Before going on maternity leave I built a pretty good career for myself in the world of PR. I always worked ‘agency side’, so dealt with all manner of clients, publications, journalists, events and of course – bloggers. It was kind of what gave me the idea to set up my own blog once I suddenly found myself at home with nothing to do but look after a newborn baby (ha!).
I never thought I’d actually get approached by PRs myself one day and admittedly, I quite prefer it over this side. It’s refreshing to be able to write about whatever I like, and to be in control of what I get to publish. It’s also nice to be able to put my name to my own writing – rather than always bi-lining it to a client or having a journalist make a couple of edits and print it as their own. But as careers go, I do love PR and I continue to work as a freelancer now.
Don’t be afraid to make contact
PRs are always on the look out for new ways to promote their clients – through relevant and and effective media channels. Obtaining content on relevant blogs is fast becoming an intrinsic part of PR campaigns and something that their clients can see the value of. A friendly email to introduce yourself and your blog will certainly not be begrudged. If you have a media kit, send it out! They are probably busy and you might not get a reply, but the chances are they will keep your details on file for when a relevant opportunity does come up. Try emailing an account manager or an account executive, rather than a director, to increase your chances of getting a reply.
Get yourself listed on media databases
There are a number of media databases, such as Vuelio and Cision that PRs use on a daily basis to search for media contacts. Back when I worked in the office, blogger contacts on these databases were still quite limited in comparison to mainstream media, but it seems the research teams have responded to demand from PRs for better blogger contact information and indexing. Blogs can be selected based on a number of variables such as content, region, stats etc. Some databases will only show the top 500 blogs within a certain topic (e.g. parenting), which is based on your Moz ranking, but it’s definitely worth getting in touch to see if they can list you.
Be honest and up-front
The single most frustrating thing about working in PR is the empty promises you are constantly made by the media. Editors tell you that your story will be printed, you inform your client and then…nothing. I’ve had this with bloggers in the past too who took freebies or attended all-expenses paid days out without ever writing up the review or responding to follow-up emails. It’s a sure-fire way to get you on the ‘blogger blacklist’ and never to be contacted by that company again. If you can’t commit to seeing the project through then don’t take it on. Likewise, if you can’t stick to a deadline you’ve promised just let them know. Most of the time PRs just need to keep their client informed and will be grateful for your honesty.
You may write your blog from your sofa in your pajamas at an ungodly hour in the morning, but PR is still very much an office-based industry where every day 9-5 (actually more like 8-6) counts. If you’re working with a PR, try and keep them up to date and respond to emails on a daily basis. Also bare in mind that they will always be wanting to showcase the value of what you’re offering to their clients – who they’ve convinced that you are worthy of their time (and therefore the client’s PR budget). So be sure to offer them details of how a sponsored post has performed in terms of page views, social media reach etc. At the end of the day, PR is all about getting results.
Respond to emails – even if it’s not relevant
If you receive an email from a PR but the opportunity doesn’t quite fit with your niche, or you just don’t see the value in the offering, try and reply with an alternative suggestion, or politely thank them for the information, explain it’s not quite right and ask them to keep you in mind for future campaigns. You’d be amazed at the amount of editors PRs contact each week with no reply – they’d probably appreciate the response and it’s a way of building up contacts for the future. I’m not talking about the press releases that are sent out at random on a blanket email and you’re one of 1000 contacts – that’s just shoddy PR if you ask me.
If you don’t ask, you don’t get
Similarly, if you receive a press release or are asked to do a product review, don’t be afraid to reply and ask if the client has any budget for the campaign. You decide what you think your time and influence is worth. When I first started to blog I would happily accept any (relevant) product for a review, but now I stipulate a minimum product value of £50 – which I think is fair given the time and effort it takes to write the post, edit photographs, promote on social media etc. Similarly I’ll always reply with options for sponsored content and guest posts on the site. Most of the time the PR won’t have budget available, but if they think it’s worthwhile, they may be able to convince their client.
Have you worked with PR companies? What other tips would you give for how bloggers can work with PRs?