TODAY I hosted a live chat on Working with PR for bloggers on Digital Parents. Thanks to some fabulous questions and contributions from those who took part, there was far more covered than what’s in my notes below. However, this will at least give you a good idea of what took place.

So, here we go…

I have a pretty broad topic to tackle, so will try and offer a handful of tips for 1. Dealing with PR pitches that come into your inbox; 2. Approaching PR/businesses to gain reviews and giveaway opportunities; and 3. How to do your own free PR to get publicity for your blog.

Please ask questions if you either want to know more or don’t understand something (that applies to anyone reading this blog post too!).

I confess, I’m not an expert!

  • Firstly, dealing with PR pitches that come into your inbox.

OK, so we all know some PR companies haven’t been trained in working with new media – ie bloggers. So PR and bloggers need to work together, not against each other.

If a press release comes through and it has no call to action (ie review or giveaway opportunity), they’re asking for you to do a post on their release. This is how PR and the media work.

You’re welcome to run it as a news item or part of a post based on that topic/item, of course. However, I know most of you don’t want to. I, for one, don’t.

One of the best ways to respond is to thank them for the email and let them know that, because it’s a personal blog about your family’s life, you don’t do product release news. However, you’d be happy to discuss doing a review of your family’s experience using the product, along with a giveaway if interested (if that’s what you want to do).

If you get sent goods from a PR peep without asking for it, you’re not obliged to do a post about it or even send it back. This is just how things work.

Don’t be afraid to say “no’’. It’s hard, I know. But most PR welcome people being honest and upfront with them, rather than pussy footing around (am I allowed to say that?). You are the writer, editor and publisher of your blog. You set the rules.

If you want to be paid for your post (ie a sponsored post), don’t bother asking the PR person. You’ll need to approach the media and advertising agencies for this.

  • OK, now onto approaching a PR biz to gain review/giveaway opportunities.

Don’t be afraid to ask, or the answer’s no anyway. If you want a review copy, ask for one. If you want a giveaway, ask for one. You have nothing to lose.

After a previous DP discussion I started on gaining review-giveaways, I was asked a lot about what to say in the email. Basically, introduce yourself, your blog and your stats. Let them know you love their product and ask whether they’d be interested in your reviewing it and doing a giveaway. It’s as simple as that.

It’s also worth mentioning you’ll spruik about it via your social media accounts.

ALWAYS send them a link once it’s live on your blog and a follow up one once it’s drawn. PR especially deal with lots of different media, so they can’t chase up everyone’s sites/publications to see what was run. Make their job easier for them. They’ll then be more willing to work with you again.

  • LASTLY, how to do your own PR to get publicity for your blog in the media.

One of the biggest questions is: I don’t have a story to sell. You’d be surprised how easy it is for you to do your own publicity.

Here are just a handful of story ideas, but there are literally hundreds out there. I’ve done a few posts on it.

  • Release a statement with your viewpoint on a news item. For eg, statistics have revealed there are now more mummy bloggers than any other type of blogger. This is a perfect opportunity for you to pitch yourself to the media as a mummy blogger. It also sets you up as being an expert in the field and, next time that media outlet wants to do a story on mummy bloggers, they’re more likely to come to you.
  • Put a poll on your website or blog or set up a survey. If you gain a significant number of responses to your question, use those results to craft a media release revealing the results.
  • Host a major charity event or raise a large amount of money through your blog and donate it to a worthy cause.
  • Use the skills you have to create a free class or demonstration for your local community. This allows you the opportunity for a preview story and coverage on the day. And don’t say you don’t have a skill – I read your blogs, remember!
  • Enter yourself into state, national and international awards. If you win, it’s an opportunity to gain media exposure. The bigger the award, the greater the chance of a story.

You’re probably thinking these aren’t Madison and Marie Claire worthy stories. The problem with pitching that high (and good on Sunny Mummy!), is there is major competition for the few spots they have each month. I’m not saying don’t pitch to them, but the greatest success you’ll have is with your own local media. You only need a simple PR plan to get started.

Local media love championing their own!

Don’t be deterred pitching to the media because you don’t know how to write a press release. Try a media pitch instead. This is a short letter that’s used as a teaser to your story – it doesn’t give them all the information, but enough for them to want to contact you to learn more.

I’ll wrap this up with three points:

  1. You must have news.  ie. You’ve just won an award for blogging.
  2. You can invent news. ie. Hosting a charity. Although, even more spectacular would be jumping a canyon, a la Evel Knievel.
  3. Attach yourself to existing news. ie, … well, just keep your eye on the news!


