Should your #PR team be conditioned to say "yes" or "no" to bloggers?

Oct 13, 2015Blogging & Content, Marketing Strategy

In today’s customer-centric, experiences matter world, should customer service, marketing and PR teams be conditioned to say “yes” instead of “no”?

[mashshare]

This website represents the 10th that I’ve personally launched. Before I started this website, I was a single dad blogger. In fact, I’ve been blogging in some form since (roughly) 2007, when I started my first blog on Squarespace.

I’d like to think I know a thing or two about blogging but I have to admit, I am a bit surprised by some of the rejections I’ve received from pitching brands.

When I started my new “dad blog”, Dadtography.com in May of 2015, I thought creating content and working with brands would be a cinch! I’m a fairly decent writer, I take pretty okay photos, I know what it takes to make digital content successful, and how valuable authentic digital content is. I’ve been building my newest blog all along since its launch and have a decent following, respectable traffic considering it’s only a few months old and a history of sticking with a blog.

I thought I was exactly who brands would want to work with.

That got me to thinking: is it me or is it them? Why do brands keep saying no to me? I came up with a few possible explanations: it’s either me (my blog), or it’s them.

Bloggers, it’s you, not the Brand.

I said it above. The blog I’m promoting is relatively new and I don’t have a huge social following or traffic. I’m working on it, and treating my new blog like a lean startup (lean, because let’s face it – I don’t have a promotional budget to put behind it). I’m focusing on content, stories, my photography and creating what I enjoy. I’m also working on enlisting other would-be daddy bloggers to contribute as well. One daddy blogger creating awesome photos and blog posts is good. But a half dozen of us? Well, that’s even better!

So, one conclusion to be drawn from a string of rejections from brands could be that it’s me (or my blog). PR and marketing teams have ROI to show and if they don’t think they’ll get it from working with me, they’re likely to pass.

PR teams are also asked to make a judgement call when bloggers pitch to work with them. Reviewing the blogger’s website is an obvious first step. Has the blogger worked with brands in the past? What were the results of those engagements? If the blogger can’t demonstrate experience in working with brands, some companies may be inclined to pass, as they’re looking for experienced bloggers that know what to expect and can show a history of effective partnerships.

In both of these cases, perhaps PR teams are right to say no, but I would argue that they should say “no” for now. You never know what opportunities may present in the future and its never good to burn any bridges, especially in PR.

Brand PR teams, don’t be too quick to say “no”.

I know what it’s like to work in PR. You get a lot of emails and a TON of pitches. I’m sure PR teams with large, well-known brands are absolutely inundated with requests. Sometimes, the only way out of this is a “delete all” approach.

I get it. Focus on your strategy.

But are there times when brand PR teams should be conditioned to say “yes” instead of “no”? I think I have an example of one of those times below.

My rejected pitch and three things I would change about the brand’s response.

Let me first say, that I’m not upset over being rejected. I am disappointed, but the rejection doesn’t change my opinion of the brand as a whole. Below is a pitch letter I sent to a brand and their response (with elements redacted to protect the identity of the brand).

My Pitch Letter

Hi [Brand Name] PR team,

My name is Daniel Ruyter and I am an Orlando resident, digital marketer, pro photographer and founder of Dadtography.com. At Dadtography.com, we love to produce content about family-friendly topics in a unique & visual way. Dadtography.com is a growing group of dads that all share our perspectives through personal stories with an emphasis on photos and videos.

I would love to partner with you on a branded digital content project this fall or winter!

My family and I absolutely LOVE [brand name] and we’d really like to help you get the word out about the [topic idea]. We think you do such great work not only for [location] but for [industry detail]! We’d like to offer you authentic, branded digital content (photography, videography and / or blog post content) to help build awareness of your efforts.

My goal with this engagement would be to provide visual content for your brand to share for months to come! I’d love to discuss the details of my engagement idea if you’re open to partnering with us!

For our “magazine” style media kit, please click here.

Thank you for your time and consideration.  We hope to be working with you soon!

Kindest Regards,

Daniel Ruyter

Dadtography Founder

The Brand’s Response

Hello, Daniel,
Thank you for your interest in [brand name]. We really appreciate your support and encourage you to continue to learn more about our [not-for-profit] efforts. You can do so by visiting [promotional URL].

Unfortunately, we will have to pass on this opportunity at this time. However, feel free to visit our online news room at [news room URL] for all the latest news.

Thank you,

[Signature]

Three key things I’d do differently than this brand.

  1. Find out what my idea was. They didn’t even ask about my idea. It could be a great idea or it could have been a lousy one, but they never even heard the pitch. This email was to gauge interest and I guess interest was too low to even hear me out. In my opinion, this is bad PR.
  2. Ask me what I want in exchange for working with them. Again, I could have been asking for 50% of the business or a $.50 lolly pop. They never took the time to ask what I was seeking. Usually, I think brands will find many bloggers are flexible not only in what they’ll give but what they seek in return as well. I was, at least.
  3. Keep the door open to work together in the future. The response I received kinda tells me they’re never open to working together. Well, I’ll grow my traffic and social following and this time next year what if I have 100k followers? Why close the door if you don’t have to?

Working in PR is a bit of a conundrum – your job description is to relate to the public and you interact with them each and every day. PR teams receive pitch ideas from journalists, individuals and bloggers every day, and part of their job is to figure out which ideas are worth pursuing (for the brand) and which are best to pass on. Public Relations is not an exact science – it’s an art, but I do strongly feel in today’s customer-centric world, PR teams should be more conditioned to agree to (or at least hear out) pitches from loyal brand enthusiasts. I can’t think of many things more valuable than a loyal (and vocal) customer advocate.

What do you think?

Do you think the brand handled this PR situation correctly? What would you do different? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this article. Please leave a comment below or feel free to contact me with your thoughts.

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