How to build great relationships with PRs (and get free stuff…)

First things first, you shouldn’t be blogging if your only goal is to get free stuff.

However, review items are a big part of what we do, especially for beauty bloggers. In the last few days I’ve begun to realise that there are a handful of bloggers out there who are giving us a bad name. It’s no wonder so many brands and PRs refer to us as blaggers. (I’m not exeggerating here, I’ve heard this from the mouths of two PRs.)

Here are some tips for making some great connections with PRs, how to get quotes, where to find images and how not to make a fool of yourself – or the rest of us.

Create a blog full of great content that people love to read

Before you can expect PRs and brands to pay attention to your blog, you need to create something that readers will love. Without readers you have nothing to offer PRs in return for their help, quotes, information or samples.

Be innovative, write regularly and be yourself. It’s also important that you get involved in blogging communities, this is a great way to find readers and share what you can do.

Build your followings

Social media is so important as it’s a platform for getting people to come back to¬†your blog whenever you post. Engaging with your readers over social media means you can get a feel for the kind of content they want to read. Build strong relationships with other bloggers and online influencers as they can help to get you content to huge amounts of people.

PRs and brands will also look at your social following to determine how popular your blog is when web traffic information is unavailable.

Saying you’re PR-friendly is unnecessary

pr friendlyThe term PR-friendly says to me (as someone who is a blogger and a PR) that you’re looking for freebies and that you don’t operate like a journalist. If you have a blog, it’s safe to say that you’re open to emails from PRs.

A badge on your blog just says ‘PRs, please, please get in touch! I’m desperate for your attention’. If your blog is good enough, PRs will come to you regardless of whether or not you have a PR-friendly badge.

Know your stats

Get to know how many people visit your site on a monthly basis and who they are. Do you target women aged 20-35 or is your audience younger? Are the majority of your readers in the UK or do you have worldwide visitors too? This is all information that PRs and brands will find useful when deciding if you’re right for a collaboration.

This is also useful information to give to potential advertisers should you ever want to make a little money from your blog.

Introduce yourself to PR agencies

Instead of going to PR agencies and brands asking for products to review, simply send an email introducing yourself and your blog. Ask to be added to any relevant lists to receive press releases from the brand that agency works with.

Doing this gets you on an agency’s radar and shows them that you’re truly interested in hearing about the brands they work with and not just after free stuff.

Sign up to various blogger programmes

I like The Blogger Programme, Bloggers Required, and Sale Servant. These are the sites that will allow you to find brands to work with. The good things about these sites is that the brands on there are already looking for bloggers to work with and in a lot of cases, those brands will be overinflated items for review.

Check out these hashtags on Twitter

#journorequest #prrequest and #bloggerswanted

Firstly, feel embarrassed for the people brazenly asking for freebies. Secondly, keep an eye on these tags for opportunities that might be relevant to your blog.

These might be samples to review, they might be guest post requests or they might be vague and enticing. If you think your blog fits well with the brand or niche in question, get in touch with the person who is asking.

You probably won’t get much by posting to these tags unless you’re simply asking for information or a quote. Don’t ask for free things, it’s embarrassing. If you really do need review items for your blog, ask via email or DM.

If you’re going to ask, do it politely

I understand, and PRs understand that reviews make up a big part of a blog. It’s okay to contact a PR agency asking for an item to review. Especially if you’re a beauty blogger, but you need to do it right.

Firstly, don’t punch above your weight. Don’t ask to review a washing machine on your parenting blog (saw a request along these lines on the prrequest tag not so long ago). Don’t ask to review designer clothes on your fashion blog that only gets 3000 hits per month.

Instead, target smaller brands or brands that are actively looking to work with bloggers.

When contacting a PR agency, sell yourself and your blog. Let the agency know your statistics and link to similar reviews. Don’t demand anything and don’t be cheeky.

Please don’t give us a bad name

Free things are great and I’m pretty keen on them but I hate that there are brands out there who refer to us as blaggers. It’s embarrassing, can’t you see that? If you’re going to work with a brand or agency make sure you go above and beyond to give them real value. Unless you’re a big blog, one small review isn’t going to cut it.

Tweet their content, comment in their Facebook posts and mention them on your blog without anyone asking or even offering you anything.

Above all, if someone sends you something to review, actually review it. If you don’t like it and refuse to post a bad review, just send the item back.

What are your tips for good blogger-PR-brand relations and what’s the cheekiest thing you’ve ever seen anyone ask for?

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14 Comments

  1. have you ever experienced that you sent out a press release and a blogger would reply with : that would be 20 pounds? that happens to our PR ever since we decided to work with bloggers.

    do you appreciate people sending you a link of the coverage? and do people get a + when they put out the press release?

  2. Excellent post and all very good points. The blagging has gotten absolutely ridiculous. People are getting more and more brazen and seem to have forgotten the actual reasons for blogging.

  3. T, as a PR I get really annoyed at bloggers who just ask for money to cover a story. I’m not asking them to print the story word-for-word, why should I pay? Generally, they get taken off my list at that point.

