Top tips for working with brands and PRs

doco logoAs part of our series on improving your blog, this week we focus on monetizing your blog. What better place to get information on how to set up your blog to make it attractive to PR’s than from a successful PR? Here we interview Kerry Jean Lister, Social Campaign Director for Doco.

BritMums: As a busy PR with a lot of clients and very little time, how do you choose which bloggers to contact? 

Kerry: We have been working with bloggers for a long time so have an existing database of contacts that we know are reliable and provide great content. When researching new bloggers to work with we will always thoroughly read their blogs, follow them on Twitter to observe how they engage with others and check out any other channels they may have such as YouTube or Google+.

BritMums: Interesting that you look well beyond the blog! I know many bloggers put a lot of effort into raising their place on ranking lists or increasing their Klout scores–do you consider Klout scores, numbers of followers, ranking on networks or an index, Page Rank, or any of the other charts or scores out there?

Kerry: We consider all of them bar ranking lists but I don’t put too much onus on any particular one. We aren’t ‘stat’ queens here at Doco. A well written, engaging blog may only be a few months old and not have built up the readership of one of the more established bloggers but that’s not to say they won’t.

I will occasionally refer back to Wikio but I don’t really follow any of the ranking lists. I’m not a big fan of them to be honest!

BritMums: Do you ever look at the comments section of blogs to find new bloggers to contact?

Kerry: All the time! I will also look at people who are reTweeting/commenting on Facebook about blogposts. There’s a fantastic community out there that you can tap into if you know how!

BritMums: Do you ever find bloggers on Twitter?

Kerry: Absolutely! Twitter is a fantastic crowd-sourcing tool.

BritMums: When looking at a blog as a representative of a brand, is there anything that you really like? 

Kerry: I love a good storyteller – some people have a fantastic ability to turn a natural everyday story into the funniest thing you’ll read all week. I also like bloggers who have the ability to weave reviews into their blogs without it becoming too spammy. It’s not an easy thing to do.

BritMums: Is there anything on a blog that will make you click away and not contact the blogger?

Kerry: Review, review, review, review, review! I know this probably sounds hypocritical given what I do for a living but it really is such a turn off. Also bad spelling and grammar. And also – if I’m reading a blog with my client head on – foul language and controversial posts that cause upset/offence/general bitchiness. I’m pretty good at weeding out the passive aggressive ones too 😉

BritMums: When a blogger writes a sponsored post they should fully disclose that the post has been paid for. Is there a way you prefer the blogger to say this?

Kerry: Be as transparent as possible – tell people you’ve been paid to write, but that you wouldn’t be writing about it if it wasn’t relevant for your readers. I also like the idea of using images –  CMP.LY have a basic set and I LOVE the ones by  Louis Gray.

BritMums: Some bloggers get really irritated with PRs who send out a request that shows the PR has not read the blog. Is there a good reply for these bloggers or should they just delete the email without replying? If people are serious about monetising, is it actually better to reply politely to all emails, in case the PR thinks of them for another campaign?

Kerry: I must admit that if a PR hasn’t made the time to read and research a blog thoroughly before contacting the blogger then the blogger in question is well within their rights to delete the email without responding. This is the only time I would sanction it actually! I know some of the bigger blogs are inundated with PR requests and if they had to spend time responding to each one sent in error they’d be there all week. I wouldn’t want to deal with a PR who hadn’t done their research – simple as that.

However, if I’m contacting you offering something that could be relevant, but that you’re just not interested in, then that’s the time to respond with a polite ‘thanks but no thanks’.

Sending nappy products/press releases to mums with teens is possibly the biggest #PRFAIL in the book! 🙂

BritMums: If someone wants to submit a novel to an editor, there are usually ‘submission guidelines’ the author must follow. This makes the editors’ jobs a lot easier because most people who submit will stick to those guidelines. Do you think it would be helpful to both PRs and bloggers if bloggers who wanted to monetise had a similar guideline for PR’s to follow, perhaps as part of their media pack?

Kerry: I think that’s a very personal thing. I like to think blogging will continue to grow organically and many will find a natural way to monetize their blog if that is what they want to do. I fear submission guidelines may take the personal, one-on-one feeling of a blog and make it feel too corporate. I understand that some people make a living from their blog but remember the USP of a blog is simple – it’s YOU. Your writing, your personality. There is no ‘one size fits all’ and I think each blogger needs to think about what works for them in each instance. An engaging, friendly email from a PR may work for some, a submission form with set parameters may work for others. It’s the beauty of blogging!

