7 Blogs Millennials Read

"Millennial" seems to be an ubiquitous buzzword these days. But what does it really mean? And who are these millennials? Why should you care? Screen-shot-2012-01-31-at-9.22.00-AM-300x241

A millennial is defined as an individual  aged anywhere from 18-34 years old. There are approximately 76 million millennials in the US. About 40 percent of millennials are African American, Latino, Asian, or of a racially-mixed background.

For marketers, millennials are an attractive group for targeting. Why? For starters, they're currently estimated at $1.3 trillion worth of spending power, which will only increase. And, by the year 2030, they are projected to out-number non-millennials. Incidentally, millennials are the largest and most influential generation of consumers we've ever seen.

If you're a marketer, too, you probably know all this. You're already tracking the changing media consumption habits of millennials. Here's a sampling of some of the outlets we've found that millennials enjoy frequenting, and why.

1. Quarterlette: This online community aimed at twenty-something women to commiserate over the trials and tribulations of post-grad life covers love, career, fashion and inspiration in an inspiring and down-to-earth tone. Sample post: Why Contentment is Enough Right Now.

2. theSkimm: On the one hand, non-millennials may frown upon this one and chalk it up to the short and ever-changing attention spans of the younger set, but theSkimm might just have tapped into a direct way to break through the clutter and deliver the important stuff: keeping it simple. Like, really simple. The idea: the daily e-newsletter curates news stories and delivers them in the shortest amount of characters and most conversational voice. Sample post: May 5, 2014.

3. The Everygirl: A lifestyle and career-focused blog for women, a self-proclaimed "roadmap for every girl everywhere." Sample post: 5 Tips for Starting a Business.

4. Sosh: I've said it once and I'll say it again: Sosh is a great site. Think of it as your weekend, happy-hour, date night, all-things-otherwise social planner. Sample post: An Italian Brunch to Honor Your Madre.

5. Hello Giggles: This blog comes from Zooey Deschanel. This blog comes from Zooey Deschanel. What else do you need to know? Sample post: How Not to Be Offensive on Cinco de Mayo.

6. Kicker: Kicker's manifesto is about knowledge + power. This news source is about getting millennials up to speed on what's happening in the world, and how they can take action. Sample Post: Earn Minimum Wage? No Raise for You Yet.

7. BuzzFeed: This darling of social media, memes, and quizzes is also starting to make a name for itself when it comes to hard news. In case you weren't aware, this is basically every millennials favorite guilty pleasure, and the folks at BuzzFeed are working to keep their readers sticking around after they peruse through Proof that Drake Was the Cutest Little Boy in the World, with stories like The LGBT Refugees Who Are Seeking Asylum in the World's Most Notoriously Anti-Gay Country, and Supreme Court Upholds Prayer at New York Town's Monthly Meetings.

Despite your age in years, want to find out how millennial you are? Take this quiz from Pew. And, know any other good places to find millennials on the web? Tweet us @CuratorPR.

Spring-Cleaning with a PR Twist

SpringCleaning This is the time of year where I typically look around my house and think of all the spring-cleaning tasks I want to tackle. Unfortunately, I usually put it all off until the following year when the cycle repeats – leading to some pretty cluttered closets. Who wants to spend a weekend cleaning the garage when there’s sunshine outside to enjoy?

But, when it comes to spring-cleaning PR style, the last thing you want is a cluttered to-do list. Here are my top three projects to consider tackling this spring:

 

1. Media List Refresh

Newsroom staff is changing all the time, so updating your media lists on almost a daily basis is important. Luckily there are resources, like the Cision Blog, that provide daily updates on some of the latest changes in the media landscape.

Spring is the perfect time to do a complete media list overhaul. Make sure all contact and coverage information is up to date, identify new contacts you want to establish a relationship with, and connect with old contacts to ensure the relationship is still beneficial for both you and the reporter.

 

2. News Audit

At the beginning of the year, our newsfeeds are filled with updates on what companies set out to accomplish in the year ahead. When springtime hits, it’s a great opportunity to check in to see if these plans are beginning to take shape. Read up on companies within your industry of focus and consider how their latest news announcements may impact your client and/or business.

