Part 01 : please don’t equate print publication journalists to online / internet bloggers.
Part 02 : please tell us what you want. In terms of coverage.
Part 03 : going to events / covering them is WORK for a blogger. People get PAID for WORK.
Part 04 : yes, you can have the images to use in your marketing brochure for an additional price.
Part 05 : you don’t just sit on your hands when the blogger is delivering the goods. Amplify.
Part 06 : set expectations in advance.
Part 07 : work with someone who has a decent overall presence and
Part 08 : Tangibles that Bloggers Love
Intangibles that make a difference to Bloggers
01. First Name : Please address us by our names in the emails you write to us. No plain “Hello!” and definitely not the dreaded death-ensurer “To Whomsoever It May Concern” #vomit If you know my name, call me by it and if you don’t, you’ve obviously not visited my blog or seen my email id or paid any attention at all. At least in my case, you CANNOT miss my name – it’s everywhere on all my online touch-points.
02. Read our blog : Better yet, leave a comment or a few on some of the stories on the blog. At least I read and respond to all the comments this blog receives – so I know you’ve been doing your research. And when you write to me, tell me you left a comment a few days ago. Practice patience. Relationships take time and expecting us to becoming best buddies within the first email exchange is slightly immature. The worst is when they lie that they’ve read or seen the blog when it is evident they haven’t. It’s a professional engagement, not a best friend’s birthday party you missed.
03. Negative reviews : If a blogger doesn’t like a product and says as much but also include really good photographs of the product, what are you going to do? “Like” is personal especially if you sent them the product without checking with them or letting them choose. I try to do neutral reviews as much as possible. Nothing is perfect and I write very matter-of-factly – most professional bloggers do. We do it because we want to stay true to our audiences – we don’t want to be seen as suck-ups because we aren’t. You know what will make a blogger your fan? You dropping in an email appreciating a neutral blog story and saying that you appreciate the candid review. I’m sold. Fan for life. I wrote this for Nikon and they said they still loved me. Whoa! ( Well 99% of my professional gear is Nikon. ) It’s rare that a blogger will ever completely diss a brand or their product. If this does happen, something went horribly wrong somewhere and they’re burning bridges. If you can turn THAT around, guess what will happen? Yes, eternal love again. The worst thing to do is to freak out and “order” them to take the story down. You saw what happened with Beyonce’s PR Fail?
04. Time-Saving :
– Don’t send us those dreaded 3 page press releases. I delete those. Usually without reading them. If you HAVE to send a release, upload it on your website / client website and send me a link in an email with a sentence or two telling me what you expect from me. And if you can’t think of what to write in what you expect of me, then don’t hit SEND on that email. Will save time for both of us. I still get releases from some PR people even after I’ve specifically requested them to please not send me any. Some of them get automatically delivered to my SPAM folder now. That’s a loss for me as well because now if they do have a relevant gig, I’m not seeing it.
– Usually if a blogger does not respond to your email, it means they’re not interested. One or two follow-ups, depending on how desperate you are for the story, are ok. But if you still haven’t heard from the blogger, calling them up on their mobile phone is a strict NO unless you know them personally and have built a relationship with them and KNOW they’d love to cover the story AND your client has a budget.
– I do get hundreds of emails and my blog’s publishing schedule is already booked for six weeks from now. Yes I have THAT much material and I know I will be getting more – and I’m not even covering Bollywood gossip. If your story isn’t time-sensitive, mention it to the blogger. I appreciate each and every minute I get to save and if you’re wasting my time, I do hate you a little, at least temporarily.
– If you can help it, write to the blogger at least 2-3 weeks in advance of when you’re expecting the story to get published / the event / launch to happen. I’ve lost count of the number of times I really wanted to do a story but was informed about it only a day in advance. I prefer to schedule my calendar weeks in advance and I try very hard not to double-book ( i.e. two events on the same day – I’m human & I draw some lines. ) And don’t take it personally if the blogger declines an invitation. You asked, they answered. If you are concerned & would like to know why they’ve declined, ask.
05. Communicate : And I don’t mean the dreaded press releases. If you have a question about how a blogger works, ask them. If they are unable to answer you & you can sense they don’t really know, talk some more and figure out what they might be comfortable with. I’m still learning and like each blogger is different, so is each brand and their PR agency. The goal is to find ways of making it work for both parties and not communicating is going to keep you away from that goal. During the initial days, I was shy to request a pick up and drop facility and there were so many times when other bloggers would arrive at the event in cabs booked by the brand and I would’ve driven myself. When I enquired about this from the PR person, I was told, “But you didn’t ask!” Right. Avoid this game please. Most bloggers won’t even give you this kind of feedback. They will only gossip & spread the word.
06. Don’t ask me to write about a party your brand threw last night where I wasn’t invited. Yes. This has happened.
07. Tell us about the brand : Yes please. What are the brand’s goals with this specific story? What are the keywords? Is it being championed by the marketing department? What’s the audience they’re looking for? The more brand-related information you give us – specific to this particular story and also overall brand vision – the better position we are in to give you a curated story. Not every blog story has to be a simple text + images model. It could be a million things : how we set up the shoot, would a shoot with a model be better or without, is there something in our personal lives that might connect us with the brand’s current goals, is there an anecdote we can use, should we get a guest blogger, what dimensions should the images be, should there be graphic design, should there me more text than images or vice versa, etc. All these are decisions. If you’re not enthusiastic enough to convey what the brand’s about, it’s unfair to expect the blogger to be enthusiastic either. ( And just because your client brand is a very well known international brand that you assume the blogger has heard of, we might have “heard of” the brand but we might not know what the brand’s goals are. Big difference. )
Please do add your comments / suggestions / ideas in the comments section – if you, as a PR Agency / Prospective client would like some specific questions answered or if you’re a blogger and have something you’d like PR Agencies / Prospective clients to know.
The entire “How To Work With Bloggers” series.
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