With the digital world changing at such a fast pace, we have all had to re-evaluate how to approach it, which is why companies such as Debutante Media exist.

With this post, I want to shed some light on the Public Relations and Blogger relationship. I am a former fashion editor who has worked with People magazine, The Today Show, The View, StyleWatch magazine and more. Currently I am the PR and Marketing Director for Skye Associates where we have 20 e-commerce clients (including FantasyJewelryBox.com and DesignsByStephene.com).

I also have my own personal blog, ChasingJamesBeard.com, and will be running one for FantasyJewelryBox.com in the near future. All of this has allowed me to see from everyone’s P.O.V., so here we go!

Do companies care about bloggers? Absolutely! The web has allowed everyone to get their voice out, so ignore the companies who turn their noses up at bloggers. They’ll have to come around sooner or later. PR reps should want to work with bloggers because it is fantastic for brand awareness, and what you put on the web, stays on the web. Blogs are also great to work with because there is more leeway with time. You can post something immediately, whereas with print publications, the process can be much longer.

What makes PR companies want to work with certain blogs?

-The amount of traffic a site gets.
-The quality of the content that is put up. When PR reps see well-written stories being posted, they definitely take notice, so put in the effort.
-The easier someone is to work with, the more PR reps want to partner up with them. Think about it: it seems as if everyone and their mother has a blog, so why would they want to work with difficult ones, when there are so many out there that aren’t?
-Outside of your blog, do you participate in other social media outlets? Give Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc. all a try.
-Do you write about brands without requiring free products in return for the posts? You should. PR reps will take notice, appreciate it and it will come back to you in full circle.

Beware of the below Blogger Faux Pas that – I am sad to say – I have witnessed or heard about.

- Do not get nasty with PR people. Act friendly and professional with them, like you would in any work relationship.

- Do not ‘demand’ free products. All you have to do is just ask.

- Do not act like you are entitled to free products, simply because this comes off as rude. Would you act that way toward your boss or colleagues in an office environment?

- Do not get offended if PR reps do not have product to send to you. PR reps understand that bloggers may not have the staff, time or finances to return products, and have to keep items that are sent over, but some companies may not have the budget for this, or enough samples to go around. If companies had to produce enough items for every blogger to keep, they would go bankrupt. For clothing and jewelry, even fashion editors and stylists return these products back to the brand once they are done shooting. In the end, it’s really nothing against you, they just simply don’t have pieces to send for keeps.

- Spellcheck. Mistakes happen, that’s a given, but make sure you don’t have a ton. If a brand hasn’t worked with you before and sees lots of errors when you e-mail them for the first time, they might be hesitant to work with you because it is a reflection of the content you will produce about them on your site.

-
Joyce Huang
Skye Associates

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One of the questions that I’ve gotten most from bloggers, brands and PR teams is, “How do I get more traffic onto my site?” It makes sense – more traffic means more conversions, which means you get to grow and make your site even better. One of the best ways (and certainly the most affordable!) is SEO, or Search Engine Optimization.

Search Engine Optimization doesn’t have to be challenging – it’s just a little bit of math mixed with time and a tiny bit of good luck. For some blogs and businesses, hiring a firm may be their best way to get your organic search results on track (it is a time-consuming project and, to do it right, requires touching every page on your site) – but, here are some quick and easy tips you can do right now… no excuses!

1. Keywords – this is a hot subject, and you can literally spend hours, even days, finding the right keywords. But the basic keyword benefits are huge as well. Take a search term that relates to your brand (if you were a coffee brand, for instance, you’d want to look up “coffee,” or “coffee beans” or “brewed coffee”) and look it up in Google Keyword Tools. There you’ll be able to see similar terms that generate a lot of search queries. Pick a handful and use them in your site.

2. Internal Links – Do hyperlinks on your site say “Click Here” or “Learn More”? These terms do nothing for you in relation to keyword juice You’ll benefit greatly by linking to your own pages, keeping the “spiders” on the site… and it’s even better with a quality link that references the topic. Use the keyword tool or a basic content phrase instead. And as a note: we NEVER recommend paying for text links on other sites – partially because Google frowns upon it and because it’s an expensive, suspicious activity – but you can get great links from blogs and websites.

3. Fresh Content – the more your site changes, the more frequently the spiders come back. And the more they come back, the higher your search engine ranking. So, whether you need to constantly write new content, start a blog or add user-created content (yes, commenting counts, too!), this is a no-brainer.

If you use Search Engine Optimization as a part of your strategy for more traffic and conversions, what have you had success with?

And remember – one the quickest and easiest ways to increase your backlinks? Commenting!

-

Jaime Palmucci

debutantemedia.com

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Is this your home?
I had been contemplating this – and working on it – recently, and things have definitely just come up again and again that prove that I’m not at all good about balance. I am a SUPER workaholic (oh, I know you’re so surprised.), and it definitely does hurt the ones I love quite a bit.

