I often see bloggers asking about what they can do to attract more, or better quality, PR opportunities.
They always get great advice from their fellow bloggers, who advise them on what they’ve done to attract more attention, but I thought it might also be useful to go straight to the horse’s mouth. I’ve asked executives and directors from some of the UK’s leading public relations firms to reveal exactly what it is that attracts them to a particular blog or blogger.
And you might be quite surprised by some of their answers…
HOW TO GET NOTICED BY PR’S
Anya Wood, of ANYA WOOD PR says a balanced mix of great quality content is key. Try to steer clear of giveaway after giveaway, or endless sponsored posts, and make sure your spelling and grammar is checked and double checked.
When it comes to social media it’s not ALL about the numbers – although clients definitely view this as important – a PR also wants to see that your followers are actively involved with your posts and your blog.
‘I like to see people commenting below the articles,’ Anya reveals. ‘It gives me a steer on brand awareness and demand for the product.’
Anya says she goes to a lot of trouble to match her approaches to the right blog and blogger, and always appreciates honesty in return.
‘If my suggestion isn’t right for the blogger I’d rather know straight off. It’s still good to have made contact and in the varied role of a PR there could be a future opportunity or product launch that is right,’ she explains.
She also appreciates bloggers who are aren’t all about the bottom line all the time. ‘This might not go down that well,’ she admits, ‘but I struggle to justify paid-for posts to clients who are already paying me to work with bloggers for them.’
While she understands that blogging is a career and people essentially need to make money from it, she also appreciates bloggers who are also willing to take on posts where the product forms the payment. In return, she tries her hardest to ensure what she pitches is relevant and valuable to the blogger.
Once the post has been agreed, there are several ways to make yourself stand out to a PR.
‘Be responsive,’ Anya suggests. ‘Let me know when your products arrive, and a rough timeline of when you hope to post; this helps me to keep the client informed.’
She also encourages bloggers to put their own personalised spin on PR campaigns. ‘I think many bloggers feel we hold all the cards in terms of what we want posted and when, but I love it when bloggers are creative and come up with their own ideas.’
Once your post is live, remember to make the most of your combined reach, she advises. Tag the client in all your social media posts, and send the PR your links – this way they have the info to hand for their client coverage report (which saves them A LOT of time ploughing through individual blogs), and they can share them for you too.
Similarly, if you’re working on a group project a little sharing love goes a long way. Keep an eye on the campaign hashtag and share content from the other bloggers also taking part. And if you can throw in a few retweets and likes for the brand’s accounts, they’ll be remembered and appreciated.
Jane Vanroe is the designer/founder of luxury compact mirror company, VANROE.
‘We’re a brand rather than a PR but we do work with bloggers directly,’ Jane says. ‘The big thing for me is original, meaningful content with personality. I skip over review and competition posts to read the ‘real’ posts on a blogger’s experience, style or perspective.’
While she takes stats and ranking lists – like Cision and Tots100 – into consideration, it’s more important that she finds the blog well written and genuinely interesting.
Your blog design is very important too. ‘It needs to look professional and stylish,’ she stresses. ‘This is relatively cheap and easy to achieve as there are some great free WordPress templates. Squarespace is affordable, stylish and fab; we still use it for our company site.’
For Poppy Sheen, Account Manager at MERCIECA, a carefully crafted approach goes a long way.
‘We love it when bloggers put a personal spin on their emails,’ she says. ‘In the same way that bloggers don’t like to receive press releases en masse, we’re far more interested when we see an email that relates to one of our clients, makes us laugh or tells us something new and interesting.’
She explains further: ‘We recently put out a request for one of our clients and were inundated with responses. The emails that really stood out where those that explained why they were so passionate about reviewing the brand.’
When considering a new blog she says it’s not just a numbers game. ‘We look for great photography, quality writing and a good mix of content. We also take the time to read a couple of past reviews to get an idea of the blogger’s style.’
Daisy Wolfenden is an account director at VISIBILIS, and says she always researches the blogger to ensure their blog is a natural fit for the campaign.
‘Depending on the objectives of the campaign, we look at different metrics, including domain authority and the size of your following, engagement levels and link profiles,’ she says.
She recommends having your PR policy clearly spelled out (what content you do/don’t accept, and any conditions you have) so they can tell straight away whether an opportunity is worth presenting to you. And be selective with the sponsored work you accept; quality is always better than quantity.
‘A turn-off for me is when bloggers routinely work for brands that don’t have any relevance to them – it cheapens their blog,’ she advises.
Clara Tournier is a Digital PR Executive for CURATED DIGITAL. The first thing she looks at is the domain authority of a blog. ‘This is a decent and basic indicator of the strength and quality of a website,’ she explains. ‘Next, I look at the quality of the site in terms of design, content, and user experience. If the website layout is terrible or the blogger doesn’t post content regularly, I’ll probably move on.’
She’s also wary of blogs with too much advertising. ‘I always make sure there is a good balance between promoted content and their own content,’ she says. ‘Otherwise my client’s post will just get lost in the crowd.’
She also checks how those sponsored posts are written up: ‘Is it interesting, or does it come across as ‘sales-y’?’ she asks herself. ‘How have readers engaged with those kinds of posts?’
