5 Frustrating Things Brand/PR Reps Do And Say, And How To Deal With Them

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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.

Blogging Tips on Dealing With PR Reps - Poor Little It Girl

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.

Want more tips on blogging? Don’t miss my full series on How To Be A Better Blogger!

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44 Comments

  1. Kimi, twenty-something simple

    Oooh, number 5 just happened to me. First collab, so I didn’t know what to expect. I was told that they would share the post on their social media, but nothing happened…needless to say, I’m not planning on working with them again. When you talk about contracts, do you mean written contracts like a PDF that you send over and they actually sign and scan back to you? Or is it all in email? (Do you write out the terms in an email and electronically sign?) Some more clarification on how you do that would be SO helpful! :) Thanks for sharing these tips!

    xo Kimi

    Reply
    1. Poor Little It Girl

      Hi Kimi! I have a contract PDF I attach in the email that they have to sign and send back to me. I’ve found it’s more “official” and it makes it so things are taken a lot more seriously. Hope that helps! – Cathy

      Reply
  2. Ashley

    You nailed it on the head with this Cathy!#1 and #2 drive me absolutely crazy. It’s amazing how many people don’t do their research or can misspell Ashley…..

    Reply
  3. Emma

    This was a great post, So insightful!! #4 happens to me all the time! I’m still pretty small compared to most people in the blog-world and after being burned by one of those, “no compensation campaigns” I will definitely never do that again! I also have gotten someone else name a few times too (Melissa and Megan are no where near Emma)

    Reply
  4. Taylor

    Really love this insight. My social media outlets are really beginning to grow-this will definitely help me in the near future I’m sure. PS I love your honesty too

    Xx
    Dallastyleblog.com

    Reply
  5. Jess Zimlich

    I’m so glad to hear someone else state the fact that it’s OKAY to want to earn money from your blog. Sure it’s fun, but I’m investing a whole lot of time and it’s a nice supplement to my income. These are great tips and I’m going to draft up a contract asap!

    Reply
  6. Erin @ The Almond Eater

    This was a great post! #5 definitely happened to me last month.. I was like ‘uhhhh so about my post….’ and it took them 48 hours to reply. So weird. Definitely going to be doing a contract from now on!

    Reply
  7. Amanda G.

    Thanks for the insight! I am still a newbie on the whole blogging scene and not sure about sponsors and how it all works. Thanks for the tips!

    Reply
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  10. Sarah

    This makes me happy. Too bad the people who need to read it (i.e. the crappy PR people) won’t ever see it…because they’re so crappy. I’m always baffled by the number of emails I get daily telling me all about X product or event, ending the “pitch” with “hi res images available upon request.” Oh joy! I’ve always wanted a hi res image! Thank you so much!!!! Seriously, who responds to these emails? I feel like someone must be, otherwise why are so many agencies still sending them?

    ~Sarah of Sarah’s Real Life

    Reply
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  12. The Kentucky Gent

    I don’t think I can like this post enough. I’ve worked on my fair share of collaborations in the past, and I can honestly say that working with some smaller brands has been a bigger asset to me because they don’t have the “big head” that a lot of larger PR firms or brands have when it comes to working with smaller blogs. I also realized after reading this post that I need to start clarifying the difference between gifting / sponsored posts are. Thanks for giving me more ideas to make 2015 a better year for my site! Looking forward to meeting you at the SBS convention this year.

    Reply
  13. JennySue Makeup

    Cathy, not Poor (ha?? really you’ve gotten that before?!), I feel you on EVERY single level and point. I find myself deleting 95% of the email propositions I get from a brand or company that starts of an email to me with either no name, just HI, or they call me JennySue. Well, if you’d read my simple little profile on the top of my blog (or about me page), you’d know full well, it’s Jennifer. Not a huge deal, but annoying at times. Love love this post and I’m headed to read the rest of your series!!

    Reply
  14. Stefanie

    Love this! I guess this means I will be making a contract for everything..thanks for the tips!

    Reply
  15. Ruthie & Rose

    What fantastic insight! Thanks so much for sharing, while we’ve begun to experience some of the things you mentioned (misusing our names, no compensation, etc.) your advice on contracts is very helpful. We’d love to hear more details about this process and how it works for you! Stay merry & bright! xo – R&R

    Reply
  16. Maria Nazelie

    Hi Cathy, thank you for the post. I enjoyed reading it, and it was very informative from the brand owner’s perspective too. I have a question to you about IG best practice: are paid instagram posts deleted over time by a blogger? Can you please tell me how it works? Thanks

    Reply
    1. Poor Little It Girl

      I don’t typically delete them, but that’s something you’d definitely want to make sure was stated in the contract when, if ever, it was to be deleted! Hope that helps! xo Cathy

      Reply
  17. The Kentucky Gent

    I just learned about number 5 the hard way, my feature was cut by the editor without even a conversation with me about it. I followed up to see where the post was, and they were like “oh, we actually cut your post.” Well.. thanks for the heads up guys. Time to draft up a little contract!

