Tag Archives: bloggers

How to reach out to bloggers – 6 top tips for blogger engagement

13 Mar

I am a blogger and I am a marketing manager who does a degree of blogger outreach and engagement in my role.

On top of this blog, I write a beauty blog as a hobby. I receive samples and invitations from PR companies and brands themselves to review their products and do product give away competitions on their behalf.

There are a few things that I have noticed from working with PR companies and brands that I would like to share with you to help you improve your blogger outreach if that is something you are pursuing as a form of advertising and influencer relationship building in your role.

1. Research:

Research your bloggers. See what other posts they are writing and if they tend to give negative or positive reviews. Some bloggers are kinder than others and some like to get a bit hoity-toity and say mean things about the product just because they can. Personally I won’t give a review on a product that I don’t like. I like to give positive reviews only because from a marketing managers view point, I know how uncool it is to have a blogger say bad things about your product where everyone can see on the internet after you have spent a lot of time and money to provide them with information and samples. Make sure the blogger meets your brands values eg: keep away from bloggers who identify as pole dancers or swear a lot if your brand is a “family brand”.

2. Blogger kits:

To help you to find a blogger that is going to do a good job of representing your company and so you get more bang for your buck, contact the bloggers you are interested in and request their media kit. Most bloggers kits will give you readership stats, info on the editor, advertising opportunities, if they expect compensation and more information on who their blog targets. Bigger bloggers who have more followers and reach will probably ask for a relatively big fee but it might be worth it for your brand if you know that they are definitely speaking to your target market.

3. Communication:

Some companies communicate better than others. It is very important for companies to be polite, respectful and patient with bloggers. Communicating your intentions from the get go is important so the blogger is ready to deliver what you want from them. If you are going to be paying them or providing samples make that known. Remember that most bloggers are doing it as a hobby and have day jobs and families to take care of so make your communication informative so as to avoid multiple emails.

As a blogger I feel it is my duty to reply to companies in a timely and professional manner as they are doing their job to engage me. Some bloggers will request payment for a post or at least some form of product compensation and it’s nice to be respected for your time and effort with a thank you.

In one case I was asked to run a competition for a company. This is quite a lot of work and I was provided with written information on the products but nothing else. I didn’t feel it was appropriate for me to run this competition without at least receiving the samples myself to know what I was reviewing and also as some form of thank you for the time I put behind promoting their products for them. I asked for the samples to be sent to me and the company provided these to me… although they did seem a bit ticked off which I didn’t think was very professional. When I had drawn the winner the company didn’t even bother to thank me for taking the time to run and promote the competition which I felt was highly disrespectful. All it would have taken is a short email with a sincere thank you.

Don’t be precious about their posts. Let them do their thing and thank them for the post once it is written (they should provide you with a link).

4. Blogger product samples/events:

Some companies have the most beautiful, well thought out packages. I have been sent boxes of products with printed postcard notes and a special little treat of lollies or a little bag to go with the samples to review. It is so special when a PR company goes to the trouble to make your samples that little bit more special than normal. It’s so exciting to receive a parcel in the mail and when they are presented beautifully it automatically makes me want to do a really good job for the company.

If you are hosing a blogger brunch or some form of event make it happen during after office hours. I receive invitations to what seem like beautiful glamorous luncheons but I can’t go because I have to work! I suppose that hosting an event during the day will weed out a number of bloggers so that you have a more concentrated group of attendees… but in my opinion hosting it after hours is better and will get you a great coverage. Also make lots of photo opportunities at the event. Bloggers are stuck to their cameras! Pretty boxes and bags with your company names on them, easy to see demonstrations, celebrity card board cut outs that they can take photos next to  (if you have a celebrity endorser perhaps), beautiful table decorations, pretty food like cupcakes that can be photographed, photo opportunity branded screens (you know like celebrities have photos in front of at events?) bloggers LOVE those.

