Sitting in the overflow room for The Brand-Blogger Connection with Maria Niles, Anna Lingeris, Denene Millner, Kevin Brown, Doug French, and Stephanie Quilao. We cannot see the speakers beccause they can’t open the wall between rooms, but we’ll be able to see the presentation on the video screens.
Show of hands about how many bloggers have works with brands on one or more campaign. Not sure how big of a showing there was in the main room. There were giggles over here in the overflow room.
Huggies did a campaign with real dads and their real babies last year. They got bad feedback about their campaign, but they ended up partnering with dad bloggers thanks to Doug and his Dad 2.0 Summit. The relationship gre due to work on both the brand and the blogger side.
Advertisements are the most powerful medium we have. Brands and bloggers can work together to communicate as people to change the stereotypes we see in the media. When approaching someone to work with, don’t start out with, “What can you do for me?” Find ways you can help each other to achieve goals on both sides.
What’s the best way to approach a brand about a partnership?
You need to be resilient. You may need to contact someone at a brand a few times. Tell them why you want to work with them so they can come back and tell you why they want to work with you. If you want to work with Anna, tweet her. Look on a company’s press page; don’t call the 800 number on the company site. Find cool ways to pitch yourself. “Hey, I met you in the S’mores suite, and we talked about peanut butter cups. I’d love to talk to you more.” That will get a response much better than four or five paragraphs about yourself in cold call format.
Huggies is planning for 2014 right now; they are executing projects for 2013. Ask brands what they’re working on, and see what you can do to fit with their plans. Be patient. It may be six or eight months before you can get worked in to a campaign.
Talk to the brand’s agency. The brands don’t have time to go and read everyone’s blogs. The agency partners serve as a contact point that will review and vet bloggers to work with the brand.
If you can pitch something right, you can get something to work on very quickly as long as you present yourself as professionally as they want you to be. That’s how Movember happened last year. It’s not common, but it can happen.
A lot of opportunities can come about because of timing.
January is the biggest month for weight loss. Tell a brand, “This is how I can help you sell more product.”
Passion, professionalism, voice…these are all things that are attractive to brands. Denene has never actually pitched a brand because they come to her. She’s worked on the Dove Real Beauty campaign and Don’t Fret the Sweat.
When brands are planning a year and a half out, they are integrated campaigns tied in with product releases, etc. The opportunities available with tighter deadlines are media relations campaigns. There are different types of work, and you can get your foot in the door with media relations work that would lead to a longer term relationship.
Stay true to your voice and your values.
Don’t work with brands that go against what you beleive in; don’t betray your audience by forming relationships that are at odds with your values. (I was unfollowed this morning by at least one person on Twitter because of my tweets from the McDonald’s listening tour. This isn’t me being a shill…I’ve written about McDonald’s before. I’m not a crunchy organic person, and hopefully my audience has realized by now that I’m about healthiER choices. We eat processed foods. We eat fast food. I’m not going to apologize for that, and I don’t feel like working with McDonald’s is something that would harm my integrity as an authentic blogger. This is my life.)
Having the 1:1 conversation with people is the value of blogger engagement. Brands want you to engage your audience so they can benefit from that.
Mobile is very important. See how your site looks on iPhones, iPads, Androids, etc. See if your advertising is visible on mobile platforms, because that will be important when approaching brands. Clickthroughs tend to be higher on iPads than other mobile devices, so make sure your site works on that platform.
“Dear mom blogger…” You can tell who’s lazy and who isn’t. You can tell who does their homework and realizes that bloggers are more than their Klout scores. When you see brands doing that research, that’s a signal that you should do your homework on them and see how you may be able to best work together.
The brand-blogger relationship is a two-way street.
There are some agencies that are better than others, so don’t take one bad pitch as representative of a brand. You can bring a bad pitch to the attention of someone else within the brand, and chances are, the person who sent that pitch will no longer be working on that brand’s campaigns.
How do you bring up monetary compensation when approaching a brand? Know your worth. You have readers, you have metrics, and you have a voice. Be transparent about this being a business relationship; talk about compensation up front so there are no surprises. (I had a recent conversation with a brand where I pitched a compensated campaign, but their parent company has a policy against paying for coverage. My contact said she hoped the policy would change, and we are working on a simple product review in the meantime. But now they know what I would like to do for them if they every have a policy change.)
I apologize, because I lost the last few minutes of my session notes due to a Wi-Fi issue, but it was only one or two more things from the Q&A.
Tags: blogging, BlogHer, conferences