What PR Agencies Get Wrong

Being a blogger means working PR agencies. Over the years I have developed close working relationships with several agencies in Chicago and beyond. I have also had some less than ideal experiences. If you are in PR, here are some mistakes that you want to avoid. A few little changes to your email style might make you a blogger’s best friend!

Give Clear Expectations

If you are arranging for a product or experience and want something specific in return, spell it out in an email. Do you want blog coverage? Social media? Or just an Instagram Story?

Ask for Media Kits

Publicly available social media numbers are only a small part of the whole picture. If you judge bloggers by their social media numbers alone, you might be missing out on people who have huge website traffic! If you ask for a media kit, you can see what someone’s influence is beyond social media stats.

Help Us Help You

Give us the information we need in order to make your clients look good. Give us some context behind the event or product. What are the talking points? What are the handles and hashtags? Give us some direction, otherwise we might not know what you want us to post. I have walked out of some events completely confused about the purpose of the event, which means I had no idea what to say on my blog or social media.

Give Us Exclusives

Bloggers want unique content. It is tough to make content look original when we are being asked to cover the same experience as a dozen other bloggers. If you offer us an exclusive we will be far more willing to participate.

Tell Us Who Is Going

If I get an invite for an overnight at a hotel and am told that “top Chicago influencers” are invited and you won’t tell me who is going, I won’t go. If I am going to spend hours of my time somewhere, I need to know who is going. Don’t give completely useless answers such as, “we have invited only the top food influencers for this event”. I need names. I am only asking because I want to make sure that I have a friend at the event.

Give Us Natural Light

We need bright beautiful photos to share on social media. It is so much easier to get these photos when we have natural daylight. If it is a restaurant event, make sure there is an area by a window available for photos. Consider inviting bloggers for a brunch or happy hour so that they can get photos before the sun sets.

Be Polite and Spell Our Names Right

I have gotten emails that start with the words, “Can you do this?”. The emails then asked me for a favor. Say please and thank you. And for goodness sakes, spell our names right. I get about an email a week where my name is spelled wrong. Sometimes I get emails for other bloggers. Sometimes the sender took the time to personalize the email… but forgot to change the personalized section of the email before copying it, pasting it, and sending it to me.

Do A Little Research

Read the About section of a blog before reaching out. Double check to make sure that the client is the right fit before emailing.

Lots of emails include references to past blog posts. If you write, “I saw your blog post about How to Pack for Spring Break….” and that is one of my most recent posts and it is on my homepage, it will tell me that you only glanced at my site very quickly.

But – if you write something like, “I discovered your site when I saw your recipe for quiche on Pinterest. I work for a company that makes pre-made pie crusts (like the one you used in your recipe)…” you will have my full attention. You have proven that you not only know my content, but you know how your client is relevant to my website.

Make It Worth Our Time

Often bloggers are asked to do work in exchange for a product or experience. The trick to a successful partnership is to make an ask that makes sense. If you are giving a blogger at $20 product, it may not make sense to expect a dedicated blog post in return. Take into consideration the amount of time that goes into an Instagram story vs. social media blast vs. blog post and make the appropriate ask.

Meet Us in Person

Get to know us. If you learn more about our interests and the topics we strive to cover on our websites, and if we learn more about your clients, it will be easier for us to find ways to work together.

Tell Us Why

If you are asking for a call or a meeting, let us know the reason why. Do you just want to meet us? Or do you did you want to ask about a specific collaboration? Give us extra info so that we can be prepared for a call or a meeting. Often bloggers arrive at a meeting to find that a quick call and sending a media kit was all that needed to happen. We are happy to skip meeting in person if you just have a simple request.

Yes, the last two points contradict each other. Here is why. Some bloggers love to meet in person and have the time to do so. Other bloggers are still working full time jobs and are short on time. Just ask if it is easier for us to meet in person or to have a call. And maybe save the in person meeting for when there is a specific reason.

Give Us Enough Time

If we need product for a collaboration, please give us enough time to get the work done before the deadline. There have been times when I get product less than 48 hours before the blog post is due, that doesn’t necessarily give me time to produce my best work.

Don’t Flood Our Inboxes

If you send us every single press release, we might start ignoring your emails. But! If you send us only the emails that are relevant to the topics we cover on our website we are far more likely to pay attention when your name pops up in our inbox.

Give Us A Heads Up Before Sending Product

Please don’t send products to our homes without asking. First off, we might not be home – which is problematic if you are sending something that is perishable. You might want to make sure we even want the product and want to share it with our followers before you send it. I’ve had brands send cases of barbecue sauce (that I didn’t really want or need) and then email me asking to share it on social media. Please ask first and don’t send products without asking and then expect coverage.

Extra Communication with Restaurants Is Key

Most food bloggers have been in the awkward situation where we have been invited into a restaurant for a comped meal, only to arrive at the restaurant to find out that they weren’t expecting us. This doesn’t reflect well on the restaurant or PR agency, and it doesn’t make us want to go above and beyond to promote the restaurant. But! We love promoting restaurants when we have a great experience, so confirm everything with the restaurant in advance and again on the day of the scheduled visit.

Mistakes happen, and we understand that. But if we had an awkward experience, apologize and don’t pressure us to post. Once the staff at a restaurant was rude, and even when I told the PR rep she kept bugging me for an Instagram post. If we don’t have a positive experience, it is inauthentic of us to recommend it.

Get Brand Approval First

Once I wrote a blog post for a brand based around the exact topic that the PR agency suggested. Come to find out, they didn’t run the concept by the brand first, and they didn’t like it. Even though I did exactly what was asked, I had to rewrite the entire blog post. Have your clients approve of concepts before bloggers complete the work.

Remember That Bloggers Talk

I am not writing this to sound intimidating. But – the blogging community is super close. We talk, more than you might think. We probably know our close friends stats and rates by heart. We know which brands have budgets, and which PR agencies are flakey. We also might know that you are paying another blogger for a campaign when you send an email claiming not to have budget to pay influencers.

We also know who is great to work with and we strive to maintain those relationships through the years even when people switch agencies.

It Works Both Ways

I always remember when someone helps me out. I completely understand that not all of your clients have budgets and that sometimes posting an Instagram or including a mention in a blog post can help you out. Most bloggers are happy to go above and beyond if you are willing to help us out when you can. There needs to be some give and take.

Why It Is Tricky

The relationship between PR agencies and bloggers can be tricky because the PR agency is being paid by their clients, but they haven’t always worked in the budget to pay bloggers. Agencies might be asking bloggers to do work on their behalf, without pay.

By: Kit Graham