With that in mind, I thought I'd put together some tips that have worked for me when collaborating with brands and agencies. This isn't exhaustive and is based on my personal experiences:
- Have your contact details available - I'm not saying your name, address etc for all to see but have your blog email address and Twitter handle showing readily on your blog somewhere so you can be contacted. If it's hidden away then people might not have that time to spend looking for it!
- Be friendly, professional and courteous - PR's and media are people too and they're more likely to work with you again if you're nice to them, it's human nature! Don't just go to them with a "shopping list" of things to review, they certainly don't exist solely to fill up your bathroom cabinet and make up bag. Making first contact with the PR rather than the other way round can work too - introduce yourself, your blog, what you write about, why the brand might be a good fit and also those all important web stats. Agencies generally represent a range of brands so there's always an opportunity for further collaboration on other brands if you build up a good relationship too.
- Don't get jealous - PR agencies have a limited number of samples and a budget (more so now than ever I think). They need to do what's going to bring maximum return for their client and the agency so while your blog might not be a great fit for brand Y, it might be for brand X. Some companies have a really good blogger outreach programmes and will send out samples and press releases to a variety of bloggers regularly. I remember an event where a blogger told me about all the fab, high-end samples she was sent - so many that she was struggling to get reviews done on them all - and I definitely felt a pang of the green eyed monster. Until I reminded myself that I was at a fab event being thrown by a brand I love, with a really great PR agency and that put my jealousy back in check.
- Be aware of your web statistics using Google Analytics or similar - this way you track your readers, traffic (again, something which helped me in my marketing role) as this can be really important information that a media agency may need to relay to their client. You might not think that it's important but stats do matter to PR/media. Even if you're not the biggest blog going, being aware of this shows that you care and that you're serious about what you're doing.
- Be honest - if you don't think a product is right for you then say so, if you have xxxx number of pageviews a month, don't add an extra zero on the end (you might be asked for a screenshot and then you're in trouble!) and if you say you're going to post something on/by a certain date then make sure it happens
- Network - get to events if you can, maybe join a blogging network, be active on Twitter (tweet links to your blog posts, relevant industry info, follow agencies and generally just chat and have fun) and tell people about your blog!
- Write good posts - now hopefully we all do this but what I mean is make sure your posts are accurate, informative, include relevant links, use headings which will be picked up by search engines, have good photos and are checked for spelling/typos. I'm not saying we have to be Shakespeare here but it makes sense as people are more likely to read a well written review and brands are more likely to be impressed.
- Send links if you can - some PR's say that you don't need to send them links to any reviews or coverage you provide but I usually do so once as post goes live as it's easier for them to keep track of! The internet is a BIG place when you're searching for press and media coverage (I know from experience) so anything that makes it easier is a bonus!
I'm by no means an expert and I definitely blog as a hobby rather than as a job, though digital marketing is something I find really interesting and one of my favourite things in my current role, but if you have any questions that you think I might be able to help out with do let me know in the comments below, by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or drop me a tweet @lucybatb