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How to use PR People to Build Traffic for your Blog

There’s a lot of talk that goes around the blogosphere about how PR people try to USE bloggers to help their clients – but how can bloggers USE PR people (or at least make the relationship a little more mutually beneficial)? In this post Erik Sebellin-Ross from Ready Aim Reach shares some tips on how bloggers can use PR people to help grow their blogs.

In my last post here at ProBlogger, I tried to help bloggers understand how public relations (PR) people work so, when a flack comes calling, it’s not so much an intrusion as it is an opportunity. Today, I’m going to take that one step further and talk about how you can use PR people, or any of those marketing types, to help build traffic for your blog.

Small fry? How to increase your chance of success

Either the PR people are approaching you or they are not. If they are, then life is a whole lot easier. And I’ll talk about that in just a moment. But if they are not, then assuming your blog topic is not too esoteric, odds are you are just too small.

Well, good news! Good things can come in small packages. You just have to convince the marketing types of that. And this is how you do it.

Take your small package — your blog — and team up with other small packages — other bloggers who share your interests and subject matter — and approach the company as team.

Now you are not one small blog with a small group of visitors. You are one large team with a large group of visitors. And this works because, with marketers, the key is always to convince them that there is something in it for them. In this case, the something is a big group of visitors.

So how does this translate into reality? Well, for one example, you could approach the company with a proposal to run a joint contest. All of you would promote it. All of you would solicit visitors to enter. And all of you, jointly, would give away the prizes.

Which, in turn, exposes the visitors of multiple blogs to the company while it builds traffic to you.

Pretty good, eh?

(And, hey, if your blog is esoteric to the point where you are the only blogger on that topic, assuming the company you want to approach is related to your subject, then it matters less that you don’t have many visitors because you are the only game in town. See? Being different is good!)

Big fry? How to get beyond the press release

If your blog has been noticed by marketers, odds are good that you’ve received a few press releases or pitches asking you to write about a product or service. The trick now is to go beyond the press release and build some hefty traffic for your blog.

And here are a few ways to do just that.

1. Get free product or access to services
Publicists can often send you product (or give you access to a service) for free. They obviously don’t do this without expecting something in kind – a mention is good for starters, a review is better. But take this a step farther – rather than getting something just for yourself, ask for things you can give to your readers.

Because, when it comes to traffic, while original content is good, prizes are great.

2. Information, logos, and other visuals on tap
If you need information, logos, or other visuals from a company or government office, or about a person working at one, you can save yourself a lot of time by writing to the public relations (sometimes referred to as “corporate communications”, or even “public affairs” for government workers) department and asking for what you want.

Now, be prepared for a wait of at least a few days – PR people are gatekeepers, not librarians, which means they have to gather the information from others. You also have to be prepared for some sugary marketing fluff. Feel free to take that out. For example, feel free to change “Acme is a leading innovator of widgets” to “Acme manufactures widgets.”

3. Experts and researchers on tap, too
If you’ve ever wanted to interview an executive, engineer, or anyone else at a company, your best chances for success are to go through the PR person. They’ll be able to schedule meetings for you. But keep in mind that one rule – it has to be worth their while. These requests have a good chance of success when you’re writing big-picture posts — “state of the industry” types, for example.

4. Get them to link to you
Many companies have blogs now. Many have newsletters, and some are even creating social media news releases. Be it on the front page of their main Web site or some other client-facing digital medium, if you think the content of your blog is valuable to a company’s client base, consider asking them to include you on their blogroll, or offer to create guest posts. After all, everyone benefits from a little link love.

What about you?

Some of you have been at this for awhile. I’m curious to know about your experience in this area. Have you encountered a different way of working? Come up against a brick wall of some kind? Leave a comment or let me know. Or better yet, both!

Erik Sebellin-Ross is a social media strategist. His blog is ReadyAimReach.com and he can be reached directly at [email protected]

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. I’ve always seen PR People as something unnecessary but costly, but I’m totally wrong. You can’t be an expert on everything so you should hire some PR people when you need to get better results.

    /Andreas

  2. Erik,

    Great pointers. There are lots of blogs out there trashing PR firms and reps. I had a great conversation with a rep. not to long ago and she said it was a whole new world for her, the internet. There are written rules and most of them haven’t been trained on how to deal with blogs. They’re learning and we’re learning.

    I love making friends not enemies because everyone benefits. One thing I’ve started doing is if I do a free review of a product or service I ask the PR rep. to stumble or digg it and for them to have others do the same. I think that’s fair and if they want others to see it then it helps them too! Just an idea!

