’s work together Blogger Name’ for long term projects, such as brand ambassadors, advertising campaigns where a blogger is used to promote, or feature series. But as a general rule, even if you see a ‘Hello Your Name’, it’s a trick.

Also you can moan if you get a Dear Blogger email, those are pretty lame.

So feel grateful that I think your blog has value even if I have sent an opportunity to you in a mass email. And I’ll feel grateful when you reply, and when you turn up, and when you actually write about the thing I sent you months ago. Stick with me, and I’ll give you the world. But you have to keep your end of the bargain too. A relationship needs to be built and proved before you’ll get a personalised email from me. I’ve offered my hand. You can spit on it, or you can shake it. Your choice.[/emaillocker]

So, these are my tips and my rant. Do you agree? Do you not? Do you care? Do I?