Little things that make me happy part #2

Long time readers of this site may recall the first post I did of this nature. It was in November on a Saturday and I was in the mood to write but I wasn’t sure what, so I thought, how about I just start by writing a list of things that make me happy and I’ll see where I go from there. See what inspiration I get. Turns out it just made me happy to write and write and write even if it was totally pointless, nonsensical things it made me quite happy to read it back to myself again. A lot of the things I’ve scribbled on here lately have been quite lengthy and quite wordy and that was the first thing I’ve written in a long time that I posted immediately without thinking about it, without second guessing myself or without thinking whether anyone will actually care. So here comes round two! I don’t know if this’ll be a regular feature but we’ll see.

  • Paris.

 

  • Cobbled streets.

 

  • The first bite of something delicious.

 

  • Thank you letters.

 

  • Toasting marshmallows.

 

  • Giving gifts.

 

  • Crumpets that are so thickly laden with butter it oozes out the bottom.

 

  • Long train journeys with pretty views.

 

  • Hot chocolates that are capped with a snowy mountain of whipped cream, marshmallows and other toppings.

 

  • Hotel breakfasts.

 

  • Warm mittens.

 

  • That feeling you get when you’ve been out in the cold and then come back inside and run your hands under cold water and everything feels hot.

 

  • The smell of blown out candles.

 

  • Rock pools.

 

  • Tangerines.

 

  • The smell of hot weather.

 

  • Lava lamps.

 

  • Big, exuberant pieces of costume jewellery.

 

  • Licking the cake mix bowl.

 

  • Going out for coffee or brunch.

 

  • Dipping buttery bread into hot soup.

 

  • Mr Whippy ice creams.

 

  • Those two pence arcade machines at the seaside.

 

  • Photo booth pictures with friends.

 

  • Sugar lumps.

 

  • Coffee shops with steamy windows.

 

  • The smell after the rain.

 

  • Little villages where everyone says hello to one another.

 

  • Big cities where no one knows your name.

 

  • The colour magenta.

 

  • The word magenta.

 

  • Mashed potato.

 

  • Chasing the sun.

 

  • Dogs in little coats.

 

  • Fresh herbs and spices.

 

  • Twinkly lights.

 

  • Twinkly eyes.

 

  • Turning the radio on and your favourite song comes on.

 

  • Long hugs between old friends.

 

  • Dessert.

 

  • Vanilla pods.

 

  • Love.

 

  • When someone remembers a small detail about you.

 

  • Window seats.

 

  • Kind, chatty taxi drivers.

 

  • Exploring somewhere new.

 

  • Hidden treasures.

 

  • Fictional pirates.

 

  • Childhood teddy bears.

 

  • Roaring fires.

 

  • Old pubs.

 

  • Old pubs with roaring fires.

 

  • Old pubs with roaring fires and a pub dog too.

 

  • Long, hot baths.

 

  • Quick, cold showers.

 

  • Getting something for a cheaper price than you anticipated.

 

  • Brighton.

 

  • Honeycomb.

 

  • Food markets.

 

  • The smell of fresh fruit.

 

  • Belly laughs.

 

  • Family.

 

  • Pizza.

 

  • Fierce loyalty.

 

  • Cheesy chips.

 

  • Rocking chairs. Unless they rock on their own then they can get far, far away from me.

 

  • New beginnings.

 

  • Genuine smiles.

 

  • When the fresh heat hits you in the face when you get off of an airplane.

 

  • Afternoon teas.

 

  • Midnight feasts.

 

  • Tales from someone’s youth.

 

  • Tattoos.

 

  • Freckles.

 

  • Mint chocolate chip ice cream.

 

  • Snow days off of school.

 

  • Singing loudly in the car.

 

  • Stars.

 

  • Free food.

 

  • Writing on the first page of new stationary.

 

  • Glam makeup.

 

  • Poloroids.

 

  • Quick downloads.

 

  • Kindness between two strangers.

 

  • The Beatles.

 

  • VW Beetles.

 

  • Actual beetles.

 

  • Seeing people who actually enjoy their jobs.

 

  • Babies laughter.

 

  • Mojitos.

 

  • Actually any cocktails really.

 

  • People with natural style.

 

  • Having that Friday feelin’.

 

  • Long weekends.

 

  • Jennifer Aniston’s agelessness.

