Lifestyle bloggers & PRs: Guidelines for working together
I've heard a few bloggers discuss their experiences with PRs lately, and thought this would make a good post where I share my own thoughts and guidelines.
Last updated September 1, 2013
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To be clear, it’s not a bloggers VS PRs post (we can’t be competitors when we’re playing different sports!). Rather, it’s simply how I think we can best work together.

The thing is, the whole blogger-PR relationship is still relatively new. Bloggers who haven’t had media experience are contacting publicists who deal with some of the most-experienced media professionals around. Publicists who are still getting the hang of this whole “blogging thing” aren’t sure which blogger to work with and why. And that’s fair enough, right? After all, their job is to get the best, most-valuable exposure for their clients.

My thoughts? Patience, respect and understanding is the best approach for both parties.

So, these are the guidelines I follow, and the way that I feel I deserve to be treated as a blogger. Remember, this isn’t a post on bloggers VS PRs (I have some wonderful friends who work in PR). It’s how we can work together as one big happy family.

My guidelines for bloggers…

  • Take the time to properly introduce yourself to a PR agency. Provide information about yourself, your blog, and your contact details.
  • Before requesting samples, simply ask that you’re included on any blogger/media databases. Show genuine interest in their agency and brands.
  • Learn the traffic lingo and take the time to explain your unique visitors, page views, subscribers and more. “Hits” and “followers” are ambiguous words.
  • Politely respond to PR e-mails in a timely fashion, even if the pitch or request isn’t suitable.
  • Always RSVP to event invites, even if you can’t make them.
  • Review requested product samples in a timely manner. Give the publicist a time frame in which to expect to see coverage.
  • If you decide against reviewing a product you requested a sample of, return it to the publicist in the same condition provided.
  • Share the reviews with the publicist. A quick e-mail is all it takes. It makes their job easier, and puts you in a good light!
  • Never feel pressured to write a positive review.
  • Never feel pressured to take down a negative review.
  • Think carefully about the wording of negative reviews. Yes, your honest opinion is allowed (so long as it’s not defamatory), and your readers will appreciate your truthfulness. However, there are negative reviews and there are scathing reviews. Before hitting publish, ask yourself: How do you want your readers to view you? Do you hope to work with that publicist or agency again? Think of this as an opportunity to really work on your writing skills. How can you get your opinion accross in a professional manner while still letting your blogger personality shine through?
  • Acknowledge there are limited samples and event opportunities. Not all bloggers can be recipients of all goodies. Work hard and you’ll get your turn.
  • If you get turned down on your request for a product or invite, turn the situation around. Look at other options or angles and enjoy learning from the challenge!
  • Always treat the publicist with respect – even if they’ve done something that makes you think they don’t deserve it. A tell-all on blogger forums isn’t needed.
  • Remember: You’re not Anna Wintour. ;)

My guidelines for PRs…

  • Set a standard for bloggers you’re providing samples to. If requesting analytics figures, make sure all bloggers provide stats from the same analytics tool (e.g.: Google Analytics) to make it a level playing field. Comparing stats from one analytics tool with another is like comparing apples with oranges.
  • Provide a blogger-outreach document or page on your website. Explain what you’re looking for when working with bloggers, so the guidelines are clear from the get-go.
  • Learn the traffic lingo. “Hits” and “followers” are ambiguous words.
  • Spend a moment reading a blogger’s blog before contacting them. Learn what their blog is about, and see what kind of pitches would suite their niche.
  • Learn a blogger’s name and use it. “Dear Blogger…” does not a good relationship make!
  • Is your pitch really a pitch? Sending a press release to a blogger telling them that they should encourage their readers to “Like” your client’s Facebook page (and describing it as an “awesome” opportunity) really isn’t press-release worthy. Or an opportunity. Or awesome.
  • Treat bloggers as you’d like to be treated: with respect.
  • If you want a product (that a blogger didn’t request) returned, this should come at your expense of postage or courier.
  • Keep in mind: You never know which blogger is about to make it big time. All it takes is one good link from a big site!
  • Thank the blogger for any coverage. A thank-you e-mail can be sent in under 30 seconds.
  • Reconsider requesting a blogger’s negative review be taken down. You can’t do that with print or TV media, can you? If you’re disappointed about the angle of the review, contact the blogger and see what you can do to keep the relationship on a happy level. Perhaps the sample you provided was simply a bad match? Perhaps the press release was promising outcomes the product didn’t deliver on?
  • Remember: You’re not Anna Wintour’s publicist. ;)

Is there anything else you think belongs with the guidelines? Whether you’re a blogger or a PR, you’re welcome to throw in your tres pollie $0.02c :)

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