How can bloggers best work with PR agencies? As PR professionals, the question we receive is usually posed the other way around, right? However, it was a question that was brought up throughout my recent experience at Camp Blogaway, “the original bootcamp for food and recipe bloggers.” Bootcamp might be a strong word as it was held in the most peaceful setting I could have imagined in Angelus Oaks, California in the heart of the San Bernardino mountains, but it was certainly full of learning opportunities so “bootcamp” was accurate in that sense.
While PR professionals may be surprised to learn that bloggers want to know how to best work with them (since PR professionals are often pitching bloggers), it’s really a give and take relationship. Bloggers really do have an insatiable curiosity for finding best ways to work, especially if they’re working to get more established. Even more established bloggers know that the key to successful business is building relationships with PR professionals that are meaningful and relate to their content and focus.
So what are the best ways bloggers and PR professionals can work together?
1) Take the time to build a meaningful relationship.
It sounds simple, but it’s often neglected. Maybe you aren’t working on a relevant campaign at the moment, but that doesn’t mean you can’t reach out to each other to share what you ARE working on. There may be synergies you didn’t realize!
2) Rule of thumb: Not all bloggers’ unique numbers are accurate.
Several bloggers shared with me vehemently that they are not listed on Compete, Quantcast or Alexa even though they have significant followings – “or they’re inaccurate.” By taking the time to reach out to you, the blogger is saying that they value the opportunity to work together. Often times and while it may be a harder sell for clients, it’s not just about the numbers. Many of the bloggers you want to work with may not yet have an established presence; however, they may be more passionate about your brand than another blogger who has twice the following. And, with an authentic and engaged readership – even one that is smaller – you can still meet your objectives, promise.
3) Be realistic about your ask/expectations.
Bloggers, like us, have a lot going on. They’re often working another job or running kids from practice or cooking dinner. Don’t expect that they’ll drop everything for you, though, they do appreciate a timely response to you (and vice versa). For example, if you’re asking them to create a recipe, are you providing them with a stipend to purchase the groceries and prepare it? Have you given them enough lead time to prepare the recipe when you need it in hand? Just as we ask these questions of our own teams, it’s important we approach blogger relations in the same way. Bloggers are also open for you to tell them if their expectations/ask is too much for you – transparency and open communication are always welcome and appreciated.
4) Give feedback.
Bloggers want to hear it too. Ask questions such as: “Does something legitimately need to change?” “Do they or I need to provide more information?” “Did something not work? If so, why not? If yes, what was it?” A check-in is always appreciated from both sides.
5) Monetize when appropriate.
Trust me, this is on the minds of bloggers as they are often working to build their businesses – their blogs. As mentioned, think about your expectations and ensure they’re realistic. Ask if there is any way you can monetize. Even a small stipend for a blogger goes a long way if only just product or honorarium depending on the ask. For bloggers, are you working on anything related to a season, holiday or other timely news angle? Often times bloggers come up with great ideas for monetizing by involving several partners on a promotion that may be exactly what your client is looking for – don’t disregard it even if you do have to crunch a few numbers. And always make sure bloggers are disclosing everything properly under FTC guidelines if money/product is involved.
Remember, bloggers and PR professionals aren’t fundamentally different. We just need to remember to always seek out the best ways to work together and learn and grow along the way.