I have asked some of my favourite PR's who are working with bloggers to increase public awareness of their clients' brands: Best piece of advice you could give to bloggers how to work with brands effectively?
Don’t be suspicious. Some bloggers believe that PRs/brands are out to subvert their blogs or opinions. In almost call cases this isn’t true. PRs want to be able to open an honest dialogue with you. We value your opinion and we want to hear it – on and off line.
Work with them. If a PR person comes to you with an idea that may not be 100 per cent spot-on but has merit and at least they’re on the right track, then discussion between both parties may result in a fruitful exercise for all concerned.
(That said, I don’t expect for you to do the PR’s job for them – and if they’re way off the mark and simply not being respectful of what you’re trying to achieve as a blogger – ignore/berate them, you have my blessing)
If money is involved via a sponsorship of sorts, then you move into partnership territory. It’s critical you have a good understanding of – and empathy for – what the brand is trying to achieve, while at the same time remaining true to your authentic self.
Being an individual who has sat on both sides of the fence, my advice to bloggers is to be proactive. Remain enthusiastic about content and possibilities, and find ways of including and collaborating with the brand as naturally as possible during the evolution of content.
The formation of this relationship with the brand may take time to realise before content co-creation can begin, but don't give up. Keep your requirements simple and stay on top of the game. When the brand is ready to make decisions, they remember bloggers who are consistent, update content regularly and include their brand naturally in their content cycle. Remain proactive in approaching the brand and be prepared to accommodate requests from the brand while formalising your working relationship.
Don't hold the brand to ransom for what you have done previously, but rather work with the brand to create new interesting content that benefits your audience and the brand target market. Be weary of collaborating with or approaching competitor brands simultaneously. Just as bloggers are watching brands, brands are watching bloggers, and where conflict of interest becomes evident, brands become reluctant to engage with bloggers further.
If you happen to be working through a PR or advertising agency, get to know the individuals and respect their pressures too (they manage multiple brands simultaneously). The better they know and understand you, the easier it will be for them to find your fit. By getting them on your side and to believe in your product, they become the face and voice of your blog when it gets in front of the brand and this is good for you!
Probably the last and most important advice, be authentic when working with the brand. Don't be afraid to tell the brand what your concerns are or to suggest a different approach. By getting the first collaboration right you pave the way for an ongoing working relationship, that no doubt will be fruitful for both parties. I guess it's fair to add that brands AND blogger need to step up the respect and rather work together instead of treating each other as vendor and service. It's 2011 and it's all about collaboration. Help the brand understand you and your market and the transition to a working relationship will be smooth.
Does this advice help you? Would you offer any supplementary advice?
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