This is always such a controversial topic and one that always causes heated debates in blogger chats, but I figured I’d throw in my thoughts and what I’ve learned through working with PRs and brands. I’ll break it down into a few different sections so it’s a bit easier to follow and, as always, I’m just sharing my opinion and you don’t have to take it as gospel. It’s gonna be a long one, so grab a cuppa!
First Things First: No One Owes You Anything | I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: no one owes you samples or event invites or opportunities just because you have ‘blogger’ in your Twitter bio. Some brands have a criteria to meet, some (most) just want a blog with good content and good photos. A chat a little while back (think it was an FBL one?) really annoyed me with this, as it was very much ‘I won’t do this and I won’t do that’ when it comes to working with brands, and I thought good luck with that attitude, as I’m sure brands will read that and won’t want to work with you. It always goes back to the whole ‘work hard and you’ll get far’ thing, you can’t expect to sit with your hands out (or to be demanding) and for your inbox to be overflowing.
Oh, Samples | With the popularity of blogging these days, PRs and brands can afford to be more picky with who they send samples to, especially as they don’t have an endless supply. It’s a bit of a numbers game, really. If you’ve got 20 samples to send to bloggers, are you going to select 20 people with 10 readers or 20 people with 2000 readers? You would want the maximum exposure for your client, as it would be your neck on the line if the product wasn’t seen by anyone. Think about if it was your product, you’d want it to be seen by as many people as possible, right? On great quality blogs, with equally great photos? I certainly would and this is the very reason why I would never get annoyed if other bloggers got something and I didn’t.
But If You Are Sent One | Keep the brand informed. Drop the brand an email when it’s arrived or when you’re planning to put the post up. Send the link over once the article is live and be sure to mention the brand in all social media, whether that is Twitter or Instagram. Not only may you get extra exposure by being RT’d, but it’s also great extra promotion for the brand which they will hugely appreciate. You never know how many opportunities may come from doing this well, so always remember to keep ontop of it and if there’s any issues, tell the PR or brand!
Be Honest | There’s absolutely no logical reason to lie if approached by a brand. If you have 50 followers, they’re going to know you don’t get 10k pageviews a day, so if your stats are requested just be honest about it. If you don’t want to blog about a product, tell them (politely). If something doesn’t fit into your blog themes, tell them (politely) and if you’re running behind on your blogging schedule and can’t get a review up on time, tell them. Honesty is always appreciated, as you’ll be on the same page and opportunities for future collaborations will be more likely.
There’s Nothing Wrong With Introducing Yourself | It seems that a lot of bloggers, especially in chats, are very against approaching brands, but I think there’s nothing wrong with it. If you follow a lot of them on twitter, some often ask for bloggers to collaborate with or tweet about opportunities, so there’s no harm done in dropping them a little email. Even if they haven’t asked, emailing and introducing your blog isn’t something to be frowned upon, aslong as it’s done professionally as no one likes a blagger.
Be Nice | Brands don’t always just look at your blog when they’re wanting to work with you, your Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other social media may get the once over too. So, if you’re swearing in every tweet or slagging of other brands, or generally voicing opinions that make you seem less desirable to work with, then a brand may just pick someone else. However, if you’re nice as pie and you get an email in your inbox, be polite and professional in your reply, even if it’s a no. There’s nothing wrong with declining opportunities and it doesn’t mean they won’t email in future. I think most PRs and brands respect a polite no rather than you accepting the item and making a half-arsed post as you didn’t want to review it in the first place.
The Bottom Line: Work Hard | If there’s one thing I see the most in chats it’s ‘how can I work with brands?’. There’s no five-step plan to go from nothing to collaborating with Topshop. Work on your blog, build up a readership, be active on social media, actually have something to show from a promotional level and no doubt brands will notice you. It’s not the be all and end all though, and it’s not a benchmark for success, so please don’t get disheartened by the whole thing.
And that’s it, I think! Any questions or things you want me to discuss further, just let me know, or if you have any tips, feel free to share!