4. Product information:

Provide your bloggers with as much information as you can. The more information you provide, the more information the bloggers can lean on to write a great post about your product. Ingredients, points of difference, where it can be purchased, price, website for more information, twitter handle, facebook links and so on. Make sure you remind them to please post the links to your social media platforms and website in their post.

6. Special feelings:

Yes, bloggers are all about special feelings. If you make them feel special and valued they are more likely to do a good job for you and mention you again in future. Little special goodies in their sample boxes, special events etc all help get the message about your brand across. Be generous! Don’t be crazy about it, but so many brands are very very generous with samples and thank you gifts.

 

What tips do you have for successful blogger engagement?

Advertisements

The delicate art of a sponsored blog post

22 Oct

The ideal picture. A blogger and a marketing manager working together towards the common goal.

2011, the year that bloggers decided that they wouldn’t make their blogs a hobby any more as e-books, sponsored posts and “how to monetise your blog” discussions spring up. There is nothing wrong with getting paid for blogging efforts if you do a really good job and make your clients (the company paying you, that you agreed to work with) happy. We all like money and blogging takes a lot of time and effort! Honestly.

Recently I have heard some stories from bloggers about companies paying them to write a post and then asking them to change a part of it. I have read the posts they planned to write for the money and can see why the marketing managers asked them to change the post. While some bloggers continue to behave so unprofessionally, marketing managers will over look talented bloggers and offer less remuneration for posts. Yes you are a blogger, work hard and may have a degree of talent and a strong readership… so act as professional as you think you are when dealing with companies.

Bloggers have a distasteful name in many marketing circles due to many behaving unprofessionally. Many bloggers seem to have a knack for tooting their own horns and thinking that they are better than they are, thinking they are entitled to everything for free and for being overly opinionated in life. I’m not being mean, it is a fact that most bloggers don’t have as much pull in the world as they think they do. There are a lot of bloggers out there (heck anyone can open a WordPress site and start typing… that’s what ‘m doing right now!) and the best of the best generally take their blog very seriously and professionally so deserve every success.

Sponsored posts. It’s about the blogger getting what they want and a company getting what they want. Also known as working together for a common goal. The common goal being a marketing message being presented to a bloggers readers by a talented blogger who will be paid for their efforts.

I am a blogger (I also write a beauty blog) and I am in marketing where I have approached bloggers to write posts about my brand and products. I can see both sides of the fence.

So i’m going to give you some pointers on how to think about writing a sponsored blog post from both sides of the fence.