    Reply
  18. El

    Great tips!

    I’m still a small time beauty blogger but I have a question regarding sponsored posts. I’m still thankful when a company reaches out and wants me to send me product in exchange for a blog post (most often a review). At what point in my blogging career should I switch that to also ask to be pain in product AND money for a blog post?

    Reply
  19. Lorina Daiana

    That would frustrate me so much, especially getting so many emails a day and more of them doing something like this. Who has time for all that? Haha
    It ends up feeling more like spam, right?

    Thanks for writting this, it’s very helpful :)

    I also wanted to know, how can I start putting together these sort of agreements? What are key items to highlight in the pdf? It’s a little bit overwhelming going from a personal blog to launching a professional one (I had a personal one for years and am launching gracebelle.com in June where I want to be organized and build it like a business).

    Thank you :)

    Reply
  20. Davida @ The Blogger Project

    I just came across this post and it is EVERYTHING! The number of times I have been called “David” or “Maven” (my food blog is called The Healthy Maven) actually blows my mind. Or when PR reps or brands are shocked that you ask them what their budget is for the campaign and then proceed to tell me how many bloggers are willing to work for free for them…oh man I could go on and on. Thank you for this and for helping me deal with my frustrations in a more productive way ;)

    Reply
  21. emily

    OMG #2. I come from editorial, too, and am always shocked at how aggro PR reps get about sending something that costs next to nothing to a blogger and then demanding coverage on the blog. Sometimes, I wonder if they really want to hear the truth- that I’m probably not covering it because it’s a lousy product!

    Reply
  22. Bhavika

    Hey! Loved the post. I always get approached by brands and never know what to do. How did you slowly figure out what to do? After mistakes or reading lots about it? And also, could you show me what the average contract will look like? And if they disappear after signing a contract, what do you do?

    Reply
  23. Laura (bright and beautiful)

    Thank you for this post! Having worked professionally in PR for 5 years, as well as now blogging full-time, there are SO many truths to this post. I can certainly understand brands wanting to gain exposure in the blog world, as they would with traditional advertising and editorial outlets, but they should be prepared to discuss blogger compensation for his or her time to create that content, whether that be monetary or a guaranteed feature of some sort. (Unless, you the blogger, absolutely LOVES the brand and would be thrilled for any opportunity just to work together.) Too many times, I feel bloggers’ value is misunderstood and just how much ‘behind-the-scenes’ work goes into creating content on behalf of brands. Agreeing on terms and proposing a contact are great ideas to ensure both parties are happy!

    xo, Laura
    http://brightandbeautifulblog.com

    Reply
  24. Maegan Mariee

    Great post! I’m still branching into the whole PR/brand side of blogging, so these are awesome tips to work with and look out for. Thank you!!
    Xx

    Reply
  25. Kara

    Love this post, Cathy! Adding on to your point about getting compensated for our hard work:

    A PR rep reached out to me asking me to host an in-store event, write a blog post & promote them on social media. When I asked what the compensation would be, she responded with the most bullshit response: “EXPOSUR!” on their social channels. Um, I don’t think so. Especially when the brand’s social profiles have less followers than my own brand profiles. I responded by saying this:

    I’m flattered by your invitation to be a part of this event. But events affiliated with my blog is work, it takes time, it’s how I make my living, and in this economy I can’t afford to do it for free.

    Two weeks later they reached out to me again, this time offering me monetary compensation. That response has become my go-to for situations like those and I hope other bloggers see this and use this response. It’s a polite way of saying “no thank you” while also educating them why that’s not fair.

    Reply
  26. Sarah Henson

    Thank you for all of this wonderful insight! As an up and coming blogger I am so grateful to lovelies like yourself who break it all down. Do you have any advice of where I could possibly find a contract and compensation package options that may be a great fit for me to offer in the future? I know that question is semi loaded question and everyone has a different. I am just looking for something broad, as I am so new to this world and want to be sure my I’s are dotted and T’s are crossed!

    Reply
    1. Poor Little It Girl

      You really should create these documents and pricing options yourself, as this is the only way you’ll see what works for you and your brand. Good Luck! xoxo cathy

      Reply