Let’s Talk About What Bloggers Want From Brands


There’s been a fair amount of miscommunication between brands and bloggers for a while now.

Many of my fellow bloggers have taken to their keyboards and written many a passionate post about it.  Too many to mention.

Since the #CTmeetup (where we gave bloggers and a couple of great PR companies a “safe” environment to air their opinions) I have been trying to formulate all of the feedback into something comprehensive – “a go to guide” of feedback for brands wanting to work with bloggers (for a lack of a better term).

As a blogger myself, I have a few personal thoughts to preface the survey findings.

My blog is my (4th) baby.  I spend a lot of time and energy making sure that the content that I put out is worth reading.  Finding the right topic and then writing something that is engaging, honest (hopefully funny) and interesting is actually much more challenging than you think.  Taking photos, editing them and sharing them appropriately takes additional time and forethought.

Am I complaining?  NO!  I do this because I love it.  I love being able to look back and see what we were going through over the years.  It is not a chore, for me it’s a passion.

Not only am I blogger, but I am an avid blog reader.  As with many of my friends, opening our blog reader (Bloglovin’ in my case), while indulging in a cup of coffee is like opening my own tailor made magazine, filled with content that I am interested in and written by people whose opinions I trust and value.

There are many bloggers out there that take their craft seriously.  They are consistent, they put out great content and they have developed a relationship with their readers that often extends to friendships.  Co-incidentally those are the bloggers that are often approached by brands wanting to work with them.  With good reason.

Some brands know the value of word of mouth advertising – which is exactly why blogging is so effective and why we (as bloggers) need to make sure that we are honest in producing review posts.

With that in mind, let’s turn our attention to the first part of this feedback series:

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What bloggers want/expect when dealing with brands

Bloggers want things from brands and I’m not just talking about free stuff.  (Although arguably, that is what some bloggers want from brands, but we won’t talk about that now).  Not everyone is “in it” to work with brands (and that’s more than OK), but there are many people out there who are keen to do so.  We interviewed those people.

Here’s the feedback that we got when we surveyed many of Cape Towns bloggers:

Only 60% of bloggers found press releases to be helpful, but only sometimes. (25% found them to be totally unhelpful)

As an alternative to a generic press release, 65% of bloggers would prefer an app on their phone that provides the information and 30% would prefer login details to a website.

More than 80% would not mind disclosing information (such as foundation shade and favourite lip shade) in order to receive even more personalised press packs.

When asked about a brand that has really impressed them in the past, the summarized feedback was:

  • Not being a “Dear Blogger” but recognised as an actual person and getting the name right.
  • A personalised email/press release/press pack/gift.  Obviously this is a time consuming process and not always possible, but taking the time to read the blog that they pour blood, sweat and tears into and customise the correspondence accordingly.  This could include a handwritten note to adding their favourite chocolate to a press drop to personal delivery of gifts to clothing that is the perfect size for their children.
  • Excellent service and prompt response to queries, even if it’s a complaint.  Who value the bloggers opinion and feedback.
  • Ensuring that your name is on the event guest list when invited to a launch.  Explaining more about their products at a launch – showing the product, encouraging it to be tried and tested.
  • Brands that take the time to find a few bloggers that fit their niche and for them to build relationships by following their blog, or sending through a product that they know the blogger has just finished.
  • Pamper parties where the focus is not only on being spoiled but building relationships.
  • A brand that understand that our blogs are little businesses and offer some form of compensation in exchange for a feature posted.

 What has a brand done to really upset you?

  • Promising compensation and then not delivering after the post has been published or being expected to post for free.
  • A generic email that is sent to everyone for a product that is not relevant to the blogger. (For example creams for diaper rash when their kids are in primary school) and sending far too many of them.
  • Feeling “used” to do competitions and giveaways, but not being invited to events.
  • Expecting a review/press release to be posted without supplying the blogger with the product to try first.  (As I mentioned, we are obligated as bloggers to share our personal experience with the product, not the experience of someone else). Or expecting a biased review, gushing over the product even if it wasn’t great.
  • Being sent items without being asked and then being expected to write about them.
  • Getting harassed for the review post when you are still in the process of trying the product
  • Receiving press releases about event that the blogger was not invited to.
  • Making certain bloggers VIP and then others just second thought.  Treat them all equally (despite their following).  Make your targeted group smaller if you can’t treat everyone equally.
  • Not always considering the smaller bloggers that adore the brand, but rather focus on the bigger blogs because of stats.
  • Requested stats without really making any sort of introduction and never bothered to give any kind of feedback.

 What would you tell PR professional/ad agencies/brands if you had the chance?