As a blogger

  • Make sure you only accept sponsored posts that you feel meet your target audience or you think you can make work.
  • Do not tear a company/product to shreads. If you try a product/service and it didn’t float your boat or you really didn’t like it you would be best to apologise to your client, thanking them for letting you try the product but it really didn’t work for you. Advise them that you wont be writing a post about it. They will be thankful that you were honest with them and didn’t publish bad remarks all over the internet.
  • Remember the golden rule: Do to others as you would have done to you.
  • “Oh but I am a blogger and it is my job to be honest because it’s what my readers want” (see the golden rule above). Yeah, you can be honest but remember that there is a marketing manager out there who’s job is to get the word out about a product that they think is great. Pretend that someone was writing a review on your grandmother for example. You think your granny is totally cool and bakes the best cookies…. but someone out there just really didn’t like your grandma because maybe she smells a bit funny or the one time she made them cookies but she used the wrong flour so they were hard. You would be super upset if someone wrote a really mean post about dear old Nanna for everyone to read.
  • If you didn’t really like a product but still want to write about it then try and find the positives in the product eg. “This cream made my face break out in spots, but perhaps it would work better for someone who has a different skin type to me. It contains XYZ minerals and smells beautiful”.
  • If you have a problem with the product or service as you are experiencing it DO NOT and I repeat DO NOT take to twitter or Facebook to say how you are having issues with it. You have the brand/pr managers personal email address from speaking to them through your negotiation process so use it. Be professional and email the manager to explain your problem so they can explain and look into the issue for you themselves. Twitter posts tagging the company and telling your readers that you are having an issue is NOT alright when you are in a working professional relationship with a brand.
  • Remember, if a company is paying you (in money or product what ever you are agreeing to) they would like to see their marketing message ring through in your post. You can be yourself, shine your personality through! It’s your blog after all and that’s why the would have chosen you to write a post for them. Just make sure you are covering the key marketing messages in your post to make the company happy and earn your payment. They chose to invest their marketing budget in you rather than a magazine ad or a competition because they can see the value in the blog you have created. Do them proud for choosing you.
  • You should provide the client (the company asking you to to write for them) a copy of the blog before it is published out of courtesy in my opinion. Some bloggers can command $500 per post and for that amount of investment in a single post, the marketing manager is going to make sure their message and investment in you is going to come across well with the message they need to get out. Don’t be offended if they ask you to add a few more details in. Use your personality and writing style to weave the marketing message into your post. BUT again it is your blog and if you feel that they are being unreasonable feel free to pull the plug on the deal. In the same breath, the company also has the right to pull the plug if your post doesn’t meet their expectations.
  • Make sure you say the post is sponsored in your blog for the sake of transparency and your professionalism.
credit: toothpastefordinner.com
As a Marketing Manager
  • You find a great blogger who meets your target demographic, is creative and works really hard to write great posts. Make sure you are offering them a decent reward for their efforts. Some bloggers are happy with a free product and some will accept gift cards or cash. Be generous because honestly, blogging is hard work and if they are decent bloggers they are worth every cent. You are also paying for the pull of their readership. You wouldn’t get an ad in a newspaper for free would you? Some bloggers blog as their full time profession and a jar of face cream does not pay the bills.
  • Provide the blogger with lots of information up front so they know what your expectations are and they can work towards meeting them. deadline, payment, photos, marketing messages that must be covered, where to purchase etc.
  • If you are asking a blogger to write a guest post for you or a sponsored post remember that their blog is their brand. You are engaging them to be with your brand because you see them as a good fit and you would be happy for them to use their personality to discuss your marketing message.
  • If you review their post and find it distasteful or doesn’t give enough of the marketing message politely ask them if they would please submit x y z into the post using their creativity and flair to get your message across. If they are professional they will understand that you are paying them to get your message across.
And there you have a basic guide that I hope makes you think from both sides of the fence about bloggers and marketers. I hope this clears up some issues and gives both sides some insight into each others world.

QR codes use in marketing

8 Oct

QR codes (Quick Reference codes) are becoming more commonly used for marketing purposes.

What are QR codes you ask?

Well QR codes are kind of like a barcode that when scanned with a QR code scanning app on a smart phone will take you direct to a website.

How can I create my own QR code for free?

There are plenty of websites around that can generate a code for you. Here is one called QRSTUFF.

How would you use a QR code?

I have recently seen some interesting examples of the use of the codes:

Business Cards –  These ones are from some Beauty Bloggers. Obviously as a blogger your website is the place that shows off who you are and your personal brand so the QR code is particularly useful in this instance

Expo Bags: Royal and Langnickel are an American company who make make up brushes. They are trying to break into the Australian market and recently attended the Sydney IMATS expo. They are particularly good adopters of QR codes. QR Codes on bags at an expo from Royal and Langnickel make up brushes

How To videos for a product: Each one of Royal and Langnickels brushes has their own QR codes on the packaging. When scanned the code directs you to a video that shows you handy tips on how to use the exact brush you just purchased. Clever!

Competition entry: Again another Royal and Langnickel example. At the expo they had this code up that could be scanned so you could quickly enter their competition. It took you directly to an entry form and made it so simple.

Stickers: Sportsgirl is an Australian young womens fashion chain. They have jumped full force into QR codes this season. This table in the store features QR code stickers that you can take. I assume they would like you to take them and stick them around town on signs, bins, walls etc.

Fashion clothing price tag label: Another Sportsgirl QR code. This time on a limited edition designer outfit.

Signs in store: Sportsgirl in their stores also have signs advertising their limited edition team up with the Antipodium brand.

