Presented by Anna Lingeris, Manager of Brand PR and Consumer Engagement for the Hershey Company, Denene Millner of My Brown Baby, Doug French of Laid-Off Dad, Kevin Brown of Huggies, Maria Niles (moderator), and Stephanie Quilao from StephanieQuilao.com
This was a panel discussion with representatives from brands as well as bloggers to offer their perspectives on how to form positive relationships and interactions between the two. Here are the key points I pulled from this:
You need to have patience and resilience to get a brand connection. Form a relationship. Tweet them first. Don’t send them your life story. Make it short and simple. Using items like bullet points, pictures, and graphs can be a great way to convey the pertinent information in something that is quick and easy for the recipient to look over. Often the longer emails will just get overlooked because they’re busy and want something concise. Find a cool way to pitch yourself. Personalize your pitch and keep it super short – perhaps 3 bullet points
You have to work all the time to get those relationships formed. Look in different places. Be unique.
Be forward thinking. They’re looking a year or two in advance. Ask what they have coming up!!! You’re not likely to form a connection that will be coming up quickly. You can still look to capitalize on last minute projects but realize the likelihood that anything you get will probably be much further in the future. TIMING can be key.
Your niche, conversion rates, and engagement level are all crucial and have high value. Add to your sellability with any networks you belong to and the numbers they draw in. You may only reach an audience of 8000 but belong to a network with some high hitters who can share the information with their people and thus reach many many more. But remember, it’s not all a numbers game for most brands. As _______ of MyBrownBaby said, “Brands are attracted to the house that I’ve built.”
Ask brands if they work with agencies and then talk to the agency people as well as the brands.
Anna of Hershey spoke about some of the types of projects that brands would be looking to work with bloggers on. For things such as new product launches they are looking for strategic ways to bring bloggers into it but these tend to be the ones that are planned further in the future. For example, she sent 10 bloggers and their families on road trips across the US for Twizzlers – that was an integrated campaign planned well in advance but then she had other bloggers blog about the campaign as the trips were happening and this was something done within a shorter time frame.
Be consistent and true to your voice – you’ll lose audience and lose your value to the brands. Brands are trying to leverage your authenticity. Even if you don’t have a large audience, you can leverage what’s special about your audience. Who are you, why are you important and what is that worth to you?
Remember that YOU are a brand too. Don’t accept assignments with brands simply to make money or you will lose your credibility and most brands will not want to work with you again in the future.
Extend your brand onto mobile platforms – the future is mobile. The CPS on iPads are much higher so converting your blog into iPad magazines or leveraging mobile platforms in some other way can be very valuable in terms of forming brand relationships.