 

  • Red lipstick.

 

  • The weird yet wonderful names of different paint shades.

 

  • Terracotta.

 

  • Writing poetry.

 

  • Receiving poetry.

 

  • Wandering around supermarkets late at night.

 

  • Creative souls.

 

  • Black cats.

 

  • The stillness after a storm.

 

  • British seaside towns.

 

  • Piers. (As in the long promenade stretching out to sea…not the egotistical Morgan kind that presents breakfast telly).

 

  • Boozy brunches.

 

  • Board games.

 

  • Nicely filed and polished nails.

 

  • People with gumption.

 

  • The word gumption.

 

  • Castles.

 

  • Cosy jumpers.

 

  • Scratching an itch that’s been bothering you all day.

 

  • Spa treatments.

 

  • Reaching the top of a steep climb. Both metaphorically and literally. Well done you.

 

  • Proving people wrong.

 

  • Family traditions.

 

  • Odd sayings only mums/middle aged people use.

 

  • Luck.

 

  • Power of magpies.

 

  • Cream cakes.

 

  • The feeling after a run.

Hello Autumn!

Hello Blog Readers. Bet you didn’t think this little treacle would be flinging herself into your inbox again did ya?! But here I am waving a cyber hello to each and everyone of you reading this.

As we slip slide into the darker months of the year, it’s like the blogger in me is waking up from her hibernation ready and raring to go. I don’t know what goes on in my brain running up to June or July time but it’s just like my blogging appetite just seizes up and I revert to a child and just think sod it, I’m off on my Summer holidays I’ll see you in September! So I’m sorry about that; I  feel bad that I have been so inactive over the last few months. Actually all year come to think of it, I’ve been pretty off colour to be quite honest! But I’m hoping, praying I might have finally got my mojo back. I’m also hoping that I can stick to that because I’ve said it in numerous posts beforehand and well if you had a pound for everytime I’ve proclaimed that exact phrase you’d have enough to buy the rights and the domain to this blog and actually post on it yourselves.

 

I feel like the queen of blog post clickbait I’m forever whooping and wailing about all these posts I’m about to drop but they never come to fruition (truth be told they are still there, gathering dust in my draft folder) but I’m hoping, I must have said this about one hundred times now but they’ll be going live sooner rather than later.

So let’s have a little catch up beforehand shall we? Lemme tell you about all the things you’ll be expecting to see from this space in the coming weeks and months and all the things I want to be ranting and raving about. I went on a little Stay-cation  with my family in the middle of September to Devon and Dartmoor which was lovely and tranquil providing the perfect getaway from all the mundane day to day things you get from being at home. I’ve spoken openly about how much I want to explore a lot more of the UK and this provided the perfect opportunity for that as well as eating out plenty too. Expect a lengthy post or two about everything I got up to coming up soon.

Excitingly, I went to my first proper blogger’s event this week (yay!) and I was equal parts excited, intrigued as I was a little bit anxious and nervous. Through blogging, I’ve been lucky enough to have received some fab products all in the name of a gifted asterisk and my humble thoughts, been invited to some incredible places and also forged some wonderful friendships with both bloggers and PR representatives alike. But there was something niggling away at the back of my mind about this particular event; which with hindsight I really regret because I had such a wonderful time. I was super conscious about whether I’d be a massive ball of anxious sweat the whole evening if I agreed. When I was a manager (in a previous job role, which feels like a previous life to me now. I really do feel like I’m the reincarnation of Mr Benn sometimes) and going to regional meetings I’d always be up the night before anxious and worrying about it even though I knew every single person in that room and knew exactly what was going to happen and what pub we’d be going to after… and what drunk train we’d be getting home for that matter.  You wouldn’t believe the types who work in health! I’ve somehow run off on a tangent there, but the more I was overthinking it the more I was putting myself off. I had a superb time, I learnt loads, felt so grateful I was invited and more importantly I learnt the value of leaping outside of my comfort zone. Sometimes there’s really no harm by just saying yes. Unless it’s to drugs. Then really do say a hard no.

