Dance With Me: How PR Professionals and Mom Bloggers Can Dance to the Same Beat


Today I followed a few links from Twitter to discover the most unfortunate public fight between a mom blogger and president of a PR firm. It’s not pretty. I’m not going to link to either post because I’m sure both parties just wish the story would die. I do, however, want to address PR professionals and mom bloggers about how to work together where everyone is happy at the end of the day.

PR Professionals: Tips for Working With Bloggers

1) Read the blogs you seek to pitch. I mean, actually read the blogs and not just the last three posts.

2) Follow the bloggers you want to pitch on Twitter. People are different on Twitter than they are on their blogs. You’ll be able to glean insights about a blogger’s tastes and personality that you otherwise wouldn’t catch if you only read their blog.

3) Never pitch bloggers in a mass email. Personalize and individualize your pitches. Last month I spoke to a group of PR professionals from smaller firms and their main concern was they don’t have time to personalize emails and instead opt for mass emails. In a nutshell, I told them they need to make time. They don’t have a choice and neither do you.

4) Always address bloggers by name.

5) Build a relationship with bloggers. If that means going to conferences and networking until you’re blue in the face, or even taking bloggers out to dinner without pitching involved, do it! Increasingly, PR professionals who dance best are those who pay attention and form key relationships.

6) Quality is better than quantity every time.

7) Understand this: Every mom blogger is different.

8) Resist pushing unusual requests on bloggers even though you know some will comply. For example,

  • Do not require bloggers to tweet or “like” your client’s product in exchange for a review. In fact, don’t require anything in exchange for a review. Bloggers ultimately make the decision whether they want to review a product or not, even if a product has been sent to them.
  • Do not require bloggers to use certain keywords and link to a specific site page in their review. They’ll word their review any way they wish. Remember, it’s a product review, not a SEO shill post.
  • Do not ask moms to review a product from a high res image.

9) Don’t hound bloggers for review posts. It’s fine to follow up, but don’t hassle bloggers about a $25 product.


Mom Bloggers: Tips for Working With PR Professionals

1) PR firms, for the most part, do not pay for product reviews. Why? Most of their clients only understand traditional media and would freak out if they knew their PR firm is “buying” reviews. However, if a PR firm asks you to do things that go beyond a basic product review like tweeting, liking, creating video, penning a series of blog posts about a campaign or product, then they need to pay you. I repeat: If anything goes beyond the basic product review, they need to pay you!

I and other mom bloggers are imploring you to get paid for your work, but that doesn’t mean product reviews.

2) It’s OK to charge for giveaways. I know product reviews and the obligatory giveaway have been coupled for a long time, but if you don’t want to run a giveaway for free, that’s OK. Giveaways boil down to free advertising for a brand, plus they are a pain to facilitate.

3)  Be sure to be friendly, but firm with PR professionals, especially those you disagree with or who send you a terrible pitch. After all, they are people too and, believe me, the PR world is very small. It’s smaller than the mom blogging community and you know how we talk!

4) Don’t pass around PR professionals’ email addresses and phone numbers. Even though they pitched you doesn’t mean they want to be hounded by 100 of your blog friends.

5) If you demand a fee for your work, whether it’s consulting or being a part of a large, extended campaign, be sure to be able to prove your worth.

6) Even though a lot of PR people don’t read About Me pages, it’s your job to spell out the types of pitches you will and will not accept.

It’s unfortunate that PR firms and mom bloggers are starting to experience missteps. It’s my hope that my advice above will help the two parties make the dance work.

31 thoughts on “Dance With Me: How PR Professionals and Mom Bloggers Can Dance to the Same Beat

  1. I simply hate the mass email – so disrespectful – If we are unpaid and can make the time then they, getting paid, can make the time.

  2. Thanks for this great post Jennifer!

    I recently started charging for giveaways…basically for my time in managing them. I require a certain $$$ amount for gift card or product value for the giveaway, as well as a certain amount for payment/advertising.

