February 05, 2016 / by Allison Richard

Getting paid to write about food and lifestyle topics may sound like a dream job, but for scores of bloggers, emphasis is placed on the word “job”. So much lies beneath the surface of posts on recipes, products and other content crafted for target audiences – namely, time and money. What are some best practices for pitching and working with this community of bloggers? For insight, we spoke with Courtney Lopez, who along with with her husband Chris, blogs at Courtney’s Sweets and Know Your Produce. She dishes and we serve the following advice for PR professionals.

The food and mom blogosphere is an extremely popular sector. What are some of the greatest lessons learned on your way to success within this niche?

Photography and most recently videos are becoming very important, more so than numbers. I spend hours cooking, styling and then taking photos and editing. Also, kids are taking the internet by storm with their YouTube channels and toys. My daughter outgrew her rare food allergy and I started a series called Mini Chef Mondays. I told a few bloggers about the idea and we’re getting kids in the kitchen! I always try to make my features feel like a lifestyle post, rather than a review post. We show how we use and enjoy the product, but still include the requested materials.  

Courtney Lopez What social media platforms do you find most useful for pitches?

I love Instagram and Facebook! Facebook is great for reader engagement and click-through, while Instagram allows me to be my brand and also be myself. I’ve had tons of local outreach through Twitter lately too. Last summer we started to update our LinkedIn profile and really focus on our connections. One connection resulted in a recipe creation ambassadorship with a brand. Also worth mentioning are sites like foodgawker or TasteSpotting. Fitness Magazine found our Strawberry Banana Oatmeal Breakfast Smoothie recipe from foodgawker.

You’re a self-described PR-friendly blogger. What are hits and misses you’ve experienced with PR and advertising professionals?

We love when PR professionals open the door and put us right into the driver’s seat. Simplicity is key and we really like when we can have fun with an opportunity.  We’ll listen to any pitch that comes our way, but we want those pitching us to understand that this is no longer just a hobby for us, but a business as well. I spend hours on each and every post, and I put out quality over quantity. That is why I and many bloggers can’t feature a client if there’s no benefit for us. Hi-res images aren’t a form of payment, but you’d be surprised how many reps think it is.

I love when a PR rep says something personal about our site and why they think WE are a good fit for their client. Example: “We love your Bow-ties with Parsley Garlic Butter Sauce Recipe, and think you would be a great fit for our new PASTA BRAND client.”  

We have seen a trend in PR outreach going toward content that’s exclusive to a brand or product. While we feel that there’s nothing wrong with being exclusive, it’s not the best idea for content creators like us. It really limits our business and can exclude us from potential partnerships. Just last year I took a simple post for fun with a client and then missed out on several generous offers due to previously working with a competitor. Exclusive content is more for a brand spokesman or ambassador, who are compensated at a much higher scale.

Courtney Lopez

Do you have any pet peeves when working with PR professionals?

One of my biggest pet peeves is when a brand asks me numbers rather than worrying about my work. I am far more concerned with the quality of work than the numbers. Let’s say Sally has one million views per month. Sally has ONE viral post that brings in all those views. The brand thinks Sally is going to send a rush of traffic to their site. The brand finds out that Sally’s work isn’t so great and their site only gets 100 views from Sally. The brand is upset and Sally gets paid. This happened with a brand last year who wanted to pay me an amount I haven’t taken in years. I told her why I was worth my rate and I worked with her directly for a year at that rate, which was 10 times as much as her original offer. We still work with this PR company and they appreciate our work and the quality we produce for their clients.

What’s your typical turnaround time for product reviews, sponsored posts, recipe development, etc?

It really depends on the client’s needs and our schedule. Typically two to three weeks for a review or post, and most of the time that’s due to them having a scheduled date for us. Sometimes a brand will schedule things three months out. For recipe development, we like about five to seven days’ notice, but we’re still available if you need something as soon as possible. I had one PR rep email me asking for a rush post, thanks to someone not delivering on the due date and completely backing out. The rep offered me a rush fee to have it ready that day and I had it done in two hours, which included going to the store for ingredients. Even if it is a rush post, I won’t do a rush job. I take my time, and I appreciate when a brand realizes the work that goes into a post.  

All photos courtesy of Courtney Lopez.

The Cision Media Research Team maintains a database of more than 1.6 million records, including social influencers, traditional media contacts, outlets and opportunities. We collect and maintain the latest contact and pitching information of bloggers and journalists who can spread your message, broaden your campaign and help you build relationships with the people who matter.  To experience the Cision Media Database first hand, request a demo here


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About Allison Richard

Allison Richard writes features and leads international content for Cision Blog. She oversees east Asian media for the research department, which suits her perfectly as she loves languages and culture. She also likes yoga, useless trivia, painting and comedy, in no particular order. Follow her on Twitter at @AllieTimes.