By doing this, it’s made me fall head over heels in love with my blog all over again. Making me want to write, to put in the effort and to explore all the different avenues I can go with this. I want to change my tack and where I want to go. I want to write about things that matter to me, things that I want to say not just because I feel like I have to. Off topic slightly but I deleted my Instagram app off of my phone and Ipad in April this year. Mainly because I ran out of storage and it was either Insta or Twitter and I use Twitter to keep in contact with real life people so like that I gave Mr.’Gram the boot. For that time I didn’t feel like I was missing out, if anything I felt much better in myself. It wasn’t being rammed down my throat how chubby I felt compared to everyone else on my feed, that I don’t holiday enough or I’m not living my best life enough. It felt great to switch off from the cyber world and switch back into the real world. I’ve recently joined Instagram again and I’m finding it so much more freeing. I’m posting for me, the here and now and the unairbrushed, honest version.

In my downtime, I’ve been relaxing by binge watching a new series or listening to a podcast. I adore Chris and Rosie Ramsey’s podcast Shagged, Married, Annoyed and it genuinely makes me howl laughing. They’re such a funny pair and I love their relationship. You can’t help but smile when listening to this. Which can often lead to some funny looks when in the public domain. I listen to this when I’m walking my dog and wonder if people catch me grinning and chuckling away like a mad woman.  Similarly, I really like the Off Menu podcast with James Acaster and Ed Gamble. As you can tell I love the simple discussion of food, introduce these two funny lads and a different celebrity each Wednesday and you’ve got yourself a party. It’s really interesting sometimes hearing about the heartwarming reasons why a certain dish or foodie item has become someone’s favourite. Whether it’s your mum’s cracking roast potatoes, the warming cup of tea your dad makes you when coming home to from a bad day or something exotic from far and wide it’s so interesting to hear the stories behind each person’s dream meal. It’s like Desert Island Discs for those who think with their bellies. Also why it’s not called Dessert Island Dish is beyond me.

What have I been watching I hear you ask???? Well I’m super glad that The Good Place is back with it’s fourth and final season. It’s one of my favourite shows to grace the small screen and I love the creativity, the weirdness and the ease of watching of this show. I’m going to be a little bit sad when it comes to an end but I think it’ll be at the right time and it won’t be like one of those shows that keeps getting dragged out and gradually gets worse and worse ’til it reaches its bitter end *How I Met Your Mother and The Big Bang Theory I’m looking at you*. I binge watched all of Unbelievable over a weekend and it’s a really thought provoking watch. It contains some quite heavy themes about sexual assault and rape so if you’re sensitive to viewing those types of things it can be quite triggering. I don’t want to give too much of the storyline and the plot away but I was moved by the kick-ass female casting of this show, the stark portrayals of assault and the horrible realities of what it’s actually like. It’s raw and heartbreaking.

Since the last time we spoke I’ve been to the cinema twice, groundbreaking information coming straight to ya. Expect this as a breaking news headline imminently. In the days of streaming services, a gazillion different choices of channels and shows on Sky, endless creative content to watch on Youtube, for me, going to the cinema and actually seeing a new release is quite a big deal. In June or July time, I went to see Danny Boyle’s summer feelgood flick Yesterday and am still happily listening to the soundtrack now. I love The Beatles and I love that this film put a sprinkling of a modern twist on so many of their classic and much loved songs. It’s a perfect Sunday afternoon watch. More recently, however I went to go see It Chapter Two in the cinema with a friend. We saw the first film together, scared ourselves half to death in the circus clown maze at Thorpe Park’s Fright Night shortly after and then promised we’d see the second one together as well. The evening was a mixture of emotions, my car overheated on the way to the cinema, but then we made up for it by gorging on a totaaaaally vegan bbq chicken pizza which was glorious. I’ve been vegetarian for coming up to two years and I’m really noticing the places that have GREAT options or so-so food options. I was so overjoyed to see they did different things aside from a margherita pizza or a mushroom risotto.

On the flipside from our delightful supper, It Chapter Two was about 100 times scarier than the first and everything I read about and more. I’m not sure if I can really, officially count me watching it however, as I had my fingers in my ears for about two thirds of the film and was thinking about what playlist to listen to on the way home and not the big scary clown on screen! Jokes aside though, cinematically it was excellent. The casting for the grown up Losers Club was spot on making the story evolution so natural, believable and perfect. Plus Pennywise was just as frightening as ever. Real talk though, if I lived in Derry, my first words to my parents would be take me to the estate agents I want to move please, please, please. Naturally, it doesn’t go into as much detail as it does in the books (find me a movie that does though) It’s nearly three hours long but so worth it as it really ties everything from the entire franchise so well together.

