Blogger Relations: Working as a Double Agent
The title of this blog makes it sound a lot more menacing than it actually is – actually, it’s about how nicely my interest in PR and social media overlaps with my interest in blogging!
Since working in PR and especially at Umpf, I’ve become experienced with blogger relations – treat bloggers as the individuals they are and work with them; don’t just ask them what they can do for you. Make sure that whatever you approach a blogger with (be it product to review, competition to run or judge, etc) is worth their time and that they’ll enjoy working with you on it. Sally Whittle, author of Who’s The Mummy, has written a great blog about her experiences, loves and hates while working with PRs.
I started my personal beauty, cosmetics and style blog, Warpaint and Glitter, early this year and while it’s been sadly neglected recently, I have a lot of fun writing it and it’s led me to meet some really lovely people – bloggers and brand PRs alike. Like most bloggers, I started the blog because I’ve got a huge personal interest in what I write about and I like to think I approach it differently than some bloggers (one of my recent posts was about makeup to wear for gigs, when you’re likely to sweat it all off anyway). Plus, considering the amount of money I spend on makeup and clothes I should probably do something constructive with it all!
While I speak to bloggers on a daily basis, whether it’s client-related emails or friendly personal tweets, but I’d never experienced blogger relations from the other side. So when one of my favourite brands, Benefit Cosmetics, invited me to a Northern bloggers event at the beginning of June I was really excited to attend from both a blogger and a PR perspective. I knew it’d be great personally as I’d find out more about Benefit’s history as a brand and get a sneak-peek at some new products but I was also interested to see how Benefit dealt with us as bloggers.
The event itself was great. It was held at Fibre in Leeds, just around the corner from Umpf HQ. Around 20 or so bloggers met in the bar before heading upstairs where we were sat around the room in comfy sofas, surrounded by cakes, makeup and tubs of marshmallows! Benefit’s area managers Michelle and Leanne and business manager Adele met us and split us into smaller groups – I was in a group who first spoke to Michelle and Leanne about Benefit’s brand history (created by sisters Jane and Jean Ford in San Fran in the 70s!)
and the Mascarathon that Benefit is holding to raise money for domestic violence charity Refuge. We were also given a look at Benefit’s new Box O’ Powder lip glosses, which were amazing! We all did a bit of a girly flail while Michelle explained that there was one gloss to match each of Benefit’s iconic Box O’ Powders and they’d be coming out at the end of the month. Cue many excited tweets about us being the first people to get our hands on them! Create a buzz online about new product launches – check.
We then swapped groups and spoke to Adele about Benefit’s new B.right skincare line and a few of the core products in the cosmetics range. While the products look and smell amazing, it was really great to hear how knowledgeable Adele was about exactly what was in the products and why it works as well as it does. Adele also told us about a new liquid foundation that has just been released which took years to develop and create! I’d already purchased the foundation having tried it previously, but hearing about the care and thought put into the products encouraged all of us to buy more, and tell people about it. Create brand ambassadors who tell their followers and subscribers how great and well thought out existing products are – check.
My favourite thing about the event – from both a PR and a blogger point of view – was how upfront the Benefit ladies were about why they needed us. They explained that as a brand that doesn’t advertise, they need bloggers to spread the word about the brand and their new products. It was great to see an established brand such as Benefit forgoing traditional advertising routes and using bloggers as brand ambassadors to spread the word. Very impressed, top marks to Benefit – thanks for a fun and interesting afternoon, from both sides of the fence!