Notes From the 2010 West Coast Bloggers Brunch

by Lian on April 14, 2010

Hi, Chaos Crew…

Yesterday, I spent the whole day at the very chic Shade Hotel in Manhattan Beach at the 2010 West Coast Bloggers Brunch (Twitter #LABrunch )  organized by Child’s Play PR. The day long event featured an informative panel discussion in the morning lead by impressive social media experts/leading mommybloggers presenting their knowledge to marketers (and yours truly). And the brunch part brought together 50 mommybloggers, great sponsors and products, and the ever-popular raffle feature much to the delight of the women gathered. I did not win the year’s supply of ice cream– but that’s probably for the best!

I don’t write much about the business of blogging because there are other sites that do a terrific job on that subject. And, that’s not the focus of my content.  (My new post is up today at oprah.com if you’re looking for the usual Chaos!) But this “Wild West” of marketing and communications is changing everyday, so sharing information is a must.   Having spent 15 years in traditional media  (radio, internet, and print with a touch of TV), I feel like I have a handle on the language and the concepts of creating a partnership between audience and sponsors.  Been there, done that. But the blogosphere is a whole new arena; the metrics  and the methods are different. That’s why I was keen to attend the panel discussion. I like running my own business,  but not the sales aspects of it.  So I need to get up to speed to make sure that Chaos Chronicles can continue in this space.

Plus, I did make that resolution to leave the house at least once a week for business purposes in 2010, after writing that novel in 2009!

I thought I’d pass along the most interesting parts of the panel discussion for my fellow bloggers who follow Chaos Chronicles online and for those from the corporate/marketing side of the equation who also follow the blog and podcast. We all learn from each other, right? For more information on the speakers or Child’s Play PR , please click through to the blogs and websites. Lots of information on the individuals and their companies and blogs in the links.

The panelists were:

Advice for Companies and Marketers approaching bloggers:

Be clear about your objective when approaching a blogger. Simply placing a product review or garnering a tweet is not “social media marketing,” per se. Be strategic about your objective and how it fits into your total communication and PR package, says Maryanne Conlin. Creating a buzz online is a nice  piece of the puzzle, but social media marketing needs to be as well -conceived as any other part of your marketing message.

Do your research on the bloggers, their  subject matter, and their audience before you pitch them ideas. It’s obvious when the company is sending out a pitch to hundreds of bloggers simultaneously. Ask yourself, is my product right for this blogger? And are her sensibilities a good fit for our company? Craft your pitch to fit.

Keep pitches short, personal and conversational. Some bloggers get thousands of pitches a day. No attachments, all info should be in body of e-mail.

Be specific about what you would like the blogger to do. A review? Tweet? FB? Or anything else? Put it in the pitch. Straighforward expectations are appreciated.

Follow-up with a thank you. It will cement a relationship and lead to more projects together.

When looking for a second mention, offer something special, like an interview or a sneak peak at a new product.

Be conscientious of the bloggers time. Paid reviews are a much-ballyhooed myth, according to Cairan Blumenfeld. Most bloggers do reviews for free, but be aware that that is a time-consuming process to thoroughly test a product. Offering a gift certificate or to keep the product is a reasonable gesture for the blogger’s time.

Mailing products back is a pain. Bloggers have no shipping and receiving departments or interns to repackage up the products. And no single person can get a stroller back into a box.

Anything request that involves administrative  or creative work should be compensated. Running a contest, providing a creative strategy, hosting twitter party, creating a video, access to a blogger network– those all qualify as “administrative” or “creative.” This is real work.

At some point, take an ad. Really.

Advice for Bloggers on attracting marketers:

Present a well-written blog. Be mindful of writing quality, language, appropriateness of content if you are interested in developing relationships with companies.

Focus the content of blog on particular subjects, creating your own niche market if appropriate.

Step up professionalism when dealing with companies. Lots of requests for free products is not advised.

Be able to define and explain reach using new tools.

Be aware of the new FTC rules when it come to disclosure. Display your policy on your website.

What next for social media marketing when it comes to connecting with moms?