    Great post.

  3. Todd says:

    I get approached almost daily now from PR folks trying to promote their clients latest press release. I’ve been fairly successful getting products to review, occasional donation and very occasionally a link. Unfortunately I think I’m right in the middle of the pack when it comes to the demand needed to really push these folks. Typically they are not willing to give out links and seldom want to talk about advertising on my site. I think part of it has to do with the niche I’m in and part of it may be my approach…any more suggestions?

  4. Kari says:

    I recently used PR people to draw quite a bit of traffic to my newer site – the most traffic it had seen up to that point.

    I used the site helpareporter.com and asked PR people who rep restaurants/hotels/bars to send me their specialty drink recipes for my site. I now have posts for the next two months. The PR folks are getting mentions, I have new content and high quality images. Seems like a win-win to me!

  5. Rachel says:

    This approach has been working well for me as well. I like the team idea too. I have a few bloggers I can think of to ask and it would be fun to pick the right company to promote. Also, like the idea of asking the PR person to stumble or Digg it. Hadn’t thought of that. Thanks for the tips!

  6. Fascinating.

    It does depend on the niche though. I get a ton of free stuff because I’m one of the bigger blogs in the niche. However, I average at best 150 visitors a day. Sometimes if you are just authoritative in the niche, PR companies will find you :)

    It doesn’t earn me much though :(, but should be able to get a blogroll link from one of the PR gurus!

  7. Raag Vamdatt says:

    I haven’t interacted much with PR people, maybe because the traffic is just building up on my site.

    But I have published my own press releases at different online PR firms, and they have worked very well.

    Press releases is something that everyone should look into, especially small blogs. This helps create some buzz, and gets you many inbound links!

  8. Candace says:

    On our product review blog, we’ve built some great relationships with good PR people and business owners doing their own PR and we will bend over backwards for them.

    I think that some of the bad will comes from PR people who pitch you, but THEN ask you questions they could have researched before pitching and also do not want to give you or readers anything when their client is a billion dollar company.

    Erik, I’ve asked small companies to Stumble, etc., reviews I’ve written of their products but hadn’t thought about doing that with PR people.

    That’s a good tip for PR people, too, that relates to a PR post I wrote. If PR people get involved in the social media world, they have a better chance of getting a good response when they pitch.

    http://buzzmommy.com/2008/10-tips-for-pitching-mommy-bloggers/

  9. shafar says:

    Great post.
    Darren, do you have a post on link exchange. Means how or in which way bloggers can ask webmasters for link exchange.

  10. Noobpreneur says:

    Darren,

    Good issue raised – the small fry-thing is really interesting! I never thought of teaming up with other bloggers to reach common goal :)

    Thanks!

  11. Gautam says:

    Another thing we’re trying (a bunch of Indian business bloggers) is to form a network on Feedburner and then use a logo of that network on our blogs – together with links in feeds.

    Let’s see if something comes out of that :-)

  12. Hey Green & Clean — very good thinking about asking PR reps to Digg your post. That should definitely be a fifth bullet.

    Rachel and Noob, glad you like the idea of teaming up to get what you need. We’ve got the tools, we can get organized — size isn’t the barrier it used to be.

  13. Hi Erik,

    Enjoyed that – It’s interesting.. So I come at this from both sides of the fence. My day job is Head of Social Media Strategy for voice-to-text company, SpinVox.

    As part of that I write the blog – often, not always, but often initial requests for interviews will come through me – working closely with PR I often manage these relationships and the PR dept understand the need for ‘blogger relations’.

    Recently I’ve come to learn that I’m very fortunate to work with a dept that is as forward thinking as this.

    From the other side of the fence, as a blogger myself on a number of other sites, sometimes it’s difficult to get a PR dept to give you the time of day, let alone any information!

    As much as PR can be useful – sometimes I find it helps going straight to the source. Want to speak to an engineer at a tech company? Having no luck with PR?
    Find out who you want to speak to and email them directly.

    They pass you back to PR, but they may just take it to PR themselves and say ‘I’m doing this!’.

    :)

    PRs are getting better, but not all them ‘get it’ yet.

  14. Great post, Darren.

    I’m one of those small fry bloggers you talk about, so I have yet to get noticed by the bigger fish on the block. But I believe that, with time, effort, attention to detail and commitment, the day when I am no longer an unknown will come.

    In the meantime, blogs like yours continue to be an inspiration for me.

    Thanks again for a great post.

