PR: Frienemy or BFF?

I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know a lot of IFB members on behalf of my fashion blog, Clutch22.com. However, only a few of you know what I do for my day job – I’m a Public Relations specialist for one of the largest private firms in the world. Having experienced both sides of the spectrum, I wanted to share some knowledge with IFB on how working with PR can lead to cool opportunities for your blog.

Many of us receive multiple emails from Public Relations people on a daily basis; many of them read like this:

Hi Ms.

I am a big fan of your blog and think you should write about this new product I represent…

Translation:This email has been blasted out to hundreds like you. I don’t have time to visit your blog and find out your name and therefore, don’t really know if I like your blog since I’ve never been.”

spam

Photo Credit: Lumatic via Flickr

While this has grown to become a huge annoyance for most of us, it only represents one form of PR (the worst in my opinion). We’re in the middle of New York Fashion Week – who do you think manages the media invites and guest lists? More often than not, it’s a PR person. We’ll go over some of the other benefits later.

First and foremost, here are a few tips on how to build relationships with PR people without losing your voice.

  1. Keep an open mind. As annoying as those blast emails can be, if you’re at all interested in the product or company being pitched, you might be able to get a sample to review or set up an interview with a designer. Who knows, that same person might also represent your favorite brand.
  2. When responding, don’t be afraid to ask for what you want – trust me, they’ll be ready for it! Be prepared to provide background on your blog including visitor stats – they might ask.
  3. Be prepared for rejection, but don’t take it personal. A lot of people are behind on the influence of blogs and online media, and might not find your blog top tier enough for samples.
  4. If they accommodate your request for a sample/invite/interview, do what you can to solidify the relationship. Thank them, show up to the event or let them know if you can’t make it, take good care of the sample and ship it back when you say you will.
  5. If you decide to post, it’s also important to be honest, even if you don’t like the sample or thought their show was a disaster. Also, don’t feel obligated to write if you don’t want to.

I asked Christine Perkett, CEO of PerkettPR and active Tweeter (@MissusP) to weigh in on what IFBers can do to build better relationships – “…the more we respect and know them, the more we are going to be sure to only come to them with quality information, resources and questionsSocial media – especially Twitter – is certainly making this much easier.”

What’s in it for you?

blue

Photo credit: dew_wipe via Flickr

  • Samples and freebies: Who doesn’t like that?
  • Invites to parties and events: Um NYFW anyone?
  • Giveaways: Show some love to your readers.
  • Interviews: Talk face to face with the people you admire.
  • Increased traffic and visibility: Get featured on their sites and/or blogs.
  • Networking: You never know who you’re going to meet.

IFB Member Dina of Eye4Style (does PR for a Vivienne Tam, Bluefly and others) and said it well with, “For bloggers, working with PR contacts is essential as they can provide access – not just to products or samples but more importantly to information, designers and events (including NYFW!). That access can bring new life to your site in terms of content. And as we all know, great content is the most essential building block when it comes to traffic, authority or ad dollars.”

Stay tuned for more PR stories. What do you want to know more about?


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28 Responses

  1. Ashe Mischief

    I love that this is a great “Intro to PR” post. I’d be really interested in hearing great networking tips on building up relationships– often I think networking can seem really insincere, but building up a sincere, honest, relationship with those in PR based on knowing each other & respecting each other is a great thing. So any tips on how to develop that kind of relationship would make an excellent post!

    Reply
  2. LaToya

    This is a great post with helpful tips. One question, How do beginning fashion bloggers approach PR reps when your just starting out with no visitors as of yet to your blog? It seems you would have a hard time establishing creadiblity since your not viable so to speak in online media yet. Any advice/tips are helpful.

    Thank you
    LaToya

    Reply
  3. Tamia

    Hmmm…this is definitely food for thought.

    I’d be interested in learning how to make my blog more visible to PR reps…it likely has to do with traffic/stats, no?

