Think of the almighty, influential style or fashion blogger as the bouncer to a popular club. You want in, don’t you? That means you need to follow certain guidelines, or you’ll find yourself standing behind the velvet rope all night. If you’re hosting an event, pitching a campaign, or simply sending over images from a new line, it's important to set up your outreach so that you get the results you want online and offline. To ensure that bloggers think favorably about a brand, and are enthusiastic about writing, tweeting, and instagramming all about you - avoid the following common pitfalls of many brands.
1. Not being clear about what you want from the blogger
No one is a mind reader, so be clear. Are you asking them to wear your clothes in photos and link to your company website? Would you prefer they linked to a retailer who sells the merchandise? Do you want them to casually reference your brand, your event or celebrities who wear your pieces? I’ve seen cases where a brand wanted bloggers to highlight that their new product is the cult favorite of certain young Hollywood stars. Instead, many bloggers merely wrote about how awesome-looking the packaging was. Be clear and consistent with your expectations to ensure the final product is something both you and the blogger have discussed and meets both your needs in a story.
2. Not preparing a product/brand info sheet and images
If a blogger has to do extensive research about your product on their own time, the odds of that happening diminish exponentially. Provide everything you want the blogger to know about your merchandise or whatever it is you are promoting. And if possible, provide the blogger with good, high resolution images that they can use on their site. If you have an event, send over relevant, professional images featuring the blogger that she can use immediately in social media and event recap articles.
3. Being too wrapped up in rules or bureaucracy
While it is important to be clear about expectations, give bloggers enough creative freedom to write in their voice and with a story angle that makes sense for their audience. If you're marketing, PR or legal team has put a ton of red tape around approvals, language or links, bloggers will often pass on your offer. The brand rep who kept telling me I needed to first clear my post and photos with their PR director before going live found her product without a meaningful mention. The blogger is not there to be an extension of your PR team, so don’t just focus on your brands’ needs, consider how your opportunity will benefit the blogger. Most bloggers see their sites as very personal undertakings, appreciate and respect that and you will find a much more receptive audience.
4. Demanding that a blogger remove or re-edit a post after it has gone live
Unless there is a typographical error, the blogger is entitled to her opinion. If you believe your product was unfairly criticized, you may nicely ask if you could offer some information to refute the post, but you can not ask someone to change their personal likes/dislikes. For example, I have seen a blogger complain about button placement on a jacket when it turned out that she did not understand how to wear the item. The company could send her a follow-up email pointing this out, but if the blogger just flat out doesn’t like the style, and has chosen to blog about it, there’s nothing that can be done.
5. Dropping the blogger like a hot-potato after your canpaign or event is over
It’s important to follow up with bloggers even after the campaign ends. Continue to comment and connect over social media, and be a resource to them. The happier the blogger is with your company, the more you will benefit from a bloggers' goodwill. You want the blogger to refer to your product again and again in casual posts, not just when discussing the one event, so stay in touch.
Above all, remember that bloggers are people, not dispassionate companies. Communicate and converse in a way that allows the blogger to feel like she's part of a team where her needs and ideas are valued. We all have our favorites and over time, we allow new people into our inner circle. If you want “in”, charm the bouncer, letting the blogger know you think her site is the coolest spot in town.
Full-blown geek is probably not the first thing that comes to mind when meeting Heidi Nazarudin, founder of the professional women’s style blog, The Successful Style (formerly Heidi & Co) as well as President of Los Angeles-based blogger network The Blogger Babes. But don’t let the killer fashion sense fool you. You’re actually meeting a woman who graduated top of her class with a degree in Computer Science, a fomer international globe-trotting investment banker of a top financial institution, and a woman who was named CEO of a Tokyo-based Nasdaq technology company, all before she turned 28. These days, Heidi’s quick ascent up the corporate ladder has led her to be an excellent Style Mentor and Executive Coach for women navigating sartorial and gender-specific workplace dilemmas. Connect with Heidi on Twitter @heidinazarudin or learn more about her at HeidiNazarudin.com.
Photo Credit: an untrained eye