Reaching out right: how to avoid PR practices that rub bloggers the wrong way

Blogger, social media-ista and all-round fashionable friend of Speak, Isabelle O’Carroll, has worked with some of the biggest fashion brands in the UK (including her work with us on Lacoste footwear) and established herself as one of the country’s top fashion bloggers. In her second guest blog for us she examines the way brands do blogger outreach has changed, as well as some of her own PR pet peeves.

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It used to be that to reach out to bloggers all you had to do was get some canapés and drinks in a room and you were all set. Not so anymore, blogs (and bloggers) have become more professional and audiences are more savvy to a flurry of synchronised blog coverage.

A real bugbear of mine is when I’m approached by a so-called digital consultant, working on behalf of a retailer, who wants to write a guest post on my blog, framed as a favour to me. Free advertorial content will never do my blog any favours! Here’s a few more examples supplied by fellow bloggers in response to a recent Twitter request:

Say my name

Getting names wrong is classic mistake, don’t get caught out by pseudonyms, regular readers will be savvy to a person’s true identity (and gender!)

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This last clanger needs no introduction…

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Getting it right

Now you know what not to do, here are some tips on how to reach out the right way.

1. Look at your (mailing) list.

Where does it come from? When you’re putting together contacts for your outreach make sure it’s people who really chime with the brand, not just a secondhand list from a PR or something hastily cobbled together by an intern. Bigger isn’t necessarily better, look for a site that is well-designed and has engaged followers.

2. Build trust before you pitch.

Any communications that look spammy, cold or automated will probably not get looked at. You wouldn’t ask for favours from someone you didn’t know, so make sure you get to know bloggers on Twitter, Instagram and in real life.

3. Tailor it

Bespoke communication makes your blogger feel valued and also provides novelty for both them and you. Readers will connect much more to a partnership post than something that is cropping up on a load of sites in the same format.

4. Exclusivity

What can you offer a blogger that is new or exclusive? Can you shed light on one aspect of the company, offer them a tour or a meeting with someone? Offering a video that all the regular news outlets already have isn’t going to get anyone excited.

5. Quality, not quantity.

This applies to your communications and the blogs themselves. Target bloggers because they fit with your brand, not because you think they’re the ‘right’ one. Pick a manageable amount of sites to start with, ones that really get your company, and build things from there.

In the last five years, blogging has grown from a niche activity for internet obsessives to a huge sea of powerfully influential voices. The first generation of bedroom bloggers have become magazine darlings, retailers, photographers, with the second generation snapping at their heels. As a brand trying to harness the power of this pool of talented creatives don’t you think you owe them a bit more than a cupcake or a goody bag?

Leave a comment below or tweet your responses to Isabelle @IsabelleOC
Read Isabelle’s first post for us

Author: Tom Owen

A strategic storyteller and compelling content creator, awash with acuity and adept at alliteration. I work for Speak Media. www.speakmedia.co.uk

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