For example, I do a lot of work on behalf of clients in the food industry. I always use spring break as a time to check out the latest food trends and see how much they’ve changed since the start of the year.

Understanding how other companies are moving forward on their yearly plans will help inform what trends to anticipate for the next year. It also provides a sense of where your client or company fits among them, and where there may be opportunities to better tell your client or company’s story.

 

3. Next Year Planning

It’s hard to think of 2015 when we aren’t even halfway through 2014. But, if you can set aside some time this spring to map out your goals for next year, you’ll be that much closer to achieving them by the time December roles around.

I’d recommend doing this homework from both a client-account perspective and a personal-growth prospective. Take a look back at what plans you set at the beginning of the year and assess whether or not you’re still on track to meet those objectives. If the answer is “no,” what roadblocks are you facing that are preventing you from meeting your goals? Reflecting on this will help you plan for the year ahead to map out realistic objectives and a clear plan on how to achieve them.

 

Happy spring-cleaning (both the household and PR kind)!

'The Bubble' Is The Biggest Threat To Your Company's Image

Image of a bubble On Tuesday, the NYPD did something incredibly stupid. Someone had the genius idea to solicit user-generated photos of interactions with police officers via a Twitter hashtag called #MyNYPD.

Here's the setup:

Everyone can see where this is going, right? Well, apparently not the NYPD. Exactly what you would expect would happen happened, and, as my boss Scott Battishill put it, New York's finest suddenly found itself with a huge PR problem where none existed before.

This wasn't the first time something like this happened, and it won't be the last.

The cause is something we can probably all relate to: The Bubble. It's the cozy protective layer of positivity and optimism about your brand or company that exists within your walls. People like bubbles because they feel good. No one likes being criticized, and no one wants to be the one person in the room to shoot down an idea everyone's excited about.

The thing is, someone needs to do that.

This is where a PR agency like Curator can help. We love the work our clients do, but we don't exist in their bubbles. In fact, it's our job to stay out of them. We do this by being impartial, and brutally interrogating every single idea before it goes public. That may sound bleak, but go look at what's being posted to that hashtag: Would you rather have that happen to your brand in full view of the public, or in the privacy of the Curator conference room?

For the NYPD, they'll spend the next couple weeks doing damage control instead of telling the story they wanted to tell. Their campaign is over, and it didn't even make it out of the gate. All because of The Bubble.

Photo credit: Jeff Kubina / Flickr

Top 4 Food Trends, Austin Style

If you saw my previous blog post, you’ll know I spent the majority of last week enjoying the food, sun and most of all Whole Foods Market in Austin, TX. PR professionals from across the country gathered around breakfast tacos on behalf of Whole Foods Market to share best practices, company updates, and learn from some of the best minds in the industry, including a panel discussion with Max Goldberg of Living Maxwell and Alison Roman from Bon Appetit Magazine.

I learned a lot about PR, a lot about Whole Foods Market, and even more about food. To shed some light on my experience while visiting the Whole Foods Market headquarters, here are my top 4 takeaways on some of the latest food trends:

1. Teff is the new black.  It wasn’t too long ago that I didn’t even know what teff was. But, this nutrient-packed seed is quickly becoming all the rage as consumers look for new ways to add texture to their food. According to both Max and Alison, we’ll be seeing a lot more of teff in the months to come.

2. Paleo is prolific. Roughly 1 out of 10 people stick to a paleo diet. For those in the food industry, that means a greater focus on grass-fed and/or specialized menus appealing to this audience will be vital in attracting consumers.

3. It’s about the whole plant. Sections of fruit and vegetables that used to be instantly discarded, such as melon seeds, are now being saved and used for other recipes. Finding unique ways to consume the whole plant has turned into a delicious and creative outlet. Check out this Melon Seed Agua Fresca recipe from Whole Foods Market for example.

