Content may contain affiliate links including Amazon Associate links. If you click & make a purchase, I receive a small commission that helps keep this site up and running, at no cost to you. Read my full disclosure policy.

Collective Bias Power Lunch: Working With Companies

If you’re a regular Dear Reader, you will notice that the following is content that is not at all my norm. I’m at the Type-A Mom blogging conference, and I wanted to post my conference notes to help other participants.

Please forgive the typos. I’m typing quickly, and I will edit when I can.

Collective Bias Power Lunch: Working With Companies

From the Type-A Mom conference program:

Dine and learn with a general panel session over lunch. Companies want to work with bloggers, and most bloggers want to work with companies. From reviews to spokesblogging to direct blog advertising, there are many ways for the two worlds to collide. At the same time, there are questions about how to do it right. Experts from both the corporate/marketing side and the blogging side share their experiences and insights. Featuring Lucretia Pruitt moderating, Angela LoSasso, Stephanie Smirnov, Nancy Martira, David Binkowski, Jessica Smith, and Amy Lupold Bair.

Who is your ideal blogger?

  • Stephanie – Whether we find you or you find us is irrelevant.

  • Once we find each other, we look at you. We are interested in your stats and your uniques, but we also want to know whether you are engaging, in social media, in traditional media, where you’re republished, etc. But we also look at who you are. What are your views. Are you passionate?

  • It’s okay to say no to us.

  • Dave – People want to know whether they should approach the brand. Agencies are intermediaries. Find out the agency of record and who’s the PR director. Find out if there’s someone who’s running their social media campaign.

  • Your proposal has to be tight. You have to tell them why you want to work with them and what you’re going to do for them. Think about the ad industry. It’s in severe shock and decline. TV is okay, but everything else is down. They know social media is getting big. They want PR to lead it. There’s a lot of work coming in right now. There’s more work than people. If you have a great idea, pitch it to us. Bring it to us. It doesn’t matter if you aren’t a top 10 blogger in a certain are if you understand the brand and you understand how to work with clients.

  • When you start to work with someone, there’s a feeling up process. There are smart people on both sides of the table and we have to find out how we can help the brand to move forward. If you can’t answer that, most people won’t want to listen.

Lucretia – We don’t know what brands work with what companies. Bloggers don’t know what companies control what brands necessarily. How do bloggers work with companies? What are they looking for?

  • Nancy – There’s a difference between being out there, fun and funky, and causing trouble. Stephanie made the point earlier that the bigger companies are a lot more conservative, so stay away from contraversy.

  • If you do a great job, I am going to come back to you again and again whether your numbers are huge.

  • I touch a lot of pieces of business all across the globe. If there’s something that you are interested in, talk to me. Make a personal connection to help us to remember you.

  • Jessica – Let’s not underestimate the power of the relationships that you have with each other. If you say, “I’m not really a fit for that, but this blogger I know would be awesome for it.” We’re all in this together. It is all about relationships and paying it forward.

  • If you say no to me, I’m not going to take it personally. If it’s not perfect for you, please decline. It won’t be a good fit.

Lucretia – When a company comes to you and asks you to do something for you, how do you assure the bloggers that are in your network are going to do the job?

  • Amy – I can’t. Working with a network of bloggers is like herding cats. I don’t think it’s my job to edit or censor people. I really can’t edit who shows up or control what they say.

  • Lucretia – PR gets that question all the time.

  • Amy – I don’t get the question.

Angela – We are the seventh largest company in the world, but I’m there. I’m about relationships. I’m not in PR, but my job is to build relationships with people. Bloggers or customers. I connect with people.

We want you to be yourself, be compelling. Put our products in front of you. Use them in your daily life.

I’ll provide you with information that’s contextual. All I ask is that you keep it PG-13, but after that, be a good story teller.

Lucretia – How often do you put it in writing? A lot of bloggers say “I didn’t get it in writing.” People don’t always do what they say they will. This is a business. We’re business people.

  • Jessica – I think we’re going to start moving towards having written disclosure policies.

  • There are different iterations. I’m going to keep it simple. I’m not going to engage a blogger who I don’t think gets it. If I’m reaching out to a blogger on a simple level, I don’t think a contract is necessary.