Soooo I think that’s it from me for now?! I feel like I’ve just spoke at you for about 20 minutes, which is essentially what blogging is when you think about it. Hopefully you’ll be seeing a lot more of me round here. I feel like I say that every few weeks but I’m not going to punish myself if that’s not the case and I’m sure you’re not going to either cos you’re a right lovely bunch. Happy FRIDAY though everyone. I can’t wait to hear/read about what you’re all up to. I’m trying to catch up with my WordPress Reader!

All the love,

Abbie x

What does PR Friendly even mean?

 

The blogging community is a powerful force, one that seems to be growing in vast numbers on an almost daily basis. I’ve been been in and out of the blogging biz since 2012; way back when I was only just 17 years old and used my blog as somewhere to share my rambling thoughts, post grainy shots of what I had bought in Primark or what Barry M nail polish I was using that week. Not quite thought-provoking content with me ever eh?! I started a blog simply as a bit of fun and somewhere to fine tune my writing skills, never really thinking about it in the long term, as an actual viable source of income.

Over the years I’ve been incredibly fortunate and lucky enough to receive items gifted to me by brands for the purpose of me placing on my blog, talking about them and sharing my thoughts and opinions on them with you all. Blogging, in my opinion is fast becoming a lucrative market in which a brand can essentially get a writer, editor, publicist, marketing team, photographer and social media team all rolled into one with a blogger or content writer. Without running the risk of sounding incredibly biased, but now I’m aware of bloggers, vloggers and influencers I would trust their opinions on a gifted item much more than I’d trust that of someone who was on Love Island or Geordie Shore. For the amount of money a company would have had to have forked out to advertise in a magazine or get a celebrity to promote they could tap into the Blogosphere and get a handful of bloggers to support them instead for either just the mere price of the product or a fraction of the cost of using a celebrity to endorse it; it’s a no brainer really. 

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Attracting the attention of a brand or a PR is something I’ve always been fairly curious about if I’m honest. I know it sounds dead cliche, but it isn’t the sole purpose to a blog and if that’s the way you get into it to attract as many freebies as possible you’ll probably become bitterly disappointed. I’m sure you may even agree with me that it is is an incredibly touching thing when someone, anyone, reaches out to you and comments, or likes, or reposts what you’ve said. So when a brand says ‘Ello there! we like you a lot fancy working together?’ (I do not know why Dick Van Dyke is clearly writing them all) It is a such a genuinely nice feeling knowing that your hobby, your cheeky bit on the side, the blog you’d like to turn into a career (potentially, I don’t know maybe you do who knows??) is being noticed by actual proper non blogging folk people. 

Having said all of that I’m also fully aware some people are lucky to be able to use their blog as a source of income relying on gifting opportunities, ads and other such forms of revenue to make a living and I really can’t be any more supportive and really, genuinely happy for them! When I see people posting sponsored content or gifted reviews I’m just as thrilled to read that as I am a regular post from them. 

With being a blogger and practically living your life constantly online; your life is your brand and your brand is your life almost. Towing the line between accepting each and every gifted offer and remaining authentic to yourself can become a bit of a grey area for some. For instance, this one is a bit of an extreme example but I’m a vegetarian and for the last 6 months I have received several emails about posting about Wild Game pate’s on here and as much as I’m sure they are delicious it would be completely wrong of me to have accepted as it would be blatantly obvious I hadn’t tasted it and wouldn’t have been my honest opinions.

Similarly I mean that’s not to say if you have a niche you can only speak about one thing and one thing only. You may have started a beauty blog 6 years ago and have just moved house and want to share your renovating story with your readers. You get my drift. 

So what I’m trying to say, whilst simultaneously interrupting myself about one thousand times over, what is the secret to all of this. Perhaps you too might be one of those people that see the phrase #Prfriendly being used and it always making you wonder what that really means or even who realistically is going to be PR unfriendly? Maybe you’ve seen someone who has a smaller following than you, posts on their blog less than you but still somehow seems to be getting ALL of the PR samples under the sun and you want to be super happy for your internet friends but at the same time it kinda makes you wonder why them and not you? Do those that work in PR really sift through Bloglovin’ and Instagram searches in order to find the best people for their campaign? to what extent do brands look into the people that they ask to work with them? and do those ever popular ‘Comment your blog link, DA score and email address to be added to my PR list’ really work?

