Blogger & PR Lessons #1 PR Fails

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I’m continuing to be fascinated by how bloggers and PRs interact as the blogosphere grows, things are constantly changing and I think both bloggers, PRs and brands are struggling to keep up. I thought I would offer up some help, my first blog post on the topic is some lessons for PRs and brands.

Today I did a shout out on Twitter for bloggers to share with me their PR fail stories, I wanted to share these with you in the hopes that PRs will learn something and bloggers will also pick up some tips of how to work with PRs. I invite you to comment and share your experiences and for you to offer your solutions too.

Here’s some of the top PR fails that you guys shared with me and what I would suggest as a solution, please let me know if you have anything to add.

Why did you contact the blogger in the first place?

Lots of you told me that you’ve experienced PRs emailing you personally to ask if you would like to review something or have requested your address so that they can send you a sample and then you never hear from them ever again.

This is super bad news, it puts the blogger in a awkward situation as you don’t know if something has gone wrong or if the PR is ignoring you on purpose. It puts the PR in a bad situation as it makes you look stupid or it means that something has gone wrong.

Solution?

To PRs I ask, why did you contact the blogger in the first place? I would say, don’t contact a blogger if you aren’t prepared to offer support. If something has changed, just be honest, bloggers just like to know where they stand. If it’s a technical glitch, why not drop them a tweet to see if they got your email? If it’s because circumstances have change, just send them an apologetic email explaining what has happened.

To bloggers, I say, I sympathise, it’s utterly rude to ignore someone who you’ve contacted in the first place. But as always, I like to remind everyone that PRs have a super difficult job, they get a gazillion emails a day and depending on the organisation might not always have time to personalise a response to everything. If they don’t respond, I would say, chase them a few times and if nothing happens, it’s the PRs loss anyway!

Do you know what a blog is?

Most blogs in whatever genre tend to focus on reviews, not all of them, but I would say that 85% of blog content is based on reviews, would you agree? Some blogs specialise in news or opinions instead, but where a product is involved a review is usually the key focus.

I had a lot of bloggers tell me that they’ve been pestered to feature something but denied any samples. As much as we don’t want to be seen a blaggers, when you’re writing a blog which is mostly reviews, you can’t really feature a product without trying it first. Expecting bloggers to just regurgitate press releases is boring, you’ve got to give us something amazing to expect coverage without a sample to review.

Solution?

If you’re a PR with limited samples and you’re mailing out to a lot of bloggers, be ready to give solid reasons why you can’t offer a sample at this time or be honest and say you only have limited samples and then don’t pester bloggers to feature something. If you’ve sent a sample I think it’s good to follow up because as a PR you’ve invested something into that blogger.

As a blogger I say be sensitive to the fact that many brands don’t have unlimited samples, so they can’t provide reviews samples to everyone. If you’re being pestered to feature something based purely on a release and that doesn’t fit the style of your blog, just be honest and let them know why.

Fake is transparent.

This point in two fold. Number one is that fake promises are lame, if a blogger can’t make an event and you promise to follow up after the event with the info, do it. Failure to do so looks stupid. The other is fake personality, as much as we appreciate your effort to personalise an email, there are only so many times you can read  “WE LOVE YOUR BLOG” before it appears a teeny bit copy & pasted.

Solution?

Some bloggers do really appreciate a personalised email, but maybe try and think of something a bit more personal, at least read their last post and comment on that? Then again, not all bloggers feel the need for this, some of us appreciate that PRs realistically don’t have the time to personalise every blogger email. So don’t stress over it.

If you know you won’t send info after an event, then just don’t promise it. You need to do it if you say you will, otherwise you will look stupid.

Bloggers, remember that PRs are super busy they might take a while to respond and don’t have time to always personalise everything.

And on a final note, this is not a dig a PRs, PRs work super hard and work long hours with a lot of pressure, I appreciate this and it’s part of my own job. However, I want to help the blog and PR relationships to grow. At the end of the day there are things both PRs and bloggers can do to make things work better, watch out for my next blog tips post!

What are your main PR bug bears?

What advice would you like to give to PRs?

What advice would you give to bloggers working with PRs?

Comment, share and tweet @JayneJRead

 

 

 

 

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15 thoughts on “Blogger & PR Lessons #1 PR Fails

  1. Well an issue another blogger and I were talking about last night was when PR’s drop you off their lists… it often starts with you emailing them saying oh hi, just seen you’ve released blah blah, could I possibly have a press release please, to which you might get a friendly but short reply saying yes, of course, please find attached. Where once upon a time you might of had a much warmer reception with offers to send product. But its ok, we’re not all about the product, if we’re interested in something enough to want a press release, then we’re probably interested enough to blog about it regardless, but then you start noticing other blog posts around and realise that its becoming a common occurence… so maybe you ask again for a press release, and again you get a short reply saying of course, please find attached. Which is fine, but once upon a time things were much friendlier. Then it just gets embarrassing so you stop asking and forever more just wonder what the hell it was that you did so wrong.

    Great post. Really good and well balanced.

    1. I understand your point but the difficulty PR’s have now is that they receive many emails a day from new bloggers. If we spend several minutes a time writing more personal responses to everyone we would never get any work done! PR’s love bloggers and they are invaluable, but it is important for bloggers to understand that whilst enquiries have increased due to the number of blogs starting out every day, staff numbers have not! We are effectively having to do more work for less money, and expectations are higher from our brands because budgets are tight.

      1. Totally agree with you Katie, I work with bloggers on gaining brand coverage too, so I know what it’s like. Have you read the second part to this serious where I talk about blogger fails?