  • If the blogger is getting paid, there should be a contract. Then you are working for me and we have to have a contract.

  • Amy – If I am getting paid, I always have a contract. It has to be in writing.

  • In that contract, it says that “if I go beyond the scope of this contract, I can amend the price.”

  • A simple paragraph is good.

  • Angela – I helped launch Netflix and I helped launch Cnet. There are certain responsibilities with different activities. I think everything is sponsored content. The reason that I get a pay check is that someone is advertising or because someone is buying our products.

L – Who writes the contract?

  • Stephanie – We would normally write the contract.

  • You guys elude our clients. The ways they measure television ads don’t apply to social media. We have to make it clear to our client that you are going to further our goal.

  • We have a large legal team that writes the contract. You should have a lawyer check it for your interests.

  • Dave – If someone sends you a pitch or an invitation, there is no expectation that you will do it. If you do it, you should be getting paid for it.

  • If money is changing hands,

  • We work for UL, and their goal is about mitigating risks. The bloggers who write for them get paid to write. We treat them as writers. We send their posts to our legal time. It shouldn’t be a one way street.

L – Do you provide the contract?

  • D – No one has ever presented me with a contract. Bloggers should not review their contracts themselves. You should have a lawyer who protects your interests, who can make sure you aren’t giving the farm away.

  • Nancy – Just to build on what everybody else has said. If I’m doing a product review, and I send you a product, it’s important to me that you actually write it and that you write it professionally. If you don’t write it, I will probably never email you again.

  • If money is changing hands, there is going to be a contract. Every body has to be clear about the expectations.

  • If you are getting paid to write, then you have to think about legal fees. You have to pay an attorney. You have to think about your taxes. You have to be realistic about it.

MomCentral – Everyone says we should be candid, but it raises a real dilemma. You don’t want to become a blogger who is viewed as someone who trashes brands?

  • Angela – If you want to work with brands, you have to be honest. If there’s something that you don’t like, you can mention it. But you have to be honest.

  • Jessica – If someone is not happy with a product and they blog about it, there is a huge opportunity for the brand to reach out to the blogger. We’re humans. Some people have stronger opinions than others.

  • The conversation is going to happen. I’d rather for it to happen in the open instead of in the back channel.

  • The last thing I’m going to do is to tell you how you should blog about my clients.

Military Moms – Most mom bloggers don’t make enough to money to afford an atty to review a contract.

  • Amy – I don’t think 90% of bloggers are going to have anyone review their contracts.

  • You have to pay taxes. You’re going to do that. You don’t need an atty to do that.

  • D – The reality is that if there’s a contract being signed, and you’re not happy with the terms or the amount you’re getting paid, you should not sign it.

  • Our bloggers get paid well.

Anissa – Dooce drops the f-bomb whenever she wants, and companies are falling over themselves to work with her. Where do you draw the line on the value of the content versus the whether a company will work with them.

  • Stephanie – Sometimes, it is too scary to take the risk to work with someone controversial.

  • There are two pieces. We always look at the whole quant & qual picture. Some clients are always going to be G-rated. Some may not mind the f-bomb.

  • Nancy – It depends on the client. If there is a contract with money being exchanged, you are effectively a spokesperson for the company. Companies drop their celebrities spokespeople some times. It’s the same.

Amber (reaching out to PR) – How do you build real relationships with bloggers and convince upper management that those relationships have value?

  • Amy – I like when PR people know something about me. It’s okay to stalk us a little bit. If you watch a little, you will know about us.

  • Angela – That’s what I do for a living. I real blogs. I Tweet. I answer your questions and promote your blogs.

  • It takes time. I’ve been doing this for HP for 3 years. The ROI on it is

  • Jessica – Brands should observe and then engage.

Angela – Moms use social media as often as they use Google. When they want to know what to buy or what products are interesting or good, they go to social media equally as often.

Amy – It’s not a media kit. It’s a portfolio. A media kit implies that you are trying to work with a newspaper or a magazine. A portfolio shows samples and references of the kind of work that you do.

© 2009, Tara Ziegmont. All rights reserved.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.