5 tips for PR pros working with bloggers

Creating memorable blogger experiences can pay off. Cub Foods held an in-store blogger event focused on nutrition. Pictured are Liz from Kitchen Pantry Scientist, Kate from Kate in the Kitchen and Crystal from Cafe Cyan.

I’ve heard quite a bit of negative chatter lately from bloggers about the PR pitches coming their way. This isn’t a new thing, of course, there’s been a rub between PR folks and bloggers for as long as there have been blogs.

There are many insightful PR folks out there doing great things with blogger outreach. I’ll mention a few of them later in this post. My perspective on the topic is fairly broad. I’ve been blogging for more than 6 years, I’m a marketing and communications professional in my day job, and well, I know a lot of bloggers through my work as founder of the MN Blogger Conference.

I started my lifestyle blog Marketing Mama as a place to write about things that are important to me. The majority of pitches that come my way are not relevant and not personalized. However, it can be pretty amazing when the stars align and a great opportunity comes my way. I’ve had some awesome experiences via my blog, such as a VIP night at a U2 concert and an all-expense-paid trip to NYC. And those are just a couple of them off the top of my head.

Based on my own recent frustrations and those I’ve heard from my fellow bloggers, here are five suggestions for companies and PR folks to consider before kicking off a blogger outreach campaign:

1. Erase the words “mommy blogger” from your vocabulary. While some women still might accept this term, there is a growing, much larger group who are offended by it. Do not, in any circumstances (even behind closed doors at your agency) refer to a group of women as “mom(my) bloggers.” Appropriate and less offensive terms include: key influencers, lifestyle bloggers or simply “bloggers.”

2. Consider a blogger’s full social footprint. It’s not all about the blog. A few tweets from someone may carry a lot more weight than a blog post in terms of actual influence – although admittedly it’s a more fleeting platform and you don’t get the same link juice as a blog post. Still, don’t just focus on the blog, consider partnering with a dynamic influencer who uses multiple platforms to engage with their audience. And think creatively about ways you could leverage that network. For example, you could create a hashtag around a product launch or event you invite bloggers to attend.

3. Do your homework. Consider the demographics and behaviors of the bloggers you are targeting. Ask yourself why a blogger would want to partner with you on this. Is it relevant to their lives? Have they already talked about this product or service before? Google their name (or blog) + your company/product name to see if they’ve already written about you – good or bad. It will do your brand even more damage if a blogger has already published negative things about you (such as this post by Jessica Gottlieb on McDonald’s) and then you blindly contact them to ask them to represent your brand (this really happened to Jessica, just 3 months after that post).

Here’s a personal example, I recently complained to a company via Twitter about a negative experience I had at one of their stores, hoping their social media team might intervene and offer up a solution. It went ignored. About a month later, the same social media team sent me an email asking me to consider a “mommy blogger” giveaway. You can bet I passed on that one.

4. Build meaningful relationships. Most bloggers I know are open to building meaningful relationships with PR people who take the time to understand them and target them appropriately. My friend and #mnblogcon co-founder/director Arik Hanson, a digital consultant in the Twin Cities, is a shining example of this – I’ve personally witnessed him build relationships with bloggers first, then offer up a great partnership opportunity second. And of course it’s in your best interest to always refer to the blogger by name, not “blogger” and mention anything you already have in common with them – mutual friends, same high school – anything you have in common to stand out and begin building a relationship.

5. Consider the full experience. Don’t just throw free products at bloggers and hope they’ll bite at a review. Definitely don’t offer to mail them coupons to give away to their readers (tacky). Put some thought into the experience you could create for a blogger and their audience. Although each blogger is different in their approach, most bloggers appreciate a product to review and additional products to give away to their audience. But what if you think bigger than a giveaway?

Lauren Melcher is another PR pro in the Twin Cities who has the right idea when it comes to blogger outreach. She spoke about brands & blogger relations at the MN Blogger Conference last year and focused on creating memorable experiences – including bloggers getting to jump out of airplanes with the US Army and touring a pork farm and learning new recipes with a chef. I’ve attended plenty of blogger events where they’ve provided me with education or services I find interesting and worth my time. For example, check out this post about an event hosted at Cub Foods, focusing on nutrition education. I learned a lot and gave them some killer press at the same time.

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  1. yeah mommy blogger, to be honest, in some ways OK it is really specific, but if you mean parent, then say parent, I work from home and know full well the time management issues faced by a parent. In many ways a dad working at home is overlooked. I don’t mean a person with a home office, I mean a dad, being a parent that works at home. There is a difference.

    Fact is, this list is no different than any PR how to list I’ve seen and lived for 35 years in communications. It makes me feel like PR is Groundhog Day profession.

    • Hey Albert, thanks for the note. In general, one might argue there are more women who blog about parenting than men. That said, I’ve heard from plenty of men who blog about feeling left out of events and offers from brands to engage because they weren’t moms.

      Unfortunately, every day I get bad pitches from PR people. They don’t take the time to research bloggers or learn about effective blogger outreach problems. If even one person learns something from these tips, I’ll consider it a win. :)

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