Tips for PRs inspired by Bruce Almighty

I’m probably flying in the face of an unwritten rule about blogging here, but I’m going to do it anyway. I’m a man on the edge, I know. Yes, today, I’m breaking the illusory fourth wall and discussing PR requests for no other reason than the fact that, for the last couple of weeks, I’ve been like Bruce Almighty when he has to answer prayers via email.

It started as a trickle of enquiries – which, for the record, is my normal level of contact from people representing brands – in mid May and quickly became a flood of completed contact forms, emails and direct messages on Facebook and Twitter. It’s nice to be in such unusually high demand, but a little overwhelming as I hate not answering people when they’ve taken the time to get in touch. It’s a good thing I don’t have a job at the moment actually – this is a full-time commitment on its own!

There are two main sources, Father’s Day and the World Cup, so I can see why parent bloggers – and dads in particular for the former – are the prime targets. I’ve been offered some fantastic things in exchange for reviews and sponsored posts, but have had to turn down most of them due to time constraints – I’m supposed to be job hunting, shhh – and the odd one wanting followed links, which I won’t do.

It’s been a useful learning experience for me though so here, are a few suggestions for PRs who are looking to work with bloggers based on the good and bad requests I’ve received. For the record, the vast majority I’ve had of late have been very well pitched indeed.

Put a name on it
Make sure you start well by getting a blogger’s name and blog name correct. Copy and paste the bulk of the message, of course, but at least let them know it’s intended for them and not someone else!

Read before you write
Read a post or two before getting in touch. You don’t have to go into great detail – it’s just to see whether the blog and its audience are relevant to what you want to promote. Otherwise, you’re wasting your own time as well as theirs.

Be personal
Don’t get me wrong here – I don’t get upset if a PR hasn’t referenced something I’ve written about, nor do I expect them to  but it’s nice when they do and shows that time, thought and effort have gone into it. I, for one, answer emails like these much more quickly.

You don’t get owt for nowt
Don’t ask bloggers to promote your product, brand, contest or startup for free! While lots of us do work with brands, it’s not the reason we started blogging and we’re not free advertising space. Why should we give up our time, virtual column inches and audiences with no incentive?

Don’t tell porkies!
I’m looking at some of you here, SEO folk! You’re not an aspiring writer “just trying to get published on a few sites”; you want to dupe us into including a link to your client’s page to boost their page rank. And, by the way, you’re about as convincing as the phone calls I get three times a week claiming to be from ‘Windows Technical Centre’! Oh, and Google has a system in place to penalise this kind of thing now. Catch up!

Stay in touch
Do stay in touch with bloggers after their posts have gone live. The best PRs know the value of a good rapport with bloggers and the relationships that are forged as a result are mutually beneficial, which is exactly as it should be.

Comments

  1. Laura

    Some great tips for PRs. One bugbear of mine is when people initially get in touch, but then never reply to your reply. That can be very frustrating!

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      Tom

      Thanks Laura. Yes, that’s really annoying too and it always seems to happen with review products that would have been really useful!

  2. suzanne3childrenandit

    I couldnt’ agree with you more. I’m not sure what is in the water at the moment, but I have been totally inundated! I have stopped replying to emails that are just a straight advert for a product and they don’t say what they want – why do I want a press release of your latest book?! I like the personal touch but not so much when the reader clearly has not read my blog at all (although professes to have done): “I was very interested to read that your 2.5 year old son can competently use your laptop”….I don’t have a 2.5 yr old or a lap top. Failed at the first hurdle!

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      Tom

      Thanks Suzanne! Oh yes, I hate it when they do that – it shows a real laziness and doesn’t exactly make you feel valued. I’ll be relieved when it all slows down again; the last few weeks have been mad!

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  3. Ojos world

    I seem to be getting a lot of requests, that don’t respond when they realise I won’t do it for free. I don’t do a lot of PR but think they should all read this x #PoCoLo

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      Tom

      Thank you. Yes, there are a lot of them out there who seem confident that we’ll happily do their bidding for free. They must know we rant about it on our blogs and Twitter, so I can only assume they’re taking their chances. :-/

  4. Katie Haydock

    Yes, I completely agree with the advice given.
    I’ve worked with a few amazing PR people that make the bad ones look even worse!

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      Tom

      Thank you, Katie. Yes, there are some fantastic PRs out there who really know what they’re doing and they’re in a different league to the others. 🙂

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