WFM

(Photo Credit: Whole Foods Market)

4. Austin has amazing food. Okay, so maybe this trend is a little less scientific. But, it’s based on my research from eating at some pretty amazing restaurants during my trip. To top the list of favorites was The Winflo Osteria. We sampled melt-in-your-mouth cheeses, learned how to make our own tonic, and drooled over flourless chocolate tortes. Check them out at @Winfloaustin.

photo

After a successful trip, I’m more impressed with Whole Foods Market than ever – with the bright minds behind the business, the company’s mission and values, and how they are leading the industry in so many ways. Looking forward to uncovering more food and PR trends to come! 

Six Tips to Get Your Emails Answered

According to a study, corporate employees send and receive more than 100 emails a day on average, though I suspect in many cases it’s much more than that. Whether you realize it or not, every email you send is competing for attention, so you need to be on-point with every one you send. Don't let that email go into oblivion, unanswered.

In any industry, it’s important to be skilled at the art of email. In PR, it’s vital. And sometimes, in a field driven by deadlines and media inquiries, it needs to be fast. That’s why it pays to know the best practices of email so you can be efficient and successful in achieving your end goal with every message you send.

From sending an eye-catching pitch to communicating with colleagues and clients, here are my tips on being an email aficionado.

1. Cut to the chase. You should always be sure that if someone were to scan your email, they’ll understand your message clearly. Start right off with your main point and keep it as short as possible. The Mark Twain quote, “I didn’t have time to write you a short letter, so I wrote you a long one,” always comes to mind. When pitching, remind yourself that you only have about five seconds to catch your reader’s attention. Don’t waste it.

2. Emails are about relationship building, too. While it is important to get your message across succinctly, don’t ever lose sight of the fact that the person on the other end is (hopefully) not a robot. Public relations is about building rapport—hence the name—so be sure to greet your sender with a personalized message. Use their first name when addressing them, and if you have been in contact with them before, ask what they have been working on lately, or comment on a recent article they’ve written. Showing you’re genuinely interested in what they’re up to makes a difference, and will make both of your jobs much more enjoyable.

3. Don’t underestimate the subject line. When it comes to pitching, your subject line is vital. It’s often what gets your email read in the first place. Be specific. “Easter Bunny Photos Begin at Northgate Mall this Friday” is much more helpful to your reader than “Easter Bunny News.” When you’re emailing a client or a colleague, the same applies. Being specific in your subject line will help keeps things much more organized for both you and your reader.

4. Know when to use the phone. In some cases, an email is not the most effective manner of communication. Recognize when it’s time to pick up the phone. It’s usually a good idea to nix the email and call someone when you need a response as soon as possible, or if there is an issue that needs clarification. Having a two-way conversation where both people can respond to everything in real-time is obviously totally different than typing a message to someone and waiting for them to get back to you. Also, know when not to use the phone.  Most of the time, when item isn’t super time-sensitive, it’s viewed as a courtesy to email someone rather than call them, so they can respond to you when they are available to and ready with all the information. Some people respond better to emails than phone, and vice versa, so try to gauge the other persons’ preferences early on, especially if it’s someone you may be corresponding with frequently.

5. Re-read it. A lot of times, you’re typing so fast that it can cause you overlook a simple spelling error. Be sure to read back through your email before you press send. To harken back to tip #1, along with proofing, ask yourself these questions: “Can I shorten this message? Is the most important information at the beginning? Is it clear what I am asking or telling? Is there a call to action?”

6. Timing is everything. If at all possible, try to avoid sending your message at the start of a weekend, during a weekend or at the end of the day. Those emails are way more likely to go unanswered, your information forgotten. The best time to send an important message is a the beginning of the day.

What are your best email tips? Share them with me on Twitter at @megelisekam.

Trading Raincoats for Tank Tops

This weekend I’ll be heading off to Austin, TX for Whole Foods Market’s annual PR Summit. I’m struggling to decide what I’m most excited about – the fact that I’ll be able to see the sun again and enjoy some 80-degree weather? Or, that I’ll finally have the chance to see the original Whole Foods Market? I get giddy just thinking about it! But, ultimately what I’m most excited about is the opportunity to learn best practices, insight on how to tackle PR challenges, and immerse myself even more into the Whole Foods Market brand. This is what the PR Summit is all about and is a chance for PR and marketing professionals from all different regions learn from one another.

