As bloggers gain in influence, PR agencies are scrambling to build lists and outreach to the online community. Similarly, bloggers are looking for ways to be on agency media lists, to receive news, updates and opportunities to review products and attend events. Many fashion PR agencies and fashion bloggers are looking for ways to better connect and luckily, some entrepreneurial-minded problem solvers are working to improve this experience.
As previously mentioned, Independent Fashion Bloggers is launching Little Birdie, an email contact list where bloggers in the IFB community will submit queries to interested fashion PR agencies. Similarly, a new site called Blog Friendly PR aims to help out both sides - the site gives bloggers the opportunity more exposure by making it easier for PR agencies & business owners to find "review bloggers" that are most relevant to their clients/products. Current thematic categories include Blog Design/Graphic Design, Children's Products, Eco-Friendly/Fair Trade, Fashion & Beauty, and Stationary/Paper Products and individual bloggers can register under several more categories.
Visitors can browse through BFPR's listings of PR friendly bloggers and companies, making it easy to get in touch and discuss opportunities. In addition to the growing database, BFPR has a "hot topic" section where bloggers and PR's can post a hot topic about exactly what they are seeking. Bloggers can post that they are looking for holiday-theme products for an upcoming gift guide, or an author can post that she looking for reviews on a new book.
BFPR was started by Nicole Ibarrondo, the owner of There Once Was a Girl, and is jointly run between herself and three other experienced bloggers, Colleen Stearns, Victoria Arya and Jessica Fuqua. The site just launched a few weeks ago but is growing steadily. Get listed on the current site or send an email to blogfriendlypr[at]gmail.com.
BFPR is not regulating paid versus non-paid reviews, but Nicole explains that "some bloggers do ask to be paid, but in my opinion those are advertisers, not reviewers. A company should of course be willing to send a reviewer their product free of charge, no matter the value, and expect an honest review in exchange. If either of those conditions can't be met, I don't think the two parties should continue to work together."
Tips for better blogger relations
For PR Couture readers, Nicole put together a few pointers for PR agencies and companies looking to work with bloggers and a few for bloggers looking to work with PR.
- Build a relationship first - The thing that irks me is when a company or PR person writes to me and lays out all the details of their product in the first email without even trying to connect with me on a personal level. While learning about your product is, of course, important to a blogger, we also need to know who you are. Bloggers are very social people, hence the blogging, and from experience, my best reviews were for people I clicked with.
- Stay within your comfort zone - While receiving free products from a company is always a plus, think about if a particular product is really relevant to your daily life before agreeing to review it. When I first started reviewing, I would accept anything that came my way. This resulted in poorly written reviews a lot of the time. Now, if someone emails me and wants a review for their new kitchen scale, I pass. I'm not a cook, and when I do cook, I'm certainly not weighing my food. Can I really give my honest opinion on something I wouldn't use?
- Network, network, network - If you are a blogger with only four readers, chances are Dell won't be knocking on your door anytime soon to test out their new laptop. The bigger your reach, the more a company will desire your opinion and a spot on your blog. While I know some people are honored when a "big brand" offers them a review, it's probably not your writing they are after, it's who you know. The same goes for business owners. Network amongst bloggers to find out who can represent your company the best and who does a good job at creating a buzz.
- Be professional - Don't send a company an email telling them that Little Johnny just got accepted to the school band and you need a keyboard to review. Instead, tell them why they would want to work with you. Be prepared with information about your readers, your interests and your experience. Spend some time creating an email that represents you as a person as well as a brand. Even if you don't have 20k twitter friends, showing your potential and willingness to work with the agency can go far towards securing the opportunity.