A Very Basic Guide to PR for Bloggers
Working with a ‘PR’ (Public Relation, not to be mistaken with Press Release) is becoming more and more popular for bloggers as the majority of the time, people look for reviews on products before buying them and bloggers have a huge online reach. Therefore, we are perfect marketing tools for companies for many reasons. Working with a PR basically means that you’ll be sent products to review, or write a sponsored post for a company for money (read my latest post on Everything Bloggers Need to Know about Sponsored Posts) Some companies have their own PR team and others employ an external marketing company.
Some people may think that it’s all about the freebies, but it’s actually all about making connections, building your audience and if blogging is something you’d like to do professionally, then it’s vital to grow your brand. PR people don’t have senses for when someone starts up a blog to offer to work with them straight away. They have to be able to find you easily and without much effort. If you are interested in expanding your blog and working with companies then there are a few things you can do…..
It’s always important to have your email address in plain sight somewhere on your blog. If you decide to embed it into your template it means that it cannot be copied and pasted. There’s nothing wrong with this but just be sure that it’s easy to remember and you’ve got it somewhere as a text format so it can be copied across as no one wants to spend their time making sure they’ve spelt your address properly, when they can simply copy and paste it. I’d definitely recommend putting it in your Twitter bio, as it’s incredibly visible and sometimes, brands already know who they want to work with and just want to get in touch quickly.
You don’t necessarily have to say you’re PR Friendly, as sometimes this can come across as you’re ‘begging’ for samples, so simply having your address openly placed, to me, means that you’re welcoming emails.
Make sure you’re staying active across social media outlets and posting your content out there for others to read. Follow your favourite companies and if their PR team have a separate account, follow that too. If you post a review on a certain company, tag them, share it on their Facebook, tweet them a link. Get yourself out there and known to them. Whether it be answering their tweets, or even entering all their competitions, you never know when one day they’re going to click onto your blog, fall in love with your content and want to work with you.
Sometimes, if you’re not suitable for a certain campaign or if the company tweets that they want someone specific, be sure to ask if you can share the campaign with people you know who are suitable, or if it’s on Twitter, simply tag them! Sharing is caring and in this case, it can get you more noticed if you’re willing to pass over an opportunity as those bloggers are most likely to return the favour when appropriate.
Other bloggers seem shocked when I say I’ve contacted companies first. Often on Twitter I’ll have small companies follow me, sometimes that are just starting out and who are looking for more publicity. If I have taken a liking to their products I’ll just send them a email/DM saying so and asking to be put on their mailing list for any upcoming blogger opportunities. It’s not cheeky, it’s simply sharing an interest and knowing that it’ll make good content for my blog, as well as helping their company grow in the process. It’s mutually beneficial.
If the thought of this terrifies you, instead look out for tweets from companies looking for bloggers. This can be done easily with Twitter’s advance search of ‘bloggers needed/wanted’, some even use the tag ‘#prrequest’, although, this is mainly people begging for ridiculous things now, so do look out for the genuine brand requests. This way you can easily get on a company’s radar without the scary thought of messaging privately.
When replying back to a search for bloggers usually you’re asked for your statistics. A great and easy way to keep track of these is on Google Analytics (I’m no expert on this so again check out Xomisse’s Beginners Guide to Google Analytics
) Just be sure not to lie, if you claim to have over 100k views every month but have 5 followers/no comments on any posts, it’ll be obvious that you’re not telling the truth and they could ask for photographic evidence.
Blogger stats are not accurate so make sure you install Google Analytics as soon as possible!
Despite what you might think, you don’t have to accept every email that comes in. I mean, is your target audience really going to be interested in something you’re not? A PR won’t take offence as long as you politely say that it’s not appropriate for your niche, at this point you could even recommend a fellow blogger who you know would be interested.
As well as this, don’t sell yourself short. When being asked to do a sponsored post I’ve seen bloggers accept pennies to thousands. It’s important to have a worked out rate, so do read my post on Everything You Need to know About Sponsored Posts
and how to value what you have to offer. Simply because, we do all the work. For a lot of us we can spend hours, even days trying to perfect a post, taking that perfect shot or just truly being happy enough with a post to have it out there.
I’ve once been asked to write an article of my choice but using so many keywords/a link, that was 250-350 words long, and that had 3 photos, (some long list anyway) for $9. That would have worked out to a little more than a £5. No chance!
Make sure you’ve got yourself covered with a disclosure policy, Google’s policy means that both blogger and company will be penalised if paid for links do not have the ‘no follow’ attribute, which is definitely worth reading up on. (Here’s a post on Selling Links for Page Rank
which explains further and states the penalties.) If you don’t already have a disclosure policy
(click the link to make one) and you’re doing a sponsored post (post for money) make sure this is clear beforehand that it will be a no follow link. If a company asks you to ignore this then they are not working by the rules and should really know better. These are definitely not the kind of company you want to work with. Do feel free to check out my Disclaimer
where I’ve added quite a few things to keep myself covered for when companies are cheeky and/or annoying.
Posting the review
Unless it’s a product that needs a lot of time to see the effects, don’t put it off. PRs like to work with people who are organised and efficient. Often if you’re sent a new product, or one for a special occasion, they’ll want to see it in an acceptable amount of time or the time agreed. Depending on how often you blog, I would say 1 or 2 weeks turnout for a PR sample. For example, you don’t want to see a review of a Christmas product in May and often, these PRs do have set times for their campaigns, and/or their clients expect it done in a set amount of time.
Some people like to do a whole post about a gifted item if it’s interesting enough to write that much about, others include them together with other products, it’s completely up to you as you’re the content creator. Obviously unless you’ve been asked and agreed to feature it alone.
Personally, I’ve got to the point where nearly every post is a PR sample now, as that’s the content of this blog, the latest things out there, and featuring brands from around the World. My turnaround could be anywhere from 1 week, to 2 months depending on how busy I am and how long the product takes to review. Try and make this clear in your disclaimer or to the individual PRs as it’s always advised to keep them in the loop, especially if you want future work.
Didn’t like the product?
If you’ve been gifted a product to review, don’t go slating it all over the internet! It looks terrible and will definitely put PRs off from working with you again. I’m not saying don’t be honest, I’m saying to simply send them a polite email explaining why you can’t feature it on your blog. For example, if the product is not suitable for you at all, or you end up being allergic to it. It doesn’t mean that everyone else will be, so you shouldn’t really slate it because you personally don’t get on with it. PRs will appreciate your honesty a lot more and that way the feedback can be passed on to the company and changes can potentially be made.
Sometimes, a company will ask you to pull the post, in this case, all you’ve done is use a product a couple times and not like it. You’ve not lost out on anything. Other times, companies will appreciate that your readers need your honesty and won’t mind you going ahead.
I always say it’s best to check first if a product is completely not for you. In some cases, and most with my negative reviews, the product will have one or two points I can write about neutrally and then just state that I’m not a fan and all the reasons why I don’t like it. This will still upset some PRs/Brands and I definitely haven’t heard from a couple after doing this, but if a negative review of the product will make good content (sometimes they’re just not worth your words), go for it, you should all know me by now, I’m the first to call bullshit!
Of course there are the odd occasions when an email will just be spam. You can usually tell if there isn’t any information at the end of the email, an actual PR person usual has their company, links, and contact details at the end of the email, but sometimes they do email from gmail accounts when they’re freelancers. If something seems a little off, get in contact with the company, Google them, ask around, it’s better safe than sorry and there are tonnes of Facebook groups, trustworthy bloggers and places you can go to check if an opp is legit.
If you’ve been invited somewhere, make sure you know others who are, ask to take a friend, make sure it’s completely legit. I’ve once turned up to a club after being invited by a PR person for them to have no idea why I was there. Not only was this extremely embarrassing but I was also in potential danger as that email could have come from anyone, luckily I took a friend and we left pretty much straight away. Fortunately in this case, it was just a big mix up and a lot of apologies were made, but this could happen to anyone at any time and it’s always worth doing research beforehand.
If you’ve made it to the end, well done. I didn’t realise how much I had to say on everything but I do hope this has helped you out, and if it has let me know in the comments, as well as if I’ve missed out anything.