Interview with a PR Exec

Working with PR executives and brands has become part and parcel of blogging in 2017. It's not only the big names like Zoella who are teaming up with companies to create collaborative content - us little guys are doing it too! However, knowing exactly how to attract PR opportunities can sometimes be baffling. Could your blog be sending out all the wrong signals without you even being aware of it? How can you make sure that your name is top of the PR's list? 

To answer all of these burning questions and more, I've drafted in an experienced PR executive: Alice Davies of Freshfield Marketing Communications Consultancy. Alice has been working in digital marketing since 2013, having completed her BA in Creative Writing & English Literature, and her MA in Modern & Contemporary Fiction at the University of Chester. Alice loves her work at Freshfield as it matches with her values and ethics, and she says that she loves going to work every day! I've collaborated with Alice on a couple of occasions, on eco-friendly and interior design posts, and she was a pleasure to work with each time! Keep scrolling to benefit from Alice's extensive expertise!

How do you find bloggers to work with?

I use a number of different methods. We have a tool called Buzzsumo, which allows me to search for social media influencers based on their following and tweet ratios, and then I can visit each website to see if they’re right for the brand I’m working with. Followerwonk is another great tool that works in a similar way.

I do spend a lot of time on Twitter searching for the right people too as I think this is how you get a genuine ‘feel’ for the blogger. I tend to approach bloggers on this platform as well, as this makes me more approachable and enables me to create a genuine relationship with the blogger, rather than just an automated PR email that can be easily ignored. I’ll also post quite a few tweets with the hashtags #prrequest #bloggerswanted #bloggersrequired etc. which tends to attract a lot of attention from PR friendly bloggers. So, if you are on the lookout for paid opportunities, keep an eye on these hashtags!

Creating relationships is probably the most important part of the job because if I do decide to work with a blogger, then I want to continue that relationship afterwards; they might be a good fit for another brand I work with, so it’s always good to keep in touch. For example, Abbey and I interact via tweets and likes etc. and I also really love seeing Tania’s posts on Instagram. There are also blogger networks which you can sign up to and pay each month to post an idea to an appropriate group of bloggers, who will then get in touch with me; TOTS100 is a good example of this.

What are your blogger turn ons?

Aspects of someone's blog/social media presence that would encourage me to work with them include:
  • Actually having a media pack with information on your social statistics (as this saves me a hell of a lot of time!)
  • Being friendly and open to opportunities, but also honest if you don’t think a brand / idea works for your blog
  • Being active on social media, not automated. I realise scheduling tweets is something we all have to do, but I love seeing a blogger like and engage with other people on a genuine basis
  • Talking to me after we’ve worked together!

    What are your blogger turn offs?

    Aspects of someone's blog/social media presence that would discourage me from working with them include:
    • Pestering me to get back in touch with you. I know this sounds selfish, but I have a lot of bloggers I’m in touch with and also a lot of client work, so if I don’t respond straight away, I’m not ignoring you or being flaky, I’m just really busy! (As I’m sure you all are).
    • Not knowing your stats. Your blog is your brand and it’s important that you have some idea of how much traffic is coming to your site, domain authority, social media figures etc.
    • Asking for too much money – or not asking for enough! Know your worth.

      Do you ask bloggers to write posts with do-follow links? Why / why not?

      I would never ever ask a blogger to use a follow link for a sponsored post. This is against Google’s guidelines and generally just bad SEO practice. The whole idea of blogger outreach is to reach an audience for my client that they might not normally be exposed to, as well as the post being promoted over social media. 

      SEO has been my specialism since I started my career, so I think it’s really important for bloggers to read up and be informed on changes to Google’s guidelines and algorithms. This is vital both for adhering to the rules and ensuring your blog is as successful as it can be.

      Do you prefer to work with a small group of the same bloggers regularly, or are you always on the lookout for new people?

      I’m always on the lookout for new people, but I do have my favourites. Because I work with so many different clients, it’s important that I don’t limit myself to the same bloggers over and over again. However, if these bloggers are a good fit for the brand and I know they’ve gained good results for me before, I will definitely use them again.

      Is there a minimum threshold of followers / DA for your sponsored opps?

      Personally, I don’t think domain authority holds as much weight as it used to, so when I’m doing my research, if a blogger has a low DA (say below 20), but an amazing social following and a great looking website with engaging content, I would still get in touch and utilise them.

      As a rule, I will tend to look for DAs higher than 20, but like I said, it’s not the be all and end all for me if you don’t. Social following is important because this is where your audience will probably tend to find out you have a new post up, so again, I will look for a Twitter following of at least 1.5K, but if other platforms are higher, then this can fluctuate.

      Do you ever receive "pitching" emails from bloggers wanting to work with you? If so, what makes a successful email?

      I do! So, I would say it works the same way as when I send bloggers an email. It needs to be personalised for me, it needs to show you’ve done your research, and it needs a good hook to get me interested. Oh, and your media pack.

      If you've worked with a blogger once, what makes you want to collaborate with them again?

      Gaining good results for my client, so referral traffic from your website, increase in social media engagement etc. but also being friendly afterwards – a like here and a retweet there goes a long way. Also, sending me the appropriate information I need after the post has gone live, such as the results, social shares etc. If I don’t have this information, I can’t prove to the client how successful the post was and I probably won’t work with that blogger again.

      Can you tell if an influencer has bought their followers? Is this something that you check for with any regularity when choosing who to work with?

      Ah, this is that new argument all the bloggers are having haha. Social Blade I think it’s called? I don’t use anything currently because, as I mentioned before, I tend to build relationships with bloggers first, get to know them, and then I can generally work out whether they’re genuine or not. I think we can be too harsh to judge people on issues like this to be honest. If you’re a new blogger starting out and are struggling to gain exposure, then buying followers probably seems like a good idea. I mean, it isn’t in the long run, but I get why people do it. It’s so hard nowadays to grow social accounts organically, but it can be done, so persevere.

      Are bloggers a priority in your marketing strategies?

      Depends on the client / brand, but I think they should be a priority. Bloggers have such an influence on people and there are so many different bloggers who write about different things that there’s always something new to discover. For me, I will always try and see if we can incorporate blogger outreach into a client’s marketing strategy because I know it works and it gains great results.

      A huge thank you goes out to Alice for answering all of these questions and shedding such a valuable insight on blogger/PR relations from the public relations perspective! Did you discover anything new from this post? Are there any further questions that you'd like to put to Alice in a follow-up post? Please let me know in the comments below!

      Until next time,

      A x