In preparation for the Summit, we also had the opportunity to highlight some of our best campaigns from this past year. It was incredibly insightful to get a glimpse into the successes others had across the U.S. But, we were also proud to share some of our own work (see WillVoteforFood.com) to support the recent vote on Initiative 522 here in Washington State.

If you want to learn more about the campaign, check out our case study here for some of the highlights.

WVFF

I’ll be sharing key learnings from the PR Summit in next month’s post. But, if you want to check in on my Austin journey along the way, be sure to follow us on Twitter and Instagram @CuratorPR.

Event 101

As two PR and social media pros, it’s basically our business to attend events on a reoccurring basis. Not to mention we do our fair share of playing host on behalf of our clients. Appetizer and cocktail tastings are the fun part of event planning, but they aren't the only things that lead to a successful event. To make your next event better than the last, we have pulled from own experiences creating social events from cocktail hour to the after-party. Who doesn’t want their event to be the one you'll never forget? Provide Information. From the first invitation to the execution at the event, it’s important to provide your guests with the information they want and need. Especially for events with a social component, making sure there is signage with the appropriate handles and hashtags you’d like used saves everyone the trouble of asking, using the wrong one, or worse, not engaging at all.

During the holiday season we helped coordinate two Holiday Preview Events for Macy’s in both Seattle and Portland. A local blogger hosted each event, but we provided guests a list of the attendees, complete with everyone’s blog name and social handles, so they could easily find one another.

 

In February we helped coordinate a Valentine’s Day Twitter Tasting for Whole Foods Market  -- each guest had their own menu that outlined the courses that would be covered as well as clear signage with the event hashtag.

 

IMG_7656

Choose The Right Hashtag. Choosing your hashtag is almost as important as choosing your venue these days. The hashtag is the vessel for your event on social media, giving you full access to the post-soiree feedback  from attendees. Not every hashtag needs to be branded, but it does need to be relevant to your event or subject. If your event is part of a series, think of a unified hashtag you can build upon for each event. The most important tip for your hashtag? Keep it simple and easy so your attendees don't misinterpret, which can often cause a misspelled hashtag.

Tangible Takeaway. Everyone loves a swag bag, but even if you can’t provide a take-home gift, it’s good to have a little something that your guests can leave with, and reminds them of the event or brand after the fact – and that’s always the goal, right?

Seattle Bloggers Unite recently hosted its Spring Social Meetup and had a nametag station so every guest could make their own adorable nametag. They also had an incredible gift bag for everyone, filled with products from a number of local businesses.

 

IMG_8749

Reward Social Activity. Asking your guests to share on social media is the perfect opportunity to build relationships. Why not reward their action with surprise acts of kindness? During your event, surprise guests with tweets gifting them extra drink tickets or gift cards for your service! The unexpected gesture will be appreciated and possibly lead to a few more social shares.

Remember, You're the Host/Hostess. Just like if you were having people over to your home, remember, it’s your responsibility to make people feel welcome and guide them through the event. Whether that's making introductions between guests, leading a demo, moderating a panel, or directing people through an activity, you should make sure there is a kind of flow to the event to keep people from feeling uncomfortable or bored.

At the Seattle Refined Launch Party, KOMO TV's Steve Pool played emcee for the night, giving some structure to what was a very social event.

 

Have a great event tip or want to chat with us about our favorite events? Tweet at us @C_Allodi and @Brookeandersen

The Three C’s of Curator: A Year in Review

Time definitely flies. With this week marking my official one-year anniversary with Curator, I’m taking a look back at the key components I’ve observed over the last year that make Curator such a unique place to work. Check out my “Three C’s” of Curator below! Culture

Curators with their Jawbone UP bands

 

One thing that sets Curator apart is the emphasis on culture within the agency. Curator’s culture is that thread of camaraderie that ties us all together.