That’s what attracts her to a blogger, but what brings her back to work with them again?
‘Punctuality and reliability are key,’ she says. ‘If we agree to post content on a certain date, it needs to be up on that day, not a week later. My job gets very difficult if I have to endlessly chase bloggers about uploading content – and doesn’t make me want to work with them again.’
She also prefers to work with bloggers who respond quickly to her emails, and promptly send through invoices. If she can see you’ve promoted the post and follow up with a round-up of your social media stats, you’ll go straight to the top of her priority blogger list.
Ruth Wilson, owner of RUTH WILSON PR LTD, has worked on big blogger campaigns for Silentnight, Sealy, Princes Foods and Duck Tape.
‘Although I have access to media and blogger databases, nothing can replace good old-fashioned research,’ she says. ‘I will always read the blogs before I contact the blogger; it’s important to make sure there is a brand fit, for both sides.’
Though the blogs she works with have various styles and content, she always looks for the same attributes:
‘A good reach, Klout rating and DA is key; if the blog is too small then my client is unlikely to offer product or payment,’ she says.
But it’s not all about the stats. ‘I look at the visuals – it’s better to have a professional-looking design with good images. More than this though, is a range of thoughtful content; if a blog is simply one review after another with no apparent common thread, I tend to steer clear.’
While SEO’s are simply looking for a link, with little or no interest in the quality of your coverage, PR’s look for rich content they can share for their client. It’s essential that your posts are well written, and that your spelling and grammar is on point.
A strong social media presence is also important,’ she says. ‘It doesn’t have to be across every platform, but at least a few. Facebook and Twitter have always been a must-have for me, but Instagram, Pinterest and Snapchat are huge for brands too – it depends on the client.’
She finishes by adding: ‘Blogs have provided a fantastic route to audience for several of my clients over the last few years, and opened up PR into a more conversational, targeted approach. I really value bloggers and love working with them.’
But it’s important for both sides to understand each other: ‘PR’s have to recognise the time it takes to manage a blog and bloggers have to recognise that – for PR’s – it will always be about proving success to the client.’
Juan Askew is a consultant with MUSTARD PR, and describes himself as a conduit between his PR clients, and the professional blogging community.
He says his clients are increasingly interested in working with bloggers, as they have a highly-engaged and relevant audience for their products and services.
But there’s one big, awkward stumbling block: ‘In an ideal world, the client would give us a budget specifically for bloggers… unfortunately most of the time they don’t want to pay extra and we’re forced to pitch to the blogging community by asking them to work for free.’
So what he looks for are bloggers willing to cooperate with him on projects. For example, if you’re approached about a project that appears to have no budget don’t fire back a snippy reply; respond instead with what you would usually expect to get paid, and explain why you deserve it.
Outline what you would provide and the value you could add to their campaign. The PR can then take this back to the client, and – with luck – convince them to add a budget for blogger payments in their total spend.
‘And be flexible,’ Juan suggests. ‘Try not to stick to a set figure for every project. Sometimes a PR is hamstrung on a budget, and while your fee might be lower on one project we’ll appreciate your flexibility, and remember you when we have higher paying jobs.’
He also recommends keeping in touch and fostering those PR relationships. ‘Find out what’s coming up on their radars,’ he says. ‘I’m much more inclined to approach proactive, engaged bloggers than aloof ‘take-four-days-to-respond-to-an-email’ types.
Katy Davies is a freelance PR account manager who has previously worked with Frank PR and Way To Blue. She also often finds herself trying to strike the elusive balance between tight budgets and blogger demands.
‘I don’t often have budget for paid-for campaigns,’ she reveals, ‘but try to seek ways in which we can offer a value exchange. For example, I’ve worked with a boutique gelato brand that offered bloggers the chance to come in with their friends and have a go at crafting their own gelato rose before sampling all the new flavours – going beyond the usual customer experience.’
When selecting people to approach she often turns to Twitter. ‘Time isn’t always on my side when turning around a client brief,’ she says. ‘So I look for bloggers who have Twitter and Instagram at their fingertips.’
She takes many factors into account, including the look and feel of the blog/social media channels, engagement levels and the quality of the photography.
But there are also some simple ways you can make yourself stand out. Don’t wait to be approached – be proactive and contact the PR of your favourite brand with ideas of how you might work together.
Consider accepting smaller projects in order to build PR relationships. ‘This will make you the first port of call for budgeted campaigns or swanky last-minute events,’ she reveals.
Give your PR a gentle nudge if needed: ‘Don’t be alarmed if your PR goes off the radar for a week,’ she says. ‘They’re probably in the depths of client campaign approval. But a polite chase email can help keep you in the front of their minds.’
Don’t overlook the basics. ‘Make sure you have an updated ‘About Me’ section, with the ages of your children (if relevant) and a geographical reference point,’ Katy says, as both will help establish if you’re suitable for a particular campaign.
And make sure your contact email is easy to find – if a time-pressed PR can’t find a quick way to contact you, they may move on.
So, there you have it – advice from the experts about how to stand out from the blogging crowd, and get those amazing campaigns you’ve enviously watched other bloggers receive. Now go out there and get them!
- photo ‘feminine flat lay workspace with laptop‘ courtesy of Shutterstock