As a quick introduction, this post is part of a series called Words From A Blogger & PR, on how bloggers and PRs work together from someone who is both a blogger and a PR herself: me! For more info on the series, read the Introduction post on my blog where you’ll find a list of all the posts so far.
Having been on both sides of the emails, I’ve picked up a few things about what’s good etiquette when conversing with PRs if you’re a blogger. Some people might not bother to take the time to chat a little, but I think it doesn’t only help to build a great working relationship, but you end up with friends out of it too! I can honestly say that some of the best PRs I’ve worked with, I’d probably now call friends. And I hope that some of the bloggers that have worked with me as a PR would call me a friend too! So I’m here today to give a few bits of inside info to PRs on how you can work best with bloggers and the general etiquette behind contacting them. Of course, much of this is common sense, but you can never underestimate the power of being polite and clear.
Remember that the person you’re talking to at the end of that email is a human – just like you! This goes both ways, as bloggers and PRs will both often forget this. Sometimes a blogger will prefer a professional style conversation, sometimes they’ll want to chat. Take time to gauge how each blogger comes across to you, talk to them about their interests and their blog, and keep up that relationship with them – it’ll make things easier for both sides in the long run.
A blanket attack on every blogger you can find on the internet is not the way forward. Actually read the blogs that you’re approaching to find out if your idea will work for them then address the blogger by name. I can’t emphasise enough how important it is not to just start your email with “Dear Blogger”. Personalise your email to the blogger, make them feel like you’re worth talking to, not just another generic email in their inbox.
One thing that I’ve found a lot of bloggers getting very frustrated about recently is PRs not understanding the amount of work that can go into a blog post and the upkeep of a successful blog. It’s worth bearing in mind that the bloggers you’re approaching may have paid for site hosting and their design, then they’ll be doing their own photography, writing their own content, editing everything…all jobs that are time consuming and can be hard work. What bloggers have been trying to get across to us is that they’re not free advertising. Take a bit of time to understand what the current rate is for what your client needs and don’t take advantage of blogs – it’ll help you in the long run as you’ll be able to build those ever important relationships on a strong foundation.
We all know that what a client wants and what bloggers want can sometimes clash. But being clear at the outset will help to solve any difficult problems you might come across. Make sure to be clear in your emails and state what you’re looking for. If you’re vague or unclear, you’re just going to end up with frustration at both ends if someone misunderstands.
In the second part of this post, you’ll see that this is something that I think is important from both ends. Following on from the last point, make sure to read emails carefully and don’t expect bloggers to do something they’ve said they’d prefer not to. It could be that they disagree over your posting guidelines, but reading what they’ve told you carefully and not overlooking anything is such a simple thing that will make a big difference.
There are full time bloggers out there, but many that I work with on a daily basis just don’t have bags of time to dedicate to it. Bear in mind that life gets in the way sometimes, especially when you’re talking to bloggers who have a full time job, a family, hobbies, basically just anything that can keep them away from the internet. If they aren’t replying to your emails, don’t stress over it or get angry at them – there’s probably a reason they’re not replying, or maybe they’re simply not interested and don’t have the time to do so.
The most important one and very closely tied in with point 1: please always be polite! This will come up in the second part too as it goes for both sides, but I’ve heard of some pretty rude PRs who will give unwanted criticisms of blogs or expect to get something for nothing. You’re only doing yourself favours, so make sure to say please and thank you!