Over the last year, I’ve learned that Curator likes a little friendly office competition. Whether it’s Bachelor and Bachelorette brackets in which we pit hopeful contestants against one another on their journey to find love on TV (and hope that our contenders are victorious), Oscars Ballots in honor of one of the biggest nights in Hollywood (which by the way, resulted in an epic selfie, which I discussed in my last blog post) or our current running March Madness bracket, Curator is all over it. And then there’s Curator’s summer outing, which helps us all connect as team members and celebrate our hard work over the last year. There were a lot of “I’m on a boat” references last year. There’s also a cultural focus on health and wellness. Last fall, all Curators received Jawbone UP bands to help us track our steps, sleep levels and what we eat. The bands also provide reminders like alerting us that it’s time to get up and move around, which is an especially helpful reminder for those times we’re sitting at our desks focused on turning out great work. I admittedly get little reminders that I need to sleep more … I’m working on it. But beyond the Bachelor brackets and summer outings, there is an underlying culture of success. From the way we communicate with clients to the manner in which we ideate and support each other on account work, culture permeates all aspects of Curator.

Content

Fashion Valley showcasing Spring trends on Wake Up San Diego

 

We learned in Brooke’s recent post that content is queen, while customers are king. Merging high quality content that makes sense for your brand with what your customers want is what Curator strives for. We love to tap into the social conversation when it is organic to your brand. When working with Simon Property Group, that often means tapping into fashion trends, seasons and the pop culture fodder of the moment, through events, press announcements, photo shoots and more.

Throughout my time working with Fashion Valley in San Diego, we have worked with local broadcast stations to create interesting and fun content meant to bring awareness to the fashions, gift options, entertainment and events available at the center. Our segment topics have run the gamut, from New Year’s glam to Spring styles, and fall fashion shows to appropriate attire for Opening Day at the Del Mar Racetrack.  The content is stylish, fun and personifies the caliber and variety of choices that Fashion Valley brings to its shoppers, while tying into the trend or theme of the moment. Check out our latest Oscars-themed segment here.

Creativity

Villa Group on The Ellen DeGeneres Show's 12 Days of Giveaways

 

Creativity is another aspect that is inherently infused into the work Curator does. Curator strives to deliver smart, thoughtful and effective campaigns that allow the brands we work with to reach their audiences in innovative ways. “Will Vote for Food” on behalf of Whole Foods Market and LiveLifeLocal on behalf of Safeco Insurance are excellent examples of the thinking Curator puts behind our clients. You can read up on those two campaigns here.

During the holiday season particularly, brands face strict competition in capturing the attention of consumers. With consumers being bombarded with countless brand messages, how can brands garner attention during what is a peak period in the year? During my time with Curator, we grappled with this challenge for our client Villa Group, which owns a handful of top-flight all-inclusive hotels and luxury resorts in Mexico. One way we were able to capture widespread consumer attention was through a partnership I helped forge with The Ellen DeGeneres Show during one of her highest rated episodes of the year, the 12 Days of Giveaways. Audience members are over the moon to be a part of this show, as are brands. On Day 10 of Ellen’s 12 Days of Giveaways, we were able to provide 4-night stays at either of two of the Villa Group’s gorgeous properties, Villa del Palmar Cancun and Garza Blanca Preserve and Resort in Puerto Vallarta for all audience members. In return, the Villa Group was able to be associated with the number one daytime talk show in the nation. The result was phenomenal exposure for the brand.

As I embark on year two with Curator, I look forward to new and exciting adventures within the Three C’s, and beyond.

Teamwork From the Field to the Office

CenturyLink With the Sounders season under way and Mariners’ opening day around the corner, I am reminded of my own spring sports seasons from growing up. I played all kinds of team sports, and those experiences still inform the way I work with and treat others in an office setting. After all, you’re not going successfully pitch a client by working alone. You need a team of players who bring their own skills to the table to get you to the next level.

One lesson I gleaned playing sports that’s still very much a part of my life and work is the value of a positive attitude. It’s pretty simple: the positive player is the one who keeps the team morale up, motivating others to work harder. People look up to them. They’re the team captain. They’re sought after and get the best opportunities because they earned them. They never give up, even when they’re down by 10 in the last inning of the big game.