 

Special Offers and discounts: Lorna Jane is a sportswear store who are placing QR codes on the windows of their stores to provide special offers to customers. They have made a QR code guide for customers on their website. Probably a smart move because most people don’t know what QR codes at this point in time and what makes it more difficult is that iPhones do not have a QR scanner as standard so you have to know to download an app.

 

Reveals: QR codes play a cheeky role in this Victorias Secret campaign which is probably the best use of QR codes that I have seen. I must admit there aren’t a lot of QR codes around at this point in time. I mean, who wouldn’t want to scan that code to see what the lady wants to show you. Men AND women will want to see.


Online Shopping: Watch this video about Tesco supermarket and it’s online shopping arm in Korea. AMAZING. It explains itself and the power of QR codes.

 

Fancy branded QR codes: Louis Vuitton and Disney have created fancy QR codes which allows them to keep up branding and works with a scanner.


So there you have it. QR Codes can be powerful however there are some people who don’t see the point as it’s practically the same as giving someone your website address. QR codes have a variety of uses but at this point in time most people would scan them out of curiosity to see what the link takes you to. The future could hold big things for this new technology.

Note to self: Make my own QR code and stick it on a business card like the other cool kids.

Bloggers and the new wave of Marketing

29 Dec

I have been planning to write on this topic for a while now but haven’t found the time until now.

Bloggers have power on the internet these days and gain credibility just from voicing their opinion. Look at mega stars like Perez Hilton who emerged from obscurity to take over Hollywood. Ok, so not everyone becomes famous, but most bloggers have a core audience and a strong topic focus. Super serious bloggers with a strong readership usually also have a twitter and facebook account to keep their readers informed. Personally, I don’t think my readers would want me updating them all the time so I don’t have those things associated with Marketing Nabbed at this point in time. However for review blogs, readers really do hang out to hear the next review on what Max Factor eyeshadow is the best or what store is having the best sale or what chocolate cookie tastes the best. Blogging really is about creating a community and sharing personal thoughts and opinions that interest others.

Marketing managers have discovered this new avenue to “advertising”, and I put “advertising” in quotes because that’s what asking a blogger to write a review really is, but readers don’t usually perceive it that way. I’ll touch on that later.

I work in the food industry and come across many blogs giving reviews, recipes and advice to a targeted audience. In my case I work for a small company with a very tight budget. It costs us money to send samples and it is very disheartening when a small or negative review is written. I understand that bloggers want to stay true to themselves and provide honest information to their readers, but sometimes it may be best not to write about a product if the blogger doesn’t like it rather than slam it.

I am constantly surprised by the number of bloggers who receive free product to try and review. Some bloggers even leave their career to become professional bloggers so there must be some serious cash in it for the successful ones. Hey, I mean if someone wanted to send me free stuff I’d be pretty happy with that, not that free products really apply to a blog about marketing.

So far at work I have a had some bloggers write a couple of tiny reviews, a fairly negative review and one wonderful glowing review (which strangely is from the same blogger who gave a different product of ours a very negative one). I am currently opposed to sending our products to bloggers for review due to my negative experiences but if I worked for a different company with a different set of products I would engage relevant bloggers. I sometimes find that bloggers in my industry are bias to some companies over others.

I find that in some cases bloggers are stay at home mums who are filling some time and just want some freebies. Unless the blog has some good readership, which is hard to get data on but you can generally check by the number of comments and post frequency, then it is not worth sending samples to them as the review will not be read by relevant customers. 

There are lots of blogs popping up that are sponsored by various companies so there is a lot of cash for comment going down. Consumers love nothing more than hearing an honest opinion from a “normal” person so that is where bloggers gain a lot of favour and trust because readers don’t feel like they are being sold a product when reading a review. What they sometimes don’t realise is that those products have more than likely been sent to the blogger and in some cases they are being paid to write about it.

