5 Things PR’s Should Know When Approaching Bloggers

Hi Lovelies, how are we all today?

This weeks post is a little bit more centered towards the blogging community rather than non-blogger readers, but after reading numerous tweets surrounding this subject on my Twitter timeline in recent weeks, I feel like writing something about it might not be a bad idea.

When it comes to blogging, the priority on a large number of people’s lists (not everyone, I might point out) is to work with brands, for money, products, exposure, whatever.

The community in all of the 7 years I’ve been a part of it (with a fairly hefty number of breaks within that time), has grown enormously in the past few years, thanks, I suspect, to the success of ‘big bloggers’ such as Zoella, Fleur de Force and Tanya Burr; after seeing their success, people want in on the action.

Along with the growth of the community, comes a growth in brands acknowledging bloggers as a tool for promotion, ‘influencing’ their target audience at different angles and for a lot cheaper than what a typical all-singing-all-dancing campaign might cost.

It’s here where we reach a sore point when it comes to bloggers and PR opportunities. For whatever reason, every time I log in to Twitter I see countless tweets about brands only targeting and working with ‘big’ bloggers and ‘small’ bloggers being swept aside. So with that in mind, I decided to write a few bullet points for brands and PR companies to know when they decide to approach bloggers.

Don’t Play the Numbers Game

I know it’s easier said than done. The whole point of having people promote your product is to get it out there to as many people as possible, so it’s entirely logical for brands to ask people with large followings.

What I mean by ‘don’t play the numbers game’ is, don’t concentrate SOLELY on the number of followers bloggers have on Instagram or Twitter, it might not be an ‘honest’ following.

The blogging industry is riddled with talk of people having paid for followers, so while there are plenty of bloggers who have worked hard for a large following, others haven’t. I think if I had gained a large following off my own back and saw some less-than-honest individual get a great opportunity after considerably less hard work, I’d feel pretty miffed.

In short, just because the figures look good, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a genuine following.

Quality over Quantity

I’ll admit the green snake of jealousy does creep out every now and again. As a blogger with a very small following, opportunities to work with brands and PR companies are very few and far between.

In my opinion, if you get the chance to work with a company, you should write a post to the best of your ability, especially if you stand to gain something (be it money or product) at the end of it.

With that in mind, I don’t believe there’s anything worse than clicking on a sponsored post about a product and finding it’s less than 500 words and has the most bare-minimum detail in it that one could imagine. How does it help the brand in promotion if the reader knows sod all about the product?!

I suppose this ties in with the previous point about numbers. I think that in some instances, numbers don’t necessarily equate to a quality post. If the company are just looking for a quick mention, then great, but if they’re looking for someone to write a quality post then it takes a lot more than a quick Twitter search to find who has the most followers on a certain topic.

Just because someone has a large following, it doesn’t necessarily mean they won’t find someone with a smaller following that is just as good, if not better.

Dear ‘Insert Name Here’

As I said earlier, I’ve only had a little bit of experience working with brands and PR companies, however what I haven’t experienced first-hand, I have read about from other bloggers.

One of the biggest bugbears bloggers face are the emails from PR companies that have made absolutely no attempt to personalize the messages.

I appreciate it’s tiring typing out unique emails to every blogger you plan to work with, however if a blogger contacted you to register an interest in working with you, you’d call them unprofessional if they’d simply copied and pasted a generic email.

I’ve heard of experiences where blogger’s names have been spelled incorrectly, they’ve been addressed as their website URL instead of their actual name, or the emails they’re sent are riddled with spelling mistakes.

I don’t think I’m asking for too much if companies* just payed a little bit of attention to who they’re working with. They’re hoping to profit from it after all!

*(not every company is like this of course, just the odd one!)

Blogging is a Business

As I wrote earlier, certain bloggers do manage to escape the blogger ‘circle’ and break into mainstream media, proving that blogging can become a full-time business.

As this is the case, it isn’t uncommon for companies to offer bloggers money to feature content on their websites. There has been a lot of talk lately about companies pushing bloggers to include ‘do follow’ links, which can cause a number of problems with Google. If a blogger is caught with a ‘do follow’ link on their site (especially after having been paid to feature it), it can result in a loss of DA (and other things).

It baffles me that companies are so keen to do such a thing, it’s like a blogger approaching them and saying ‘I’ll pay you to do this for me, but if you get caught, it could damage your business’ – they would immediately say no. Why expect bloggers to do the same?

Not only is what bloggers are paid to feature an issue, but the payment itself has caused problems, countless Twitter debates and blogger arguments.

Unfortunately when it comes to payment, blogging doesn’t offer any fixed rules as to how much a person should charge to feature content on their website.
I’ve read posts about people charging the minimum wage (£7.50 an hour) to £50 an hour or more. It really depends on the type of work bloggers are required to do and how comfortable the blogger feels in charging those sums of money.

Sometimes companies approach a blogger with a specific budget in mind. In my limited experience of receiving paid work, I was paid £60 to feature a post with a few photos. I had to buy a few props and it took me time to write the content and set up the photos, but I felt that £60 was a reasonable sum of money for the work that I did.

Other companies approach bloggers asking them to include 2-3 links, 500+ words plus photos in a post and expecting to pay peanuts at the end of it. I’ve seen emails from PR’s offering £10/£20 for a post such as the one I’ve described, which I (and many others) believe is entirely unreasonable given the time and effort it takes to actually put a post together.

There are also instances where a PR will approach bloggers asking to feature content and when the blogger mentions payment, they suddenly disappear from the planet. How unprofessional!

I think companies need to realize that Bloggers aren’t simply a cheap way of advertising their products or themselves. Some bloggers do this for a living, just like the PR person emailing that blogger does their job for a living. Ghosting, paying peanuts and expecting a masterpiece is simply unacceptable, and with the power of Twitter, other bloggers can know about it and share their own experiences very quickly!

Be Honest 

I’ve had an experience before where a company has promised to send me a product to try out and it never showed up.

In fairness, it could simply be an honest mistake, the parcel might have been lost in the post, but I never heard from the company since which makes me wonder if they simply changed their minds.

If that’s the case then why not let the person know?

Some bloggers write numerous posts in advance and plan content accordingly, so to accept a collaboration means re-working the schedule a little. If a blogger agrees to do the post then surely the company should let them know if they change their mind. Just because there’s no signed agreement, doesn’t mean it’s acceptable to pick up and drop people on both sides. Once again, it’s highly unprofessional.

If I’m being honest, I like to think of new opportunities as confirmation that the blogger’s work is being liked and acknowledged. It’s almost like when you get a ‘well done’ or a promotion at work.

PR’s need to be more inclusive when choosing bloggers to work with, the community is far bigger and far more diverse than those with huge followings. I think the community is desperate for people from all walks of life, with a range of followings, be it 150 to 15K, to have opportunities and most importantly, be given a chance. It’s exactly the same process as applying for a job, all we ever really need is someone to have a bit of faith and take a chance on us.

Have you had any ‘unique’ experiences with PR Companies? Do you agree with any of these points? Comment below and let me know!

Till next time,

love, Leigh


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