Dear Bloggers, What our PR contacts want us to know…..
August 6, 2018
This post is directed, as the title suggests, at bloggers…myself included. I remember when I first started receiving PR and working with brands, I had just uploaded my very braggy/proud (however you interpret it) PR ‘unboxing’, when my DM’s started lighting up. I’d go to my messages and I’d be inundated with requests for the PR details of the particular brand I had just unboxed.
I was a newbie blogger….big eyed and bushy tailed….star struck that anybody would want my contacts. For the most part I would pass on that information, but something didn’t sit well with me. I especially felt sick to my stomach when Megan Kelly one day pointed out on some blog chat that is was actually ILLEGAL to distribute somebody’s contact details without their permission. I went into panic mode! What if this blogger name dropped me? I’d be blacklisted for sure! This was early on in my ‘blogging career’ and as time went on, I tried to be more tactful when these requests came. With strangers, I’d happily pass on the information on how I obtained the details…because guys, seriously…some of ya’ll are just lazy.
How do I find contacts for brands I want to pitch to?
If I’m interested in pitching something to a brand…when in doubt…GOOGLE! I Google the brand website and I check if there are any PR/Marketing team contact details.
No information on the website? DM their social media team on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter and ASK for this information.
Pick up the phone and call the brand and ask for their PR contact.
Where there’s a will…there’s a way! Your very last attempt would be to reach out to bloggers that you know work with that brand. It puts one in a bit of an uncomfortable situation. I’m not saying I won’t illegally hand that information out to a close online friend, but I make sure that if it came out that I gave that information out, it’s somebody that I would be proud to be associated with. Not somebody that purely wants to ‘bleg’.
To make this post a bit more interesting though….I reached out to my PR contacts and asked them what they thought of bloggers divulging their contact details…and wow, were the responses insightful to me! I think they will be to you too.
Response from PR for a skin care and makeup brand
As someone who gets numerous requests from new bloggers and ‘influencers’ each month, I personally do not think it is advisable for established bloggers to give out brand details to just anyone asking (aside from that, it’s also your hard work that went into establishing these relationships and creating your contact list, so why should everyone feel entitled to get that?). Many companies, such as ours, have a consumer address by which these types of requests can be directed, and of course it doesn’t take much for new bloggers to pick up the phone to ask to speak to a PR manager or for a generic email address for these sorts of requests. Unfortunately the reality is that these days every second person has a blog, thinks they are an ‘influencer’ and demands product and invitations to launches, and many are in the habit of harassment on email/phone when they have these details. This makes it a bit of a nightmare for PR managers and the like, and we have many more things to do than field threatening or begging emails on a daily basis.
When it comes to working with new bloggers, we usually spend several months evaluating their platforms and content before making a decision, and 99% of the time we will choose the individuals who have already, organically, been writing about and featuring our brand because of their love for it, rather than being sent free products. For us, huge followings are also not a factor and we favour real and authentic engagement per post over the number of fans, likes and comments with emojis.
Response from a PR for a leading book publisher
I think this is such an important post! We’ve had countless incidents where people have contacted us saying that they are a friend of a specific blogger that we have worked with. They hear that we ‘give away books for free if you post about it’.
This is of course not the case. We send books to bloggers we feel have the kind of following that we would like to connect with. We also have a very limited number of books allocated for publicity. While we try to send books to all our bloggers, sometimes we just don’t have enough samples and have to choose only a small handful that fit the audience of the book to send to. I think instead of simply giving our details to a friend, a blogger can rather send us the contact details of their friend/fellow blogger and then we can contact them if they look like someone we’d like to work with. A recommendation from a blogger we respect and work with already can go a long way.
So many bloggers work so hard to create important and insightful content using the products sent to them by PRs. It just seems unprofessional when others use their friends to try and get free stuff.
Response from a PR Agency
Although we appreciate introductions from new influencers, it can sometimes become quite challenging when influencers insist on following up for possible client collaborations. The majority of our clients are very specific about their campaign approach; it’s our job to select the correct talent/blogger/influencer for their specific need. We’ll reach out when the opportunity arises.
I honestly appreciated the responses that I received, but unfortunately could not feature all of them or this post would be over 3 000 words eventually. I picked the responses that really resonated with me and gave me (and hopefully other bloggers) food for thought. The main points I take away from this is:
Be authentic. If I want to work with Brand X…I go out and buy their products, review it and hope that they will eventually notice you. There are some brands that will NEVER work with me (or you), and you know…that’s okay. They have a certain aesthetic and there’s nothing we can do about it. I personally have tried to attract the attention of certain brands for a while with a genuine investment into their products, reviews, etc. I see who they choose to work with and I’m like…your loss. We see these things and preferences, we are not blind.
Don’t ever email a brand/PR contact and say: Oh can I please get added to your press drop/distribution list? Also send me a dozen of those new face creams! I’m a huge ‘influencer’. No…just don’t. Please.
Don’t make a pest of yourself. Following up on a pitch once is fine….after that, just have some self respect and move on. Your pitch may resonate with somebody else though, so don’t put all your eggs in one basket.
I’d actually like to do a follow up post on what we as bloggers would like our PR contacts (and future PR contacts) to consider on our side as well. One of my PR contacts actually asked for such feedback in their response to me which I thought was so great….that they also want to hear our voice. As bloggers, we know….products are not for free. Campaigns are hard work. We also deserve some consideration for the time and work we put in….so if you’d like to contribute to the follow up post, please email me on firstname.lastname@example.org and I will keep your response anonymous, unless you’d want to be named.
I’d love to hear from you in the comments what you think about this whole topic and if you have anything to add. Whether you’re a blogger, you work in PR, a brand or even a reader….weigh in! I’d love to hear your thoughts. Do you get asked for PR details and what do you do when asked?
Disclaimer: If you’ve ever asked me for PR contact information, this is in no way ‘shade’ directed at anybody. I thought it was an opportunity to learn and I think also a good reference point for newer bloggers. To those of us with smaller followings, this was also great to read…that some brands are still looking for authenticity over numbers.