If you’re a blogger or PR, the chances are, you’ve had a moan about the other at least once. There seems to be a major discord between PRs, so used to working with traditional press and celebrities, and bloggers who have an audience to rival The Saturdays and are more media-savvy than most of today’s brands. The real issue? Let me be frank (and stereotypical): PRs think bloggers are below them. They don’t issue these girls and guys with the same respect that they do for someone they believe has ‘actually earned their way to the top’ such as Kim Kardashian (ahem) or say, Cara Delevingne or Laura Whitmore. They begrudge giving them access to their clients and expect that they should write about and promote their client’s new beauty line all for the cost of a cheap mascara. Bloggers on the other hand, resent PRs who they feel, should treat them like the journalist/celebrity they are and appreciate the time and effort it has taken them to build up such a large audience by paying them to cover the stories, products and services they write about.
The result? Two parties, forced to work together, who don’t like each other very much. Now don’t get me wrong, there are exceptions to the rule. There are PRs who love bloggers (I am one example), who fully ‘get’ the power of these campaigns and who work hard to explain the benefits of ‘influencer outreach’ projects to their bosses and clients. There are also bloggers who are fully respectful of PRs and who lean over backwards in order to build a positive and mutually-beneficial relationship.
But as both a blogger and a PR/marketer I feel that I am well equipped to take on the task of laying down some ground rules, that will help both parties to work together in a much more harmonious blogger-PR ecosystem. Because guys, there’s a way this is supposed to work.
The PR’s guide to working with bloggers
Firstly I’ll start with the PRs because they’re usually the ones who initiate the first move of contact. So here are, in my experience, the ground rules for any PR looking to work with a blogger:
- Just like you would with a traditional press journalist, find out a little more about them before you reach out to work with a blogger. Luckily for you, this is easy – they’ve written a whole blog about what they do and don’t like! For example, if you are looking for people to promote your skincare brand – find out what type of skin the blogger has first. If you are with a home interiors company, see if you can find any posts related to what the blogger usually buys for their home, or how they dress up their living room. This will increase your chances of a successful campaign and relationship.
- Before making contact find out if they have an agent – bloggers will usually write this on their ‘contact me’ page and if they do, contact them directly for any sponsored or advertising opportunities. This will save you time and also provide you with a more neutral point of contact to liase with, whose job is to make this relationship work.
- Know what you’re getting yourself into. There are almost definitely bloggers you can work with who have smaller audiences and who will review your products/services for free. For this, I would suggest putting a call out on Twitter, saying you are looking for bloggers interested in writing a review of your product or service. This way, you allow the bloggers to approach you, knowing full well that they are entering into a commitment to write a review, for the price of the free product you are sending them. Hashtags such as #Bloggerswanted, #Bloggersrequired and #Bloggerrequest will help you out here.
- Respect what the blogger has built. If you are looking to work with a blogger who has built a larger audience, either through social channels, or through their number of site hits, be prepared to pay. There is a blogger for every budget – I have worked with ones who will write a sponsored post and throw in a few social media shares for as little as £300, for which we saw around 300 new site visitors and I have also worked with bloggers who charge £8,000 for a mention in their YouTube video, who send millions of referrals to your site. Don’t insult either of them, in that you expect them to give you this type of access for free.
- Be crystal clear about your expectations before you enter into any contract. Some bloggers will have agents who you can negotiate with and some you will work with direct, but either way, ensure you find out everything you need to know first to minimise disappointment for you or your client later on. Ask them what type of reach they expect the post to get, how they signify that the post is an ad or sponsored, will they include pictures? What about social media – will they be prepared to promote this across their social channels within the given cost? If so, which ones and how many times? This may seem like a lot of questions, but it is often essential to ensure that both parties are happy and if the blogger refuses, then perhaps gently remind them that it is for both of your benefit and if you were advertising in a magazine it would be only too happy to discuss page position, readership and promotion with you.
The Bloggers guide to working with PRs
Bloggers, in lieu of building a good relationship that gets you lots of coverage and creates a strong relationship for the future (because PRs move around a lot) here are a few things I think are important to note when looking to enter a blogger/PR relationship:
- Be crystal clear about your expectations and don’t be afraid to hold on to your integrity. There is no shame in standing by your values of what you will and will not do when working with a brand. Your blog is your personal hub and as a result, you have the say on what goes on there. Some PRs will try to coerce the world out of you and it’s always okay to say no if it doesn’t work for your blog.
- Be grateful. This is the number one mistake I see bloggers make, when they think about the work as an entitlement rather than a collaborative project. Yes you may have built an audience and worked hard to get to where you are, but without advertising and sponsored posts, it’s unlikely that the blogging ecosystem will remain one where people can leave their fulltime jobs to make it a career. Don’t bite the hand that feeds you over a tweet or two.
- Think about the brand as a partner, rather than as an employer. This means that you should always work hard to please the partner you have worked with, rather than just doing the bare minimum, taking the payment and expecting everyone to be happy with the result. If you are agreeing to be paid by a brand to write about their product, you have signed up to become an advocate for them, however temporary this may be. In my opinion, this means you should engage with them, show them off to your followers and try to make the post as much of a success as your un-sponsored posts. As someone who works with lots of different brands, often in the same category, I always remember the bloggers who approached the projects with enthusiasm and who tried hard to keep both my client and their followers happy. The ones who moaned, put little effort in and made it clear that the only reason they do sponsored work is to pay the bills, are the ones I won’t work with again.
- Don’t accept free samples if you don’t think you will want to cover them. Obviously this may be difficult to know until you’ve seen, felt and used them, but if you write about fashion, accepting a lawnmower is probably not going to be for your audience, as shiny and great as it might be.
- Feel free to reach out to PRs and marketers if you think you might have a project for them. They’re always excited to hear about new ideas and collaborations and it shows that you are passionate about working with their brand; a stellar foundation for any relationship.
So what do you think, do you agree that these rules are the start of a shiny new blogger-PR ecosystem or are you less than convinced? Is there something KEY I’ve missed out on how us PRs and bloggers should be acting? Let me know in the comments below or on Twitter – I’d love to hear your thoughts!