The negative ones, on the other hand, are the ones who are complaining, throwing in the towel early, and bringing everyone else down as a result. No one likes to be around them. They’re roadblocks to success. And you know what? They're never going to get anywhere until they change their mindset.

In the business environment, working in a team is always going to be a reality. The team players are the ones who understand that the other team members may go about things in a different manner, but still embrace the differences for the good of the team.

Another lesson I learned from my more athletic days was the power of proactivity. Make things happen. Don’t wait for someone else to do it or for someone else to ask. Proactivity goes a long way, and you’ll end up with a result that no one even expected. Rise above the expectations.

Lastly, thrive under pressure and keep a thick skin. I was a pitcher for my softball team. If I got rattled by every hit and run, I would have been pulled out of every game. Sometimes, when the game comes down to your move, that’s when it’s most important to buckle down and do what you’re best at.

All of these qualities make a good leader and therefore, create excellent teamwork, which means success for everyone. What's your best teamwork tip ?

The Art of the Pitch

Here at Curator, we wear many hats every day, but the one we probably wear most is media relations. Pitching traditional media and bloggers is something we do on a daily basis, and the success of our campaigns usually hinges on the breadth and depth of the coverage we are able to secure. Some of us pitch the same people on a more regular basis, while other times we need to explore a different market or just expand our contact list for a new client. The art of the pitch is something probably hundreds of bloggers, media and PR professionals have written about over the years, but I believe it is ever changing. While their might be a lot of universal “don’ts,” I don’t believe there is one singular “right” way either.

With so many brands and companies pining for the media’s attention, the importance of building relationships and establishing a good rapport is much greater. Every email and phone call should be thought of as that one shot to get it right, because let’s be honest, if the first point of contact turns them off, the next email is likely to end up in the Trash folder before it’s even opened, or worse, the person asks to be removed from “the list.”

So, that all said, instead of using this post to share just my own learning’s, I went straight to the source, or rather, sources. I reached out to a handful of bloggers, media and peers to get a wide perspective on what, today, seems to be working and not working when it comes to pitching.

Let’s get the negatives out of the way first, shall we? If you’re guilty of doing any of the following, stop it right now!

I laugh when I get those e-mails that begin Dear <insert name> or Hello Mommy Blogger. It may take a few extra minutes (or in the case of a mass mailing, an hour), but using my name and personalizing the e-mail goes a LONG way. - Zippy Sandler, Champagne Living, @zipporahs

I dislike interns that aren't communicating with each other, with the owner. I once received the same proposal, word for word, 5 different times from 5 different interns from a handbag line that I already had a relationship with, specifically with the owners. Frustrated, I put them on the back burner. It also sucks, for lack of a better word, when you build a relationship with a particular brands PR girl and after a year or 2, say she moves on to another job and all of a sudden you never hear from the company again. It's like, hello? Where's the courtesy email? When you spend time advertising, building a relationship and then your contact leaves so you're dropped is a tad unprofessional, annoying. – Vanessa Grannis, Shopping Saving & Sequins, @ShopSaveSequins

PR people assuming I write about baby and toddler items just because I'm a mom (I don't). Lengthy old school press releases; e-mails with a one-line personalized intro, 3-5 quick bullet points, then a call to action if I'm interested at the end is all you need. Also: please lose the "we can send high res images upon request." line. – Marlynn Schotland, Urban Bliss Life, @UrbanBlissLife

One of the challenges that I face with a lot of PR reps that prospect me is that they ask for my services, whether it be reposting, styling, or writing about product and they expect us bloggers to do it for free. This is one of the biggest challenges that us bloggers that particularly don't have thousands and thousands of followers face on a daily basis. – Bay Area fashion blogger

We would have to say of all the PR pitches we receive, our number one pet peeve would have to be press releases that are made out to sound like invitations. "Join us," "We welcome you to experience," only to read to the bottom where ticket prices are listed. – Jeremy & Adrian, The Food Gays, @FoodGays