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I’ve spent the last month or so, trying to get down to the nitty gritty of it all and have the points of view from a real life PR Guru, a full time freelance writer and also from a brand who works within the blogging community too, to see what they’ve all got to say on it. I really hope this post may interest you, help you or at least pique your interest and possibly create conversation about the ins and outs of Blogger outreach. 

Jessica

Firstly to start off with we have the incredibly helpful and totally fab Jessica Pardoe also known as a PR aficionado and an all round absolute gem. She’s been a complete angel in helping me out with this. Jessica specialises in PR and blogger outreach so was the perfect person for me to quiz about everything and anything to be quite honest! I couldn’t have done this all without her help and support and if you aren’t sold on Jess enough by now please do have a browse over on her blog here at Thoughts Of Jessica. Or send a funny gif on Twitter here

what do PRs/brands look for when reaching out to bloggers?

The top thing is a blogger that fits what I’m looking for I.E. if I’m looking for someone to review a hotel, or talk about travel then I’ll only go for a travel blogger or for a blogger who’s written these kinds of posts before. It really irks me when I put out a request for bloggers and ask for something like, someone to write a recipe, and then you can tell the blogger hasn’t even properly read the request and their blog is nothing about food and they’ve never posted a recipe before. Do you get me? It just kind wastes both of our time. In terms of what I specifically look for, I like giving opportunities to bloggers who are genuine and don’t just blog for the paid posts. Cause I can’t imagine those blogs get many reads. If I head to a blog and it’s just sponsored post after sponsored post (and if the posts don’t all fit a theme) then I’ll probably blacklist it. If a blogger is genuine, and if the opportunity fits their brand then I’ll be looking to contact them. At work, we look at something called DA which is short for domain authority and it basically ranks how well established your site is. Bloggers can work on their DA in ways, but more often than not it builds itself naturally as you blog normally. I do look at social followers too, but this isn’t always relevant. It depends on the campaign and the type of sponsored opportunity.

Do they take into account the numbers/stats/media kits or do they base it off their blog content?

It’s normally blog content for me. Sometimes clients will have specific details as to how many followers they want the bloggers to have, so then it does come down to numbers, but most of the time I like to make sure the blogger is genuine, that their content suits the opportunity and above all – that they blog for their readers, and that their site isn’t just cluttered with sponsored posts that aren’t valuable. I’ll also check a sponsored post and see what the blogger’s attitude is towards them. I’ve seen bloggers before having a 100 word or less sponsored post, which is literally just a few words on a page that has no story behind it or anything. The best kind of sponsored posts are done by bloggers who make it their own, and who you can tell genuinely have an interest in the brand they’re promoting. Those are the kind of bloggers I aim to work with.

What is the best way for a blogger to reach out them and what to say?

Personally, I get a lot of pitching emails and a lot of them are so impersonal that they go straight to the trash bin. I had one the other day that read something like ‘Hi, Any posts this month?’ I had to follow up and ask what she meant, and she proceeded to say she meant sponsored posts. But I’d never worked with this blogger before. It all felt quite impersonal… Spending a few extra seconds to make your pitch relate to the PR can go a long way, we can tell when it’s a generic email. I’d say, if you have a genuine interest to work with a brand, it’s good to send an email saying why, and maybe even exampling similar work. It might take a little longer, but those extra touches go a long way and could make the difference between securing a collab and not. I also do tend to work with bloggers that I have a relationship with. If I’ve worked with them before, and they’ve got the post back to me on time and it’s been good quality, then I’ll normally contact them with new campaigns that are relevant to their blog and see if they’d like to take part before I outreach to the wider blogging community. So it pays to build those relationships.

Is there anything that would put them off like swearing in posts etc?

Not really. I think if someones f-ing and blinding on every post then I’m like, my client wouldn’t want to work with this blogger. But most of the time, this isn’t a major red flag for me. I still wouldn’t recommend it though. The biggest thing that puts me off is what I mentioned above… When you can tell a blogger is accepting every collab for the sake of things, and their blog begins to look like an advertising ground. I come across a lot of blogs where their site is 100% sponsored content, and I can’t find a genuine post they’ve written because they wanted to, or for the interest of their readers. I stay away from those bloggers because it all feels really fake. I like to work with those who have a genuine passion for blogging, and who’ll really engage with the brand.

