Welcome to The PR Desk, our latest monthly feature! Written by PR professional Heather Travis, it guides bloggers on the ins and outs of navigating the world of PR agencies and brands. This month, Heather gives great advice on establishing relationships with PR agencies.
As bloggers we all strive to work with brands we love. We shout our love from the rooftops (or you know, on Instagram!) and if we partner with those brands, we get paid for the time it takes to create great photos and videos, to share our memories or create new recipes. And over time, we as influencers are true partners in sharing the stories of the brands we love.
Here’s the catch though. In order to work with a brand, you’re more than likely going to have to work with that brand’s PR agency. In this post I’ll share some tips on how to establish relationships with PR agencies, and why it’s important.
Engage with them on social media
Just as you need to ensure the brand knows you’re out there and loving their product(s), you’ll also want their agency to know this. More than likely the agency will be the ones developing the list of influencers they’ll be reaching out to for any given campaign. If they're familiar with the quality of your photos or recipe development, for instance, you're more likely to be top of mind for any outreach. Be sure to follow the PR agency’s social media feeds. You can see photos of behind the scenes at media events, get to know the brands they work with, get to know the various PR peeps through their blog posts, and more. These insights will help you get to know the PR agency and its people better —after all, isn’t this what we want them to do when researching bloggers?
Show the agency you’re in this for the long term
Engaging with them before you work with them is just one step in establishing a long term working relationship with a PR agency. You’ll also want to ensure you keep up the relationship after the campaign ends. For instance, did a recipe take off on Pinterest months after the campaign ended? Share those results with the agency and use this as an opportunity to check in and catch up. If it’s been a few months since your last campaign partnership, reach out and say hello.
Help them help you
Just as you want to keep working with a brand, so does their PR agency. Help the PR agency out and go the extra mile. A detailed results report with screen captures and anecdotal information, plus your requested stats helps the agency deliver a more comprehensive report to the brand. Not only does this help your PR contact in their relationship with the brand, but it helps you in the long term too. And isn’t that what it’s all about? Helping each other?
Think beyond the agency
Just as brands change PR agencies, PR peeps change agencies too — and in today’s media climate it’s at a shockingly high rate. This is why it’s important to ensure you have a relationship with both the agency proper, and the PR guy or gal too. Connect with each PR agency contact on LinkedIn, engage with their personal social channels (without being a creep), and if you’re near the office, pop in with a sweet treat.
Side note: lots of PR and marketing people have their own blogs, so never assume they don’t know the blogging world as well as you do.
Use every opportunity as an opportunity to move the relationship forward
Yes, even a bad pitch. Part of establishing a long-term relationship is helping each other grow and learn. If a pitch comes to you that isn’t a fit, don’t ignore it or send a snarky response. Be helpful. Point them in the direction of someone who this project might fit. Say thanks for thinking of you, tell them you hope you can help in future campaigns. Maybe share an idea or pitch you’ve been working on. Move the relationship forward.
So now we’re all set to rock our relationships with PR agencies, but wait! How do we know which agency handles which brands? Stay tuned for the next post in this series where we’ll learn how to find right PR contact.
Heather Travis @heathertravis is a PR professional and lover of all things creative. She has extensive experience developing and implementing integrated public relations and marketing programs for agricultural brands, producers and processors, as well as high end sporting goods. She's a DIY junkie with a mean power tool addiction, and can often be found painting, refinishing, and scouring both junk yards and antique markets for her next fix … err, piece of content for her blog heatherinheels.com. Find Heather on Twitter @heathertravis and Instagram @heathertravis
Well written article and very explanatory. Thank you!
Wow this post is so helpful. So many things in here that I did not think of, thanks 🙂
glad you found it helpful Sandra & Kim:)
I’m so excited to read more about this and about your new column with FBC, Heather!
