“I’m looking for something genuine.” “In person or on the phone is better than an e-mail.” “Do something fun.” No, this is not advice strictly for a good first date — it’s also how to begin a successful collaboration with a leading blogger or brand. At BlogHer Food ’12, two bloggers and two corporate representatives shared their advice for navigating a successful blog-brand relationship.
The goal on the corporate side is earned or paid media exposure. For many bloggers, the goal is financial success built through brand relationships. Bloggers Jaden Hair and Elise Bauer sat down with Alicia McGlamory of Masterbuilt Manufacturing and Cassidy Stockton of Bob’s Red Mill Natural Foods to set a few simple guidelines for both sides.
Be yourself. Bloggers and brands play to their own strengths. Each blogger determines what works for her publication and goals. For Hair, the focus is on being a food blogger and a minority mother. “I’ve also built a business that supports my family,” she said. “Someone said, ‘Honest day’s pay for an honest day’s work.’ I believe in that.”
Bauer does not actively work with brands. She monetizes her blog through ad traffic and focuses on her cooking in service to readers. “I don’t consider myself a journalist,” Bauer said. “I’m a home cook that takes pictures of food and writes about it.”
Brands, in turn, look to forge quality relationships that echo each brand’s strengths. McGlamory aims to emphasize Masterbuilt’s focus on sharing the cooking experience with family and friends. “We want to talk to people that have the same values as us,” McGlamory said.
Creativity is the name of the game. On the corporate side, Stockton pointed out that sometimes a smaller budget requires more emphasis on originality. Bob’s Red Mill looks for bloggers who are up and coming and tries to create a genuine collaboration. “We want people to play with our product more than offer a review,” Stockton said. McGlamory mentioned a blogger who sent in a video featuring Masterbuilt’s turkey fryer as part of a Thanksgiving meal in less than an hour.
Emphasis on creativity comes from the blogger end as well. Hair said she looks for flexibility to do something unique with a brand. “I’m not interested in just writing something nice about your fryer,” she said. “I want to do something fun.”
There are plenty of fish in the sea. For bloggers and brands, choice wins. There are many brands out there and thousands of blogs. Stockton noted that “there are blogs that are a good fit for all sorts of brands” and that Bob’s Red Mill looks to work with family-friendly bloggers.
Bauer emphasized that each blog is unique. “We can do whatever we want with our own blogs,” she said. “I am so pro-financial empowerment for people with their blogs.” Hair noted that she makes choices with her readers and family in mind. “As a businesswoman, I have to make choices seriously,” she said.
Dive right in. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Both corporate reps emphasized that they welcome blogger input and engagement. “Be bold enough to come to me and build a relationship,” McGlamory said.
Bauer encouraged fellow bloggers. “Just do it,” she said. “This is my advice to everyone. Don’t wait for the universe to give you permission to go and do something.”