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November 2012

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How to form a brand-blogger partnership Five tips to keep in mind before reaching out


By: Crosby Noricks, Creative Director at Red Door Interactive



Nowadays, media outlets aren't the only channels that companies look to in an effort to elevate brand awareness and increase sales. It's not uncommon to hear someone say “we have to go after bloggers, too.” It's no secret that those individuals can have an impact and help influence your target audience. However, it's important to go about forming a relationship the right way and there are many factors that brands don't take into consideration before making outreach efforts. Here are five tips to help ensure a successful working relationship.

Do your homework.
Just like how you'd want to make sure that you're contacting the correct reporter who covers your beat, brands should also make sure that they reach out to bloggers that are a good fit and not just because their name is getting dropped a lot. In addition, make sure to carefully read About pages, disclosure policies and review the last several months of posts to get a feel for not only how each blogger prefers to collaborate with companies, but the results of any recent partnerships.

Uncover similarities.
A friend who is a well-known plus-size blogger recently shared her frustration that PR folks seem to forget that plus-size women are interested in many different products, not just finding flattering jeans. For example, this woman has a serious addiction to office supplies, popsicles and learning Italian. By paying attention to what a blogger writes about, the stories she shares on Twitter, and her favorite Pins, you can gain a better understanding of what opportunities will pique her interest, Don't be afraid to throw out a congratulatory note if a blogger you would like to work with recently ran a half marathon or adopted a puppy. There's great potential to create a solid relationship if you do so with genuine sincerity.

Be open to collaboration.
What many brands don't take into consideration is that bloggers aren't just there to write about brands and companies. Top tier bloggers are now becoming creative consultants and are involved in campaign ideation, creative asset development and more. By involving a blogger in the creative process, you convey that you value their ideas. The next time you're in the early stages of planning out a promotion, consider reaching out to a prominent blogger to see if they want to be part of the campaign you're creating. You never know what fresh ideas they'll bring to the table that your team overlooked.

Here's an example. Red Door Interactive teamed up with the Good Girl Mixologists to develop a series of fun, expressive content pieces sponsored by Sutter Home Winery. The initiative included a signature wine cocktail recipe and video, social media outreach including a Facebook chat, as well as a video announcing the winner of a Sutter Home wine cocktail contest. By leveraging the expertise, personality and influence of the Good sisters, Sutter Home strategically aligned their brand with a like-minded audience and gained valuable branded content.

Have a budget.
A well-recognized blogger has loyal followers for a reason. They provide great content that demonstrates they know a thing or two about the field in which they cover. Unlike a journalist who is paid to cover a beat, for many bloggers, a blog is much like a second, unpaid job. If you are essentially gaining access to the bloggers' loyal following and taking advantage of a blogger's influence to sell product, work with them to determine fair compensation for their work. Occasionally, partnerships can be done in exchange for free product, a shopping budget or exposure, but blogging is a business. Don't assume that they'll work for free.

Have a contract.
Draft a contract that explains the nature of the partnership. Include what the blogger is expected to produce, how the brand will support the blogger, compensation, timelines, deadlines and disclosure. If you're sending product for review, or have paid the blogger, they must disclose the nature of the relationship, per FTC guidelines.

Collaborating with the right blogger on the right campaign concept can be a powerful marketing strategy. Treat these endeavors like you would any strategic partnership and set yourself up for success.

About the author: Crosby Noricks is the Creative Director, Content/Social at Red Door Interactive, a strategic partner dedicated to ensuring businesses acquire, convert, retain and engage their customers wherever they are. The firm holds more than a decade of expertise in successfully developing and executing communications initiatives across all touch points to deliver real, measureable results. Clients include Cricket Communications, CND (Shellac), Smith+Noble, Rubio's Restaurants, Inc. and Charlotte Russe. Connect with Crosby CNoricks@reddoor.biz or on Twitter at @pr_couture.




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