Today I’m blogging live from the Digital Parents Conference 2012. I’m super grateful to be here and know I will learn so many valuable ideas, tips and strategies which I’m going to share with you.
Warning: This is my first ever attempt at live blogging and using a tablet (iPad) to boot. Hopefully I won’t make too many horrendous mistakes but please hang in there until I get the chance to correct them.
So this session is Working With Brands.
AZ: I work with brands such as Alex Perry, Grazia and more. First think how does working with brands add value for your readers. I have five reasons I work with brands.
1. The brand has similar values that align with my blog.
2. It can drive awareness of my blog.
3. It helps drive traffic to your blog i.e. working with Adidias four months into blogging.
4. It helps you be first with the news i.e. EcoShoes sent me to Fashion Week in Copenhagen.
5. The chance to make money.
NI: Why are brands working with blogs?
BO: Trust. People trust bloggers. If people can recommend to their peers that out ways advertising and public relations.
MH: Building long term relationships. Plays well in a digital environment with geniune engagement. What’s it going to look like in two to three years.
NI: Is size all that matters?
AZ: No, from my experience brands want to work with bloggers who have relevance. Position your blog in a way that makes it hard for brands to say no. Make it attractive to them.
MH: The engagement and influence is key. Who are the parenting blogs who have good engagement on their blogs? Who is getting good discussion in the comments?
BO: When recommending to brands which bloggers to work with we look at influence but more importantly relevance. How specifically and frequently are you blogging about your topic? How niche is the story you are telling through your blog?
MH: The role of independent opinion is essential. How does the individuality come through on the blog?
NI: What should be in a media kit?
BO: How the brands able to work with the blogger i.e. bloggers’ expertise, events occurring.
MH: Past examples of who you’ve worked with is important. Acknowledging how you would like to work with brands i.e. preferred forms of communication, contact hours, what other channels do you use, what is the influence of other people on your site.
BO: Add up your collective reach with other bloggers i.e. total number of Twitter followers from the TweetChat you participate in.
AZ: How are you different from everyone else?
NI: How is PR changing as a result of social media growth?
BO: In America we put together a code of ethics for reaching out to bloggers to ensure we are reaching out to relevant bloggers, maximising the value for bloggers. We aim to help the bloggers be seen as experts.
MH: There is a definite shift by brands to digital. Traditional media outlets are shrinking or closing as a result of brands spending online. Digital marketing can be more cost-effective. Money is going to events for “insider access”, product giveaway, consulting to projects.
AZ: Go directly to the brand manager, pitch them and see what happens. You might be sent straight to the agency or you might contact someone at the right time who has the ability to move on your proposal. Learn the planning cycle for PR departments and build the relationships.
NI: Planning cycle is often September or January/February.
MH: My agency doesn’t pay for posts so the reviews remain independent. Think outside of the square i.e. whats the opportunity? Research, attendance of events?
NI: Your post still needs to be attractive to reader and that takes a lot of time. How do you feel about not being paid?
AZ: I place a value on my time, an hourly rate but I choose very carefully based on what I value. What is in it for my readers and me?
NI: We have to be careful not to commoditise.
BO: Consider the risk to the long term future of your blog if you are paid. If it’s not relevant readers will sniff that out and leave sooner or later. Disclose any benefits you receive.
AZ: I can take or leave working with brands. I have so much content I can focus on. I don’t want to annoy any readers on my blog so first I ask what is the brand communicating. How can it be of value to readers of my blog? Is Princess Mary’s presence interesting or what I learned while meeting Princess Mary? You don’t want to be “selling out.”
NI: I do feel you can maintain creditability and be paid by brands. Stay in your style and keep the mix right.
AZ: As long as the content is still fun and entertaining I don’t mind having a brand mixed in. Look at the example of Masterchef. It’s an hour long advertorial but it’s mixed up in stories.
Q&A with audience:
Q.Why do you think money ruins credibility?
A. BO: I think the key is transparency. If you can give that in your normal conversation that is ok. Be proactive with editorial partnerships i.e. sponsored discussion/posts over the month.
MH: Allows brand to get involved without paying for the words on the page and wanting sign off approval. Look for sponsorship around a series/event rather than specific words.
AZ: The relationship is key in terms of whether or not the brands will want sign off.
Q. Where are brands at in terms of risk management?
MH: It is huge for brands especially those in the services sectors. News services moderate comments as they are liable for any defamation and damages. Brands looks at how do we control the channels. It’s about the reputation of the business.
BO: We recommend a crisis communications plan. All corporates will have offline plans but many won’t consider online. Who will be the best spokesperson online? Make sure you have a “listening strategy” in place.
Q. How can we as bloggers keep up to changes in PR companies i.e. changing staff?
MH: It’s really difficult. The PR Report notes changes in staff at agencies as well as brands changing agencies. Mumbrella and Social Diary are others.
BO: Connect with people you work with at agencies on LinkedIn so you can keep track there.
Q. What recommendations do you have for bloggers protecting themselves if the brands stuff up?
MH: You need to discuss what both parties want up front. What are you and they planning to get out of it? Make sure you have a coffee and discussion. Look at the use of hashtags by brands i.e. Qantas. You need to have a risk management program and moderation in place.
Q. Would having a blogger agent be beneficial?
BO: There could be benefits to having someone keep track of contacts, approaching brands etc.