Going beyond the product review to well-conceived, strategic programs with focus and funding, suggests Caryn Bailet. Get creative with your approach and consider the blogger’s time and expertise.

More professionalism will be exhibited in the mommy blog category, with media pros creating content for online audiences.

Video will increase in importance in terms of product placement for companies.

Eyeballs does not equal influence, according to Jill Asher. Though a blogger’s numbers may not be huge, her influence over her community may be worth the money and effort.

My take-away from the panel discussion? New media has just as much to learn from traditional media as traditional media has to learn from new media.  The kind of emotional and professional connection that the panel discussed is not new to all media, only to the medium of blogs. From my earliest days with Satellite Sisters to my current gig on Chaos Chronicles, I’ve always been enthusiastic to work with companies that produce goods and services that I trust, use, and can honestly endorse.  Working creatively with a well-chosen sponsor is mutually beneficial.  I believe in the social contract between advertisers and content providers; in my years in the media, I’m proud to say that I’ve never worked with a company that did not recognize the value of women and their lives and conversations.  The support from corporate partners has allowed me to continue to write, create, produce and tell my story in my own way via radio, magazine, book, blog, e-newsletter, podcast, speaking engagements– you name it. And I have always appreciated the support that the Satellite Sisterhood and Chaos Crew has shown to those sponsors. You all understand the social contract, too.

If you were there, please feel free to share what you learned at yesterday’s event. Thanks to the panelists and Child’s Play PR for including me on the list. More about who I met and other blogs to recommend in later posts!

Embracing my Chaos, Lian

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{ 5 comments }

mbt tataga July 10, 2010 at 3:29 PM

very well

information you write it very clean. I’m very lucky to get this information from you.

Cyndi April 20, 2010 at 7:01 PM

Just to follow up on my last comment … no reflection on you, Lian! Your are the BEST!

I’m intrigued by the whole world of social media and the interesting relationship between those who write and deliver and those who read. There is a complicated mix of creativity and calculated delivery on the part of the blogger and a less complicated effort on the part of the reader. As a reader, I know what I like – I so appreciate your content, creativity and professionalism.

There is a business side too of course … you do a great job of keeping that transparent, but it is a fact of life. Bring on those sponsers – I know you will choose wisely.

Unchartered territory? You are doing a great job!

William J. April 16, 2010 at 5:49 PM

Hi Lian

If it helps you or your sisters I don’t mind being used, I’ll survive. What can we do to help you? I no longer really need advertising since I sold my business to just work part time jobs and consulting assignments to leave time for taking care of my mom. So what can us normal dudes and dudettes that don’t have businesses and are just working jobs do to help you succeed? What can we do so that you don’t quit podcasting? Do we send letters to women friendly companies and make them aware of you? Do we send you email or snail mail references? I know subscriptions wouldn’t pencil out with the sisters because it would never be enough to cover five salaries. But what about a subscription for the Chaos Chronicles? I’d bet money that I wouldn’t be the only one willing to pay a weekly, monthly, or annual subscription.

Gives us some guidance on how we keep you away from freeway exits holding “Will podcast for food” signs.

Bill

Lian April 16, 2010 at 7:34 AM

Cyndi..

Thanks for the comment. With Satellite Sisters and Chaos Chronicles,we’ve always worked with sponsors to support the site, show and blog like any other media property (radio, magazines, TV) . So nothing would change there– in terms of the blogees! I know that you’ve listened for a long time so you understand that we run ads and promotions with companies we believe in and who understand our mission and that is how we are able to continue the work. The big difference is that now I am personally responsible for the costs of running the site ( and there are many hard costs) and the sales, without the benefit of a corporate distributor and sales department. I love to create… but not to sell! So, I’m trying to learn all I can about how sponsor relationships are formed and maintained in new media. I would love to be able to continue the blog and the podcast, but will not be able to do so without corporate support.
Thanks, Lian

Cyndi April 15, 2010 at 6:40 PM

Wow, Lian there is an interesting stretch of landscape between the blogger and the bloggee. Conferences, panel discussions and marketing, oh my!

How do us blogees fit in with your plans? We want to be heard, but not used.

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