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.

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