Just like many others, when I first started blogging I couldn’t quite understand how bloggers managed to work with brands and PR. It almost seemed like I needed to be invited to an elite group of bloggers who all had their own groups and clicks, but truth is – it isn’t like that at all!
To start with, I recommend that all bloggers forget the thought of getting free stuff from brands and PR. You will very quickly realize that there is nothing free in blogging, and PR know just how to identify which bloggers are flybys and which ones are hustling hard, to grow their platforms. Also, in my unpopular opinion, you can’t expect to get paid money when you haven’t done the ground work of growing and establishing your blog.
There used to be this weird undertone that PR were scary and difficult people to deal with, or were somehow holding you back from being a successful blogger but truth is, it is the bloggers who can be quite bratty. Sure, you are the one who is doing the content creation and working to promote the brand, but if you put your own ego aside, you may just realize that PR are humans too and that they are only doing their jobs. This sort of understanding comes in time, but I believe the key to starting any new relationship is to have a mutual respect for what they do.
When you contact PR, it’s important to remember that there are many other bloggers who are doing the same thing as you. They’ve most likely seen a press drop go out, tracked down the PR, and are now wanting in, on that media list. Consider that first impressions matter and ask yourself, why are you contacting them – what is it that you are hoping to achieve? If it is just for free product, you can understand why they won’t be jumping to respond to your email.
I recommend putting together a good introduction that tells the brand or PR more about yourself, your blog, achievements and why you’re getting in contact. You should also attach a comprehensive media-kit which reinforces what your intro email says, it should meet your blog’s branding, include your most recent stats, examples of your work and whatever else you feel is relevant for them to know. But don’t just stop there, go on to outline how you’d like to work with them – suggest content ideas. This shows the brand that you have a genuine interest in promoting their products and shows that you aren’t just here to collect a press drop but that you have a vision for how you’d like to work together.
Don’t take offence when a PR or brand doesn’t reply immediately. I am pretty sure that they receive hundreds of emails just like the one that I have described, not to mention doing their job of promoting great brands. Also, remember that just as you sometimes see an email pop up on your phone and think, “ah, I will respond to it later.” PR do too! Sometimes, your correspondence needs just a quick and polite follow up.
There are times where I can send out 20 emails and perhaps get 1 response, if I am lucky. That being said, you shouldn’t be discouraged by not always hearing back. I think that it is important to use this as motivation to put your head down, work hard and be consistent with your content. Create work that you’re proud of, so that you have a growing portfolio that brands can refer to. Just because they didn’t reply initially doesn’t mean you’ll never have the opportunity of collaborating. Perhaps, you don’t meet the client’s requirement for their current project, but that they may consider you for a future project where they are likely to refer back to your blog to see what you’ve been doing in the meantime.
Once you have started working with PR, I believe that it is so important to remain authentic and constantly work at establishing a personal relationship with PRs and brands. Take note of names, respond to their emails, and just be a decent human. Don’t start thinking that you are better than anyone, remember that PR circles are smaller than that of bloggers, and if you start acting like a brat with all these requirements, chances are word will spread quickly and you may even be excluded from opportunities that are fit for your blog.
Yes, I know it can add salt to a wound when you have been working so hard and all the brand can offer is exposure. But if I am being very honest, in my first 3 years of blogging, I earned very little from my blog and whenever I did earn through my blog, it was immediately reinvested. Whether it was purchasing new products to feature, a new laptop, camera or even online courses, the money never went to paying rent, but right back into my blog.
In the beginning, working for exposure or for the exchange of product wasn’t the worst idea either. I saw it as an opportunity to show off my talents and ethics. It gave me a good idea of how different each brand works and showed brands the standard of my work and what they can expect from me. Now that we have a defined relationship, I feel that I can ask about their budget but very often don’t need to, because they already know what they are getting, and value that. It is a nice place to be in.
Building and establishing a relationship with brands and PR isn’t rocket science. It is a balancing act of valuing your platform, while having respect for PR and what they do. Remember that it doesn’t cost anything to be friendly and courteous. Be prepared to work hard and you’ll very soon be treated and valued, in the same way.
This post was written by Megan from By Megan Kelly and is the first post in my April series where we will be exploring different types of relationships we have.
If you enjoyed this post please share with your friends! You can also find me on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Snapchat (harassedmom) and don’t forget to subscribe to my weekly newsletter.