PR Tips: Contacting Bloggers

Cheryl Warner PR Tips for Contacting Bloggers

Cheryl WarnerCheryl Warner is the founder of Invest in Your Chest, a lingerie blog reaching women around the world. Cheryl started her blog in response to an awful fitting service she received on the high street. “It seemed that wherever you went the sizes would be miles apart and the fit never correlated. After taking a revolutionary and revelatory trip to Bravissimo I wanted to share the feeling I experienced from a correct-fitting bra. You’ve probably heard it said before, but it really and truly does change your life!”

So you’ve heard about why you may find it useful and lucrative to get in touch with bloggers to promote your brand, but if you choose to, how should you go about it? As discussed in our ‘What Role Do Bloggers Play?’ series, blogging is still – by definition – a new media, and still developing as a form of ‘broadcasting’.

So how does one contact a blogger? Is the method comparable to contacting print media or more established outlets? One of the best parts of blogging is the ‘niche’ readership that may have – there are plenty of fabulous lingerie and intimate apparel bloggers out there, and you can even target a more narrow sector with many blogs catering specifically to ‘full bust’, ‘plus size’, smaller cup sizes, high end, corsetry… the list goes on.

We heard from one of the best – Treacle of The Lingerie Addict – about how the ‘#1 lingerie blog in the world’ The Lingerie Addict has been contacted; the good, the bad, and the awful.

Hello Treacle, who don’t you tell us a little more about yourself and your blog?

Sure! I started my blog (as Stockings Addict) in 2008, but it was definitely more of a “hobby blog” for the first few years. I used to be a crisis line manager, and until last year, I worked with vulnerable populations like survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and child abuse.

In September 2011, I made the switch to blogging fulltime, and that’s what I’ve been doing for the last eight months. I also hired six new columnists around that time to bring some fresh voices and perspectives onto the blog. Currently, The Lingerie Addict gets over 100,000 visitors and over 200,000 page views per month. We’re the #1 lingerie blog in the world according to the independent website ranker, and have a social media following over 40,000 strong.

The essence of The Lingerie Addict is that it’s a lingerie blog for the everyday woman. The world of lingerie can be incredibly intimidating and confusing, and I try to talk about it in a way that’s informative, accessible, and interesting to every woman…no matter her size, age, or income. I don’t come from the fashion world or the lingerie industry, so I see every blog post as a conversation from one lingerie customer to another, and I learn just as much from my readers as they do from me.

Why do you think (if at all) people have started to turn towards bloggers for marketing?

I think a lot of brands are turning towards bloggers now because the effectiveness of direct advertising is declining and they understand the power of word of mouth marketing. Brands can’t just broadcast their message anymore and hope it sticks. Bloggers, however, have targeted readerships and businesses who work with bloggers have the potential to reach hundreds or even thousands of new customers.

How do you benefit from receiving samples to review?

Samples are a mutually beneficial exchange between brands and bloggers. Some brands think that they’re “paying” bloggers for coverage with samples, but that’s not the right mindset at all. Samples are not advertising.

“Bloggers…have targeted readerships and businesses who work with bloggers have the potential to reach hundreds or even thousands of new customers”

Instead, samples let bloggers try a wider range of products so they know what to recommend to their readers. Brands benefit because they don’t have to wait for a blogger to eventually get around to trying their products (if they ever do) and bloggers benefit because they’re able to pull from a larger knowledge base when communicating with their readers.

The Pitch: Hit or Miss?

What catches your eye and grabs your attention in an email from a company/PR rep approaching you?

A pitch that’s tailored to my blog always grabs my attention. It’s obvious when a company has actually read your content and is familiar with your point of view, rather than just seeing your blog as a megaphone for their message.

What’s the worst thing a company/PR representative can do when attempting to contact you?

Mass e-mails go straight to the round file. I get a shocking number of e-mails with just the words “See Attached” in the body, and all that makes me want to do is contact the brand you’re representing and tell them they’re wasting their money.

If a brand or PR company can’t spend time tailoring their pitch (even if it’s just to include my name), then they can’t expect me to spend time reading their pitch. I get dozens of e-mails per day, so simple economics demands that I institute some filters for figuring out where my time should go, and deleting cookie cutter e-mails is an easy way to do that.

Ethical Blogging

What is your opinion on bloggers using ‘free samples’, sponsored posts and/or compensated posts? Does it comply with ethical blogging?

Of course. To me, ethical blogging means disclosure. In the US, FTC guidelines require that you tell your readers when you get a free sample or have been compensated for a post, but I think that’s good practice no matter where you live. Your readers should never have to wonder if a product you’re reviewing is a free sample or if an article you’re writing is a sponsored post. When you disclose those relationships, your readers have the option of putting their own filters in place when reading the piece.

“We don’t ask brick and mortar businesses if it’s unethical for them make money so they can pay their bills. Why should blogging be any different?”

Furthermore, there’s no shame in reviewing products or in selling advertising, so why act ashamed by hiding it? While blogging is often cheap or free to start (I began with blogspot which costs absolutely nothing), as your blog grows, it’s necessary to invest in its infrastructure, and there’s nothing wrong with making sure your blog makes enough money to keep itself online.

In short, we don’t ask brick and mortar businesses if it’s unethical for them make money so they can pay their bills. Why should blogging be any different?

Do you think your readers would agree (with above question)? Have you received any negative feedback or scepticism related to the subject?

I blogged for over two years before I even put up my first AdSense ad, so I definitely encountered some pushback at first. However, if you’re transparent and honest about what you’re doing, people tend to be overwhelmingly supportive.

Have you received feedback of companies who have benefited from being featured on The Lingerie Addict? Can you give examples?

I have! I’ve had brands tell me I’m their top referrers when they check their site analytics. I’ve had brands sell out of products I mention within days. I’ve had brands triple their Facebook fans just from a link on my Facebook page. I’ve had brands place on the first page of Google after I wrote an article about them. And I could go on! It’s all very exciting, but more importantly, it illustrates the positive relationship brand and bloggers can have with each other.

Thank you, Treacle, for the interview.

The Lingerie Addict demonstrates that – just like with print media and everyday life – human contact is key. As a blogger myself I am all too familiar with the ‘cookie cutter’ approach, and as I also work in PR I know that it’s a lazy option which gets precious little results.

“The Lingerie Addict demonstrates that – just like with print media and everyday life – human contact is key,” – Cheryl Warner

The best results come from on-going relationships, and on my blog those are more often than not established from my personal experience as a consumer or from companies contacting me with a relevant, quality brand with amazing products that could benefit or interest my readers. I always love hearing from new, exciting and upcoming brands that I’ve not come across before, and it’s the companies that take the initiative and interest in my readership that get my attention.

Research and specific interest in a blog can save both you and the blogger valuable time, and can also help to establish and maintain a mutually beneficial relationship from the offset.

As Treacle said, “Bloggers have targeted readerships and businesses who work with bloggers have the potential to reach hundreds or even thousands of new customers”, so why not find the blog that is a perfect match for both your company and your customers?

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