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Bloggers and Brands: What I Learned at Springboard

Springboard conference in Boston - PR Panel

A couple weekends ago, I had the privilege of attending the first-ever Springboard conference in Boston. It was a fantastic conference, primarily because of the people there. A fascinating group of bloggers, friendly speakers, and PR reps who were genuinely interested in connecting with bloggers and answering questions!

Bloggers and Brands is a topic that comes up constantly in blog posts as well as the general media. The PR Panel at Springboard (Stephanie Azzarone from Child’s Play Communications, Laura Tomasetti from 360PR, and Cat Lincoln from Clever Girls Collective) was exceptional in terms of both the topics covered and the straightforward presentation of the panel members – it was one of my favorite sessions! I’ve enjoyed working with both Child’s Play Communications and Clever Girls Collective, and I’ve heard great things about 360PR. I know that a lot of the bloggers who read my blog are interested in the ins and outs of working with brands, so I thought I’d share a few of my notes here.

PR Panel Wisdom:

  • Know the companies you want to work with.
  • Don’t accept a brand ambassadorship just so you can say you have one. Brand ambassadorships are not that different from sponsored posts – in both cases, make sure the terms are clearly defined so that you know what you are signing up for.
  • Write about what you love and the brands will find you.
  • Don’t change what you write about just to get something – it feels inauthentic. Be true to yourself. You can shift the focus of your blog, but don’t do so simply to chase opportunities.
  • Different PR agencies operate differently. Some pay for product reviews, some do not. This is based on the PR firm’s philosophy. Respect this philosophy, or find someone else to work with.
  • When you interact with brands, think long-term. Work with brands you see a long-term relationship with.
  • Understand that PR firms NEED your stats to arrange for you to work with brands. Clients like numbers, but niche influence matters as well. PR firms look at your online AND offline influence. They also pay attention to whether or not you are attending and speaking at conferences. Brands know that sometimes small bloggers have more loyal followers than big bloggers.
  • Things PR firms look at in a blogger: reach, post frequency, reader comments, likes, do you run a mom group, do you make TV appearances.
    • Most important: relevance of content
  • PR firms are looking at Instagram.
  • Bloggers are hired for services beyond writing blog posts. PR firms also hire bloggers to:
    • Help run Twitter parties.
    • Serve as a brand’s TV spokesperson.
    • Help develop website content.
    • Run client Facebook and Twitter pages.
    • Help with surveys.
    • Help create and support community groups.
  • PR firms would never rant about you. Don’t rant about them.
  • PR firms take bloggers very seriously and respect bloggers. They see bloggers as journalists. Do the post if you say you are going to do it. They also know life happens. Things come up. Let them know; don’t just disappear!
    • PR firms have “bad blogger” lists – bloggers who don’t do what they say they’ll do, and bloggers who don’t meet deadlines.
  • Please say no if you don’t want to do something.
  • You can write a bad review. That’s feedback. If you don’t want to do it, that’s okay, too, just talk to your PR rep. DO contact PR firms before posting a negative review as they may be able to help you resolve an issue – especially since some products are sent out before they’re even in the store.
  • Remember that if you write a negative review, you are still building SEO for the product with links.
  • Google PR, Klout, and Alexa rating are not very important.
  • PR firms love video!

And my favorite bit of advice, from Stephanie Azzarone: “Be delightful!”

MaryAnne is a craft loving educator, musician, photographer, and writer who lives in Silicon Valley with her husband Mike and their four children.

18 thoughts on “Bloggers and Brands: What I Learned at Springboard”

  1. When you said “Google PR, Klout, and Alexa rating are not very important.” I was kinda of shocked, but happy! Google is annoying, and I love that it’s not important. haha :)

    Great post! Thank you for all the info. I pinned it. :)

  2. Sounds like there was a lot of great info on this topic. I feel like there’s so much to learn. I like what you said about write about what you like and the brands will find you.

  3. Thank you for posting this. I am still a rookie at dealing with PR reps. I definitely want to make my blog grow. I’ve so far only wrote about one topic that I personally wasn’t comfortable with 100%. I still made it work though.

    I would love any more feedback that you can provide. :)

  4. I pinned this to my Blogging Tips Board! Great recap! So many things I agree with. I totally agree about not taking an ambassadorship just to say you got one, make sure it authentically fits and my advice would be to stay true to your voice. The brands you want to work with will find you. :)

  5. Really interesting post and sounds like a great conference. I also like reading your reviews – especially since you have a variety of ages testing things out – it helps me know if a product will grow with my kids.

  6. It’s interesting how blogging can be a business of its own. I usually skip product reviews but like reading yours because they sound authentic to me.

    1. Thanks, Natalie! My primary motivation for blogging is social, but product testing (which reviewing can be similar to) is something I really enjoy. And I only review products that I think would interest readers.

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