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Working both as a PR consultant and a blogger, Dee de los Santos brings a different perspective with her work at Thexton Public Relations. Having been in public relations for over ten years, she has seen the industry change dramatically. With these changes in recent years, Dee has broadened her skill set to include Social Media and Digital Marketing, where she explores the latest and greatest social media platforms and trends. We sat down with Dee to get her perspective on the PR field and tips for approaching bloggers.
How did you get into PR and what do you love about it?
Way back when I was in highschool, I was on student council and I loved event planning and dealing with the “PR” side of things – I think this is what really got the ball rolling for me. Ultimately, I wanted to have a career that had variety so that I would never get bored and more importantly, a career in which I could help people. I think many businesses and individuals do great work but hardly get noticed for what they do. When I first started in PR, I worked in the Entertainment industry and with the enormous amount of talent out there, it was the best feeling in the world when I could help them get noticed. What I love about my job is that it’s never the same every day. I love the creativity that goes into campaigns and I love meeting new people – whether it be clients, journalists or bloggers!
As a blogger, you must have a variety of perspectives when it comes to PR as you see both sides. What are the best things a PR Pro should keep in mind when contacting a blogger, based on your experience with your popular food blog Gastrofork?
This could be an entire essay because I see so many cringeworthy emails! That being said, I applaud the many PR agencies that DO get it right when it comes to blogger relations. The best things that a PR Pro should keep in mind when contacting a blogger:
1) Do a little research – I get so many pitches that sound very mechanical and sometimes embarrassingly get my name wrong or have no idea who I am or what I write about. It takes a minute to visit the blogger’s website – find their name and scan through a couple posts they’ve done recently. I’m more receptive to those who have taken the time to have a look through the website.
2) Be concise and get straight to the point – I get a lot of press releases and pitches every day, and it’s nice to know what I’m dealing with in the first paragraph. What are you looking for – coverage for a particular item? Are you sending samples? If I need to scan the entire press release and I still have no idea why you are sending it, it most likely will be put into the trash bin.
3) As a blogger, what is the value of your pitch to me? – I know for the most part, you’re hands are tied and your client might be asking you to send off a generic press release, but if you do have some say over it, I’d prefer you not send me anything that has no value to my website. I’m not going to run your monthly news (especially if it’s not something that’s done on my website) or review your product if I’ve never tried it for myself. My blog is personal and honest, and I cannot promote a product that I’ve never used myself.
4) Follow up – It’s okay to follow up – within reason. Some people do it a bit too much, some people don’t at all. We’re all busy people. Sometimes my emails fall on the wayside and I don’t get around to them until the end of the week. I appreciate the email followup if I haven’t replied in 2-3 days. It is not okay to continue to email me several times if you haven’t heard back from me the first followup email.
5) CC’ing All Media – I’ve always thought this common knowledge, but given the fact that this happens almost every day, it needs to be addressed. Please do not CC everyone in an email. You are divulging your entire media list to me and the worst – when other people reply, they might accidentally hit “reply all” and we are all stuck reading your emails.
6) Do NOT Invite Media if you do not have the capacity – I’ve seen this happen too often as well – inviting 20 bloggers to a 10 blogger meal. Separate your lists into Plan A and then B. Invite 10 from your top choices (Plan A), if there are some that cannot attend, continue onto your Plan B list. I’ve seen companies email bloggers back and uninvite them to media events. This is highly unprofessional and you will definitely lose that contact.
7) The blogging community is well connected – I’m not entirely sure if it rings true for other cities, but in Vancouver, the blogging community – especially food blogging – is tight knit. We discuss upcoming events and opportunities with one another. Some are more close than others, but we keep up and support one another. Be mindful when inviting others – if you are unsure of who else to invite, feel free to ask a blogger, they’d be happy to recommend a couple of blogs/sites.
What is the biggest challenge you are currently facing in your PR role?
I think the biggest challenge I’m experiencing right now is working in a new industry. I’m so thankful to have a career where I can hop from entertainment to food and beverage to real estate. Different industries have their own terminology and framework, and I would say jumping into real estate which I’m entirely new to is exciting but terrifying. The best anyone can do is be receptive, ask lots of questions, be proactive and learn as much as you can on your own about the industry. Pick up a newspaper or go through some popular news websites.
What is one prediction for the PR industry in 2016?
We’ve already seen the rise of the digital influencer in the past year or so – this will become more widely accepted through business. Youtube stars that have millions of followers, blogs and instabloggers will be part of more communications plans as a way to reach younger demographics that use social media platforms to consume media. These digital influencers have loyal followings and are trusted by their fans to give them honest recommendations.