Let me start off this post by saying that I have been working with brands and PR agencies for almost ten years professionally (remember, I came from the magazine world in my NYC days), and I’ve worked with some amazing, amazing people! But every once in a while, you get that brand or PR rep that has zero clue how to work with bloggers. They don’t understand what we do, or how blogs function on a totally different level than print. So here we have it, another edition in my How To Be A Better Blogger series, tackling all those annoying things brand and PR reps do and say, and how to work with them.
1) Address all emails to you as “Dear Blogger” or “Hi (insert name that isn’t yours)”.
I hate to say it, but there isn’t much you can say to someone (via email at least) when they call you no name, or a totally wrong name, without coming off like a total bitch. All you can do is hope they see the signature in your response email and get the hint. But instead of being upset, take this as a sign that this rep didn’t do their homework and clearly knows nothing about you and your site. My name is listed on my blog and social platforms multiple times, so if a brand is addressing me as “Dear Poor” (I get this all the time, seriously.) there’s a 100% chance they’ve never once looked at my site. Meaning that whatever they want from me, it’s more than likely not a good fit and I’m one of thousands who got this generic press release. In that case, I like to do my favorite thing: delete.
2) “We’d love to gift you (insert product here)!” And then they stalk you via email wondering when that product is going to be featured on your blog.
Magazine editors are sent gifts all the time from PR reps with hopes to sway them to some day feature their brand in their publication. But for some reason, this “rule” doesn’t translate into blogging. Reps say they are sending me a gift (thank you!) but then hound me endlessly via email asking when that product is going to be featured on my site. Sorry to say, but unless a sponsored post is purchased and a contract is signed (more on that below) I simply can not guarantee your gift will make it on to my blog. With that, you need to protect yourself. Make sure a brand knows prior to sending you a gift that this is simply a gift, and if they’d like to purchase a sponsored post, they’re more then welcome to, and send along your Media Kit. I’ve been stuck way too many times in my 4 years of blogging where I didn’t clarify this up front, and brands get angry with me that I didn’t promote them. It’s better to be safe then sorry!
3) The aggressive emails to promote/feature their product, and then the even more aggressive emails after you politely decline to partner with them.
On any given day, I can get anywhere from 5-50 pitches or press releases for potential brand collaborations, and I’d say only about 1% ever come to fruition. Sometimes the product isn’t a good fit, sometimes they’re asking too much from me that I can’t deliver on, or maybe my blog calendar is just too full at the time and I can’t take on another project. In any case, sometimes you just have to say no. So when a brand starts of by sending multiple emails a day/week about a particular collaboration opportunity, I certainly get annoyed. I understand they’re in the industry of hustling, but when they’re blowing up my inbox, it doesn’t make me like their product any more. The only thing worse then being hounded with a million emails is when you actually do reply back and send a polite response declining their offer (“Thank you so much for reaching out to me here at Poor Little It Girl! At this time, I’m going to have to pass on this particular collaboration, but please keep me posted on ways we can potentially work together in the future!”) they then respond back with some nasty, passive aggressive “Thanks.” or go off on how they were looking for “big bloggers” anyways. All you can do is file their email away and hope they don’t reach out to you again. Although what I’d like to do is send them a copy of “He’s Just Not That Into You” so they can learn how to take rejection a bit better.
4) “We’d love to send you (insert product here) to feature on your blog, however, we are unable to provide any monetary compensation for your work.”
Sure I blog for fun, but I also blog to pay my bills. I think some brands/PR agencies are still trying to grasp the idea that they need to pay bloggers for their work. In their mind, bloggers work just like magazines, where editorial and advertising are divided like church and state (in most cases) and one does not influence the other. In blogging, sponsored posts, or advertorials, are how we make our money and keep our blog-doors open. So with that, I’m simply not in the position to promote every single product sent to me “for free”. An outfit post is more than what you just see on the site. It’s styling an outfit, scheduling a shoot with a photographer, photo editing, writing, posting, and all the social media promotion that come with it, which is what PR reps don’t seem to understand sometimes. If a brand is well established (we’re talking a large following on Twitter/FB/Instagram) but doesn’t have the budget to pay for placement, ask if they can do a big social media push or e-blast promotion of the post as “payment” instead. This is a great way to get your name out to a broad audience and makes the collaboration mutually beneficial to both brands.
5) Never hearing from (insert brand name here) after your sponsored post goes live.
And this, my friends, is why we sign contracts! Brands sometimes have a funny way of DROPPING OFF THE FACE OF THE EARTH after your sponsored post goes live. Not sure why, but after you’ve done all this work and agreed upon all these terms via email, when it comes time for them to promote on their social platforms or, better yet, PAY YOU, they disappear. This is why I always, and I mean always, require a signed contract for a sponsored post. A simple one-to-two pager laying out what I will do for them, and what they’re to do for me as well as the deadlines for posting and payment. This holds both sides to the same standard and sets expectations without anyone playing the “oh I didn’t know that” card. I have a contract draft for each type of sponsored post I do (outfit post, “Weekly Weakness”, social media promotion, event hosting, etc.) that I change and edit per client. There’s seriously nothing worse then not being compensated or recognized for your work, so do the smart thing and get them to Sign. A. Contract.