It’s the second day of the Type-A Parent Conference here in Atlanta, Georgia, and we’re starting out the morning with a keynote called Working with Brands and Firms: Creating Long-Term Relationships. Moderator: Melanie Nelson. Speakers: Amy Clark, Linda Sellers, and Gayle Weiswasser.
What are companies looking for when reaching out to bloggers?
The complicated answer is: it depends. It depends on what the client is looking for. Sometimes it’s ROI and numbers. Sometimes the client is looking for content that they can use across their properties and will look more at what types of content you create. Sometimes the client wants word of mouth, so they want to know about your following across various social networks. It’s all about the client’s objectives, and that’s how the agency will look at it.
Does anyone read your blog other than your mother? What are you writing? Are you consistent?
Some companies are really involved in blogger outreach, coming to conferences, forming relationships. A lot of other companies are completely clueless and don’t know what they’re doing, as blogger relations are a foreign concept. In those cases, the agency plays a huge role in blogger outreach because they are doing all of the vetting and coming back to the brand with a finished product for the client. A lot of times, it makes sense to reach out to the agency. Agencies often have more than one client, and if you can get on their radar, it could be bigger.
Is there something you’re looking for from bloggers who reach out to you?
Always be professional in your communications with brands and agencies. Make sure your blog and brand is a good fit with the companies you reach out to. Once you partner with a company or agency, they will keep you in mind for the great job you did for them. Be memorable for being easy to work with, and do quality work.
Oftentimes, campaigns are built out before reaching out to bloggers. Many times this is underbudgeted. How do you deal with that?
You don’t want to work for free. It’s hard, because you want brands to notice you. But once in a while, pro bono work can lead to a long-term relationship. On a selected basis, you can accept a job for free with a brand once, but if you aren’t getting anything from them, never do it again. If they want you to work for them, let them know that you need to be paid. You can get a paid spokesperson gig if it’s the right brand and the right fit.
When you pitch back to brands, make sure you know what you’re talking about. Know about the company, and know what you can do to increase visibility for them. Sometimes there really is no budget and it won’t work out, but sometimes your ideas can really resonate, and your contact person may be able to make a good case for why you should be paid to do work for them. Be clear and consistent. Sometimes it will work out, and sometimes it won’t, but you need to stay true to your brand.
What is the next wave for brands wanting to work with bloggers?
More video posts and campaigns are starting to become “a thing.” Visual content, images for Pinterest are also becoming more important to brands. You want to become really good at photography, make sure you have beautiful images on your site and on your pinboards.
Make sure your site is mobile-friendly, as well. Mobile campaigns are becoming more important as customers tend to view more content that way.
Brands are looking for more long-term relationships, not just a single post. Bringing bloggers to corporate headquarters can build better relationships. Organic relationships provide more bang for the buck.
How do brands and agencies view Facebook groups that exist to inflate traffic numbers, contest entries, etc.?
(I didn’t realize this was a thing.) From a brand’s perspective, it’s good to have a network, but if the same 20 people are commenting on everything, the brands notice. They don’t want to see the same group of bloggers retweeting the same tweets. Just be real.
But not every brand or agency has the time to investigate this, and automated analytics don’t pick up on it. It really comes down to the objectives of the client. You might be shooting yourself in the foot by artificially inflating traffic if they are looking more for quality traffic.
Can we talk about blogger trips?
Some bloggers are just done with blogger trips. We have so much work to do that it can be difficult to get quality work done when you’re flying here, there, and everywhere. It depends on the blogger and the brand. If it’s done right, a real connection can be made on a face-to-face visit. In other cases, a conference call can do the trick. Shame on the brand if they don’t make it worth your while. Regional events can work well, too. It also depends on how much both the brands and bloggers are willing to commit to the relationship.
There’s some discussion of value and dollar amounts. I’m not going to type that up here, because I don’t feel that the person answering the question has realistic numbers in her head for most people in this audience. It’s okay to put a range on your rate card to account for differences in the work you’re being asked to do.
A blog post is worth much more than a lot of other online content. Agencies use some weighting and multipliers to take social footprint and other variables into account to calculate ROI, since blog posts aren’t necessarily going to lead to immediate purchases. Blog posts create word of mouth, which affects purchasing behavior in the long term.