    If a blogger does cover something, I massively appreciate a link so I know it’s there but I do check so if the blogger is busy and they don’t get a chance to send one, that’s fine. Bloggers definitely get at plus and go in my good books if they work more like a traditional journalist and make an effort to promote things they’re truly interested in without requiring payment or a physical thing to review.

  4. I agree that the ‘PR Friendly’ tag is completely outmoded and has become the sign of the blagger. The cheekiest requests I’ve seen have been when people have been aiming to blag stuff for a whole event – their child’s birthday or christening, their own birthday or wedding etc. I wonder how their guests feel about attending a ‘sponsored’ event.

    Ultimately, nothing we as bloggers receive is truly free. There is always time involved in preparing a review, sometimes many hours, and the value of the item is unlikely to be recompense for this. This is why I only agree to review something if I think it will be a fun experience and will make for a good blog post, regardless of the cost of the item. Fun times are what make it worth it, everyone needs more fun in their life.

  5. Joanne, I completely agree.

    PRs were just catching on to the fact that bloggers can provide real value when it comes to reviews. But now bloggers are pushing it just a bit too much, giving us a bad name.

  6. You shouldn’t be blogging if your only goal is to get free stuff – yep exactly that! It’s easy to caught up in the hype of it all but essentially we need to remember why we started blogging. I nearly gave up my blog after a brief stint of trying to improve my stats. I have no idea why because I have no intention of becoming a pro-blogger but liked the challenge. I’ve woken up and don’t even check them now – blogging in fun again.

  7. Really interesting post, Jess, and some great tips for all us bloggers.

    I think something that all PRs have to consider is that nobody is necessarily paying the blogger they’re speaking to, whereas somebody is likely to be paying the journalist they’re speaking to (whether freelance or in-house).

    As a blogger, if you’re not being paid and you’re trying to get by, it can be understandable to take advantage of freebies (provided you give the coverage promised) and to ask for payment in exchange for sponsored content.

    I recently had a fascinating conversation with Zoe Dawes of The Quirky Traveller about the difference between bloggers and traditional journalists. The dynamics of marketing, press and media has completely changed over the past five years (and is still changing), making this a really confusing area!

    Her main suggestion was that companies need to invest more of their marketing budget into blogs and bloggers, because somebody has to sustain them, and they provide huge value to brands in their endorsement and coverage of them.

    I’d be really interested to hear your thoughts too.

  8. Hey Lauren!

    I agree that brands need to be more focused on bloggers rather than lumping them in with journalists when the approach is actually very different. There are a lot of brands who understand the value of bloggers brilliantly now but bloggers see this and assume that all brands feel that way. This is definitely a two-sided thing. Some bloggers need to focus more on great content rather than hunting down freebies, and some brands need to invest in proper blogger outreach – rather than simply sending out press releases and getting annoyed when bloggers ask for something to review.

  9. Hi Jettica,

    I read this post with interest as the #prrequest hashtag makes me both laugh and cringe on a regular basis. As someone who works as a full-time staff journalist (in sport) but blogs about crafts, I can see this argument from both sides.

    Lauren is right in that journalists are paid and bloggers by default are not, so if done in the right way I don’t see why a blogger shouldn’t be paid for their hard work. In fact, this is exactly the advice given by well-respected bloggers Kat Williams (Rock n Roll Bride), Gala Darling (GalaDarling.com) and Shauna Haider (Nubby Twiglet) on The Blogcademy course. If a blogger is using their expertise in a certain area to research a story, interview people, test a product then post a review (or in my case come up with a DIY idea, research it, make it, take photos, edit and write it all up), why shouldn’t they be paid if they are doing all this for something a PR has approached them about?

    In blogging as with journalism, while you are making your name and getting experience you do things for free, but when you’ve been doing it for a while you should get paid. I don’t include blagging for freebies in this as this is embarassing and gives journalists and bloggers a bad name. As someone who writes for a living and gets paid for it maybe I sit on the other side of the fence to those who think bloggers should all write for free. Yes, most blogs start up because of a love of a certain topic, but if that grows into something a bit bigger and PRs see a potential to harness that to their own advantage, I think it’s rude of them to think a blogger would simply give them their platform for nothing.

    Kate

  10. Hi Kate,

    Thanks so much for your input. I totally agree that bloggers should be paid for their hard work. It’s getting that balance between influence, a need to be paid and passion that some people struggle to do, they ask for silly amounts of money for simply reposting a press release

    I’ve just been on a press trip and while I’m a freelance journalist, I was almost embarrassed to say that the majority of my work is a as a blogger. I feel that’s the kind of reputation we now have!

    Asking for products and items to review is fine, it just needs to be done right.

  11. Thanks for your post. I often see people using the #prrequest to try and get free hotel stays, products and so on. I hate it. I use the #bloggerswanted a lot and it is so annoying, that many people use it to promote their blog. It’s awful.

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