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Monday, May 24, 2010

Build A Beautiful Blog Week - PR Interview with Laura Giardina

I put a post up on Facebook and Twitter to find out what you wanted to know about PR and blogging and had many good questions come up. I was curious to know the answers. I emailed a few of my PR contacts and set up an interview with Laura Giardina, a Senior Account Executive with the PR firm, Robin Leedy & Associates, Inc. Laura was kind enough to take the time out of her day and answer a few of out questions. I have always enjoyed working with her in the past on review and giveaways. I think you will find this a very informative interview. I learned lots! A big thanks goes out to Laura and Robin Leedy & Associates, Inc. for the interview!!

So here are those burning PR questions that you wanted me to find out.....
What kinds of products do you mostly work with?

Robin Leedy & Associates specializes in PR and social media for a variety of health and beauty products. You'd find them at mass market retailers like Target, Walmart, CVS, etc

What do you look for in a blog?
  • We make sure the blog is kept current so we know the blogger is actively engaging with readers
  • We look for reader engagement on past posts and review/giveaway offers; even a smaller blog can have great reader engagement vs. a larger blog, so it isn't size that matters most, though a large blog with engagement is a win-win.
  • Tone and style. We review past product reviews or posts to make sure the tone of the blog will be a good match for our product (and that our product is a good match for the blogger.)
  • Professionalism. To us, bloggers are consumer journalists who write in their own style, etc. about what is newsworthy to them (and that of their individual readers), which is great, but we also need to know they are grammatical and professional.
What should a blogger include in his/her pitch letter?

When a blogger reaches out to us, it's nice to
  • Include blog URL, so we can take a look at the blog
  • Share some personal information about yourself ie do you have kids, are you married, why would you maybe want to review a particular brand, etc. (we like a personal touch too!)
  • Let us know if you ever used the product you're contacting us about
  • Let us know if you heard about our agency or products through other blogger networks or blogger friends
  • Remind us if you ever posted anything from us in the past (we like to think we remember it all, but a little reminder is ok too)
  • Unique monthly visitors to the blog - new bloggers shouldn't be afraid to share their unique monthly visitor numbers with us because they think we won't work with them if their traffic is low; if the blog is a fit for our product, we will work with them, no matter what the size
  • Twitter handle and Facebook page information; do you Tweet out your reviews, post to your own Facebook page?
  • If you have advertisers, who they might be
How do you find blogs to review products?

Over the years we have developed an extensive network of blogs that we've developed more personal relationships with, and we often learn about new blogs or networks from those bloggers as well as our own research.

We also review Blog Rolls posted on blogs that we've worked with in the past to see who bloggers we like are connected to and have contacts at other blog networks.

Bloggers can also reach out to us via our client's Facebook pages, etc.

Robin Leedy & Associates is actually going to be creating a more formal blog database, so any bloggers interested in joining that can email:
What do you like to see in a blogger's Media Kit?
  • Monthly Visitors
  • Twitter and Facebook information
  • List of blogger networks you belong to
  • Past and present advertisers
  • A little personal info so we know how to approach you - as a mom, by your hobby, etc.
  • What kind of traffic numbers do you like to see ( ie Subscribers, Followers, Pageviews, etc.)
  • We pay attention to the unique monthly visitors
  • Subscribers to the blog
  • Twitter followers or Facebook Fans
Again we don't have a particular number we need to see.... an engaged blog is a great blog.

What do you like the review post to look like (ie long, short, read like a press release, personalized)?
  • Personal experience with the product with some of the key product messages interwoven.
  • Image of the product any any other assets we provide (if there is room)
  • Some official product info for the reader to learn more (but if you cut and paste, please make sure none of the PR person's personal input is's happened to me before!)
  • Link to the product Web site and Facebook page
  • Disclosure. New FTC guidelines require that you say you received the product free for review, and we adhere to that to protect everyone involved.
What do you like the giveaway entry requirement to be (ie Leave a comment or visit site and choose favorite product)?

It's nice when a blogger encourages her readers to visit the product's Web site or Facebook page to learn something about the product or brand and to leave it in the comments section on the blog.

Tweet the giveaway offer with product name included.

Encourage the reader to become the brand's Twitter follower or Facebook fan.

How many bloggers do you look for to review one product?

As many as we can get!

What type of blog design do you prefer?

Clean and doesn't look confusing or graphically cluttered. Real pictures or graphics is fine.

What will make you choose one blogger to do a review over another?

We haven't had to choose between bloggers to review a product. If our product fits the blogger and her readers, we provide products to do the review.

Do you like when bloggers email you with requests or do you prefer to seek them out yourself?

We love when they seek us out. It's just great to hear from a blogger who says, I spoke with "so & so" at "X blog" and she thought I should contact you about a product review or I saw your product at the store and am interested in learning more about it for a review. Many bloggers even contact our client's customer service department to review the product, but they can also reach out to the brand via Facebook (we admin the Facebook pages for all brands we work on that have FB pages).

Do you have any Blog Pet Peeves?
  • When they cut and paste all of the information we provide them in our communication with them and leave in our personal comments from the email. Lots of times we are having a conversation with the blogger about the product when we pitch them. We totally understand that they cut and paste some product details (which is great because it's our messages), but please reread the post before it goes live.
  • Really bad grammatical errors of misspelling of the product name - this does NOT happen often, but when it does, we contact the blogger and let them know and ask them to change it. Our experience with this has been positive and the bloggers are actually thankful to us for pointing it out
  • Incorrect link to the Web site or brand FB page
Who are your favorite bloggers to work with?

Stacie, we honestly love working with all of the bloggers, including YOU. We haven't had a bad experience yet! It's been a great add-on to our job description. I just wish I could spend more time talking with the bloggers and building a bigger network. My favorite blogger is one that does a good, honest review and then shares her experience of working with me with her blogger friends to help me build our network!

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