    Sincerely,

    Michael

  15. Petes2cents says:

    But the reality is that internet marketing and any other marketing for that matter, is the life blood of any business. But your advantage on the internet is huge, cause of the low cost and ease. (you can do it yourself) But you still have to work hard and put time into it, and this is the problem, no one wants to work….and we all know that nothing is for free in this world. (usually)

    Actually, I’m wrong, there’s tons of stuff for free on the internet, and you can also get a ton of traffic to your site for free, if you know how to play the game, work hard, and know how to market yourself.

    There’s tons of tricks and tips and I try to learn one everyday.

    petes2cents.com

  16. I was really excited to this article so thanks Erik! In my former life I was a marketing/PR/ad person, and so now that I am the Editor/Pubishor of my blogs it has been really interesting being on the receiving end of the “pitch” vs. being the one having to give it.

    I have found 2 others big benefits working with PR folks:
    - PR people all talk to each other whether it be in their own company or just their fellow PR friends in their industry or others. If one likes you, they will pass on your info to other PR folks with related product/service. As well, PR folk move around a lot but they always take their contacts with them. Working with PR folks is a good way for bloggers to get free stuff and access to bigger well known brands, as well as to grow their (the blogger’s) brand identity.

    - Once you establish a great relationship with a PR person they can also help you get in contact with editors from the big media outlets. In my niche Health and Women, I have gotten contact info into the women’s magazines through PR introductions. The PR folks can also sometimes connect you with the advertising folks of their company or client, and this is a blogger dream, ad revenue contacts. Other side opportunities can arise as well. I have

  17. Laura says:

    Great article.

    I used the same strategy when training new companies on Safety.

    For example: Gas Mask, I would contact 3M, the local Firestations and clinics in the area. Inform of the date and time of my training class and encourage them to contact me for promoting their product etc…. This was great.

    I would receive:
    1. Business cards from Doctors – offering a special discount
    2. Free Samples of products for training and discounts
    3. Cretified training from local EMT

    The possibilities are endless. Write it up and send it in to the PR dept at any of the above and suddenly your Company (for whatever service you are providing) is mentioned as a prefered Buyer/Patient etc……

    Phone starts ringing…. how cool now with Blogging the emails start pouring in (page views)

  18. Kim says:

    I have been following helpareporter.com and trying to think of the best way to take advantage of this great resource. I’ve responded to others’ requests, and gotten a few mentions, but now I’m going to make my own request in hopes of building more relationships. Whenever I’m communicating with people from other websites – for product donations or related sites – I always suggest that they might like to subscribe to our newsletter, but I’m going to start asking them to digg, stumble and kirtsy us too!

  19. Darren Cronian says:

    I get alot of PR contact because of the niche I blog in, and whilst I see other bloggers slating PR companies, I use them to my benefit.

    I have a spreadsheet of PR companies and who they represent, and if they offer me something unique and interesting I will from time to time mention it on the blog.

    I’ve interviewed the likes of Boeing and Lonely Planet because of that relationship. So, your spot on, don’t rant about them, use them to your advantage.

    They need you as much as you need them.

  20. amirulcyber says:

    darran you always come with useful article.Thanks..

  21. Israel says:

    I usually give the stuff away as a contest. That usually works.

  22. Thanks for a great article with a lot of useful information! I loved it!

    ~Laura Iriarte/aka @lauralovesart
    http://lauralovesart.wordpress.com

  23. Termeh says:

    I’m a publicist (and a blogger) and it’s very frustrating when journalists complain that PR people are “a necessary evil” and so forth. Journalists, bloggers, writers need us as much (or almost as much) as we need them. Writers with writer’s block can always turn to us for ideas. And who else is going to give them the info they need on deadline, or put them in touch with company CEOs, etc. for interviews? They love to hate us, and almost never admit that sometimes they just may need us.

  24. I allway get the best articles in this website. Thank you so much.

  25. charles says:

    Yes and i definitely believe that PR’s are a good investment if you really want that your weblog improve in a better way.

    You can also get infos from other experts as well just to improve your webblog or website.

    Thank you again for this wonderful post

    Charles
    http://www.resourcesandmoney.blogspot.com

  26. CJordan says:

    This was very useful. Great information about teaming up. Never thought about it like that. Thanks

  27. Mommy B says:

    Awesome article and right on point. I’ve been blogging for more than a year now and have been concentrating on creating the best content in my niche. The payoff is: now publicists are begininng to contact me for reviews and mentions. That, in turn, has given me the confidence to approach smaller like-minded companies for interviews or samples, and much to my surprise, they’re really open to it.
    PR people can be your best friend…just know when to put your foot down.