To build a successful blog you need great content, which often means being able to review the hottest new products, getting access to news ahead of other bloggers, and being invited to the best events. You also want to be able to build great relationships with companies in your market, because they might be able to help with sponsorship and advertising opportunities.
PR people can help with all of these things – if they trust you as a blogger, they are more likely to provide you with these kinds of opportunities. But there can be problems with the PR/blogger relationship too. New blogs which are not well established might find it hard to be taken seriously by PR execs, because they do not stand out from any of the hundreds of other small blogs.
The other problem might be that a blogger gets too many irrelevant or badly thought out pitches from PR people, so they become disillusioned with PR execs and start to see them as annoyance.
Ultimately, any engagement between a blogger and a PR exec can be seen as a business transaction. The blogger has a commodity that is valuable to brands, an audience (and the ability to influence that audience), while the brand has something the blogger wants, such useful information, access to review samples, invites to events. To work successfully together both sides of the relationship need to understand this balance.
So here are some tips for bloggers to build good relationships with PR execs:
If your blog is new, or you have a small audience, don’t expect PR people to treat you like royalty. By all means drop relevant PR execs an email to introduce yourself and let them know what you’re working on but, until you’ve put the work in to establish your blog and build an audience, they’re unlikely to take you seriously.
You’ll earn the trust of PR execs more easily if you can be open with them about the size of your audience. While your social media following is public and easy enough to measure, your blog traffic is not visible to PR people, and this matters a lot. When dealing with old media, PR execs always take into account the circulation or audience size of a publication or broadcast channel. So it makes sense that they like to know how much traffic your blog gets.
If a PR pitches a story at you and you don’t want to cover it, give them an honest reason why – it helps them give feedback to their client so they can come to you with something better next time. Equally, if you feel you have to write a negative or critical article about their client, it’s professional to give them a little warning before you publish along with clear reasons for your criticisms. You don’t need to compromise on your integrity, and all brands know that negative articles sometime happen, but a good PR will appreciate your honesty about it and it will help improve the relationship in future. Also, if you do write a negative post about a business, it’s a good idea to give the brand a right-of-reply by offering to publish their comments responding to your criticisms.
Remember that PR people are often under a lot of pressure to deliver results for their clients and work to tight deadlines. So respect their time, don’t miss calls or meetings with them and, if you must cancel a meeting, try to give them as much warning as possible ahead of time. If you tell them you’re going to publish an article on a particular date, stick to your promise or just avoid making the promise in the first place. The PR has probably told their boss or client to expect the article on that date, so if it doesn’t appear then they look bad.
If you get invited to events, make sure you show up and show up on time. A lot of time and effort goes into organising PR events, and when people drop out at the last minute it can really cause problems for the PR exec – this is rock-solid guaranteed way to get yourself black-listed.
Good communication is at the heart of all this. You don’t need to bend over backwards to keep PR people happy, but remember that they’re just trying to do the best job they can for their employer and you’ll make it a lot easier for them if you give them accurate and clear information whenever you deal with them. If you can help make a PR person’s job easier, then there’s a very good chance that they’ll want to keep working with you in future.