My biggest pet peeve is when I get what I know is a blanket pitch about something that has absolutely nothing to do with my beat or something that doesn't relate to Seattle at all. As a city magazine, I really don't cover anything that isn't Seattle-related and it starts to really grate on my nerves when my inbox is filled with meaningless pitches. It just wastes everyone's time! – Ali Brownrigg, Style Editor of Seattle Mag and Editor of Seattle Bride Magazine, @Ali_Brownrigg

Pitches that are totally 2009 - like this one I got the other day: "Being able to give prizes to your readers is definitely one of the perks of being a blogger. It’s a super fun way to create excitement on your blog and interact with your visitors." And these people wanted me to turn around a giveaway and facilitate prizing in about 20 hours!? This leads to my next pet peeve: assuming I have nothing to do and no editorial planned and want to jump at the last minute to promote someone else's contest (please retweet, etc.) – Annemarie Tempelman-Kluit, YoYoMama, @yoyomamadotca

Now, if you’re already doing any of the below, give yourself a high-five right now. These are the things people have found success with, and are also preferences heard straight from the horses mouth.

I want original content that helps my blog stand out and remains true to my brand voice, so if a PR company is excited about new ways of presenting their product to my audiences, it usually makes for a more long-term relationship and we build that trust working together on fun, unique customized campaigns. I like it when PR people are honestly excited about the brand they are pitching. It's very obvious when they're not, and that makes it hard for me as a blogger to get excited about it. -– Marlynn Schotland, Urban Bliss Life, @UrbanBlissLife

I really like when PR firms and brands take the time to see if my blog is a fit for their pitch. Though I am a lifestyle blogger, there are clear things I write (or don't write about.) – Jess Estrada, Fresh Jess, @JessEstrada

I really like it when I can tell that a company or brand has actually read my blog and wants to work on creative ways to reach my readers. My best sponsored content ends up being content that works with my blog and subject area-- not just a brand feature. – Jenni Bost, A Well Crafted Party, @jennibost

Personalization! Also give me option to brainstorm how to share their content in a relevant way to my readers rather than regurgitating information. - Brooke Andersen, Just B, @Brookeandersen

Use social media. I literally stalk writer's twitter to see what they're up to and what they're interested in. And some magazines, like Cosmo stream their weekly pitch meetings on the Internet, so I like to try and watch. – Ani Istanboulian, Account Executive at Dog and a Duck

I love it when a brand or rep spells out exactly what is expected. Yes, I still write in my own voice, but if I know that you want the words "Lovely Lollies" linked, I'm more than happy to do that...just let me know. Send me your client list; if I'm working on something that might be a great fit, I can let you know. You may be looking for the same thing at the same time. - Zippy Sandler, Champagne Living, @zipporahs

My #1 tip probably is to be personable and customize pitches for people based on your relationship with them. On top of that is work really hard to build relationships with them. – Sarah Goehri, Account Executive at Porter Novelli Seattle

It’s easy to get lazy, but a little research often leads to long –term and brand advocates, not even because they love the brand, but more so because they get along with you. – Jenny Savage, Account Executive, Webber Shandwick

LOVE it when a brand or rep wants to develop a relationship, and not just a "will you do this for me" (from PR) or "will you send something to me" (from blogger). Some of my dearest friends have come from PR/blogger relationships. An e-mail that says, “Hi, how are you doing (no agenda)" works WONDERS. I may have something in the works and have TOTALLY forgotten that you represent brand that would be a great fit for my cruise article and I am instantly reminded to ask if you'd have something that you'd like included. – Zippy Sandler, Champagne Living, @zipporahs

Developing a relationship always makes pitching easier. Try to personalize each pitch and then send thank you notes after the story runs. – Kelley Tarzian, Media Relations Manager for Macy’s

I think the list for both do’s and don’ts could go on and on, but these are some great reminders and lessons for those new to the pitching game. My final two cents on the matter is: when in doubt, make a friendly introduction and ask what that person’s preference is. They’ll probably be relieved you’re asking and it will save you both time and energy, which we all know is sensitive to begin with.

Have a great success story, or learned something the hard way? Share the knowledge with us at @CuratorPR.