PR Agents and Bloggers: It’s a friendship, not a marriage

by Kelly on October 15, 2011

PR and Bloggers -- Kellogg's Bloggers Brunch

{At a Kellogg’s Blogger’s Brunch organised by Brand Meets Blog}

PR Agents and bloggers: It’s a friendship, not a marriage.  One doesn’t rely on the other to be mutually exclusive. Instead, it’s about forming a relationship that brings about mutual benefit to both parties.

Like all relationships, communication is a huge key to success. However, finding the line between a brand’s desire for social media exposure and keeping true to the individually of a blog can be tricky at times.

The friendship

Consider this an open letter to PR Agencies from me – one blogger. I don’t speak for all bloggers, but I dare say, I may represent a huge chunk of them.  I like PR Agencies. I don’t need them but I like them. Sounds like a fun friendship to me. I like them because I gain access to products, services, experiences and people I would otherwise not have the opportunity to come in contact with. So thank you!

In the same way, I would say PR Agents could run effective campaigns without bloggers. True? However, brands have an amazing opportunity to tap into the dynamic, personal and established realm of social media that is blogging. To me, this is the relationship: it’s based on a mutual respect and one of finding value for both parties.

The what

Each week, my inbox is filled with a fair share of pitches and media releases. What I look for when I click through the envelope icons comes under the categories below.

Content

Number one on my list would be content.  I’m always looking for unique content for my readers. If you can offer me an interview with an interesting person, have someone guest post for my blog, provide post ideas, images, recipes or tutorials, I gladly work a brand through the post.

pr agents and bloggers -- relationship

{Extending a magazine interview into a unique post for my blog}

Experience and Adventure

One of the things blogging has opened up for me is experience and adventure. By providing me with personal experience, I can then pass on something very real to my readers in a way that will fit my blog content.

Press trip to Thailand with Ambi Pur

{Press trip to Thailand with Ambi Pur}

Relationship

What I’m looking for is PR Agents (and brands) who love my blog and what I do, and really then it comes down to trust. I’m always one to give far more than I take and if a brand puts some level of trust in me, I will bend over backwards, not only to promote the product or service, but do it in a way that will connect with readers by demonstrating how the respective product can add value to their life. I don’t like too many restrictions when it comes to dealing with brands because it spoils my creativity, and that’s no fun.

Giveaways

Giveaways are always fun for readers. I personally, keep giveaways proportionally small in relation to my other content; giveaways don’t sway me as much as content.

PR and Bloggers -- octonauts

{Octonauts DVD giveaway}

The how

Yes, I do like it when people use my name (which is Kelly by the way) and indicate they have read my blog. However, that would not be what I would first look for when it comes communications from PR Agencies.

Be Relevant

You can send me a general, non-personal email with open ended respond guidelines, and if it’s amazingly relevant to my blog, I’ll follow it through and suggest how we could approach working together.  I enjoy bouncing ideas back and forth and forming a relationship with PR Agents.

PR and Bloggers -- Kate Bracks Interview

{Interview with Kate Bracks, 2011 Masterchef winner}

Be Personal: Passive vs Active

As I said above, receiving a personal email is nice, and important. However, I’ve been getting pitches for a while and there’s a reoccurring theme to personal emails which makes them not-so-personal. It’s like there’s a general how-to-personalise-an-email-to-a-blogger form.  For example the,

“Kelly, I enjoyed reading your recent post (post name) on (topic). Because you talked about (topic), we thought this product may be of interest to you and your readers,”

is something I get all the time.  After a while, it loses its validity because it’s passive in nature. At the end of the day, I decide what products/content fit into my blog and won’t be swayed by someone else telling me what they think would interest me and my readers.

I’m not saying the standard personal email isn’t effective – because if it’s relevant, I’ll pursue it for sure anyway – but a slightly different, and active approach would hold my attention. Here’s a very broad example:

“Hi Kelly. (Event) is coming up and we have (product) that may work for a post about (interesting post idea). Of course, if you have any ideas, we would love to hear them.  Attached is a media release and pictures to help you make a decision; if you want to know anything more, just ask!”

This way, I can see how the agent is thinking content, not purely products. It’s active and my blogger mind begins to tick.

Be open

Just recently, I received an active email I immediately found interesting.  It was interesting, not because the product represented was expensive (because it wasn’t) but because it was relevant to my readers and I liked the pitch. The email told me everything I needed to know, gave me quality content options to work with and was open-ended, which said to me, “We trust your skill as a blogger.”  I quickly responded to the email with a few added ideas of my own. My ideas were received with excitement, and while there was a little extra work to be done on the agent’s side, it resulted in a unique and interesting post. Win, win. Good for me; good for the brand.

Be Interesting/Creative

It’s generally thought that straight media releases and mass emails are rather useless to bloggers. I disagree.  I’m very open-minded when it comes to content and will scan through everything I receive in my inbox, regardless if it has my name on it or not. Here are some notes on what has encouraged me to look a little closer when it comes to media releases and other forms of communication:

  • Mass emails can be useful to gauge interest. I once received an email starting with “Hi Awesome Blogger” which is so corny but it made me laugh because it was different. It got my attention.
  • In my book, never, ever start with “Hello There!” I would rather there be no salutation.
  • When I scan over a media release, if the information is well-presented and clear, I’ll be more likely to look into it further.
  • It’s all about content for me so if a general email ends with a list of response ideas, it may spark my creativity.
  • I appreciate when people follow me up on an email if I haven’t had time to respond.
  • I don’t close doors on emails, so even though I can’t capitalise on (or reply to) all the offers I receive, I don’t mind them coming through my inbox.
  • Bloggers love comments, and if you’re keen to work with them, try following their blog for a while and engage with them by leaving comments. Trust me: you’ll get their attention.
  • Surprise me. Do something different, something creative, and I’ll listen.