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52 Responses to MEDIA: Working with PR

  1. Thanks for the chat Kellie. You did a great job 🙂

  2. katepickle says:

    great post.. thanks for putting this together! Still kicking myself for missing the chat

    • Kel says:

      Not a drama, Kate. It’s my pleasure. x
      I was hoping to catch Liss’ chat this week, but won’t be able to make that one. I’m hoping there’ll be some notes for that one afterwards too. 🙂

  3. Thanks for the summary, Kellie – very informative and lots of points we can all use.

  4. Kirsty says:

    Kellie, thanks so much for writing up some notes about the live chat about working with PR today. I was working today (how inconvenient!) so couldn’t make it so it’s great to see what was covered. I am not ready for PR opportunities yet but it’s comforting to know there is information out there for when I may need it! Thanks for sharing your knowledge and expertise!

    • Kel says:

      You never know how soon that might be, Kirsty! 😉
      So glad you got something from the notes. There was so much covered in the live chat, so this is really just the bare bones. If you have any questions when you do get to that point, don’t hesitate to sing out. 🙂

  5. Gemma says:

    Wow thank you so much. That was incredibly inspiring and helpful.

  6. Caz says:

    Thanks Kellie – great info. I like the idea of approaching local media. I have some great ideas about this – but not enough time or energy!!! Keep up the great work.

    • Kel says:

      LOL!! Totally relate, Caz.
      I reckon the Ballarat Courier would be keen for a story on you, Caz. Not sure how comfortable you would be with it, but Dyslexia Awareness Week is in October. I’d be pitching yourself to the Courier on the back of that. You could even just send in your post on the topic, rather than writing a press release. Just a thought! 🙂

  7. Thank Kellie, great info, especially about pr pitches in inbox. I am still a bit of a newbie so tend to be a bit cynical in terms of what is and isn’t legit so I guess it is about having the confidence to be upfront about what your expectations are as well and getting them to clarify theirs. 🙂

    • Kel says:

      Most definitely, Martine. You soon build relationships with certain PR people as well and they get to know what you like and what works best for you. Don’t hesitate to ask if you ever need guidance or feedback. 🙂

  8. Brenda says:

    Great stuff, Kel! Thanks again for hosting!

  9. Dorothy says:

    I’m disappointed I missed it today.

    My biggest question is around this mysterious sponsored post – who and where are the advertising agencies? How do you get on their radar? It seems like such a lot of work to track this down product by product, I think I’d rather go back to an office job than keep doing this mostly fruitless search of paid writing opportunities…

    I don’t want blogging to feel like work, but it is beginning to…

    • Kel says:

      This one was actually tackled during the chat, Dorothy. I might see if I can get hold of the notes for you for a bit more info. Basically, you could do it one of two ways. You could contact the company you want to work with directly and ask who their media agency is or do a Google search for media agencies and approach a few at once.
      Unfortunately, yes, it means doing a bit of leg work!

  10. It was a great session, thanks so much Kellie.

  11. you did an awesome job today, Thank you! :)+

  12. I feel almost famous now. You used my little query last week as part of your talk. Coolness!

    I wish I had caught the chat live though. Sounds like it was great!

    • Kel says:

      LOL!! I was wondering whether you were going to make the chat and notice actually, Shelly. After I wrote the email to you, I copied and pasted it incase I needed to use it again in the future! And I did!! hehe!!
      Enjoy your fame!!! 😉

  13. Thank you for putting this up! I can’t sign into my Digital Parents account at the moment for some reason and so couldn’t come to the chat. I am just wondering when do you think a new blog should think about PR? When did you do it with your blog?

    • Kel says:

      That’s not a problem, Kate. And such a shame you weren’t able to log in.
      Did you mean working with PR companies or getting publicity for your blog in the media? I can answer both for you, if you like.
      With PR companies, it really depends on the blogger. For example, one of my first posts was a giveaway, but was tied in with a business that had also only just started. So we were basically trying to help each other. One of the points made was that it’s not always about how many followers you have, but how engaged those followers are. So you may only have 20 people following you, but they may comment, retweet, enter your giveaways etc regularly. It’s important to relay this to the PR company.
      On gaining publicity for your blog, you could do that from day one – as long as you have a great story to tell. The Bloke in The Shed was featured in an AAP (Australian Associated Press) story only a month or two into us blogging. This was on daddy bloggers being the next big thing in 2011. So really, whenever.
      Hope this helps, Kate. 🙂

  14. veggie mama says:

    I’m so sad I was at work and missed this! As a journalist in my former life, I dealt with PR a lot and thus got a fascinating insight into how they work. They may be working to get their brand and information out, but it has to be a two-way street – mutually beneficial for everyone. And that isn’t impossible!

    • Kel says:

      You’re so right. It certainly isn’t impossible. I think as journos we’re fortunate we’ve been able to understand how PR works before getting into the bloggy scene. There’s certainly been a bit of a shift as PR starts to “get” that traditional and new media are very different.