It’s murky waters in the blogger biz at the moment but do they check for fake engagement/bots usage before reaching out?

Yessss 10000000%. I wish every PR did. At the moment there are still tools that are being developed that’ll make our lives easier in spotting fake engagement. But for now, I do always check a bloggers followers if I’m looking to work with them on a social campaign. I check their followers and their likes on Instagram normally. I can spot bots from a mile off, and I won’t work with a blogger if I do. It’s not fair on bloggers who genuinely work to get a great following. Plus, fake engagement would be of no benefit for my client, so it’s a massive no-go for me!

Arma Chameleon

From the point of view of a freelancer / blogger we’ve got the HILARIOUS lady behind @ActualAr. She’s a hoot and a half and if you don’t already stalk her Instagram stories or Twitter feed like I do (I have literally no shame…but find her tweetin’ here) check out her blog here as well. I love her honest, relaxed and down to earth approach. I don’t actually even know her name it’s like it’s kept as a Government secret I can only assume the Ar is short for Aristotle cos I actually adore everything she writes. She could rewrite my local chinese takeaway menu and it would somehow come across as the most hilarious, witty and compelling thing. 

Is there anything you’d suggest before contacting a brand or PR?

If you haven’t already done so, it’s worth putting a media kit together. You can create your own using a design app like Canva, but it’s a lot easier to use something called Webfluential (You can find the link for that here) which basically helps you put one together and collates a lot of your stats for you based on your social media profiles. It’s free too, which helps! Other things that you should try and get to grips with are your details from analytics. Brands often like to know your demographics, so who is actually reading your blog? How old are they? What are they interested in? Remember it’s important to cater to your readers when you’re looking to work with brands and PRs – it’s not going to sit well if you suddenly start reviewing washing machines if you’re a sports blogger, for example!

If someone wanted to start earning from their blog but didn’t have the foggiest clue on how much to charge how would you suggest they go about figuring that out? 

Work out what you will charge, and stick to it. It’s so easy to undervalue your work when you’re hoping to get a collaboration with a brand, but remember the time and effort that you’ll put into the post, so pitch your fee structure accordingly. Don’t let them take the piss, because if you do it once, you’ll do it again, and then you’ll never really gain traction with paid jobs.Make sure you have a terms and conditions/disclosure for work with brands and check the internet advertising guidelines carefully so you don’t end up with a nasty fine either!(Side note- I really had NO clue about this at all but here is the disclosure form from Actual Ar’s site which is so clear and concise)However tempting as it may be, don’t lift someone else’s work and use it for your own. Your blog is unique to you, and you need to make sure you set your terms and disclosures accordingly, or you will end up in murky waters. Be clear on what you will and won’t write about – it’s tempting to write any old shite for the sake of the money, but really it’s not a good strategy in the long term!

Indigo Herbs

Lastly, and no means not least I have quizzed the lovely Claire from Indigo Herbs, a Health and Wellbeing company from Somerset, England who often work with bloggers and post campaigns through Bloggers Required.

What do you look for when reaching out to work alongside a blogger?

From my perspective I’m looking for high value relevant links from the bloggers website to our product pages. For the purposes of referral and SEO. So I’m looking for a good Domain Authority; as defined by moz https://moz.com/home. (Moz measures the SEO power of website as defined by google ) so a good domain authority means the site is well indexed and visible. Social media mentions are also great as this is like personal recommendation. Anything like a giveaway of products on social media can help raise engagement of a social media post.If a blogger was to reach out to you and pitch an idea of a post what type of things would you like to see?When you are pitching you do want to share your statistics of your blog, Domain authority, monthly page visits and preferably a bit about the demographic of your audience so the brand can work out if its a good fit.

Thank you so, so much for making it to the final few words of this post. I just wanted to say a massive thank you to Jessica, Actual Ar and Claire for being so lovely and so helpful in terms of putting this all together. I’d really love to know what your thoughts are on this topic too! Have you ever reached out to a PR or a brand before? Has this post been at all helpful to you? Is there anything you agree with or possibly even disagree with?!

Once again, Thank you for reading!! A.x