PR and Bloggers

{I immediately wanted to tell everyone about my personalised Kellogg’s Cornflake box}

Two parties, who engage with respect, coupled with the intent of creativity and mutual benefit, is a friendship worth having. Bring. It. On.

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Janet October 15, 2011 at 10:30 am

Intriguing! Thanks for sharing Kel :-) .

Now if only those same brands would realise how cheap and easy it is to advertise in Footprints magazine …

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Kelly October 15, 2011 at 11:00 am

Ha! Well, it’s out there now :D

PR Agents, Footprints Magazine over at http://www.footprintsaustralia.com/ is a cheap, easy and awesome way to advertise ;)

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Janet October 16, 2011 at 1:56 am

Awwww thanks Kel ;-)

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Trish October 15, 2011 at 4:35 pm

Very informative post Kelly. I hope all the PR’s read this post too.
Thank you for sharing !

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Kelly October 16, 2011 at 11:05 am

Thanks Trish.

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Kellie @ Three Li'l Princesses October 16, 2011 at 8:41 am

I’m listening, Kell!! ;)
I agree with everything you’ve said. With Mum PR, I’m also focusing on either unique opportunities for bloggers or, when that’s not possible, smaller campaigns. As a blogger AND PR person, I’ve found this offers more value for the brand and blogger. xx

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Kelly October 16, 2011 at 11:14 am

You would have the perfect insight into both worlds Kell. I agree with smaller campaigns too. I’ve happily done many DVD reviews (like when Tangled came out http://beafunmum.com/2011/05/tangled-movie-review-dvd/). This was just 1 DVD for our family to watch and 1 to giveaway.

I have a few questions for you (if you don’t mind).
1. I often have to decline offers — and especially this month coming where I’m not taking much on (for family reasons) — will the PR Agents write you off as being not interested? As I said in the post, I don’t mind stuff coming into my inbox, even if I can follow through with it all. There just might be something that is just perfect at the time; you just never know.

2. Is there worth in facebook promotion? Sometimes, I can’t fit things on the blog but I’m happy to use my facebook page.
3. Feel free to comment on what PR Agents like from bloggers
4. It seems my address is now on some sort of list so I often get free things in the mail (and I don’t even know they are coming). Can you comment on this?

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Kellie @ Three Li'l Princesses October 17, 2011 at 9:52 pm

Sure thing, Kell. I probably should add that I’m a journo first, blogger second and PR person third, so I may think differently to some PRs. You’ve also inspired a few posts for my Mum PR site, so I’ll link back to here, if you’re Ok with that.
1. The majority of PRs won’t write you off for declining. They will appreciate you being upfront with them. As a blogger, I tend to leave a comment at the end of the email letting them know to continue sending through their releases/pitches. This helps them understand that while this one wasn’t right for me, I am still interested in being pitched to.
2. I think there is. I’ve heard of some bloggers receiving negative responses from some PRs when the Facebook and Twitter suggestion is made. Considering the number of eyes that will see that status on Facebook, I only see it as a positive. I’ve offered this to brands and PRs and so far they’ve all been enthusiastic. They’re just happy for any degree of promotion. I would feel the same for my clients too. I “get” the fact that some brands may not fit with your blog, you may not have space available or you can’t see it warranting an entire post.
3. There’s probably a long list of things I could add here. However, just briefly, I like bloggers who are creative and original with their content. If you can personalise and show how you’ve been able to use that brand within your family’s life, then that to me is more natural and far more interesting to read than straight press release copy. Personal photos, where possible, are a big thing for me too.
4. This is the norm as a journo. Some PRs believe they can convince you to write about their product if you experience it. However, when the product is unsollicited, you are under no obligation to post about it or return it. This is just the way things work. If you don’t want to receive the material, you can email them to let them know.
Hope this all helps, Kell. And feel free to ask any other questions. xx

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Kelly October 18, 2011 at 4:52 am

Thanks Kell! Love having these chats! I don’t mind getting products in the mail, I just can’t write about them all! I totally agree with your point 3. I think that is what makes blogging so unique. It’s so personal. Love that.

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Rebecca October 18, 2011 at 5:14 am

Thanks ladies for your interesting points which are an eye opener for a newbie like me. I’m attending your blogging for business session with Zestee next week, Kelly, so you’ve given me plenty to think about before I can meet you next week. Really looking forward to it!

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Kelly October 19, 2011 at 7:25 am

Hi Rebecca! It will be wonderful to meet you.

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Jacqui (CRAP Mamma) October 23, 2011 at 11:41 am

Thanks for this info Kel and to be honest I’m glad to hear Kellie mention that PRs won’t write you off for declining a pitch. I don’t have PRs knocking down my door at this stage but I recently declined a pitch because the product just didn’t fit in with my blog. I just didn’t think I could authentically promote the product. It was hard to decline it because I’ve only had a few come through and I was concerned that I’d be ‘blacklisted’ (if there is such a thing). Glad to hear that’s not necessarily the case. Jac x

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Kelly October 25, 2011 at 4:53 am

It’s great to get feedback from someone who knows that side of the coin, isn’t it. Always love your feedback Jaq

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Sara @ Tis The Life October 23, 2011 at 12:34 pm

Fantastic post. I appreciate all your hints & tips.

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Kelly October 25, 2011 at 4:53 am

Thanks Sara!

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