Happy Friday everyone! Today, I am interviewing Sam from Socially Famous PR Sam runs 2 blogs (sociallysam.com a business blog and a lifestyle blog which is currently being revamped.) as well as running Socially Famous PR. Not only did Sam help me out by answering these questions super last minute; she was incredibly honest and there is so much value in all of her answers. So get a notepad and a cup of tea at the ready!
If you enjoy this interview, you can check out all my chats with PRs here.
Q: Hi Sam! Tell me a bit more about yourself- what brands do you represent?
We started out purely as a social media marketing agency but because I’ve been a blogger myself for nearly 10 years now I found I was getting my social media clients asking about working with bloggers. It became natural to add that as a service. We tend to work with smaller brands who have more niche products on the blogger’s side. At the moment we’ve got a skincare brand, a pet product, a wedding services business and we have a new health food product that will be launching later in the year.
Q: When did you start working with bloggers as part of your PR strategy and what was the decision behind that?
It was more gradual than a clear business decision to work with bloggers. It probably started about 3 years ago when a friend asked if I’d help them with an event they wanted to invite some bloggers to. Then just by mentioning to a few existing clients that we had done this event some of those asked if they could do some blogger outreach. It’s only really in the past year that we’ve have been more actively promoting this as a service to clients and I’m hoping that by the end of the year we can establish this more as a full service to attract new business rather than just an add on service like we have now.
Q: That’s great! What kind of opportunities do you offer bloggers?
Most retail clients will want to send out products but if they are launching something new then I would encourage them to look at the bigger picture of how they can work with the blogger. I’ve done days out for bloggers where they have gone to see a product being made, spoken to the business owners, seen for themselves what goes into a product.
I think it’s important to involve the blogger in the process so they understand the brand rather than just sending them a product to review. We always look to be as creative as we can within the scope the client wants. I’ve had bloggers attend parties, private dinners, press launches but no holidays yet. ! There’s always a mixture of paid opportunities, sponsorship and straight forward product gifting going on. It all varies between clients as to what they want to do and what I can then get them to do (these things are often a mile apart).
Those looking for potential holiday collaborations, make sure you go read my chat with icelolly.com: where we chat how to get on to press trips and more.
Q: That’s great- I love how much you involve bloggers! What do you look for in a blogger you work with?
Because I’ve been a blogger myself for so long, I’ve seen so many changes within the industry. 10 years ago everybody used Blogger, hardly anybody had their own self-hosted sites and we didn’t do any SEO or got that creative with the look of our blogs. It was more just the words we wrote! Now that’s all changed and we have social media too. I tend to prefer to look at the blogger as a whole package. How well presented their blog is. Are they optimising it correctly? Can they actually write an objective blog post because writing 300 words just saying how great the product is isn’t really creating a good piece of content? Is their social media authentic> (beware I can spot fake followers a mile off). Do they actually stand for something?
By this I mean, will they review just about anything and everything that comes along or are they staying true to their own brand and ethics. For example, I’ll use my own blog. I don’t drink. It’s not that I’ve never drunk because I have. I was quite the party girl in my younger days but now I don’t drink and I’m quite ok with it. But I was asked to attend and review a cocktail master class. What was the point in me doing that? I declined. It’s that kind of integrity that I look for in the bloggers we work with.
Q: Are stats everything? What stats do you focus the most on?
Again yes and no. It’s how you interpret those stats. Some people will tell you that they have 5000 unique visitors per month. That would be great until you see that the average user time on the site is less than 10 seconds and they have a 95% bounce rate. This basically means nobody is reading their blog. They arrive and bounce off. Whereby somebody who has 500 uniques per month, with an average user time of 10 minutes and a bounce rate of 60% is probably more valuable to the brand because it’s obvious that this person’s content is being read and well read at that. You’ll probably find they are also getting
You’ll probably find they are also getting good share to read ratio on each post because their audience is so engaged with the content. It’s also important for the brand to understand the demographics of the blog’s readership. Are they the right target audience? Are they in the right location? A huge amount of internet traffic is from bots these days so it is important to drill down on the stats more than just looking at the vanity numbers.
Q: That’s so true- it’s so important to delve into those analytics! How important is Instagram to you? Do you think it’s going to make blogging itself less relevant?
I love Instagram but from a brand point of view, it still doesn’t replace a nicely worded and presented blog post. Because a search engine reads a blog post and ranks it, which has a benefit to the brand, but also people want ease and speed when using the internet. It’s still quite difficult to buy something you see on Instagram unless it’s an advert. You have to go to the bio and click the link, then find the product on the website.
Instagram definitely has its advantages and disadvantages.
However, I do like the Instagram Stories and think they’ve made huge gains with the functionality in there. It will be even better when all the tools are fully rolled out and links can be clicked from directly in the story (this has limited availability at the moment but it is coming to everyone). I’ve also noticed a much higher engagement and watch rate on Instagram Stories than Snapchat so I think for bloggers it is worth putting in the time and effort there. But never stop working on your own blog and website. They are your brand. A social media website can shut down tomorrow or kick you off at any point and you have lost your following. This is why brands push so hard to get their traffic off social and on to their websites.
Q: That’s so true! I love instastories but I can never imagine not blogging! Do you welcome pitch emails from bloggers? What makes a good pitch in your opinion?