    EVERY blogger’s time is valuable and I’m so thankful that companies are beginning to recognize that value.

    Erin

  3. Missed the twitter happenings (glad I did). Great advice, as always, Jennifer!!

    I would also suggest that if a blogger wants to have that relationship with a brand or PR contact, the whole discussion without “business” is required on their part too. Some of my fave PR and brands are those who I have gotten to know on a personal level. The whole relationship aspect seems to be lost or the value is not understood (especially in my niche, it seems).

    At the end of the day, we need to show them our worth so they will know we are worth it!

  4. Wow really good information! Thanks for helping to clarify some things I have been thinking about as well. I work both sides of the story above so it is good to see how to handle the situation from both perspectives!

  5. @niri — Very good point! Besides, mass emails don’t work anyway.

    @Shelly — Thanks so much for your comment.

    @Erin — So glad to hear you’re charging for giveaways. It’s such a smart move. Those reading your comment can benefit from your great business sense.

    @Andrea — Great point! Totally and completely agree.

    @Beckie — Glad I was able to clarify some things.

  6. THANK YOU!! To you and to everyone that’s commented…very helpful. I’ve just started receiving a steady stream of emails from PR companies. I’m working on my media kit and also thinking about the sort of guidelines I want to set for reviews/giveaways and sponsored posts. I recently agreed to do a giveaway & review for a company. After agreeing, they asked me to do a “preview” post with a link to one of their sites I wasn’t even going to review or giveaway! The more I got involved, the more frustrated and used I ended up feeling. I ended up backing out altogether, but it got me thinking about where I want to draw the line. Not just for myself, but for the greater blogging community I’m part of. My time and readership is more important to me than cheap advertising for a company that doesn’t even care about who I am as a blogger.

  7. Thank you for this excellent (as usual) post.

    I think your guidelines are very smart-really they should be standard for all bloggers. I wish I had read them when I first started.

    What’s your take on affiliate links? I’m often approached to be compensated via a link versus outright.

  8. Thanks so much for being such a voice of wisdom in this field. I heard all sides and finally landed exactly where you are.

    Would really love to connect with you @ BlogHer, give you a big hug and say Thank You.

  9. I like how you’ve whittled it down to bullet points for both sides, because I think when you’re only following the drama or seeing the results of paid or unpaid work (or the controversy of that), it’s hard to see what’s basic and necessary. Thank you!

  10. GREAT post, Jennifer! Perfectly said!

    As mom bloggers, I think one thing we need to realize is the difference between PR and advertising. PR people pitch to bloggers, publications, etc. in hopes of getting something published FOR FREE. That’s what PR is. Advertising, however, is paid marketing and no one should be asking this of anyone for free.

    Unfortunately, everyone gets crappy pitches to them regardless of the industry. I’ve been in marketing in the golf, financial and software industries and there are always bad apples. However, there are lots of people doing it right too by building lasting relationships!

    Every one should print this out and put it by their computer! Seriously! :-)

  11. Wonderful post, Jennifer, so well said. PR firms and mommy bloggers are still trying to figure each other out — PR firms don’t want to pay and mom bloggers don’t want to work for free. It’s a lot of work to blog and do reviews and giveaways, but then again no one if forcing us to do it. I only do one out of 10 pitched reviews or giveaways, so far for free. I now charge if a brand wants my opinion on something. Plus, because of my 5100+ Twitter followers, I now also work as a social media consultant.

    I do get annoyed when I can tell that a PR person has no clue about my blog. I appreciate the PR people who take the time to actually get to know me through my blog posts. Then you know not to approach me about baby formula. :)

    Best,
    Dagmar
    Dagmar’s momsense

  12. So I have this really terrible experience recently with the PR of a company that I’ve seen a lot of bloggers working with, and i was all.. REALLY? They don’t care that they just pissed me off in a way that basically can’t be healed…? And I figured oh well.. I don’t have it in me to shout and name names right…

    HOWEVER.

