As a fledgling blogger and a PR I’ve seen both sides of the story and hopefully this article can offer some helpful tips and insight that will be valuable to PR professionals and bloggers alike.
Bloggers and websites can be a valuable resource for generating coverage. By treating them with respect it is possible to achieve really well written and thoughtful coverage.
The golden rule of building a relationship with bloggers is the same as applies to editors; know their work, what they write about and why. For example not all bloggers who specialise in a particular area take the same approach. If you are looking for a foodie blogger to review your new frying pan you should first check if they have done product reviews before or if their blog is purely recipe based. Equally the mummy blogger with four teenagers probably won’t be interested in the great new baby food your client has just launched.
As well as knowing their content and focus, it is also a good idea to try and learn about the person behind the blog. Bloggers will usually have full time jobs or families in addition to writing their blog, so being mindful of this will give you a much better chance of having them feature your content. Start with finding out their name, which part of the country they live in and read a few of their recent posts; an email that is tailored to them and perhaps compliments them on a recent post will gain their trust and serve as a good base on which to build a relationship. Don’t be frustrated if your email is not answered as quickly as you might light, sometimes you’ll have to wait until out of office hours or the weekend.
Finally, a top tip for building a healthy list of reliable bloggers is to approach new blogs that look promising. You can tell that a blog might be successful if it is well written, updated regularly and has a clear focus. If you want to know how many readers a blogger has there are online tools that you can use, but it is also worthwhile seeing how much interaction occurs in their comments section and how many followers they have on their social media channels.
Some pet hates that are often raised by bloggers are as follows; emails that are impersonal or irrelevant, questions that could be easily answered by reading the blog and expecting something for nothing (eg. asking a blogger to post about something they have not reviewed or tried). By avoiding these you should be on the right track for building a really strong relationship with not just one blogger but their circle, as bloggers often will pass on the details of reliable and helpful PRs to others.
The relationship between most bloggers and PRs is generally good and respectful. However some inexperienced bloggers view PRs as a hotline to free stuff and bloggers who accept free samples and don’t generate coverage get a bad name. PRs will soon become wise to a blogger (or blagger) who sends out a high volume of media requests with no consistency or is always on the hunt for free products.
If you are new to blogging and want to build relationships with PRs and brands it is advisable to first build up a good amount of content for your blog so that PRs can see how you write and if your posts will be a good fit for the products they represent. It is also advisable to come across as reliable and professional, by supplying PRs with the details they need, such as the amount of unique users your blog has or an approximate date that coverage will appear. Doing so you will mean you soon become valuable to them and come across as trustworthy. Many PRs have favourite bloggers that they will go to first before anyone else.
By creating good relationships with PRs, you as a blogger can be offered some previews of products before the general public and be invited to exclusive events; all perks that should inspire you to be proud of your blog and enjoy writing it. Persevering with your blog through the first couple of months and setting yourself goals for how many posts you will generate each week will soon get you noticed. Also try to utilise social media channels to publicise your content and interact with others in the blogging community, brands and PRs. A successful blog can sometimes really take off and soon your hobby could be your full time profession!