If I’m going to offer 15 Tips for PRs dealing with bloggers it seems only fair to offer the other side as well. So, for the bloggers out there who may not be sure how the PR industry/mass media works (or have it only seen it on TV/film), here’s 15 tips for bloggers when dealing with PRs:
- PRs are really, really pressed for time these days. They still have to deal with traditional press – which was a full time job in itself – and now have to deal with bloggers, tweeters and online-only news sites. It’s a lot of people to get around so be understanding if they don’t appear to completely understand how your site is THE site on all of the internet. They may also send short emails. Did I mention time is precious? (And don’t just sneer and say “well, the PR firms should hire more staff”. It just doesn’t work that way. Less is not more, but Less has More to Deal With.)
- If it’s a generic piece of information, the PR person may have you on a BCC list. Don’t go mental on them. If it’s not of interest, drop them a polite email asking to be off the list (if feeling curious, ask where they got your details as bloggers are now being sorted on the larger media contact databases like Mediadisk and Gorkana). Also, they may have thought – genuinely – that this was your area of interest and you may want to write about it/know about the information. If the same person does it a few times, then feel free to out them, but give them a chance.
- Feel free to ask for freebies and interviews with people. Feel under no obligation to write positively about a product or a person but bear in mind the PR person will be hoping that you do.
- If you don’t get a freebie/interview, it’s not a snub to all bloggers and the digital realm. Not every print reporter gets the freebie or interview either.
- Breaking embargoes can cause PRs a lot of grief – and hit share prices. If you want to break embargoes or won’t respect them in the first place then be polite and tell the PR that up front. That will gain you some respect.
- The PR person may be a tech-wizard and be an online guru but if their client doesn’t like online and doesn’t want to engage online, don’t blame the PR person. The PR person is very much in the middle a lot of the time.
- If going to an event arranged by a PR person, you may wish to give them a contact number for you – a mobile perhaps – in case the event is hard to find or moves location. Also, when going to an event, have the mobile number of the onsite PR person.
- PR people have to justify their jobs. A lot of that comes from Return on Investment which includes the number of people who read something or clickthrough on something. You may get asked your traffic figures. Don’t take offence, the PR person is just trying to justify to their boss why you should be getting special attention.
- A PR person can’t always tell you everything. That’s just the nature of the job. Don’t worry, reporters don’t get told everything either.
- PR people are still people and remember anything you publish about them can impact their job prospects/the clients they get. What may be a fun hobby for you can be a job-breaker for them.
- For the love of God, make life easy for the PR people and have a contact email address on your site – or a Twitter address they can send an @ message to – not every PR person realises some blog comment boxes are monitored.
- PR types are generally happy to help bloggers if you tell them what you are after or if you need something. But bear in mind they are normally looking for some positive coverage back. Also, feel free to make the odd suggestion to them – either for clients or for how to improve their online relations. Most of the time they’ll be very grateful, but just remember they are pressed for time.
- If they ask you to take down something that is in error, don’t go screaming censorship and the first amendment. It’s a two-way deal: they want false information about their client down and they want you to not look like a jackass.
- No they don’t have unlimited expense accounts and I don’t care what Apple/Microsoft/Panasonic/Sony/Disney sent you as a freebie/review item, their clients may not be able to match.
- Don’t lecture them for not being on the latest iPhone/Blackberry or PC/Mac – most times the PR person has to work with what they can afford or are given – so give them a break. Adding on to that, give them proper time to reply to you. Assume the PR person you want to reach works 9-5 and that’s the hours you should try to reach them on.
Anything missed out?