    About two weeks later I get another pitch from the same company, and I was all oh no you don’t…!!

    And I couldn’t help myself I ranted to this poor woman.

    AND…
    Surprise surprise she WAS human after all.. she did the research to find out what had happened and then proceeded to not only apologize for the other person and for her company, but she then found a way to not only make me happy, but make me deliriously happy.

    At the end of the story I was UBER happy that I didn’t shout out the issue early on, and that I was brave enough to rant to the company when given the chance.

    I think the biggest thing we as mom bloggers can do is.. SHUT UP sometimes and wait it out a bit, before losing our heads and sharing it all on Facebook/Twitter… by all means if you believe there is a reason everyone should know your ill will, share it. But if it’s just a bad experience between you and a PR rep, maybe sit on it for a few days first. I sure was glad I did!!

  13. This is a fantabulous post! I love that it covers both sides because I think sometimes we get caught up in our own stuff and forget that there’s another side to the issue. You did a wonderful job of explaining when a blogger should – and should not – be paid, which I think is an ongoing source of confusion for people.

    My only place of disagreement (and I know I’m in the minority here) is in the reading blogs/personalization area. If you’re pitching me a one-off product (that isn’t going to be controversial like religious items/holidays, breastfeeding/formula, etc.), I don’t care if you read my blog and I don’t need to be addressed by name. I know a lot of bloggers get all worked up, but we have a delete button for a reason. If the product is compelling, I’ll follow up. However, if you want to work with someone as a brand and build a long-term relationship, you should most definitely make sure that a blogger has the work ethic, writing style/skill, values and interests that match with your brand. And then you should treat that blogger as a person. I agree that building long-term relationships is, in most cases, preferable for brands, but I don’t think it’s always necessary. There are some products people buy regardless of the brand behind them (non-animated movies as a perfect example).

    Last thing… I’d add that it is simply unprofessional to publicly bash a PR person (or a blogger). If you have a problem with someone, take it to them directly.

  14. That’s some sound advice. In this honeymoon stage of the relationship, parameters must be set. The opportunities afforded both mommy bloggers and PR people are astounding but neither should take advantage of it’s potential.
    Jessica Gottlieb had some pretty great advice on her blog on this as well. Essentially fellow mom/bloggers, don’t sell yourselves short. Obviously your opinion is sought-after so be authentic with it. It’s your #1 commodity and needs to be respected.
    I’m sure there are people on both sides who abuse this relationship: free swag for good reviews etc. But we can’t allow them to sway us from our own honest opinion.
    Without integrity, the whole system would fall flat on it’s face and no one will believe a word we say.
    I love the women I’ve run in to because they, for the most part, are honest and genuinely interested in making the world better. Let’s stick with that mandate!
    Go mommy bloggers!!! :)

  15. One thing I appreciate from bloggers that I work with is when they make introductions on behalf of blog friends on why I should consider working with them. There are so many blogs, I can’t possibly know everyone! I really appreciate that, especially when it comes with a great description of the blogger that doesn’t include blog stats, twitter friends and facebook fans. I want to know about them, their families and interests before I’m fed information about ranking.

  16. Amazing post Jennifer! I think this is the best post on this subject I have read in a long time, and you were absolutely right in your tweet, the information being shared in these comments is very awesome. We can all learn so much from each other. Thanks!

  17. Thanks for the tips. I’m starting to work with PR companies after blogging for 1 1/2 years so I’m so happy to read great tips and strategies like this.

  18. Great post. Enjoyed the tips for mom bloggers, I think I am following them already for the most part but it is always nice to be reminded of the general etiquitte. Thanks for your insight!

  19. Pingback: Mom Blogs Are Getting Younger: What That Means for Brands and Mom Bloggers « Jennifer James Online

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