  2. Jayne this is a really useful post and thank you for taking the time to write it. I am rally not sure what is happening, but changes are afoot and it occurred to me that it is probably sheer weight of requests that is starting to mean a tightening of belts and budgets. Which is understandable. However, I think the more experienced bloggers need a little more respect for their readership and commitment to blogging about beauty which is proven over years in some cases. It’s really a question of PRs not exercising discretion.

    1. 100% agree Jane, thanks for your comment. Things are changing fast too, it’s hard for everyone to keep up.

  3. I’ve only ever had a good relationship with PR’s that I’ve dealt with. Some have offered product and then have forgotten to send it which let’s face it we all make mistakes. A quick email to say ‘if you sent X I still haven’t received it’ should prompt them. I assume sometimes it’s not the actual PR that is sending the samples so it’s always best to chase it up.

    What I don’t get is the bloggers who get stroppy on Twitter if they aren’t addressed by name, or complain about the ‘we love your blog’ identikit emails. I mean really aren’t there worse things in the world? Yes I want to be respected but at the end of the day I’m not saving lives, I’m writing about body scrub! One PR just recently sent me an email saying ‘Dear Annabella’ We love your blog (insert blog name here) so we’d like to send you….. I just laughed an emailed her back and we both had a good giggle about it over email.

    I’ve told my husband James that the day I become a blogzilla he has my permission to delete my blog!

    1. Thanks so much for the comment Annabella. I totally agree about the personalising and identikit emails, I say give PRs a break, that’s how they deal with press, so why can’t they do that with bloggers too? It’s a bit confusing mess. Sounds like you’ve been dealing with PRs really well, sadly, not everyone has had just a positive experience.

  4. Hi Jayne really interesting post. I’m not a blogger but I have dipped my tootsies in the water by being lucky enough to do 2 guest posts. I alertedthe brands after by twitter and most thanked me and RT’d. But and here’s the thing that annoys me. I can enthuse about a brand on twitter and interact with them which I love except when then they then offer samples to the bloggers in the same tweet where I’m included. It makes me feel excluded and annoyed. They should do that by DM or email. It feels like I’m not really worthy and they just want the good review from an actual blogger! I understand that bloggers get more traffic and exposure but please brands don’t belittle your customers who pay for your brands! Rant over 🙂

    1. Really interesting comment Carmen. I have to stick up for the brands here, since I work in the industry myself. Samples are expensive, they have to save them for the best opportunities. It’s the same as when magazine journalists get tons of free stuff, except the online magazines and blogs are becoming more valuable. If the brand can’t see that you write or blog, why would they offer you a freebie?

      I agree that more brands should be discrete about giving samples, I also don’t like it when they publicly offer it, it the confirms the idea that simply having a blog means you can get lots of free stufF! Email is easy, every blogger has their email on their blog. But I guess on the other hand, offering via tweet is a time saving options.

  5. I’ve always had a good relationship with PR’s and have built good contacts through genuinely having an interest in the products and brands they work with.
    I’m always honest, and have never believe blog = free stuff, think that goes a long way as I have spoken to PR’s before who have been able to spot a ‘blagger’ a mile away.
    I will say personalising emails is a must, along with as you’ve mentioned, taking time to read a blog and understand who the person is.
    x

  6. I loved this post so informative.
    One of my bug bears is when I get PR companies from the states emailing me, and hen finding out I am from England, and they say they can’t send the products. I really don’t mind that they can’t send the products, what annoys me is that it clearly states on my blog that I am from England, it just shows sometimes they don’t even read my blog properly!

    Lovely post though!

    x

    1. Mia (or anyone else) – if you do get offered samples from the US and they can send them be careful as you might get a bill for VAT.

      I do get quite a few things sent to me from the US which hasn’t been a problem in the past. However this year I’ve had 3 VAT bills for stuff that is technically a press sample not something I’ve bought. Obviously I pay it but now I’m wary about saying yes. Not only do have to pay VAT but an advancement fee for handling!

  7. Most PR’s I work with are really lovely and professional at the same time, but I really think that more of them should start demanding proof of blog traffic and check, if the blogger they work with is genuine and didn’t buy Twitter followers. It is not hard, it only takes a minute!

    It is a shame that most of us work really hard on our blogs, yet others think that it is ok to buy buy fake followers and pretend to be more influential than they actually are. I recently noticed that someone I have followed for months bought 8000 followers and I am absolutely disgusted. That’s why doing the research is really important. If the PR wants to get the best coverage for the brand/product, they will choose bloggers carefully.

    A mixture of PR/blogger fail, but it is becoming a really big issue.

  8. It’s tricky these days with PR’s. I’ve seen a lot of things happen now and sometimes I’m still not sure what’s going on.

    It’s all down to the combination of personal connection/previous positive work with that pr/budgets/time. I have a few closer PR friends now and they’ll gladly send me anything I want of the brands they rep, but that’s only because time after time they could count on me too. We started as strangers, I proved myself, played hard ball at some point if need be but in the end we matched.

    They know how I work and what they can request of me, I know the limitations of beauty pr. It’s not the endless supply of goodies, it’s the personal relationship you build with people and how you repay their trusting you to deliver results. If you only ever ask things and never give back, the well will dry up. So I can only imagine how hard it sometimes is for these people to be swamped in requests and emails, having to cherry pick their favorites/potentials and then having to let down others.

    Another important note is that you cannot have every brand on your list. Hell after all the things I accomplished and still want to, there are brands that just don’t want me or respond to emails. Call it arrogance/blogger overflow/not interested/ whatever you want.. they just won’t work with you no matter how you ask. Then it’s best to remember that you already have positive experiences with others, build on those and in due time the others will come. They always have for me, but at that point I’m over them and rather work with people who believed in me from the start.

    Just my 2 cents.

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