PR and Blogger Relations: Can’t We All Just Get Along?
The relationship between PRs and bloggers, although each is essential to the other, is a battlefield. As a bit of a ‘double agent’ I occasionally take part in weekly blogger chats on Twitter, such as #bbloggers, and not a week goes by without a participant tweeting about being approached or hassled by a less-than-lovely PR person, or querying about the best way to approach PRs. Let’s be honest – sometimes, we’re all a bit clueless.
But – good news: it’s not that hard! We’re all people after all, and more often than not PRs and bloggers share the same interests. It’s actually really simple to make sure that our relationships are mutually beneficial and keep the peace. The most important thing to bear in mind is – what’s in it for the other party involved? You might think that – as either a PR or a blogger – you’re the be all and end all to the person you’re approaching to work with, but try and see things from their point of view. Will this product/pitch/press information enhance this blogger’s site? Is it something that they’re interested in, or are you just looking for easy hits? Similarly, as a blogger are you and your readers really interested in this brand’s product and will a freebie for you really benefit the brand?
As friendly as we might be with bloggers and PRs that we work with, we’re still doing business and it’s important to be polite (manners get you everywhere – rude emails and snarky tweets do not), professional and honest. Stick to your word and if things change, as can often happen in the world of PR and blogging, let the people that you’re working with know. It’s not the end of the world when plans change and your honesty will keep your partnership on track, whereas hiding information and suddenly going incommunicado smacks of unprofessionalism and disorganisation. Both the worlds of PR and blogging can be hectic, but it takes five minutes of your time to send a friendly update email or make a quick call and everyone involved is usually much more satisfied for doing so.
That said, it’s really important to make an effort with bloggers and PRs outside of your business relationship too. Not only does it show that you care about making sure your business relationship works, it makes things much more pleasant too. Although there is the odd rogue blogger that’s just in it for the freebies, fortunately most bloggers write for the love of blogging and to share their knowledge. Similarly, PR is one of those professions that everyone in it seems to love (mostly, anyway!) and we want to do a good job for our clients. Of course there’s going to be a few bumps in the road, but doesn’t it make both of our jobs easier if we just get along? That said, here are a few of our favourite tips for PR / blogger lovin’:
As a PR:
– DO thoroughly research your blogger before making contact. Useful sites such as Bloggabase make an ill-informed approach inexcusable and you should, at the very least, read a few of your blogger’s posts before getting in touch.
– DON’T pull the incredibly transparent ‘I loved your latest post!’ card. If you did read it and you did love it, be specific – what did you like about it? We all like our work to feel valued, and that’s worth keeping in mind.
– Similarly, DO be specific. Why do you think this blogger would love your brand/product/news? Make them care if it’s worth their while. Otherwise, what’s the point?
– DO stay in touch. We all know how hectic it can be, and a day or a week can fly by, but take five minutes to drop any bloggers you’re working with a note to let them know of any updates, setbacks or changes of plan.
– DO remember that, for some, blogging is a full-time job and even if it isn’t, it’s flipping hard work. Most bloggers are experts in writing, photography, SEO and social media skills and that’s the very beginning of it – appreciate how much work it takes to maintain a well-populated blog.
– This is a biggie: DON’T bad-mouth bloggers online. No matter how annoyed you are, it’s never fair to slander someone online – it’s not big, it’s not clever and it IS bullying. Don’t do it.
– DO approach bloggers with something different. You’re far more likely to get a positive response if you’ve got something new, exciting and experience-based to offer a blogger.
– DO keep notes. There’s nothing more annoying to a blogger than approaching them over and over again about the same thing. Keeping a thorough spreadsheet will keep you on top of your relationships.
As a Blogger:
– DO talk to PRs! Don’t be afraid to approach us with any questions or queries you might have. There’s no such thing as a stupid question (really!) and if we don’t know the answer, we’ll do our best to find out for you.
– DON’T assume we’ve always got freebies. Sometimes we’d really love to give you a product to try, but it isn’t available for whatever reason (timings, budget, etc).
– DO come to us with the facts. Want to make the initial approach to review some of our clients’ products? Tell us why you and your audience would be right for this. Approach us with facts and figures – it’s very much appreciated and streamlines the whole process from both sides.
– DO pass on PR samples. This is a controversial subject, but sometimes you’ll try a product and find it’s not for you. If that’s the case, please do feel free to give it to a friend or fellow blogger!
– DO remember that PRs have a number of clients and are usually very busy. PRs will always do their best to be easy-to-reach but sometimes events take up a full day or a crisis has to take precedence so please be patient.
– As with the PR rules: DON’T say anything negative about PRs online. If you need an issue resolved then by all means, take it to a brand’s Facebook page or drop them a Tweet – PRs understand more than anyone that sometimes this is the quickest and easiest way to get a resolution. However, please don’t get personal about specific PRs – again, it’s a form of bullying and there’s always a more friendly solution.
– DO be honest. Don’t like a product? That’s fine! Never feel pressured to post a positive review, even if you’ve received a freebie.
– DO stick to your word. If you say that you’re going to write a post or attend an event but something changes, that’s fine – just let your PR contact know. There’s usually an easy solution!
For more useful information about blogger relations, visit Best British Bloggers, Bloggabase or speak to one of our favourite bloggers – both Sally Whittle and Jayne Read have written brilliant posts on the subject of blogger / PR relations.