Guess what? The same things that irritate PRs and brand managers about bloggers and influencers, work in reverse too.
While writing a post with advice for bloggers and influencers on successfully pitching to PR’s, brand managers and marketers, I also asked some of the bloggers I work with what they most wanted from their side of the equation.
Turns out we all want the same thing – mutually beneficial relationships and to be treated with respect and courtesy.
The biggest overriding theme of our conversations was that this is about working together and building relationships; that you’ll be appreciated for taking time to do your research on a blogger and their work, and for feedback and thank you’s; and that targeted, personal communication matters, as does the simple quality of being polite.
So here, some in their own words, are what local bloggers and social media influencers would like to see when working with PRs and their clients.
Make it personal
You hate it when a blogger sends you a generic “hi”, right? Those emails that show zero insight, zero research, zero idea of how they could add value for your client, just seem to be looking for a freebie? The feeling is mutual.
Find out the blogger or influencer’s actual name on their social media or blog – “if your email starts with ‘hi there lifeisanorangebeetle’ you can bet it’s going straight to the spam folder.”
Introduce yourself, your agency and your client, and show that you know what the blogger’s niche is. They’ll be much more receptive to your press releases if they have an idea that your content will be of interest to their readers/followers.
Do your homework
Before you make your pitch, find out the blogger’s purpose and their areas of interest. What is their rationale for what they do? Are they pursuing a passion project or making a living from blogging? If they charge, what do they charge? What are their expectations from partnerships or collabs?
“I will happily post without being paid or a trade exchange. Others require a clear contract and monetary value.”
Understanding their rationale will help you in developing your proposed collaboration or offer.
And remember those two golden words – “mutually beneficial”. Whether you’re an agency pitching to an influencer, or vice versa, understand how to professionally present a mutually beneficial value proposition.
Don’t spray ‘n pray
“It literally takes max 30 seconds to find out what a creator’s niche is by merely reading their Insta or Twitter bio or quickly popping onto their website, but it seems the lazy route is to just send out random emails and hope for the best.”
Take the time to look through your target’s social media feeds and see what they’re interested in (hint: the blog name or handle isn’t always a great clue).
Send press releases and product drops that align with the blogger’s interests and what they share with their audience.
Don’t bombard people (this goes as much for “traditional” journalists as it does for bloggers) with every single press release you issue, irrespective of whether it’s relevant to them. They will quickly see that you’re merely managing mass-mailing lists and the chances are they’ll ignore you when you DO send something relevant.
“Quality over quantity! Some PRs send stuff daily and I wonder if they are paid per press release? Or maybe by the number of people it’s sent to?”
Don’t be that person.
We’re not your unpaid staff
So you think all bloggers are just out for freebies? On the other hand, there are PRs and marketers who behave as if bloggers are the route to free publicity and social media marketing.
“Don’t treat me like a slave. ‘I sent you X product (unsolicited, mind you), so now you owe me.’ It feels like the dop system.”
Bloggers and influencers are not your “social media skivvy” and what really irks them is receiving a press release from a PR, who they don’t have a relationship with and who doesn’t bother to introduce themselves, with a request to “send these out”.
“Why would I want to send out random press releases or brand info, for free, for a random PR (I have no relationship with) who is being paid by their client?”
Or as another blogger puts it, “collaboration before favours”. Build the relationship, find collaboration opportunities, and then the blogger may well be willing to share your content – IF it’s relevant to their niche and they feel it’s of interest to their audience.
It’s always the recipient’s choice as to whether or not they post, share or write about what you’ve sent. Ask nicely, and give them the opportunity to say yes or no.
This doesn’t mean you have to pay a blogger to share or use your content, but it is about building relationships and collaboration, not simply expecting “free coverage”.
Attention to detail
No one likes a sloppy press release. If you provide links to download images or more info, make sure they work before you send. Provide captions or info for images. Double-check the spelling of people’s names in your copy. Use spell check and grammar check. Have someone proofread your copy.
Have you answered the basic questions – who, what, when, where, why and how?
If it’s a product release – how much does the product cost? Where can people buy it?
If it’s a place – are bookings required? What are the opening times? Include contact details for bookings.
Check your image
Supply good quality images, in a format the blogger can use (check with them what they prefer). Or load them up to Google Drive or WeTransfer or Dropbox and provide a link to download them.
One of the most useful things a PR can do is educate themselves on the types and formats of images (file type, resolution, orientation, etc) that are needed by the various types of media they are targeting – what a micro-blogger on Instagram can use is most likely vastly different to what an A4 print magazine needs
If you’re offering a meal, a bottle of wine, a weekend, whatever … be specific upfront about what you expect in return. Give the blogger the opportunity to consider whether the exchange will work for both of you.
Don’t hold out an opportunity as “free” and then come later with expectations of content being created.
And don’t keep shifting the goalposts. If there’s an exchange agreed, provide detailed deliverables and timelines, and stick to them.
Several bloggers mentioned that PRs and their clients’ expectations are unrealistic – what’s expected in terms of the amount of content, different platforms and so on often doesn’t match up to the value of what’s being offered, whether it’s payment or trade exchange or product sampling.
It takes time to create quality content – writing, editing photos, putting the blog together – and, even if you’re not paying the blogger, there is a value attached to their time and effort.
Money, money, money …
To pay or not to pay? Well, that’s up to you, and your client’s budget. But if you DO enter a paid arrangement with a blogger or influencer, make sure the expectations, deliverables and timelines are clear and mutually agreed in writing.
Agree a timeline for payment, and stick to it. The blogger also has bills to pay.
And remember – you’re paying for time, expertise, audience. You don’t own the blogger or their work.
“I can honestly say that all my paid work I’ve done with PR’s in the past have been terrible experiences, as there is a sudden sense of entitlement and ownership involved as soon as money exchanges hands.”
Share the love
As much as PRs are irritated by a lack of the good manners our mothers drilled into us – no acknowledgement of receiving a product drop, let alone a simple “thank you” – when bloggers and influencers take the time to share your content, the least you can do is give them a like, a share, a comment. Maybe even a “thank you”. It’s a two-way street.
“I love it when the brand and their PR react to posts – any kind of interaction or feedback is great!”
“The worst is when you create content or share something, and the PR company’s response is radio silence – not a like or a share or a comment. That’s just plain rude. “
If you’re asking the blogger to tag you and your client across all their platforms, then do the same for them. You’ve put effort into setting up the opportunity, they’ve put effort into creating the content, so make sure you get maximum value out of it beyond a share or a re-tweet. Make the exposure mutually beneficial and value-adding.
Many bloggers are also happy to share their images with you for your own use, as long as you tag and credit them.
Relationships are everything
“Quality communication, mutual respect and how we can help each other to reach our goals – that is surely what it’s all about?”
Bloggers want to know who they’re working with, and to be treated as individuals – not as just one of 500 people on a mailing list.
They appreciate open, transparent communication – if there’s a problem, say so, and work together to a resolution.
Show understanding that “life happens”, and that some bloggers do this in their spare time outside of 9-5 jobs. It also takes time to create quality content. So if things are taking longer than anticipated, find a way to work out a solution that suits all parties.
As much as bloggers seek “collaboration, not favours”, they’ll also go the extra mile and over-deliver for PRs who’ve taken the trouble to build good working relationships.
Bottom line? Bloggers want relationships based on trust, respect and honesty. Well, hell, don’t we all?!