Due to this down to earth honest, enthusiastic point of view given by bloggers, it’s easy to see why companies want to send products for review. They are getting their products sold to consumers for basically the cost postage and the product. This could even prove more effective than a $4000 print ad in a magazine if it is a popular blogger…. and so long as a good review is posted. There is never a guarantee of that, but I do feel that a good review from a prominent blogger helps brand awareness and the “want” factor. Oh yeah marketing managers want to kiss some bloggers feet!

The latest thing I am noticing is that large companies are setting up seminars and lunches to schmooze with the bloggers and make them feel connected to the brand. The companies get the chance to preach their brand mission, identity, knowledge, hopes and goals through to the bloggers who then feel like brand ambassadors. Then, the blogger will feel more inclined to blog positively towards that brand who gave them nice tea, some scones and made them feel important. Making a blogger feel important is very important!

How to get bloggers to review your products or write about your company:

  • If you have a product that you want a blogger to review or write about, simply just contact them.
  • Be prepared to send them information, product samples and more importantly be prepared to perhaps receive a bad review or one that is not as informative as you would have liked. So you may want to casually mention to the blogger that if they do happen to have overly negative comments about your product that you would appreciate them not posting. However sometimes all publicity is good publicity.
  • Send the blogger some professional product shots and brand logos incase they wish to use them. In most cases bloggers will take their own photos which actually builds the credibility of post and the “normal” “this is not an advertisement” feel of a blog.
  • Let the bloggers run free with their creativity and personality because after all it is their blog.
  • Don’t go overboard. Just send them a few of your best products, or newest releases.
  • You could provide some product for the blogger to use as a prize. This will buy you favour with the blogger because that will help to boost their readership.
  • Before you do any of this spend a few months tracking various blogs in your industry to find who is most prominent, professional and have a good community within their readership. Just like when placing an ad in a magazine you look for the circulation, readership,  it’s relevance to your industry and customer base, do the same with bloggers and aim for the big wigs.

Tips from a marketing managers perspective if you are a blogger and you are writing reviews:

  • Congratulations you must have a good blog and now have some responsibility to uphold the reputation of a brand.
  • Marketing managers are really just wanting to connect to your readers (that you have done a fantastic job of gathering and communicating to) and get the message across about their wonderful products. Your blog may also feature highly on a Google search and bring in interested new consumers. Yay!
  • Please maintain good communication with the company who has approached you with product to review.
  • Be punctual with your review
  • Promote the product with pictures and information. A good marketing manager would generally send you some product shots and some information that they may like you to touch on in your own point of view. However, it can sometimes be more realistic if you take your own photos and post them. Don’t do this if the product arrives a little worse for ware.
  • Remember that you have been chosen in good faith that you will do the right thing by the company who asked you to review. Do not give a straight out negative review and slam the company or product by any means!!! DO NOT! If you do receive a product that you don’t enjoy then either a) don’t post about it, or b) find something that you like about it no matter how small an talk about that. Communicate with the marketing manager if you don’t like the product and don’t wish to post about it. The company has gone to the effort and expense to send you a sample so be respectful of that.
  • Give your readership advice as to where to purchase the product if applicable
  • Always link back to the companies website so your readers can learn more about that company and their other products that may be of interest to them
  • Be super aware that there is a tool called Google Alerts which allows you to set alerts for certain topics (eg their brand name), so when that topic is mentioned on the internet ANYWHERE (forum, blog, website) an email gets sent with a link. So even if you are reviewing something off your own bat that nobody has asked you to review, the company you’re talking about will more than likely read your post.

Relevant wonderful articles on bloggers and review writing:

An article written by Gluten Free Fun, a Gluten Free blogger in America who recently attended a bloggers seminar hosted by large bread company Rudi’s and her experience.

An article written by Aussie fashion blogger Marlo Perry about her experience with blogging reviews and the recent PR/Bloggers conference she attended.

An interesting industry post by Julia Liberzon from Conversation Soup about how bloggers think, what companies want, how PR/Marketing agencies approach the subject.

Note to self: Start a blog about real estate so companies can give me free apartments and houses to review and live in…. I wish!

%d bloggers like this: