When I first set out to write this article I reached out to a few blogger friends for their opinions, thinking this would be a compilation piece with 10 pet peeves (err tips) from the blogging biz’s best.
I thought the replies would be as varied as the bloggers I hoped to feature.
I should have known better.
The fact is, all of the things bloggers wish PR pros knew circles back to the same theme: we wish we were treated as real people and that you valued the relationship. It seems as if some PR pros have forgotten that we’re not merely robots here to regurgitate their (sometimes less than brilliant) press releases to the audiences we’ve worked our bums off to grow and nurture.
Follow rules of regular human relationship building and you’re unlikely to fall prey to these mishaps. Unclear on these usual relationship rules? Read on... (these will probably help more than just your PR career… your dating life may even flourish too).
The 8 Things Every PR Pro Should Know About Bloggers
1. Don't Dear Blogger Me.
When you send an email titled “Dear Blogger” it’s like sending an email to your Aunt saying “Dear Family Member.” It’s impersonal and not quite appropriate. We’re real people, with real names. Please use them. If you don’t know how to auto-populate the fields in your emails, learn – or (I know, it’s a novel idea) actually write real emails to the select media outlets you’re really courting and for whom your pitch is a good fit.
2. Know to Whom You’re Pitching.
I can’t even tell you how many pitches I receive each week for weight loss and plastic surgery – two things that if you spent 5 minutes on TheBeautyBean.com you would know we never cover. It’s relatively easy to customize your email blasts to different audiences, so take advantage of that feature. When you send us something that so clearly screams, “I have no idea who you are or what you stand for” you jeopardize the relationship – and yes, it’s all about relationships. Which is why you should…
3. Use Social to Get Connected
Follow your “dream team” of editors/bloggers on twitter and friend them on Facebook. We often post about things we’re working on, problems we’re dealing with, etc. If you hear that an editor you love just dyed her hair and (unsolicited) send your color-protecting hair care line, you will score major brownie points – in much the same way that a surprise ticket to a Broadway show your mom’s been dropping hints about instantly makes you the favorite child (kidding…. maybe!).
4. Act Like We're Dating
Talking about relationships, think of your relationships with bloggers as you would a date you’re trying to court. You wouldn’t email a new boyfriend asking him obsessively whether or not he’s received your gift, opened it, tried it, liked it, plans on writing you a thank you note or will tell his family about it. You certainly wouldn’t email him asking if he’s going to tweet about your gift or Facebook post about it. Yeah… same goes for product samples – pretty much. A simple, “wanted to check in and see if you have any questions” is professionally appropriate. Stalking is not.
5. Don't Be Pushy
Asking when we’ll be covering your product is like asking when you’ll receive a thank you note. If you want to follow up on a sample that’s been sent, you can email to confirm it was received, to ask for feedback or to see if we need anything else – but don’t assume that this means that we liked your product or that it will be included in any coverage. Push for coverage of something we didn’t like and you may regret the review later.
6. There's No Such Thing As a Guaranteed Post, Unless it's an Advertisement
If you want to guarantee a post – and a praising one at that – they’re called advertisements or sponsored posts and they cost money. Editorial content is where we control what’s covered and when. If you send a pitch, we can write about your product however we see fit, if and when we see fit. If you ask for us to do something specific, though, that’s what we get paid for. Don’t email asking us to shoot a video for you talking about 3 specific points and expect us to jump at the opportunity unless you’re paying for our endorsement, time, reach and on-air talent.
7. Fewer Steps = Faster Post
When you ask a favor of a friend – say, to watch your dog for a long weekend, you don’t also ask her to drive 20 miles to come pick up and drop off your dog and require her to head to the pet store for your specific pick of dog food (or at least I hope not). You likely pack up everything your dog needs for the weekend and make it as easy as possible for your friend. Similarly, when you’re asking a favor of a blogger, make it easy. If you have an expert you’re trying to get coverage for and she can talk about a few different topics, tell us what they are – don’t make us email you to ask. If you’re pitching a product, make sure we can see what it is. The more steps you ask of us, the less likely we are to take them.
8. Be Nice
Again, it’s all about relationships and a little kindness goes a long way. If it doesn’t work out this time, you don’t want to burn the bridge for future opportunities.