This week we’re taking a peek at PR topics that relate to bloggers. Yesterday we talked about Managing Your Blog PR Contacts. Coming up we’ll look at how to set up a ProfNet query letter and bonus – I’ve got a couple of PR folks lined up who will be telling us what it’s like to work with bloggers. The good, not so good, and more. So stay tuned.
Today – how to build relationships or I suppose you could look at it the other way too; as in how to royally mess up your relationship.
There’s no fancy tricks to managing your PR relationships. What I live by in the online and offline world, is treat others as you’d like to be treated, and everything will eventually work out; and if not, the relationship was not worth your time. It’s not very complex, but for me, it works. Keep in mind that when I say PR, I’ve merged companies into that category. They’re not the same, but I do handle them the same, because both companies and PR folks feed me info.
If I don’t currently want a relationship with a specific PR person:
Simple. I never email them back. I’m not sure how they feel about this, but honestly I don’t have time to care. That may sound harsh, but I get hundreds of emails a week. If I responded to every badly targeted pitch, ALL I’d be doing is answering email. Plus, while I do say treat others how you’d like to be treated; if I sent my cooking blogger pal a tip about sheep stables in Greece, I wouldn’t expect a response, because I sent something wrong for a cooking blog. You know?
Something to keep in mind though is that just because someone sends you something bad today, doesn’t mean they won’t send you something fab tomorrow. With that in mind, no matter how lame the pitch, no matter how frustrated I am when I get a tip sheet for animal tested cosmetics, I never email back and say “What’s your problem?!” – burning bridges is not smart. The Internet world is smaller than it seems and you don’t want to be known as rude. If you think a pitch sucks, keep it to yourself and just toss the email.
If I might want to build a relationship with someone:
Sometimes I’ll get a poorly targeted pitch, say for cat treats. I don’t do pets. However, if the PR person used my name, took the time to read one of my blogs (i.e. they mention a post), or crafted a really nice pitch in spite of it being off topic, I do often connect back with them. I’ve worked with some pretty annoying PR people – I want to work with the cool people. In this case, I might take the time to forward the pitch to 3 or 4 friends who do blog pets, and then email the PR person back. I’ll usually say something like, “This isn’t quite right for me, but I have some great blogger friends who might love this idea. I sent it to… so and so.”
Connecting back with PR that’s not quite right can work to your advantage in this situation, because next time this person has something more targeted to your topic, maybe they’ll remember to send it your way.
If I want to build a relationship with a PR person, or at the very least work nicely with them:
I usually respond back with a “Thanks for sending this” email. In the email I include when and where I think I might be able to use the info or product. OR I’ll simply post the item and then try to remember to send them a link. (see below).
If I want to use the product or tips but really don’t have the time, I often email and say something like, “Right now I’m swamped, but in a few weeks I think this is something I can use.”
If someone sends me something amazing; a cool product or great tips, BUT I’ve recently covered this sort of thing already, I’ll email back and say, “I just covered something like this, but please feel free to send me more news and tips as you have them.” In my experience, the PR folks who send you one good idea that’s well targeted to your blog, likely will have more ideas that will fit your blog.
Once I post a product review or tips that someone sends me I try to send the PR person a link to that post. I’m not sure if they need this all the time or not but in my opinion, it’s a nice gesture and only takes a minute. Some PR folks have emailed me a thank you for doing this, so maybe they do like it.
I’m polite – in the age of quick texts, fast emails, and chatting with total strangers online, I think people have lost some manners in translation. I’m casual, it’s true, so picture perfect formal manners aren’t my bag. But I do say please, thank you, and take care and I try to get people’s names right. You know basic manners. I think that nice manners go further than some people think.
The most common relationship mistake I’ve made with PR:
The most common mistake I’ve made with PR folks is saying I’ll get a review done on a specific time frame, then running out of time, and getting the review done later than I said. Sometimes this is not my fault. Example: I got some car wash products to review in Nov. I still haven’t finished testing them out for a review – why? Well, my son got the flu, gave me a crazy 2 week version of said flu, then the weather got bad (rain for weeks – not good car washing weather), then the weather turned worse (snowed in). Some things can’t be helped. Other times, it’s been my fault because I misplace an email or think I have time but end up being wrong. I keep these items at the front of my to-do list, but it’d be better if junk like this didn’t happen. Can you learn anything from this? Well, I suggest always telling people that it will take longer than you actually think to get a review up OR don’t set a time frame at all.
Where my ethics stand in relation to PR relationships:
When it comes to product reviews I’m with my readers not the PR person. No matter how nice someone is, no matter how much free gear they send you, you shouldn’t lie in a product review to your readers. I’ve worked with some very cool PR individuals who are doing their best to sell a product for their client and who are also easy to get along with and super nice; and to be honest, it makes me really want to like their product. BUT if I base my feelings on who I work with rather than the product, I wouldn’t be a very trust worthy blogger. Never choose your source over your readers. I have a hunch that PR folks are used to items getting bad reviews, you won’t be the first to write one, and in my experience, a bad review from me, has never ruined a PR relationship. (knock knock).
So, the gist – treat people how you’d like to be treated. Easy.
What do you think? Do you have any special tips for managing a PR/blogger relationship? Or, on the off chance we’ve got some PR readers hanging out, is there something you agree with or don’t agree with that I discussed above?