How Bloggers Maintain Relationships with Brands Part 3 of 3

Thursday, May 22, 2014

For bloggers, developing and maintaining relationships with brands is vital for success. Master these five techniques and get big brands in your corner.
She successfully works with brands and shares 5 techniques for developing and maintaining relationships with brands.

So far we've looked at attracting brands and developing a relationship with brands. In the final installment today, I want to focus on maintaining the relationship you've established. 

As with any relationship, it needs cultivation and care. You can't just let it sit in a corner and do nothing. 

Brand and blogger relationships, while different from most relationships, still need an element of TLC. But how you dish up the lovin' to the brands that agree to work with you is going to be different from how you treat your family and friends.

You'll want to focus on your end of the bargain, consistency and thoroughness. In every dealing you have with brands, strive for this. Don't try to be something other than who you are. At the end of the end of the day, it doesn't matter too much how many followers you have or how much clout your blog carries. Brands are run by people. People want to work with people. And no one likes unreasonable, hard to pin down, disorganized people.

How Bloggers Maintain Relationships with Brands

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How to Maintain Relationships with Brands

  1. Give Consistency
    One of my biggest pet peeves is inconsistency. I hate when people have no energy for follow through and no passion for being consistent. It's even worse when it's at the hand of a brand. I've had a few run-ins with disorganized brands either asking for work or trying to arrange events and waiting until the very last minute to get things sorted.

    As a blogger, be sure to give consistency in:
    • how you work
    • your policies and
    • your rates (where applicable)
    Don't be content to be strung along and don't string anyone else along either. Time is a commodity nowadays and your time is valuable and brands should respect this and bloggers should respect that brands time is valuable, too.

  2. Give Relevant Info
    It might be tempting to do to bulk up the numbers, but don't add the email addresses of brands that contact you to your general newsletter listserve. In fact, you shouldn't be adding anyone to your general newsletter listserve without their permission!

    Don't bombard PRs and brands with irrelevant content, either. If you're taking the approach of pitching your own work, be sure to match up the posts you pitch with the interests, scope and audience of the brand. Ie: if you're a fashion blogger trying to get a look in with McDonalds, you'd be better off sending them a quirky piece on food and how it relates to fashion rather than sending them a spec about next season's Pantone colors. Unless, McDonald's is running a competition for amateur designers to design new sandwich boxes. In which case, Pantone it up! Unusual one-offs withstanding, keep your pitches relevant.

    One last one regarding relevancy, don't abuse hashtags on Twitter in a desperate ploy to catch PRs or even other bloggers attention! There are a few hashtags on Twitter that were started with the intention of linking up bloggers with PRs who are looking for collaborations. Now, they're being overrun with desperate pleas for people to link up at link parties or for shameless bloggers begging for luxury, high-end appliances and comped rooms and meals out. So not the place.

    Being relevant and giving relevant info extends to Twitter and all social media. If you've got the cheek to ask a brand to give you a new washing machine, then that's one thing. But don't try to corner them into reading it by peppering your tweet with #prrequest or #bloggerswanted. It looks amateur, pathetic and like you don't understand the benefit of hashtags ... three things that you don't want any potential brand thinking about you. Ever.

  3. Give the Brand an Authoritative Experience
    You and your brand are both likely to be considered authority figures on your main subject or in your niche area. You've both spent countless hours researching it and writing about it and figuring out and implementing a strategy that causes your intended audiences to take notice.

    But bloggers can have a slight edge on the authority over brands. Brands come to bloggers for a reason: advertisement. Bloggers have a way in that brands can't easily achieve. Bloggers have a versatility that brands can't always mimic and a blog is the perfect place for a showdown between a brand and its biggest competitor. Someone once asked the question, "If I do a review for a well-known ice cream brand, does that exonerate me from doing a review for their rival?"

    My answer: hell no. That's what you want. And that's what brands want. I've heard of brands who find bloggers to work with by Googling who their competition works with and then approaching those same bloggers. Why? Because it's an easy environment to check out engagement. Brands can see how blog readers who happen to be fans of their product react and how they respond on social media and in blog comments. They can also see how those same people react and respond to their competition. Without having to pay market researchers shedloads of money. This is good for brands and it's good for bloggers too because it drives home an important part: your readers are varied and have varied interests. If brands want to tap into that, they need to play smart.

  4. Give Personality
    Remember what I said in the beginning? People want to work with people? It's true. And a key aspect of being personable lies in your personality. Be yourself. A brand that approaches you is doing so because they have seen something they like or relate to or identified something their target audience has in common with you.

    Once you've landed the agreement to work with the brand, now's not the time to flake and change up your style or your ethos. Give consistency in your personality! Speaking to the brands, bloggers beg for your personality, too! Be mindful of the persona you share and the way you conduct business. There's stiff competition out there for brands and bloggers are finding that they can be more choosy in whom they decide to work with. Just because you're offering, doesn't mean they're going to accept. Especially if they've heard from other bloggers that your company is a bit flaky, last minute or really slow to kick out the payment. It all adds up.

  5. Give Openness and Honesty
    Brands want you for your openness and honesty. They want to see what you have to say and they want their intended audience to see it, too. If you don't like a product or service, that's fine. Be clear about why you don't like it in your review. Give concrete examples and maybe a few suggestions (where applicable) on how things can be approved. You don't have to tear them a new one to voice your opinion, but you shouldn't let the fact that you're receiving a free or comped product impair your ability to leave valuable feedback and to be open and honest with your readers.

Do you work with brands? How did you start working with them? Did you contact them or did they contact you? 

Previous Posts on Working with Brands:
Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3

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