So, I had asked a question about finding balance – how people did it, especially those who – like me – have a full-time job as well as a start-up or freelance job. Here are a couple of great tips I received:

- Manage your time and prioritise.

- I made sure I got as much sleep as I could, ate well, exercised and meditated daily. It is also important to have a good social support network, including other business owners. People can only be so supportive, and other business owners get it. There were sacrifices, and I had to take that leap of faith when I wasn’t willing to continue living like that. It is not healthy, and it is better to focus on temporary survival skills to work toward having more free time.

- Leverage resources outside yourself: Hire people to help you / outsource grunt work, rely on experts, network to learn shortcuts (it’s a good investment of time).

Please add your tips to the list by leaving a comment below – and share what your experiences are!

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gifts bloggers

I received a very classless email from a brand who wanted to write a “quality” guest post for my beauty review blog. I shared the tale with another blogger friend of mine, who responded with the best – and most accurate – response. EVER.

Enjoy.

Hello “Person who has no name/Blogger:”

I am contacting you on behalf of some Spammy Company about opportunities about placing text links on your site for free.

Because we are a Spamtastic Company, we would be able to provide you with a load of spammy content all over your site. If you would enjoy compromising the quality of content on your site by allowing us to do this, let us know how many text links we can provide you.

We know you’ll email us right away because this is an opportunity that will benefit us so much.

Do you feel differently about the text link “guest post” inquiries?


Jaime Palmucci
debutantemedia.com 

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I’ll be sharing some of the previous posts from Respect Bloggers here on the Debutante Media blog, starting with this amazing post from Mallory. Enjoy!

When I first started my blog, Miss Malaprop, in 2006, it was before blogging was really on the radar of most major companies. It was before the rise of the mommy bloggers, the fashion bloggers and the FTC rulings on blogs and disclosure practices. I didn’t get into blogging with the intention of free goodies, although I have certainly gotten some nice swag as thank-yous and for review over the years.

I DID start my blog with the intention of growing my business into what it is today though – I always planned to use my blog as a vehicle to build my own brand and to launch my own shop. As someone who is both an experienced blogger and a shop owner, I think I have a unique perspective on how bloggers can and should work with brands.

My blog (and shop) focuses on handmade and eco-friendly goods. I have promoted a variety of indie brands, free of charge, through my daily postings. I’ve also sold advertising to brands and sometimes accepted products for review or giveaway. Long before the FTC told me I had to, I was always mindful of taking any sort of compensation, whether money or in the form of free product. I always try to be clear about how and why I received the goods for review. I’ve also had to turn down plenty of opportunities over the years because they just weren’t a good fit for my site. A company offering me $100 for a sponsored post on my site may seem like easy money at the time, but if their product or service is totally unrelated to what I usually cover, I have to stay true to my site’s mission and say thanks, but no thanks. I don’t want to risk turning off my readers and de-valuing my brand message.

On the flip side, as a shop owner, when I seek out blogs and other websites to work with, I need to make sure that their reader demographic and brand message is in line with my own. I’ve been doing a lot of work lately to figure out exactly who my ideal customer is. How old they are, how much they make a year, their level of education and what they like to do in their spare time. A website or blog that can provide me with this information about their own readers, in addition to their unique visitors and page hits is going to be much more likely to fit my needs than someone who just knows how many Google followers they have.

In the time since I started blogging, this world has really exploded. Now there are plenty of opportunistic and shady characters out there trying to cash in and get free stuff by blogging. I’m pretty sure I’ve even had some of these “review bloggers” lie to me about their stats. (I always try to run a background check on any blog I might be interested in advertising with or sending product to for review. If sites like TrafficEstimate.com or Quantcast give me wildly different numbers than what you’ve told me, I’m not going to be very likely to work with you.) That’s not to say that all review and giveaway type bloggers are bad. There are some great ones out there who really take the time to test products and write well-written reviews. These bloggers also have engaged communities of readers and they talk about things other than just product giveaways. I try to avoid sites that are nothing but product giveaways because I don’t think that these types of sites attract engaged customers who will keep coming back long-term. I think those types of sites mostly attract bargain shoppers and people just trying to win free stuff. (This is also my same basic complaint about using Groupon as a marketing tool.)

Different brands look for different things in terms of how they market their product and who they need to market to. Smaller companies will have less to spend and need to get the most bang for their buck. The more prepared you can be to show a brand exactly who your audience is and how you can help grow their brand, the better.

Mallory Whitfield is a proud resident of New Orleans, Louisiana, where she runs a blog and online shop, both called Miss Malaprop and both dedicated to the very best in handmade and eco-friendly goods. She also designs recycled clothing, accessories, and costumes, including the now infamous FEMA blue tarp dress.

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