PR: Frienemy or BFF?

I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know a lot of IFB members on behalf of my fashion blog, Clutch22.com. However, only a few of you know what I do for my day job – I’m a Public Relations specialist for one of the largest private firms in the world. Having experienced both sides of the spectrum, I wanted to share some knowledge with IFB on how working with PR can lead to cool opportunities for your blog.

Many of us receive multiple emails from Public Relations people on a daily basis; many of them read like this:

“Hi Ms.

I am a big fan of your blog and think you should write about this new product I represent…”

Translation: “This email has been blasted out to hundreds like you. I don’t have time to visit your blog and find out your name and therefore, don’t really know if I like your blog since I’ve never been.”

 

While this has grown to become a huge annoyance for most of us, it only represents one form of PR (the worst in my opinion). We’re in the middle of New York Fashion Week – who do you think manages the media invites and guest lists? More often than not, it’s a PR person. We’ll go over some of the other benefits later.

First and foremost, here are a few tips on how to build relationships with PR people without losing your voice.

  • Keep an open mind. As annoying as those blast emails can be, if you’re at all interested in the product or company being pitched, you might be able to get a sample to review or set up an interview with a designer. Who knows, that same person might also represent your favorite brand.
  • When responding, don’t be afraid to ask for what you want – trust me, they’ll be ready for it! Be prepared to provide background on your blog including visitor stats – they might ask.
  • Be prepared for rejection, but don’t take it personal. A lot of people are behind on the influence of blogs and online media, and might not find your blog top tier enough for samples.
  • If they accommodate your request for a sample/invite/interview, do what you can to solidify the relationship. Thank them, show up to the event or let them know if you can’t make it, take good care of the sample and ship it back when you say you will.
  • If you decide to post, it’s also important to be honest, even if you don’t like the sample or thought their show was a disaster. Also, don’t feel obligated to write if you don’t want to.

I asked Christine Perkett, CEO of PerkettPR and active Tweeter (@MissusP) to weigh in on what IFBers can do to build better relationships – “…the more we respect and know them, the more we are going to be sure to only come to them with quality information, resources and questions…Social media – especially Twitter – is certainly making this much easier.”

What’s in it for you?

Photo credit: dew_wipe via Flickr

  • Samples and freebies: Who doesn’t like that?
  • Invites to parties and events: Um NYFW anyone?
  • Giveaways: Show some love to your readers.
  • Interviews: Talk face to face with the people you admire.
  • Increased traffic and visibility: Get featured on their sites and/or blogs.
  • Networking: You never know who you’re going to meet.

IFB Member Dina of Eye4Style (does PR for a Vivienne Tam, Bluefly and others) and said it well with, “For bloggers, working with PR contacts is essential as they can provide access – not just to products or samples but more importantly to information, designers and events (including NYFW!). That access can bring new life to your site in terms of content. And as we all know, great content is the most essential building block when it comes to traffic, authority or ad dollars.”

Stay tuned for more PR stories. What do you want to know more about?

 

4 comments
  1. This blog post is SO right on! When a PR rep addresses me personally, and then refers to certain articles I have written, I KNOW that they have checked out my site. That is impressive, because I’m sure that they approach tons of bloggers. So the fact that they took an extra five or 10 minutes to look into mine makes a big difference for me. Whether they are interested in ad space or promoting one of their clients — they DEFINITELY grab my interest more than the mass e-mails. THANKS so much for this! I think those who just starting to work with reps need to know this. It’s very important!!!

  2. I’ve been in contact with one particular marketing firm from Toronto who have always been very good to me. I really enjoyed the post for two reasons. The first being that it’s nice to know the details on dealing with the PR people and how to handle sampling etc. The second reason being that I’m trying to get into PR right now, so it’s VERY nice to hear the other side.

  3. I’d even like to add consistency. It’s an often issue when we start with all these PR activities but after couple rejections for instance we give up. So to stay consistent is a real must here with us.

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