how not to approach bloggers

SEO and PR Agencies: How NOT to Approach Bloggers

Working with bloggers and social influencers is a big part of both SEO and PR in the current landscape. But as with anything, there are good and bad ways to go about it.

At the spammy end of the scale, bots scour blogs for combinations of keywords like “guest post,” and “write for us,” before sending absolutely terrible automated emails requesting posts.

At the opposite end, there are businesses running genuinely great Ambassador programmes and taking the time to get to know bloggers, their content and their audience.

And, of course, there’s a whole host of different shades in between.

As someone who’s worked in an agency environment for years, I always tend to come at relationship building from an agency perspective. But what do the bloggers think?

I got the opinion of some super talented parenting and lifestyle bloggers to find out what SEO and PR agencies do wrong when trying to collaborate with them.

1. Rachel Cooper of Coffee, Cake, Kids

Rachel blogs at http://www.coffeecakekids.com/. Her pet peeve is a lack of transparency over payment terms. She says:

“One of the most annoying things agencies do is failing to be upfront about payment terms. Just tell me straight away it’s 30/60/90 days – don’t let me do the work and budget for the money short term when it won’t come for ages!”

2. Laura Nelson of the Breastest News

Laura Nelson’s blog, http://www.thebreastestnews.co.uk/, attracts agencies who want to work with her. But her peeve is agencies giving different stories about budget to different bloggers. She tells me:

“One of the most annoying things agencies can do is say there’s no budget then offering budget to another blogger I know! Just tell me I don’t have enough followers etc and I’m fine with that but please don’t lie!”

3. Danielle Duggins of Someone’s Mum

Danielle Duggins of https://someonesmum.co.uk/ finds slow communication frustrating:

“One of the most annoying things agencies do is taking 2 or 3 days to reply to every single email!”

4. Beth Law of Twinderelmo

Beth Law of Twinderelmo finds poor communication frustrating too:

“It’s frustrating when agenciessend you the same email numerous times after you’ve already politely declined, especially when the email makes it clear that the writer can’t remember having just communicated with me days earlier!”

5. Hayley Jones of Devon Mama

Hayley Jones of Devon Mama is another blogger whose peeves relate to poor communication. When I asked her the most annoying things agencies do, Hayley replied:

“Replying without actually answering your questions. Drives me crazy when I have to go back three times with the same query! I cherish the PRs who are nice and clear!”

6. Victoria Sully of Lylia Rose Blog

Victoria Sully of Lylia Rose Blog offered up a number of things that she finds annoying when approached by agencies:

“I find it annoying when agencies offer me a “FREE article” or when they send one sentence emails and ignore all the questions I’ve asked them!

It’s also frustrating when they tell me they’re not willing to pay as they only want ‘organic’ links (pretty sure they’re being paid by their clients!)

Finally, when they ignore all emails chasing pay – just tell me the date or how long it takes and then I won’t need to chase!”

7. Alina Davies of We Made This Life

Alina Davies of We Made This Life is frustrated by slow communication around price, commenting:

I don’t like it when agencies faff about over negotiating a price. It drives me mad all the emails back and forth! http://wemadethislife.com

8. Emma Phillips of Canny Food

Emma Phillips blogs at Canny Food. When asked about her pet peeves when contacted by agencies, she answers:

“Offering me something that clearly conflicts with the blog. Recently I’ve had pitches for pate, leather bound journals, steaks and cheese. This wouldn’t be a problem if I wasn’t vegan!”

9. Leanne Cornelius of a Slice of my Life Wales

Leanne Cornelius blogs at A Slice of my Life, Wales. When asked about her pet peeve, she tells me:

“Offering to pay me with ‘exposure’ oh sure, Barbara I’ll go pay my mortgage with ‘exposure.'”

 

10. Harriet Shearsmith of Toby and Roo

Harriet Shearsmith blogs at Toby and Roo. Her peeve with agency approaches relates to a lack of respect:

It’s annoying when agencies try to follow the “hard line”. I’ve had and seen a few really aggressively worded emails to try and pressure you into taking on a promotion – like you should be grateful it was offered to you. No, poppetchops, this is business. You have to treat each other as equals and with respect!

11. Lianne Freeman of Ankle Biters Adventures

Lianne Freeman blogs at http://anklebitersadventures.co.uk/. Her peeve is about a lack of response at the end of the work:

“My peeve is agencies not saying thank you or replying when you send the link to the blog post you have published! So rude!”

12. Chantele Cross-Jones of Two Hearts One Roof

Chantele Cross-Jones blogs at http://twoheartsoneroof.com/. Her pet peeve with agencies again centres around communication (and basic courtesy!):

“Saying they are sending an item for review, which then never materialises, you chase via email to see if it’s been sent as you don’t want them thinking you haven’t done the review and you never hear from then again!”

 

What can agencies do better?

Most of the opinions I received related to 3 things:

  • Communication
  • Payment
  • Valuing the blog and the blogger’s time

Of course, there are agencies and outreach specialists out there doing a great job. But based on the experiences of the bloggers I spoke to, SEOs and PRs alike should be employing some of the following when contacting bloggers to pitch promotions or work.

  1. Don’t automate this!!! Read the blogger’s profile and some of the content thoroughly and ensure what you’re pitching is the right fit. Pitching inappropriate products, services or promotions leaves a sour taste and smacks of spam!
  2. Be clear and quick in your communication. Be straight to the point about what you want and quick and thorough in your responses. Yes, we have busy inboxes. But it’s polite and professional to be efficient in your responses
  3. Value the time and the reach of the bloggers you’re dealing with. Expecting a boat load of “favours,” or loads of their time and access to their audience for free can be incredibly insulting
  4. Be clear on payment terms. If it will take a month for a blogger to receive payment, be straight and up front about it
  5. Be consistent. Don’t tell one person one thing and another a different thing about budgets or promotions in general. There’s a community of bloggers and aside from the fact you’ll most likely get found out, it’s remarkably unprofessional
  6. Wrap up politely. Not responding with a “thanks,” and a quick wrap up when the blogger finishes work is just rude! 🙁 And it leaves things on a sour note should you wish to work with that individual again