    Reply
  4. Elana

    This blog post is SO right on! When a PR rep addresses me personally, and then refers to certain articles I have written, I KNOW that they have checked out my site. That is impressive, because I’m sure that they approach tons of bloggers. So the fact that they took an extra five or 10 minutes to look into mine makes a big difference for me. Whether they are interested in ad space or promoting one of their clients — they DEFINITELY grab my interest more than the mass e-mails. THANKS so much for this! I think those who just starting to work with reps need to know this. It’s very important!!!

    Reply
  5. Trisch

    I’ve been in contact with one particular marketing firm from Toronto who have always been very good to me. I really enjoyed the post for two reasons. The first being that it’s nice to know the details on dealing with the PR people and how to handle sampling etc. The second reason being that I’m trying to get into PR right now, so it’s VERY nice to hear the other side.

    Reply
  6. Ashe Mischief

    Elana– I so agree with you! I have had a couple this week who, while they didn’t address me as “Hi Ashe!” they did reference my posts, which really meant a lot.

    Reply
  7. Christine Perkett

    Jordana,

    Thanks so much for including me in your post! These are great tips. It’s wonderful for you to share your insights on how bloggers and PR executives can work together better. Like you, I am also on both sides of the equation (in addition to owning PerkettPR, I blog for our corporate blog, Women for Hire, This Mommy Gig and several personal blogs covering everything from fashion to marathon training). It’s very helpful when it comes to pitching sense!

    It was also a great pleasure meeting you at Style Coalition’s Digital Moda last night. Thanks so much for coming!

    All my best,
    Christine Perkett
    Founder & CEO, PerkettPR
    http://www.twitter.com/missusP
    http://www.perkettpr.com

    Reply
  8. Eli

    Very interesting, considering the one PR company that does email me only asks me about flabby arms, and other random weird stuff. I think its difficult because we feel like were being lied to. Its hard to draw the line between honesty and reality, and giving up your point of view.

    Reply
  9. gilda

    (omg i posted a comment and it went to some error page and got erased off!)

    you know, i read this blog entry when it was first posted and now, coming back to read it again, it really all sort of makes sense, even for what i want to do. meeting all these full-time fashion bloggers at the ifb event the other day made me slightly jealous, but then again, i don’t think i can give up being a fashion designer to become a fashion blogger.

    my passion lies in design and i’ve been trying to get my own company started. i’m really throwing myself in there now, and this article actually does help make some sense in starting as a designer too. i’ve always known it was going to be hard, and well, it’s true!

    so hellooooo pr people! i need to make friends! 😀

    Reply
  10. Kari

    Publicists are a bloggers best friend. They have wonderful access to their clients for interviews, information, etc. I’ve found most to be incredibly helpful and happy to oblige requests. Thanks for the discussion; Publicists are important resources and relationships that sometimes get overlooked in the busyness of blogging.

    Reply
  11. Stylish Thought

    Gilda- that happens to me often when posting comments here ;(
    After I read this, I had like 3 emails from PR companies.. hehe.
    I normally get boutique pitches for crappy handbags. (SPAM) I have no issues with working with PR companies (from my days as an intern). You can get quality images and find out inside scoop. I think if you approach them professionally and knowledgeable then, why wouldn’t they want free press? It can be nerve-racking asking them for information (again from my days as an intern) but they’re generally nice people.

    Reply
  12. yetmee

    Great to hear you gals had a good time at the NFW dress up party wish I was there… anyway this article is so timely because we just been made aware that PR companies here anyway do write us and we are not sure how honest we should write and whether we are obligated to write if we attend …Great tips as usual IFB!

    Reply
  13. Jordana

    Hi all, thanks so much for all these comments and I’m glad this post was helpful!

    It sounds like you’re mostly interested in tips for forming relationships and networking, making your blog more visible to PR people and how to tell the good from the bad (what signs to watch for). Stay tuned for more! 🙂

    Reply
  14. Sunglasses

    I think its really good advice about keeping an open mind. For all that you know, you could end up really benefiting from it all with very little effort on your part. Good advice! I like!!!

    -Ashley

    Reply