There’s no doubt about it, everywhere you look blogs/bloggers/blogistas (okay I made that last one up..i think?) are everywhere you look. From front row Paris fashion week to style.com, there is no escaping the blog euphoria happening now and I see no end in sight. PRs have to readjust and learn how to pitch their product to this new media form and trust me, it’s not as easy as a little tweak to your pitch email here a delete and insert blog name there. It’s a whole science this new social media thing and PRs that are able to adjust, do their research, and be successful, will find a whole new world of exposure waiting out there for their clients. Now just like we are picky with our friends, boyfriends, and other things we hold close to our heart, we must be picky when it comes to bloggers. Some are in the for the exposure and have real talent, while others, well…they just want the free samples. We enlisted the help of Vancouver’s favorite blogista, Niki Blasina from A Haute Mess to get down and dirty on the do’s and don’t of social media pr. Take it away Niki.
“I live a bit of a double life, working PR by day and being a blogger by night, but I must say that if it’s nothing else, it’s a learning experience. As a blogger, I have definitely experienced some PR tactics that I have not been impressed with (even horrified by) and some really great PR work, so I’ve learned to incorporate what I like into my pitches and what not to do. Thus I present to you: the DOs and DON’Ts of pitching to new media:
If you’re sending a blogger an e-mail pitch, DO personalize it and address it to his or her name just like you would (or should!) when writing to any media. I don’t mind receiving a mass e-mail if it’s an event invitation or something along those lines, but I would advise to generally avoid the mass e-mail. DON’T address it to the blogger’s blog name, for example “Dear A Haute Mess.” The way I see it is if you’ve already taken the time to visit my blog and find my contact information, chances are you’ve stumbled upon my first name at least twice. Especially given that it’s located on the bottom of every post, in an About page right under my header, and again at the very top of my side bar.
DO spell the person’s name right. My name is Niki. Not “Nikki” or “Nicky” — and of course, especially not “A Haute Mess”! If you have already taken the time to personalize your e-mail to me DON’T waste your own efforts with a silly mistake.
Like you would with any media, DO follow-up. I may not be Anna Wintour, but my inbox is often a labyrinth of blog comments, press releases, mailing lists, ideeli, Gilt Group, HauteLook, Twitter notifications and good old-fashioned junk mail. There is a very good chance your e-mail has gotten lost in the haute mess of it all. DON’T follow-up with me 3 times a day, for months on end. Not only will my Blackberry self-destruct but also it is annoying and seems very desperate. Plus, with the freedom of the blogosphere the last thing you want to do is outrage a blogger with a decent following. I would not sound off on my blog (but I definitely will not give you a post) but many bloggers will and you never want to generate negative publicity for your client, not matter how big, small, important or seemingly unimportant the medium may be.
If you have the budget or resources for it, DO send samples or products for review. Who doesn’t like getting freebies? On the flip side, DON’T send every blogger in your database samples or products. Take a good look at his/her web analytics. How many individual visits and page views does the site receive a day? How many people are followers or subscribers to his/her blog? What is the site’s Google page rank? Go as far as looking into numbers of followers/fans on Twitter and Facebook. The last thing you want to do is waste your client’s money, especially when it could be used to pay their hard working publicist! Just kidding. But again, as a blogger I know I’m not Anna Wintour. I respect and accept that the big media with the huge readership is where the freebies should go, but of course, if you have a little to spare I would also happily accept.
When pitching to a blog, as you would with any media, DO ensure that your client or product is relevant to that person/outlet. I receive countless numbers of press releases and lookbooks for fine jewelry clients. I have never blogged about fine jewelry and in fact, I don’t think I even have any expensive jewelry. If you’re going to send it to anyone, DO send it to my boyfriend or a blogger whom it’s an appropriate pitch to. Another example of relevancy in content is a style blogger versus a fashion blogger. If someone only posts pictures and writes about his/her personal style DON’T send your release and lookbook for client coverage unless you are planning on gifting the product or unless the blogger also covers fashion, trends, shopping etc.
A few tips for bloggers from a PR perspective:
1. Don’t ask every single publicist you encounter for a freebie unless you are a pseudo-celebrity in the blog world like Rumi, Jane, Tavi, bryanboy or another very well established blogger.
2. Know your place on the media totem pole. I know I’ve said this twice but I’ll say it again unless you’re sitting front row in New York, Paris, London or Milan there is no need for an ego.
3. Be appreciative and be humble. Receiving press materials shouldn’t be annoying in fact it only means good things for your blog – people are reading it! Your thoughts and opinions via your blog have become a legitimate source of information for people – it’s exciting! Think back to the day you started your blog and I bet you never expected to be in media databases for companies and PR firms all over the world.”
Check out Niki Blasina @ahautemess and ahautemess.ca
And just a last bit of advice, if you’re sent a free clothing sample and it doesn’t fit you, don’t just give it away as a freebie to your friend. Go grab some change from underneath your couch, stick a stamp on the parcel and return it to the designer/pr person. I mean seriously, I heard of this twice today and was astounded. No I wont mention names but rhymes with “Chunky Dunkey.” Be on the lookout prs for product scavengers and alert other prs of their bad business. Shouldn’t there be like a do not call list for bloggers?