Nearly every day at the minute I’m seeing articles about platforms that connect brands with bloggers and for bloggers to monetise their sites by connecting with brands. Its interesting; but what’s driving the connection?
I write two blogs, both shortlisted in the UK Blog Awards 2015 across two categories and both are treated very differently by brands.
For my whisky blog, GreatDrams.com, there is a lot of brand engagement as the whisky and luxury drinks sector knows that in connecting with whisky writers they gain access to influencers who directly speak with their consumers on a day to day basis.
By saying this I do not mean that they try to win favour by sending samples; there is a perception that us whisky writers get lots of free bottles of whisky, and to an extent we do but the majority of them are 100ml in size, not a full bottle… although they do arrive from time to time.
The key with whisky writing is that by being connected to brands I’m able to write in a brand tone of voice as well as wax lyrical about the product itself.
To give an example, I was recently invited by the parent company of a few whisky brands to visit three of their distilleries and a bottling plant. Why? Were they saying thanks for something? Were they trying to seduce great reviews? None of these things – they were inducting me, a brand consultant by day, into their brands’ ways of being and showing me where their products are made.
Don’t get me wrong, it was a superb trip and I wrote a lot of content on the back of it, but no preferential treatment was garnered at all.
I even write editorial principles for each site and publish them publicly to ensure that that can never happen:
For Strat-Talking.com I have the odd lifestyle brand come through to me such as Nespresso and a few professional brands such as Moleskine, Post-It and Evernotethat want to be positioned as daily tools in a freelancer’s life, and that’s part of the site’s reason for being so they are allowed and welcomed onto the site.
I get lots of others too but they are so wide of the mark that I literally have no idea why they thought to get in touch with me, these are always rejected.
Yes, I reject a lot of free stuff.
Why? Because I am only interested in protecting the purity of my sites and brands who are accepted due to their high relevance, and often because I use their products daily already, adds to Strat-Talking’s credibility.
I write with passion and purpose; and could not do that if I was writing about something that is patently irrelevant to my audience.
If brands are interesting in connecting with bloggers, they need to ensure they are connecting with the right people and right sites.
Don’t be afraid of bad reviews, they garner attention and conversation.
Don’t send or request stuff from sites that are not relevant to your brand – us bloggers who care about the quality of their sites won’t accept it and, in the occasional case, will write about the absurdity of it!