Unfortunately for all of the ones that I belong to, very few are doing it right.
For instance, I applied for a great opportunity to promote a product from a brand that I love. I filled out my information and I waited. And waited some more. On August 24th I came home to find the product on my door step.
Awesome. Except I had no idea what it was for because I didn’t know I had been selected. At least I didn’t know I had been selected until almost 6:30 that night (a good four hours or more after the product had arrived) when I received the welcome email. After reviewing the requirements, I replied back to the contact and asked some rather important questions about posting dates, submitting and other details – I needed to have time to plan and work around my work schedule, my school schedule Brian’s (he works nights) and the kids’ activity schedules and since the welcome email indicated that the product was in transit, I felt it important to reach out with a deadline and holiday weekend approaching.
I like to be on top of things and my concern for our schedules and the time required for this promotion was key. I don’t like to be unprepared so when I didn’t hear back right away, I went ahead and moved our schedules as best as I could to accommodate the marketing company’s original request and went ahead with the promotion.
I got a response to my questions on Tuesday. Now this isn’t a one-off Media Company. This is one that works exclusively with moms, a network that I belong to, whose founder has so closely worked with moms that they are regarded as a respected member of the mom (and thus mom blog) community, with numerous media properties.
Fast forward to yesterday. another pitch found itself in my inbox and by another of one of the media companies that I’ve worked with in the past. In this pitch, I’ve been told that according to their records, I’m in the target age group to shop for menopause products.
The last thing I want to shop for or am ready to shop for are menopause products. I just got used to my daughter being of the age where… well. THAT.
And then have a party with my other menopausal friends with said products?
No. Absolutely not. Not this horomonal, non hot flashing, still ovulating, 30 something mom. And I’m betting that my readers don’t want me to either. (And my friends? Try sending out that party invite and see how many RSVPs you get.)
Had that media company inquired about me (beyond my birthdate – not a foolproof method of vetting a blogger for a campaign if you ask me), they would know that my readership does not include the menopausal community either.
In campaign number one I get to keep the product but I’m out my cost to carry out the promotion to the media company’s specifications and not just in dollars but in time too (the cost of the product is less than what I spent in billable time and promotion). I rearranged hectic schedules to fit this in because, I LOVE the brand and it’s one that has been in my home for years but I could have saved time and money had I gotten a response to my questions in a timely fashion.
Campaign number two (which I am turning down and words fail me on how to do it nicely), would have paid me, but the payment is not worth the investment/work involved to carry out the campaign. The payment amount includes a small pre-payment for purchasing of the menopause products. It does not cover the cost of the event I’m to hold or my time for putting it together and then doing the writing, editing pictures, posting, etc. required for the rest of the campaign. It’s like… giving me the tools to do the job but no payment for the job that I’ve done and I’ve learned that I’m worth more than that.
Steps to Build the Brand/Blogger Relationship
Despite the generic “Dear Blogger” form emails, not responding to questions when we do agree to a campaign, or shady guidelines that typically send a blogger running to their networks to dish the details of your pitch or agency, PR agencies and media companies are in a great position to do better.
I think that PR agencies and media companies have forgotten that just as you built your business on relationships and communication, so have we. It benefits everyone if you know, truly know, who your blogger network includes.
How do you do this?
Comment on our blog posts. We like comments! Comments let us know you’re out there and you’re honestly checking us out. If you’re truly in love with our latest post as you tell us you are, comment on it! This way we know you’re reading and you’re interested beyond the buzz we create.
Ask us for an updated media kit. Seriously. This helps you more than it helps us, believe me. Getting an updated media kit from me will tell you if my audience is interested in menopause products, what they’re searching for on my site, and what my reach is presently. And when it comes time to track down the right blogger for the promotion, having the updated information from me will save you time down the road and it will tell you if I really am the right “target age group” or if my kids are, or my readers are. You will save yourself the embarrassment and burnt bridges later.
Don’t wait till you land a campaign to track down bloggers. Save yourself the cold call emails and reach out to us through Twitter, Facebook etc. When you do finally email you can honestly say, “Hi Nikki! I’m @BigPRCo and we follow each other on Twitter, How is… ?” We’re very accessible. You’ll end up with bloggers you can turn to; if not for this campaign, then the next and if they’re not a good fit – they will put you in touch with someone who is.
Follow up with us after the campaign. You have no idea how often we love a campaign or are told what a great job we did only to never hear from you again past that. If you’re really concerned with building relationships with us; follow up, ask questions, get feedback.
If we’ve been selected for a campaign, don’t make us apply to participate in it. Getting some additional information from us is fine but asking us why we think we’d be a good fit is just redundant, you’re the one who contacted us – you thought we were a good fit, either be sure of it or move on to someone else.
Amy from Resourceful Mommy hit the nail on the head yesterday with her open letter to brands and I can’t put better than she did but I can tell you this; if I matter enough to be in your network and you want to work with me either in a paid media or earned media campaign, treat me with the same respect as your other professional contacts. The fastest way to sour our brand/blogger relationship is to treat me less than professionally. There are people who work with bloggers every day who know how to build relationships and keep them thriving.
Bloggers Want the Relationship With You!
I had the pleasure of working with Erika McQuade while at Babyspot.com and since that time, we have kept in touch and reach out to one another for ideas, campaigns… we have a good relationship because we didn’t end it when our time with the brand ended. I’m also working with another brand that I see the possibility for great things because we stay connected.
A few of the authors that I’ve done book tours for have reached out to me past their campaign and put me in touch with other authors that they think I’d like to work with and we’ve discussed their books after the promotion ended. It’s landed me new contacts and the possibility to work with great people again.
I can’t express this enough but everyone benefits when the relationship is built and you know who your network is.
Bloggers, what do you think makes a good brand/blogger relationship?
Marketers, what are you doing to build those lasting relationships?