BritMums: Do you have any other tips for BritMums bloggers that would make your life easier when contacting blogs you’re interested in working with?

Kerry: My biggest message to any blogger is this: only review things you genuinely love/need/want. Because we PRs will really need you to blog/Tweet about it in an engaging way that shows how much you love our brand/product. I have had many bloggers come back to me and say ‘thanks for thinking of me but it’s not really something I’m interested in’ and I have a lot of respect for them. It’s not easy turning down free stuff!

 

Now over to you BritMums readers… Kerry will be checking in here this week so if you have any questions you’d love to ask a helpful PR professional, here’s your chance! Just leave your question in the comments below.

And if you’re interested in working with brands that contact BritMums, sign up to BritMums Professional, it’s free!

Kerry Jean ListerKerry Jean Lister works as the Social Campaign Director for Doco. You can contact her through Doco or on Twitter, @kerryjeanlister.

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BritMums is the UK's largest parent blogger collective. We offer bloggers the latest support, advice and how-tos as well as feature great content on food, travel, relationships, health, charities, crafting and much more. Our social network is free to join and helps bloggers connect with others; our BritMums Pro programme connects bloggers with brands on our high-quality projects and our annual conference, BritMums Live, is the blogging event of the year.

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22 Responses to Top tips for working with brands and PRs

  1. Tara 31 January 2012 at 12:22 #

    I have worked with Kerry on a number of things and can honestly say she is all the things she says she is and more!
    She totally ‘gets’ the blogger/PR relationship and never ever takes it for granted.
    Plus she is GORGEOUS too. Always helps

  2. notsupermum 31 January 2012 at 12:32 #

    After working with Kerry on several occasions I can say she is totally ace. Professional, fun, and achingly cool. And she’s a northerner. Ace.

  3. Kerry Jean Lister 31 January 2012 at 12:38 #

    I’m blushing over here!! Thanks girls 🙂

  4. Liz 31 January 2012 at 12:55 #

    I work with Kerry all the time and she is one of my favourite PRs because she totally *gets* bloggers and how they work. It’s crucial for a successful blogger/PR relationship I think. I love that Kerry also understands exactly which bloggers are right for which campaigns/her clients (I’ve never been asked to do anything for Duplo, for example 🙂 ) For me the best PRs working with bloggers right now are the ones who take the time to understand bloggers and their blogs.

    One question – actually this is for Michelle; I didn’t think it was currently a legal requirement that when a blogger writes a sponsored post they have to disclose it’s been paid for? Unless I’ve missed something? Do you have a link?

    • Michelloui 31 January 2012 at 13:19 #

      You make an excellent point Liz, that the best PR’s working with bloggers are the ones who take the time to understand bloggers and their blogs. As Kerry is also a blogger, perhaps this gives her an advantage!

      You’re right, it is not a legal requirement, just good form–and a good habit as it may become law in the future. I have changed the word ‘must’ to ‘should’ to clarify. You can read more about this on the website of the Office of Fair trading, with a case study regrding Handpicked Media:

      ‘(the) OFT has confirmed its view that online advertising and marketing practices that do not disclose they include paid-for promotions are deceptive under fair trading laws. This includes comments about services and products on website blogs and microblogs such as Twitter.

      Online promotional activity, just like any other promotional activity, must clearly identify when promotions and editorial comment have been paid for, so that consumers are not misled.’

      Hope this helps.

      • Liz 31 January 2012 at 13:37 #

        Yes I was very familiar with the Handpicked Media/OFT case which is why I was confused. Thank you for amending.

  5. Penny 31 January 2012 at 13:15 #

    Really helpful insights thanks Kerry. How do you feel about bloggers making the approaches? And any tips? I often do get asked to review and work on thing that aren’t relevant, but there are some brands I would love to work with.

    • Kerry Jean Lister 31 January 2012 at 13:39 #

      Hi Penny – thanks for your comments

      If you’re looking to work with a particular brand – or a PR who may represent a few brands as we do – it’s always nice to send a brief email introducing yourself with some details about your blog – why you’re blogging, what interests you and your family, why you want to work with the brand/brands in question along with any relevant links to your social media channels.

