The majority of PR and marketing professionals now use influencers in some form and, whilst PR and blogger relations can work wonders for businesses, through their very nature, relations between either may be just that bit trickier to manage.
As an ex-journalist who works in PR and runs a personal blog, as many of the Rooster team do, it’s always frustrating to see examples of where relationships don’t work out from a lack of some basic understanding of each other’s jobs – it only takes a quick scan of the Internet to realise many bloggers are less than complimentary about ‘PR Etiquette’.
So, what can us PRs learn?…
Firstly, the mass email. Few things irritate me more than generic, impersonal email pitches entirely irrelevant to the clearly stated interests and purpose of my blog – although the most off-cue pitches can cause amusement in the office. – “Yes, dear PR -stories about edgy soup will offer the perfect complement to my specific remit of beauty and fitness…”
Do your research and take some time to read the blogs you are approaching to establish if your idea will work for them. Hint: Read My Goddamn Blog!
Secondly, set expectations. We all know that what a client wants and what bloggers want can sometimes clash (clients want links and brand mentions, bloggers don’t want to be seen as advertisers), so being clear at the outset will avoid difficult conversations further down the line.
Unlike the mainstream media PR’s have worked with for decades, many bloggers are also entrepreneurs and start-ups working out how to finance or profit from their blog venture as filling their pages. So don’t be surprised if money comes into the equation – just be up front about it.
The pitch and ditch. PR stands for public relations – and the latter is important to maintain. All too often PRs and bloggers will work together on a project then never speak again, risking leaving a sour taste. PR’s should be naturals at maintaining relationships, so keep up contact, as you never know how big the start-up bloggers you invited to your tasting event will be a few years down the line.
While the relationship between PRs and bloggers is overall stronger and more accepted, the chances are, the topic will still cause debate for years to come. Last year Vogue was accused of jealousy and hypocrisy after some editors criticised bloggers, branding them “pathetic” and “desperate”, citing the importance of influence over reach. Fashion bloggers were quick to hit back, stating Vogue had previously featured a number of bloggers and influencers in the magazine – with Vogue Spain even putting blogger / influencer Chiara Ferragni on the cover.
#BloggerBlackmail also made headlines in 2015 when a London bakery named and shamed a blogger who they claimed “blackmailed” them by threatening a bad review after not having every free product request granted. Whilst most PRs will have dealt with high-maintenance journalists at some point, this does appear PRs are the only ones learning from experience.
So, will all relations between PR’s and bloggers be instilled with peace and understanding from this moment forth? Unlikely, but can using some basic PR skills of understanding, research and relationship management bear fruit? Certainly.
Oh, and did I mention. Read My Goddamn Blog!!
By Natalie Garland