My question is (and I’m sure many other bloggers have the same question as me): let’s say, I email a PR company to reconnect because it’s been awhile, and they respond that they are super happy to reconnect with me and at the same time, they offer up a project that’s on the table at the moment. So I reply promptly to say what I can offer them for that project (basically what kind of blog post I’d like to do for their brand and what I charge, and what that price would give them and the brand in terms of social media, etc.). But then I hear nothing back. I need to follow up to see what went wrong and to negotiate to get to something that they and I are comfortable with. How do I do that? What is the best way to follow up?
Excellent question! My first suggestion would be to follow up again with a nice short note, providing some times that would work well for a phone conversation to discuss the opportunity further – if you get no response then, I usually give it one last attempt – this time by phone. Again, keep your communication short and friendly.
Sometimes emails get buried, so I always like to give the benefit of the doubt:)
hope this helps!
Good stuff here! Thanks so much! Great point about following up later if a blog post or pin gets boosted a little after the original post date – this has happened to me a few times and I’ve always followed up to let the company know, number one to let them know their money was well spent, hehe (and hopefully they’ll want to work together again!) and number two to put my work back on their radar for any future campaigns!
Exactly! it benefits everyone:) thanks so much for the comment and reading Lyndsay:)
Thank you so much for an informative article Heather. This really gave me insight to the entire process behind establishing a relationship with a brand company. And Janice’s question and your answer fleshed it out even more.
awesome:) so glad this helped Jennifer:)
So glad you are a contributor Heather on FBC. Thanks for the post.
I have 2 questions:
1-I’ve seen companies and PR agencies that are not hiring bloggers for blog posts anymore. Some of them used to hire bloggers for 10-12 posts a year. What is going on in the industry in 2016?
2- I’ve heard bloggers saying that they are never hired for food campaigns. Could you tell me how the quality of their food pictures will influence PR agencies to work with them?
Great questions! The industry is definitely changing and 2016 is looking to be a very lean year. My guess is rather than hiring many bloggers/influencers they are being more selective and working with them on more focused content. I also think there is a shift away from the long form post, to for instance an Instagram photo promotion, so it’s definitely a different world than what we’ve become used to over the past few years. Interesting to hear bloggers say they aren’t hired for food campaigns – I have hired many over the years and will continue to do so based on clients needs. Food photo quality definitely plays a roll, all brands want their product represented well, and photos help for sure. While it wouldn’t be THE deciding factor, quality photos go a long way. Overall, most PR people would look at the sum total of your offerings and determine if those fit their campaign or brand needs. Hope this helps:)
Thanks so much Heather for your reply, I appreciate. It will help a lot of people knowing what is expected in the upcoming future. Actually I was not taking about me because I have been working on a regular basis with brands over the past years. I was following some Facebook groups and that’s where I read that some bloggers were saying that in the past years they have lost work with PR Agencies and/or brands.
After doing some research on my own and taking to some of my followers I came to the same conclusion as you, they don’t want to read long posts anymore but they want to look at a nice picture of a dish and have access to quick and delicious recipes with ingredients they can buy at their local grocery store.
I talked to my children (all over 21) and their friends and they prefer Instagram and Reddit over long blog posts. They also love short videos of recipes on YouTube.
In conclusion bloggers will have to become well rounded. It’s time to innovate, to take photos courses, to consider starting a YouTube Channel and more. The attention span of readers is shorter and they want to have access to information quick. Bloggers focusing their time on long posts will eventually lose their readers over the long run.
so many great points Helene!:) I agree with you 100% – we as bloggers need to realize people are accessing our content in a variety of ways – and it will only continue to evolve.
I absolutely loved this post, Heather! It was packed full of helpful information and presented in such an engaging way. I can’t wait for more from this series! Thank you. 🙂
thanks so much for that feedback Justine:) thank YOU for reading:)
Thank you for the insight into the PR world, Heather! As a new food blogger, I am just beginning to navigate the world of PR and marketing. This information is so helpful and hopefully I will be able to put it to good use in the future. I look forward to reading more 🙂
Hi Lisa! Thanks so much for the kind words and for reading:)