      Even if the brand/PR doesn’t have any campaigns suitable for you at that moment they will likely add you to their contact database and bear you in mind for future campaigns. I certainly would!

  6. AngelaC 31 January 2012 at 13:39 #

    Thanks for the advice, always great to know how to improve my blog! x

  7. Penny 31 January 2012 at 13:57 #

    Thanks for your reply Kerry, I like the focus on why/what/where rather than stats and rankings! Great tips thank you.

  8. Laura@howtocookgodfood 31 January 2012 at 16:24 #

    Thanks for all your tips, I have had the odd email from PRs and try to be polite, only accepting products I think I would genuinely like. I agree with you on limiting the amount of reviews you do plus think it is really important to openly mention sponsored posts.
    Very useful information , thanks for sharing 🙂

  9. Ramblings Of A Suburban Mummy 31 January 2012 at 16:42 #

    It’s great to hear about the relationship from the PR point of view and to see how they value rankings etc, food for thought indeed!

  10. Jennifer Howze 31 January 2012 at 17:30 #

    It’s great to have PRs like Kerry who understand blogs and bloggers and are excited about social media.

    It’s interesting to hear your thoughts about what makes a good blog and the importance of rankings. I think you’ve hit the nail on the head with your comment about passion being at the root of it all.

  11. Kerry Jean Lister 31 January 2012 at 21:30 #

    Some lovely comments here – I’m really pleased that my witterings were helpful! Thank you 🙂

    I could talk about this till the cows come home so please do contact me directly if you have any other questions

    Kerry x

  12. Older Single Mum 31 January 2012 at 21:54 #

    Hi Kerry, I’m quite interested in this sort of thing – as you say, more weaved into the blog and relevant, rather than making it its point, but I am worried that, as a single mum, this might work against me. Obviously that’s not who I am and I have a lot to say that renders that term irrelevant, but I wonder if it is perceived as a negative thing / something that might narrow down my options from your point of view? On the other hand, is it something I can use to my advantage?

    • Kerry Jean Lister 31 January 2012 at 22:19 #

      Hi OSM

      It would genuinely never even cross my mind. Single, married, divorced, same sex couple – it has no bearing whatsoever on your suitability (or unsuitability!) to write about certain brands and products.

      As far as I’m concerned as long as the blog is engaging, well written and relevant then that’s all that matters.

      I work with plenty of single mums and they’re all ace 🙂

  13. Louis Gray 01 February 2012 at 13:25 #

    Thanks for highlighting the FTC disclosure icons made a few years back. The author (@neenerbot on Twitter) did an amazing job taking our idea to reality and it’s so much fun to see people love them and keep using them. Great interview.

  14. Janmary 01 February 2012 at 19:59 #

    Thanks for all the advice. It is great to hear from “the other side”.

    Maybe I’ll get a chance to work with you sometime soon (hint, hint!)

  15. laura seaton 02 February 2012 at 13:37 #

    Thats a really good interview and it is really important especially for new bloggers like myself to have an idea of what we should and shouldnt do with PR’s. Most of us have never dealt with a PR company before so can get a bit overwhelmed when asked to review something. I also love the fact that you point out about stats, I have never really been a stat watcher and apart from reporting entries for competitios I haven’t really had the need to look into them. I find the fact that people engage with me on my comments or via twitter to be a lot more realistic way of finding out whether I am a successful blogger or not.

    Keep up the good work and thanks for sharing

    @tiredmummyoftwo

  16. MsXpat 13 February 2012 at 22:36 #

    This is a great post. Really given something to think about.

  17. Vegemitevix 07 March 2012 at 16:51 #

    I’ve worked in PR for over 20 years in both hemispheres, and have written Vegemitevix for about 2 years now, so find it really interesting to hear how others are working together. I just wanted to add in some of the funnier approaches I’ve had from PRs such as an offer to attend a fairy day (my kids are all teens!), a plea to promote car seats and a suggestion that I write about gambling hotels that allow dogs! As easy as it is to get irritated, I also want to highlight that it is often overworked stressed out junior PR executives who are given the task of ‘finding some bloggers’. Not in all cases, obviously, but in many cases. When they contact me, I am mindful of this and I try to offer a little guidance plus a dollop of sympathy!

  18. Christine Reid 26 March 2012 at 21:58 #

    Thanks for the post, I know its a few weeks old now but still very interesting. I have only been blogging a few months so was glad to hear new blogs are not automatically dismissed.