  15. Denyse says:

    Hi Kel,
    I was so pleased to read this summary and the follow up comments.
    I know we’ve had the odd email convo and you’ve shared your knowledge so generously.
    Not sure with all the busy-ness of your week ( you are in Sydney I know!) that you caught up with me managing to get blog sponsorship & part costs paid to Blogopolis … Courtesy of The Sticker Family … I did the first contact via their email “contact us” and told them about being a Grandma who displayed her gkids using the figures…. Many months, emails, and just her getting to know me & what a blog was (yes!) this family business from Qld offered me the funding…and I’m v chuffed..
    But, want to know more about linking up for the big blog giveaway so will keep
    an eye out. Denyse x

    • Kel says:

      That’s fabulous, Denyse. I’m so happy for you. It’s amazing what’s possible when you ask. They sound like a perfect fit for you too, which is always so important.
      And enjoy Blogopolis. I’m so envious. Now starting to wish I was going too! 🙂

  16. Wanderlust says:

    This is great! Love the ideas for pitching to the media.

  17. This is so very helpful! I am so naive when it comes to these matters so its given me a eat lesson in the ways of the PR world xx

    • Kel says:

      That’s good to hear, Donna. If you ever have any questions, you know you can always just ask. It’s a bit of a steep learning curve when you haven’t had to deal with it before. 🙂

  18. oops, that should have read *great lesson!”

  19. Tat says:

    Thanks for the great info. Canyon jumping, here I come!

  20. Glenys says:

    Hi Kel,
    I was wondering if you’d like me to do a little guest post for you from the business side? It’s my guess that many bloggers don’t understand just how important they can be to all size and types of businesses.
    Also Kel, can you tell me which online press release distribution services in Aus are worth the time? Which ones are actually used by the media? I’m sure there is a lot that are ignored.

    • Kel says:

      Glenys, I would absolutely love for you to do a guest post on that. I think bloggers could certainly gain a lot from learning all this from a business’ point of view. So, yes please!
      As far as online press release distribution, from my experience it’s barely used, if at all. Newsrooms are inundated with press releases, so don’t need to go out seeking them (although, happy to be corrected if someone disagrees with this!). I have found one service that grabbed my attention, but it’s not free. I think this point would deter a lot of people from uploading their presser.
      I beleive you have more success pitching to individual organisations. 🙂

      • Glenys says:

        Fantastic I’ll put one together for you shortly.
        I did think that was the case, however there are 2 very good reasons to still use them.
        1) back links! from SEO perspective every back link is a vote for your page and you need votes with the right keyword anchor text to help improve rankings.
        2) Google news.. this is at the bottom of page 1 for cupcake now:

        News for cupcake
        Giving: Cupcake pioneers find philanthropy to be their sweet reward
        Washington Post – 7 hours ago
        Evy Mages/For Capital Business – Jodi Richardson competes in a Capitol Hill cupcake challenge to benefit an injured veterans center. …

        It’s always a good thing to try and use any part of Google that you can to expose your business or blog.

        So I agree approach your local newspaper / journalist but don’t neglect the power of an online press submit. What is the name of the paid service you mentioned above? Cheers as always 🙂 G

  21. Daisy says:

    Great points Kellie! Thanks very much!

  22. Jess Newman says:

    This was great. I have been thinking about trying to get some giveaways going on my blog, but for starters I didn’t know how, and secondly, I don’t think my stats would be what companies are looking for. They are going up but slowly.
    This gives me a direction to head to when I decide (if I decide) to make the leap.

    • Kel says:

      Glad you found it helpful, Jess.
      Once you’re ready, sign up with Tina Gray’s PR Friendly Directory and Digital Parents’ Reviewers Group. Both with help you get started, regardless of what your stats are! Good luck with it! 🙂

  23. Cathy says:

    Thanks so much for this post! I missed it the first time round. Lots of food for thought! Exciting times. P.S what if your stats aren’t that great/just starting out? Do you think you can still pitch?

    • Kel says:

      Thanks Cathy.
      This question was actually tackled in the live chat. It’s not just about stats, but also how engaged your audience is. As someone pointed out, it’s better to have 20 really engaged readers than 100 who don’t comment or share your content. It’s always worth trying anyway – the worst someone can say is “no”!! 🙂

  24. […] My Working with PR post got picked up by PRNewswire this week. Sorry, just had to […]

  25. […] How Bloggers Should Work With PR: Bloggers working with PR professionals basically have three tasks at hand: 1) dealing with PR pitches that make it into your inbox, 2) approaching PR/businesses for reviews and giveaway opportunities, and 3) doing your own PR to get publicity for your blog in the media. This blogger discusses each of these tasks and shares some bottom-line reminders: you must have news, you can invent news and you can attach yourself to existing news. (Three Li’l Princesses) […]

  26. […] Hi, I’m Glenys Power, owner of Cupcake City. This is a guest post to follow up on Kellie’s “Working with PR post”. […]

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