  • The internet is forever and our review posted in 2011 is still able to be viewed, unlike the magazine that is in the recycling pile.  We tell stories, there is power in our stories and our ability to engage our audience way beyond what print media can do.
  • Blogs hold a lot of power.  Promoting products that we have had fantastic experience with as well as provide a platform to air our grievances.
  • Personal touch goes a long way.  Blogging is very personal and it is definitely appreciated when a personal approach is used.  Being treated like a professional and not just someone to post things for free.
  • Remember the amount of work that goes into blogging (most of it done after hours) and compensate accordingly.
  • Build relationships to that working together is a pleasure not a pain.
  • When planning launches, provide bloggers with as much details (regarding time – even if it’s just morning, afternoon or evening) well before the time to ensure attendance.
  • Identify a handful of bloggers that are really a great fit (in terms of products and readers) and then focus on them.  Even if you rotate the grouping annually to get new people in, the focused personalised approach is nice.
  • Look after your bloggers and they will look after you.  Update your blog lists regularly, often people have stopped blogging but are still being contacted.  Read the blogs you use to see if they are genuine or just in it for the free stuff.
  • Give the “little guys” a chance.  Bigger doesn’t always mean better.  No desire to be treated like a celebrity (although it might be nice) and often more inclined to go above and beyond to advertise the brand.
  • Not everyone is in it for the freebies
  • Explain your ad campaign in a bit more detail so we are provided with enough information to decide too do it and write about it effectively.
  • We can be trusted with buying ad space – we have a reputation to uphold too. We’re also brand ambassadors.

Check back here in a couple of weeks when I will share what PR professionals and Ad Agencies want bloggers to know!

Are you a blogger?  Anything you want to add to this?  Feel free to pop it into the comments below.

17 thoughts on “Let’s Talk About What Bloggers Want From Brands

  1. Thanks for the awesome post! I unfortunately missed the Cpt event, but as a blogger with brands this is a very useful summary – great to know we are all in the same boat with similar concerns. Using bloggers for marketing in SA is such a new field and bloggers and PR co’s both have to learn from each other. Having post-campaign feedback sessions are a great way of identifying what works and what doesn’t. And having a preferred PR co list is another way for us to help each other – maybe we can start putting that together from our own experiences and sharing it with each other like you did at the event. G

  2. I love this and agree with everything!
    My biggest pet peeve is being sent a generic press release when it’s clear the agency has no idea who I am or what my blog is about. I am SO tired of receiving press releases regarding breast feeding, as just one example. If the agencies actually knew me or my content, they’d know my children are adopted, no. 1 and no. 2 that they are both past that age so why send me a press release that is of zero interest to me?
    Also, do you know how often, I receive information, emails etc from agencies, addressed to me directly but then referring to someone else’s blog throughout the email? I won’t on principle work with an agency like that.

  3. As a brand, this is definitely something we try and do at all times…although sometimes we are all guilty of falling short on one or two things. It all boils down to respect and good old fashioned manners. Thanks for this valuable insight into the mind, or more importantly, the HEART of a blogger 🙂

  4. This is great post I would also like to know what the brands expect from a blogger. I’ve had a few brands not deliver products, or answer my questions when having problems, or not giving feedback like how they found my blog and if it appeals to them and their target market. The worst is arriving at an event and your name is not on the list, if it is not having full knowledge of what access your press pass gives you.

    My great thing is brands that do acknowledge you not matter how small your following. I will always work hard to maintain a good working relationship with a brand that shows they want the same.

  5. Great post! I recently had a long conversation with a company that was interested in working with me but after asking for my stats they completely ignored me! Never even bothered to write and say, sorry, you’re too small etc. Such a waste of everyone’s time seeing as my stats are plainly printed on my blog for all to see anyway. The blogger you are rude to today may be the blogger you want to work with in the future, so it just seems like bad practice. Thanks for sharing!

  6. I loved this! I am a small blog one year in, and am only just starting to be approached by PR companies etc. I have been really surprised at the lack of research into my blog and content before contacting me, I have even been invited to a product launch in Las Vegas! (Tickets not included). I also battle when people email me asking me to blog about something, without offering me a product from the new range, or a prize to giveaway, or remuneration. What exactly do I get out of that?

  7. Thank you very much for taking the time to write this. As a relatively new blogger, I am a bit naïve when it comes to working with brands. This post has definitely helped me in terms of not letting myself get taken advantage of. Also love what you said about new bloggers being “ignored”. Even established bloggers were once new bloggers. Thank you again!

    http://www.CKO-coolkidsonly.blogspot.com

  8. I thought this was an extremely useful blog! I thought I would just add a view from a marketer’s point of view. Planning communication for a new product launch has become increasingly difficult with the high level of media fragmentation. I doubt any marketer worth their salt would be ignoring the digital world but this is in addition to our conventional media which remains relevant. Bloggers are increasingly important in a marketing mix as their opinions add credibility and authenticity to the brands they support. Perhaps you shouldn’t be too scared to charge for this?
    On the flip side of the coin, budget is always a concern – especially with the smaller brands.The cost of sending products out can be onerous for a smaller player and so the stats do become important in the decision making.
    I do sympathise with the new bloggers getting started – my advice would be to try something a bit different to get noticed!
    We need to keep the dialogue going!

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