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Saturday, March 5, 2011

Review Blogging: Pitching PR, According To PR

When I was at Blissdom, I learned SO many things but this one session sticks out in my mind over anything else. I'm sure I'll gravitate toward other thoughts/lessons as time goes on. This one just happens to be at the forefront of my mind right now.

The session was "Peek Behind The Curtain of PR/Blogger Relations" and I was all "Hello! That's for me!" so I found a seat, grabbed my notebook, and fixed my ears to listen. The main speaker of the session was Anna Lingeris. She's THE PR person at Hersheys {@ahhnalin on Twitter. you're welcome.} and I gotta tell you, I like the way she spoke. She shot straight from the hip and that's how I prefer it to be. I often am guilty of doing the same when I'm talking to people.

Anywho, she wanted us bloggers to know a few things from a PR individual's perspective. She began by telling us, the bloggers, we are incredibly valuable. Ah, I'm justified. See. Bloggers, review bloggers, know how valuable we are. We see our reviews making a difference in how and where people shop and what they buy. Yes. We are valuable...and PR people know this.

She also pointed out the room for improvement in how bloggers and PR people work together. The amount of bloggers in the "blogosphere" grows daily and rapidly. This causes communication challenges between us and PR as well as confusion, lack of knowledge, and no consistency in how these blogger to brand relationships go.

On a day to day basis, PR workers are faced with concerns of budget, planning, brands, value, quality, reach, resources, legalities, approvals, and more approvals just to get one review item to one blogger. Phew! They have a lot of plates to spin, right? I think it's easy to forget when we're waiting for a reply to an email just how many hoops must be jumped before they can come back and say "Yes". And to this point, we need to remember that it's a two-way street. Both bloggers and PR need to have trust. {So be trustworthy, mmkay?}

Now, here's where Anna's session got really helpful. She gave us a list of things that make up a successful pitch to PR. Write this down, print this out, tweet it, share it, and put it on your fridge. This is what we should be including in our pitch every.single.time. Ready?

  • Who are you? {It may go without saying but some people choose just to email a "hello" and then ask for the moon to review. PR wants to hear about you and your blog. Briefly.}
  • Why are you interested in working together? {Don't just ask for the moon. Let them know what it is about the moon that you think fits you and your blog.}
  • What sparked your interest? {a.k.a. What brings you here?}
  • What is unique and different about you? {Take this opportunity to let your personality shine}
  • Short and concise {Anna suggests keeping your pitch to 150 characters. Absolutely keep it above the fold. If she has to scroll to read your pitch, she's going to skip it.}
  • Follow up. Follow up. FOLLOW UP. {PR peeps are busy and sometimes they really do mean to get back to you but get sidetracked. Following up, done gracefully, shows initiative and reminds them that they want to work with you.}
Here's a list of things to remember about the Blogger/PR relationship:

  • Remember...
    • The same thing you ask of PR, they ask of you. It's a 2-way street, baby!
    • Know WHO you're contacting. It's so nice to see an email sent to you personally, isn't it? Find out who you're emailing and pitch to them by name.
    • Give them a reason to believe you're who they want to work with.
    • Attempt to understand their business. The PR world can be complicated but trying to understand them creates a level where you can relate to them and they, you. It's a beautiful thing.
    • Cultivate a relationship. {This is good for both you and them and they may think of you for future campaigns.}
    • If you choose to share a press release, share some of your own thoughts on it too. PR wants to know what you think. They don't just want to see their words put on your blog.
    • IF YOU WANT TO BE PAID FOR YOUR REVIEW, PRESENT THE FEE YOU DESIRE IN YOUR PITCH. Have a marketing plan ready to show them how you plan on earning those dollar bills too. 
So, you want to be a review blogger? I hope these very helpful tips have given you a platform to start from. If you're already an established "reviewer", I hope you've found something in this post that you can use to tweak the way you're currently doing things. 

For me, I'm a "self-made" review blogger. I didn't ask anyone for any help when I was getting started. I just decided to put myself out there and get going on reviews while observing some well known blogs for the "how to's". I loved this session and have taken away a good chunk of know-how while building my confidence to continue to work with brands and reach out to new ones. 



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