Firstly, let me thank you for your email addressing me as ‘Dear Absolutely’.
Now, before I cut to the chase, I must point out that I have had the privilege of working with some absolutely lovely brands whose PRs/CEOs were an absolute pleasure to deal with. There are plenty of good people out there to whom most of the following doesn’t even apply.
That said, a few months ago I wrote 25 Things That Annoy Bloggers which featured contributions from several people. Let’s just say it was eye-opening how often working with brands came up as a source of annoyance. I have to say, having been at this blogging malarkey for a few years, I have received too many emails and wasted inordinate amounts of time embroiled in conversations with PRs that defy belief. And the previously mentioned post got me thinking…
So I thought it might help everyone if I put together a list of tips for you to bear in mind when working with bloggers.
Now we both know you are in the business of strengthening and growing your brand and you have recognised the benefit of working with bloggers to get your product/service offering in front of relevant audiences. That’s fantastic. However, there are a few things you need to understand with regards to how to manage blogger brand collaborations without making a mess of things.
1). Please do not think that we exist merely to blog at your whim.
I really do feel this needs explaining (although it shouldn’t) as I actually receive emails assuming that I will just publish a press release on my site, write an entire promo article or feature guest content without ANY discussion of why I would do so. I can’t speak for everyone but I didn’t launch my blog so that I could merely produce bland articles promoting everything from a door knob to a cheese slicer on behalf of brands who believe my blog’s very existence is to serve them and them only.
I will not compromise on quality or relevance to my readership so please don’t ask me to write something that has no connection whatsoever to a family and lifestyle blog and then behave like you are doing me a favour by asking.
2). Please Visit a Blogger’s Site Before Contacting Them
I know how things work. I know you generally send auto-generated emails to hundreds of bloggers for the same project and it’s actually not time efficient for you read every blog. But here’s the thing:
– not getting my name right is not a good way to go. I cannot tell you how positive it makes me feel about considering working with you. (I cannot tell you this because it doesn’t make me feel positive. FYI my name can be found on my sidebar on every page of my site.)
– you shoot yourself in the foot with generic lines in an approach email that clearly show, as surely as night follows day, that you have never even been in the same room as my website. At least look at the home page, check the about page or get someone else to! As Whinge Whinge Wine said in 25 Things That Annoy Bloggers “If PRs actually read blogs rather than just telling you they had, they would know whether someone was a ‘good fit’ and whether they were someone they wanted to work with before they emailed you and wasted everyone’s time”.
– repeatedly sending me the same auto-generated email after we’ve already chatted doesn’t instil confidence.
3) For Goodness Sake Please RESPOND to a Blogger Who Has Taken The Time And Had The Courtesy to Reply to YOUR Original Email.
You wouldn’t ignore somebody standing in front of you answering a question you’ve just asked them (well I hope not) would you? There you go then.
4). Please Remember It Is Not Respectful to Assume a Tone of Expectation That We Produce a Promotional Article for You Within an Unrealistic Timeframe.
This follows on from the ‘at your whim’ theme. Some/many of us work to a schedule and whilst willing to be flexible where possible in the name of professionalism but we tend to bristle at being told to have something ready by your deadline rather than being politely asked where in our schedule we can accommodate you.
5). Please do Not Make the Mistake of Thinking That a £10 Water Beaker Is Fair Compensation For All The Work That Goes Into Promoting Your Brand.
I admit this may not apply to newer bloggers who are happy to be considered at all; I definitely fell into that camp when I first started reviewing products because I felt I was ‘just getting my foot on the ladder’. Then I realised that regardless of how long I’d been blogging (because actually you could have been blogging for six months and have more site traffic and engagement than someone who’s been at it for six years depending on how much time you put into it), I was still putting in a lot of dedication into promoting on your behalf. The thing is, most of us don’t just stick a picture of your product up on our site with a lack lustre one liner saying ‘Go and buy this, it’s good’. Personally, I produce a comprehensive review with quality photos that took time to set up, writing that I carefully crafted, imaging with your logo and perhaps a stock image etc. I then promote said article on social media. The £10 tshirt really isn’t going to cut it.
This is not a ‘I won’t get out of bed for anything less than’ mentality; it’s called being remunerated for the work one has done and the benefit your brand will receive as a result. So please, next time you’re thinking of fobbing someone of with one of your low value items in exchange for feedback and exposure, think twice about the long term goal.
6). Please do Not Make a Sponsored Post Offer So Low it Makes a Fool of Both of Us.
I totally understand the blogosphere is enormous and people will have different situations, expectations and charges based on blogging experience, engagement, following and exposure. I totally appreciate you have your budget; I’m sure you understand likewise I have mine. Of course it would be bad business for you to offer more than you could in fact ‘get away with paying’. However, like many others, my blog is my source of income and whilst I have learned the importance of compromise and the art of negotiation, you and I both know when you are ‘just trying it on’.
And the £25 you just offered for me thinking up an angle, structuring and writing a post, devising strong SEO, sourcing and creating images and promoting your post is definitely you trying it on.
7). Bloggers Who Work with Brands Treat Their blog as a Business, Not a Public Service.
Although point 1 sort of covers this, I feel the need to amplify. Why? Because amongst the many things that have been said to me is this absolute cracker (incidentally, don’t ever follow in this PR’s footsteps):
“If you just write a short post mentioning us, that’s actually at no cost to you. Can you also mention it a few times on social media and tag us each time?”
Er no. Let me explain:
The brand you represent sells a product/service for which it expects its users to pay the set price. It’s the same for bloggers: ie if you wish to use my product (in this case my website and exposure to my audience) to advertise your brand, there is a naturally a cost for this. If your brand is mentioned anywhere on a blog via a banner advert/article, this is called advertising. Advertising is not usually free. Furthermore, just as you expect to receive your salary for the outreach/PR work you do each month, it’s the same for me: I expect to be remunerated for all the work required. Would you tolerate it if your employer decided not to give you your payslip? There you go.
By the way…on that note, how would you feel about your employer not paying you on the agreed date? Yeah…about that…bloggers like to be paid on time too… Just saying.
8) Don’t Just Follow Follower Numbers and Don’t Be Seduced by Stats…Get Wise
A couple of things: if someone has thousands of followers but only gets about 50 likes on their posts, those are most likely ghost followers. Another thing: low stats/high engagement; high stats/low engagement. You’ve got two bloggers, one in each camp and you’re only looking to work with one. Who would you choose? What’s my point? Look beyond numbers and check out actual interaction (although be aware just how hard the social networks have made it for bloggers to get engagement from the followers who really exist). Do you really want to promote your brand on a site with an apparently massive reach which is in fact made up of mostly empty views? Do you?
And I’ll throw this ninth one in for free…
Remember Bloggers Know Each Other and We Talk.
I’ll just let you figure that one out…
Yours ever so sincerely,
I’M A FINALIST (EEK!) IN THE READER’S CHOICE CATEGORY OF THE BRILLIANCE IN BLOGGING AWARDS.
IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO VOTE FOR ME TO WIN, I’D BE SO GRATEFUL AND HONOURED!
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