LIVE BLOG: Working with Brands Gracefully

By Erica Chan Coffman & Lauren Kolodny of Honestly…WTF

How to work with brands gracefully is a question that all bloggers face regardless of where you are in your blogging career or what style of blog you may have. Today's panel of experts were able to answer important questions regarding gifting, brand sponsorships, and the affects of branding from not only a blogger perspective (Sasha of Liberty London Girl, Lindsey of Saucy Glossie, Rebecca of Clothes Horse, Kristen of The Clothes Whisperer) but from a PR perspective (Rachna of KCD PR) as well. When it comes to sponsorships and gifting, the overall consensus is to be honest and gracious with the brand you are working with, while maintaing your worth, value and a consistent perspective. And the most valuable lesson learned today is to never loose your personal voice as it is what makes you and your blog valuable.

Have you experienced backlash from sponsored posts?

Sponsored posts should be relate-able and align with DNA of the blog/brand.

How do you feel about receiving free gifts from brands? And does it feel like a bribe?
Blogger perspective gifting is standard. As a blogger, happily accept gifts but limit them to gifts that are in line with the blog/brand. will kindly turn down gifts if it is not in line with the blog/brand. We won't take a gift just to take — might suggest advertising and a banner and build a prolonged relationship if appropriate under no obligation to post or write positively about it. It's important to be open and honest with the brand that you are working with upfront relationship building is important Sasha says she turns down almost 80% of brand gifting.

PR Perspective
and The point is for people to get to try the items. Gifting is a way to reach out to people that would otherwise be inaccessible brands are evaluating where it fits in with their brand. The more metrics that are available to the brand, the better (i.e. who is your audience, what do they like to do) the more the brands can be better educated, the more they are willing to sponsor. The reason brands like gifting is bloggers can speak more intelligently about a product if they are able to experience it first hand

What is your opinion on the brand ambassador concept and does it affect the brand?
great way to create original content, which readers really like.
synergy of content – not just about representing a concept

How do you initiate partnerships?
Anything is possible so feel free to have an open discussion about ideas come up with unique ideas and bring to the brand to show your passion and enthusiasm you can't sit around and wait for sponsorships. Approach the brands with collaboration ideas and be proactive and passionate.

Reverse Side
“If u place value on me, don't be surprised that I don't place a value on myself” – Sasha
Remember the value u are offering the brand. If they come to you, the value is already there. Don't undersell yourself
put together a press kit that outlines your worth and outline your policy: rules about products, reviews, etc to protect yourself. Save the press kit and send it to anybody who approaches you so you are already outlining how you handle sponsorships

What are some lessons you learned in failed sponsorships?
Important to sign NDA before anything — might never hear from them again. Protect yourself. Sometimes the excitement is overwhelming so protect yourself when brainstorming ideas and think carefully about what a brand is asking you to do.  Editorial code of content is important. Have clear communication!!

What kind of statistic is most important to a brand? (addressed to KCD PR)
Combination of everything: unique visitors, page views, Twitter followers but numbers are not the ONLY thing that matters. Know who your audience is.

The right audience and the right fit?
Who is your demographic: sex, age, etc. — press kits are so important and helpful! Specific tool for measuring your audience are: Alexa. Clout. Google Analytics. Get Clicky.

What do u think is the future of sponsorships? Will brand partnerships be the norm?
Integration of e commerce and editorial plus CLICK TO BUY.

FINALLY: Blogs are attractive to brands because they are completely unique and original. If you loose that voice then you have lost the entire reason why you are appealing to brands in the first place.

PANEL OUTFITS: heels heels heels! Platform heels. Brook & Lyn necklace, bright red tights, knit leggings, Christopher Kane gorilla dress


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