Welcome back to the ‘How to Write a Review for a PR Company’ series, Sunny blog friends. Part 1 of this blogging advice series shares the steps to take when you receive an invitation from a PR company.
This series is designed for bloggers who are looking for ways to increase their connections with PR professionals for the purpose of writing reviews. Having a background in publicity, media and event planning, I’ve been lucky to understand both sides of the blogger/PR professional relationship. While I still have much to learn, I can at least share what’s worked for me and resulted in some fantastic experiences (and friendships!).
The first post features information about doing your research on the product or venue, making decisions about social media and clariifying the expectations. Now, you’re ready for what to do the day of the event. It’s time to go!
How to Write a Review: Transportation
Before you travel to the location, make sure to check the current transportation situation.
If you are driving, keep an eye of the traffic report and know where to park at the venue.
For those who live in London like me, check status updates for Transport for London. I nearly missed my first #LDNBloggersTea at the Royal Horseguards Hotel because I wasn’t aware that the Northern Line was partially closed for repairs that day. Have your Travel Card ready and updated with money.
If you want to be extra savvy, plan a back up route and call the venue ahead of time to make sure you know where it’s located. I missed an event once because my ‘Maps’ iPhone application had the wrong location.
How to Write a Review: Your Supplies
If you are travelling to a restaurant, attraction, launch party or class, it’s a guarantee that you’ll need your camera. Make sure the camera you plan to bring meets your needs and is something you’ll be able to carry to and from the event.
I have the Sony Advanced Cybershot Digital Compact Camera.
I love this camera because it fits easily inside my handbag, takes fabulous pictures on the automatic setting and handles low lighting fairly well. If I don’t need an additional lens to zoom from a great distance, this little Sony camera is perfect.
Your camera should be fully charged and have ample memory for the range of pictures you may take.
If you plan on doing social media updates at the event, make sure it’s charged!
Next, you need to make sure your phone is fully charged. If you have an iPhone 6, this probably isn’t a concern for you. However, if you’re like me, the iPhone 5 battery is your blogger’s Achilles heel. My mobile is nearing two years old, so I’m lucky if it lasts two hours without an electronic boost. I always carry my charge cord with me.
For additional protection and mobility, I like a portable charger. Currently, Amazon ranks the Anker® Astro Ultra-Compact Lipstick-Sized Portable Charger External Battery Power Bank as its #1 Best Seller.
And, yes, it’s available in an array of colours. 😉
Aside from your charged camera and phone, make sure you have a pen, a few sheets of paper and loads of business cards. I keep my business cards in my camera cover to keep things easy.
How to Write a Review: Confirmation
There’s two ways you can approach making sure everything is set for your arrival. I suppose you could call the venue directly as an option.
Personally, I prefer to send the PR company an email. Usually the day of when I am scheduled to attend, I send the PR contact an email expressing my enthusiasm and clarifying any hashtags I should use. Also, at this time I ask any final questions I have. Sometimes I like to request a specific table at a restaurant so I can make sure the pictures are in the best light. Also, it’s key to verify the contact name of the person who is expecting you at the location.
How to Write a Review: Arrival
Try to arrive 15-20 minutes early so you can take exterior pictures, if you haven’t done so prior to the date of the review.
Your smile and energy is the most important element of the event. As a blogger, your reputation extends far past the screen. When you arrive to the event location, be sure to immediately introduce yourself and thank the representative for the opportunity. It’s smart to state your name and that *insert PR company here* has arranged for you to attend for the purpose of a review.
Make sure you keep your essential materials on you.
For example, use the wrist strap of your camera and hang it from your arm. It might look tacky, but at least you have it ready to use. I once had a blogger mistakenly pick up my bag at an event because we were all given the same tote bags. For the next two hours I frantically tried to track down the bag, which contained the camera I mentioned above, through the streets of London. Not fun.
How to Write a Review: Action
When you choose to be a blogger who works with PR companies, you need to understand there are some sacrifices. In essence, you are working for the company, so approach it like a professional. Most bloggers aren’t getting paid for reviews. If this is something you aspire to do, you need to act like you are getting paid. Have you heard the phrase, ‘You have to fake it until you make it?’
Let’s be clear here. That doesn’t mean you fabricate any thing. It means that you should contribute 100% of your energy and effort. Show an interested attitude, be polite and try to learn as much as you can about what the restaurant or attraction has to offer.
How to Write a Review: Promote the Product
You were picked because the PR company knows your reputation and/or has researched your blog. They are hoping that you have positive feedback on your blog for a certain reason. Chances are, as I mentioned in Part 1 of this series, they want you to promote a product, activity, new restaurant menu or concept.
For these reasons, you need to make sure you see the experience through these eyes. For example, if a restaurant wants to promote a new menu, you need to make sure you pick food from that selection. When a London restaurant wants to promote their new Sunday Roast, don’t order a burger. Oh- and make sure you if you are going to a restaurant, you aren’t on a diet. If you’re invited to enjoy afternoon tea, be ready to indulge or stay home.
If the PR contact hasn’t indicated anything particular, spend some time talking to the people who work at the attraction or venue to find learn about what’s popular.
How to Write a Review: Over Exposure
Even if you aren’t being paid, chances are you are receiving something of value. It could be food, tickets to an attraction, merchandise, a hotel stay or training. There should be some exchange for your time and promotion on your blog. That being said, you also need to produce great content from your end.
For this reason, I take double the amount of pictures. For nearly every picture I take with my camera, I also snap one with my iPhone. Editing is a complete nightmare, and I still need work on making that a shorter process, but I know I will leave the location with images.
How to Write a Review: The Exit
Once the activity is finished, make sure you leave with grace and class. If you’ve received a hotel stay, your room should be fairly orderly. You should adhere to the check-out time. For a restaurant, you may depart without leaving gratuity. However, I’ve had many interesting conversations with bloggers about it and the possible awkwardness that can be felt. I’ll be sure to write about that separately.
How to Write a Review: What’s Next
Sunny friends, that’s some blogging advice to follow for when you attend an event for a PR company. Watch for the next part of this series when we hear from a few PR professionals who work with bloggers, learn about what to do when things go wrong and write a review.
Be sure to include any advice and/or questions you many have in the comments and share this post on your social networks if you’ve found it helpful.