We do, but, I personally get so many emails every day that I often lose track of where I’m up to. I’m the boss and also a control freak so whilst we are still only a small business I get the last word on everything. I also tend to like working with bloggers I’ve already gotten to know. So it might be that they followed me on social media and perhaps read one of my own blog posts and engaged with me there first. Or I’ve seen some of their posts and like their work and I’ve engaged with them. I think sometimes bloggers forget that when they are dealing with PR’s or brands they won’t just be dealing with that one thing.
If they are anything like me they have about 100 things going on that they are trying to remember and keep up with. If I spot your name in my inbox because we’ve already said hello via social media then I’m more likely to stop and read. Otherwise, you might go unnoticed until I go through my inbox at the end of the week to see what I’ve missed. And with that in mind, a good pitch needs to be straight to the point, tell me everything I need to know and how you are going to be the absolute best blogger in the world for my client. I need to know from that pitch that I can put my own trust and my business reputation in your hands, because if you do a bad job then it reflects badly on me too.
Need some more tips for pitching PRs? Checkout my pitching toolkit which is full of templates, advice and worksheets. You might also want to read my 8 tips for emailing PRs.
Q: That’s such good advice and it’s so important about building up relationships! Have you ever had bad experiences with bloggers? What do you wish bloggers wouldn’t do?
I’ve had quite a lot we’ve sent products out to and they’ve never done the review or even answered a follow-up email. I don’t like to put time scales on bloggers as I know they can’t always tell me exactly when they will do a review but if I email just to check you’ve received the product because I’ve not heard from them, and I know they have received it because Royal Mail told me so, then I think it’s rude when they don’t reply. If you can’t do the review or receive the product and don’t like it then just tell me, don’t ghost me!
Likewise I’ve also had a few divas. I had one not so long back that had no website but told me she was a popular YouTuber. She’d done 1 video! 1! I couldn’t find her social following either. She also wanted £500 to review a product worth £100 she was getting for free. Unfortunately, there are about a million myths about the blogging/vlogging industry and so many people think they can just show up and make a load of money and get a load of freebies. If only that was true!
Q: Gosh why do bloggers do this! Talking of small influencers (although, definitely not that small- haha!) Do you find us ‘micro’ influencers can be just as beneficial as big bloggers?
Yes, like my point about the stats. Also, and I’ve noticed this more with the celebrity market, but if an influencer is promoting too many products then the audience becomes immune to it. The influence may have half a million followers on Instagram but sometimes if you read the comments they aren’t overly positive. Also if the blogger gets a reputation for promoting any old rubbish they get sent then the audience just isn’t going to believe them when they say that yet another skincare product is amazing. Not everything is amazing! As some bloggers get bigger and bigger and cross over into main stream media and gain celebrity status themselves they often tread a fine line of retaining their authenticity and chasing the pay cheque. Whereby I personally would never knock anyone for doing well and earning a good living from it, I prefer to see people doing it with their soul intact and not selling a piece of themselves in pursuit of fame. A micro influencer is usually more concerned with the quality of their content and looking after their community.
As some bloggers get bigger and bigger and cross over into main stream media and gain celebrity status themselves they often tread a fine line of retaining their authenticity and chasing the pay cheque. Whereby I personally would never knock anyone for doing well and earning a good living from it, I prefer to see people doing it with their soul intact and not selling a piece of themselves in pursuit of fame. A micro influencer is usually more concerned with the quality of their content and looking after their community. Yes, they want to build a following but they appreciate the work involved.
Q: How can a blogger stand out from the wave of new blogs that are launched every day?
Be consistent and creative. So many bloggers just copy what everyone else does. So many blogs have the same look and feel to them. Many blogs also aren’t easy to navigate so I don’t stick around. Make your blog user-friendly not just pretty. Try to make all your content distinctly you. Even if it’s just creating your own logo and making sure it’s on every image you put out, just so that when I’m scrolling it will catch my eye and I know it’s you. Also, don’t make every single post you do a product review. I find these sorts of blogs so boring. How can I get to know the person behind the blog when all they do is tell me how fabulous every single product they are sent is? I want to know the person behind the keyboard. I want to know your likes, your dislikes, what really grinds your gears, what do you make a stand about. You may be a beauty blogger but if a storyline on Coronation Street annoys you or if something in the world bothers you, then write about it. Tell me your concerns. Show me there’s a real person behind those eye shadow shades that I can relate to.
Top tip: try to stand out from all the other blogs out there! Be real, beyond stock images!
I want to know the person behind the keyboard. I want to know your likes, your dislikes, what really grinds your gears, what do you make a stand about. You may be a beauty blogger but if a storyline on Coronation Street annoys you or if something in the world bothers you, then write about it. Tell me your concerns. Show me there’s a real person behind those eye shadow shades that I can relate to! Also, don’t expect overnight success. It’s not going to happen. So, unfortunately, you will have to do freebie product reviews for a while until you’re more established.
But focus on building your relationships and working on your own brand. Use spelling and grammar checkers, self-host and get your own domain name. Learn a bit about WordPress (there’s a video for everything on YouTube) and SEO (just use the Yoast plugin) and open graph data (the WPSSO plugin is great for that). Learn your craft and if you want to grow and make blogging a career for yourself then think like a business not like a hobby. Take pride in what you do and take it seriously and remember to be professional with those you deal with. And never, ever spam a PR, brand or agency. Actually just don’t spam anyone, ever.
Q: Sam, you have provided such brilliant advice and probably been my most honest interviewee ever! I love it!How can bloggers get in touch and discuss working with you?
Bloggers can drop our office an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or look us up on social media. They can also connect directly with myself via social media. I’m @socially_sam on Twitter and @sociallysam on Instagram.