You’ve probably seen bloggers (like yours truly) with sponsored posts, free trips, and conference fees paid for by a company or brand. How do these relationships happen?
Earned media is press coverage, reviews, and other publicity that does NOT come from advertising. No one pays for earned media. This is why no one wants to (or should, really) pay for reviews.
Bought media is all publicity that comes from advertising. Being a brand ambassador is similar to being a celebrity spokesperson, so it falls into the advertising category rather than the earned media category.
However, some companies will develop ambassadorship programs that don’t compensate the bloggers, and some bloggers will participate in those programs and this is why the whole damned issue gets so confusing.
Personally, I’ve done a fair number of brand ambassador programs. They’ve looked like this:
Compensated attendance at parties or events with accompanying blog and twitter outreach
Trips to company headquarters, paid for by company, and sponsored posts both on my site and theirs
Social Media Conference representation (usually combined with blog and twitter outreach)
I’ve found these opportunities a variety of ways; I’ve been contacted by the companies, I’ve been a (free) brand advocate already and reached out to the company directly, and I’ve been contacted by agents and agencies that work with the companies. What I’ve learned so far is to be EXTREMELY clear about expectations at the start, to sign a contract, and to make sure the terms work for you, and to watch for “mission creep” (in other words, the brand adding more work but not more money after terms have already been reached).
But none of those things are first on my list. What is? Making sure that I genuinely like the product, that it’s a relationship that makes sense to my blogging community, and that the company isn’t doing anything untoward that I don’t want to be associated with.
Here’s what a few bloggers have to say about brand ambassadorships. Sarah Peppel has a great post about it here, and this is my favorite quote.
Communication, mutual respect and honesty are the keys here! Through these relationships, new ones will grow if you continue on in this bloggy world. Word spreads fast on who is easy to work with, who works hard, who looks good on camera and who understands the value of a mom blogger’s time.
Kelly Whalen, who blogs at The Centsible Life, had this to say.
I live by some simple rules when it comes to brand ambassadorships. 1) Love the brand and believe in the initiative. 2) Know what you are agreeing to before you sign up. 3) Make sure you have the time to devote to the brand. 4) Go above and beyond. If you believe in what they are doing this shouldn’t be an issue. 5) Follow up when the program is over. This can lead to more work.
Now I would like to take a moment to tell you a little more about the blogging world. Bloggers do not appreciate being bypassed or given the run-around. We understand if you choose to go in another direction but not when you take our ideas and pursue them on your own, without our inclusion or credit.
So proceed, but use caution and good sense. Wondering about how to craft that pitch? That’s my next post. Stay tuned!