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How To Ask For Blog Conference Sponsorship

Last week Tamara talked about why a newbie blogger should attend a conference. This week, I want to look at the nuts and bolts of how to attend a blog conference on someone else’s dime(s).Let’s face it. Conferences are EXPENSIVE and if you are a mom making just enough to pay for your monthly coffee habit from your blog it may seem like a crazy way to spend your money. If you are serious about your blogging goals, the money you spend on conferences can be well worth it. If you are just trying to update your family on little Susie’s latest word, it probably isn’t. Either way, looking for conference sponsorship is a great way to make it do-able (doable?? hmm…..)If you have been to at least one conference, you know it seems like everyone there is sponsored by someone. Sponsorship to a conference basically just means that a brand has helped you to defray the costs of attending the conference. I have seen all sorts of sponsorships, from a full sponsor who would pay for everything including your ticket, airfare, hotel and misc. expenses to those that partially cover your expenses or give you a product you may need for the trip.The first thing you should do in looking for a blog conference sponsorship is put together a summary of the conference you are hoping to attend. Not sure which conferences are for you? Jyl has a great list here! What is the conference about? What do you hope to gain from the conference? What types of brands would benefit from having a presence at this conference? What are the benefits to a brand?Last year I attended a conference and was shocked to find that one of the brands I work with was not represented there. They had given me a very small sponsorship to attend that conference without any strings attached (meaning I did not agree to promote them or report back). But when I came home I wrote them a detailed report of the conference and why I think their presence would be invaluable in the future. They agreed to fully sponsor me the following year (I did not ask) as well as expanding their reach year round into the mom blogging market. Win-win for us both!Now that you know what your goals are with the conference and what brands may work well with that, it is time to reach out to those PR contacts that you have been building since we started this series. Start by sending them information on the conference. Point them to the conference website and past years the conference has been running. Don’t assume that they already know about the conference. Hopefully they will have a few competitors who are already involved :) Let them know that you would like to attend the conference. Remind them of successful campaigns you have worked on in the past with them. Your email should explain why you think they should be involved and what you are willing to do in exchange for a sponsorship. Let them know about your readership and stats. What is your reach?Have a detailed breakdown of the costs you expect to incur at this conference. Let them know upfront if you are hoping to get a full sponsorship from them or if you are expecting to reach out to several brands for a partial sponsorship. Tell them why you are a much better choice than sending a rep from their company! This is an easy one….the answer is because you already live in this space and are a more natural fit to really learn what the most exciting trends are. You know the people attending already (if only by being their readers) and you are better equipped to understand the industry.What do bloggers do in exchange for sponsorship?Really, a variety of things. One of the most clever sponsorships I have seen was Jenn Fowler teaming up with Coldwater Creek for her wardrobe last year at BlogHer. Genius in my opinion how she handled that. Some of the more common things:

  • hand out business cards
  • hand out swag bags with brand merchandise
  • run a live giveaway
  • live tweet at the event
  • live blog the event
  • host a private party in your suite
  • gather contacts for the sponsor
  • give a detailed report on the conference to the sponsor
  • exchange advertising space on your site
  • list sponsors on a special sponsor page on your site

Make sure that you check the conference guidelines to see what you are able to do for the sponsor before offering. I know BlogHer this year is not allowing attendees to pass things out in the conference space or host private parties within the conference hotel. This is a big change from last year and will force people to get a little more creative!Last but not least, don’t give up! You are bound to get a few no’s as you work through your contact list. That is OK. If it is a no because of the budget or so forth, DO follow up with them after the conference and let them know what they missed out on so they can plan for next year!Oh, and one more thing, if any wonderful brands out there reading this would like to sponsor me for any of the following: EVO, Savvy Blogging Summit, BlogHer or IZEAFest this year, please feel free to read more about how we can work together! *shameless plug*What are some successful blog conference sponsorships you have seen or had? What are some of the ways it doesn’t work??

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How To Host a Blog Giveaway

I know I promised you great advice from my blogging buds this month but I am going to break from that schedule due to some computer issues I have been having this past week.Last week, my real life friend, Lori, held her first blog giveaway. She had lots of questions and I think that makes a great topic for PR Mondays.Giveaways, hmmmm, lots to say. First off, I almost always charge to run a giveaway these days. Do a few and realize how much time they take and you will too. BUT, when you are first starting out your blog (or you are having a particularly slow month) running a giveaway at no charge can be a real benefit to you and your loyal readers.There are two (at least) schools of thought on giveaways: keep them on the DL so that your loyal readers benefit only or go all out and use them to help promote your blog. I understand the point of few of both camps and have been in one or the other at various times but I am going to talk today about running a giveaway as a way to promo your blog.So, if you are growing your blog and currently do reviews for free, you may want to consider running  a few well placed giveaway. If you are doing a review for something cool, just ask the PR rep to provide one as a giveaway. It is rare they say no.I usually run a giveaway by first talking about the product (review) and then let my readers know I have one to giveaway. I ask readers to leave a comment for their initial entry. The comment question usually has something to do with the product (how you would use it, why you want it, visit the brands site and tell me what you learned are all ideas for the initial comment). Next, I offer ‘additional’ entries and here is the part where I get to use the giveaway to build my blog. It gives entrants extra chances to win. Common extra entry chances are:

  • subscribe to my feed
  • follow me on twitter
  • tweet about the giveaway with my link
  • add my link to giveaway linkys

I used to ask people to facebook, stumble or digg the post but that is against their terms of service and can get you and your site banned now. Anne-Marie wrote a great article on the Facebook changes.  Each extra entry needs to be in a separate comment to count. Looking at how this benefits me, the readers are promoting my blog, upping my feed and comment counts. All of these things allow me to better pitch my blog for future pr opps.Before you post make sure you add the word “giveaway” in your title and tag it as well. Once my giveaway is running, I promote it on twitter and by adding my link to all the various giveaway linkys out there. I have a linky post that you are welcome to use any time. There is also an amazing list on MommySnacks site. People looking to enter giveaways check these lists often. Great, free link promo for you! Yee haw!I usually let giveaways run for 1 week. I choose an end time that works for me and usually announce the winner within that week. In order to pick a winner I go to random.org and use the random number generator on the right side. If you have 100 comments you would put 1 in the top field and 100 in the bottom. Click ‘generate’. That is the comment number that wins. This is where having a theme or plugin that numbers your comments rock. I don’t have this so I have to do it the old fashioned way, count. I always screen shot the generated number page so that I have proof in case someone claims foul play (yes, people can get really emotional about some giveaways so protect yourself).Announce your winner (if you want) or just contact them. State in your rules that they have a certain time to claim. I give 72 hours. Get their mailing address and pass on to the PR rep. Oh, did I forget to say that I ask all my pr reps to fulfill the mailing??? Postage can get really expensive. Leave this cost to them whenever possible. They don’t usually care because they would have to mail it to you anyway so most are more than happy to just mail to the winner.The others, I just don’t work with.Post rules. Here are my generic ones:

NO PURCHASE NECESSARYPromotion is open to U.S. residents 18 years of age or older as of  (date of giveaway) except employees and their immediate families of Chaotic Communications, LLC (my company) .Void where prohibited. All federal, state and local laws apply. All taxes are the sole responsibility of winners.Sponsor is not responsible  for any technical problems, malfunctions of any telephone lines, computer systems, servers, providers, hardware/software, lost or unavailable network connections or failed, incomplete, garbled or delayed computer transmission or any combination thereof. If, in the Judging Agency’s opinion, there is any suspected or actual evidence of tampering with any portion of the sweepstakes, or if technical difficulties compromise the integrity of the sweepstakes, the Judging Agency reserve the right to modify the sweepstakes in a manner deemed appropriate by the Judging Agency, in its sole discretion. By participating in this promotion, entrants agree to be bound by the Official Rules and the decisions of the Judging Agency.JUDGING: Chaotic Communications, LLC (”Judging Agency”) will choose a winner based on a random drawing of all qualifying comments.   Agency reserves the right to disqualify any entry that, in the sole opinion of the judges, refers, depicts or in any way reflects negatively upon the sponsor, the promotion or any other person or entity.SPONSOR: (name sponsor)

What advice do you have for a new blogger hosting their first giveaway?

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Future of Mom Blogging&PR

PR Advice for Mom BloggersWrapping up February’s Straight Talk From PR series, I think it is important to hear how they see our future relationships evolving. One has to wonder with the statistic that Holly shared that 120,000 new blogs are created EVERY DAY, when does market saturation begin? Has it already? I think in a lot of ways, yes, it has. The old model of product review/giveaway is tired in my opinion. I think moving forward brands and bloggers are going to have to come up with more innovative ways to leverage our influence. But, alas, February is not about what I think, it is what actual PR reps think and so I will conclude this month with a few more great answers.What do you want mom bloggers to most understand about your position?

I serve almost as a middle man between bloggers and my clients. It’s my job to bring both parties together so they can do mutually beneficial work and build relationships. Plus, I’m a nice, normal person, so you should get to know me and not think of me just as a “pr flack.” =)

Do you like being pitched (moms seeking you out) ?

I definitely like when mom bloggers proactively contact me to express interest in working with my clients or to even get to know me better.

I love it!

What do you foresee in the future in terms of mom bloggers and PR?

I think 2010 is going to be a deciding year for mom bloggers and PR. The relationship has evolved over the last few years and will continue to do so. With the FTC involvement and the upswing of “sponsored” posts, I think companies are really going to start analyzing how effective mom blogs are in relation to their bottom line.As for the PR relationship, there will continue to be less “traditional” media outlets, and it will be interesting to see how much the lines between a “blogger” and a “reporter” begin to blur.

I think working with mom bloggers will remain very important to brands trying to reach moms. I hope that we can find more ways to work together that is mutually beneficial for both our clients and the bloggers whether that is with more paid spokesperson gigs or bringing bloggers in for counsel. It’s still a bit murky with the FTC guidelines, but I think the relationship between bloggers and PR people will continue to evolve.

What do you think? How do you see the relationship between mom bloggers and brands evolving?

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PR Monday: Straight Talk From PR

PR Advice for Mom BloggersHey everyone! In Feb I am going to use this space to highlight straight talk from PR reps. I sent out a survey to some of the reps that I really respect and enjoy working with. In the interest of getting the most candid answers from them I am going to post their comments as anonymous. Lets face it, I can blab all day long about what I think but wouldn’t you rather know what they have to say?So, here are a few questions and answers for them.How does a mom blogger gain your attention? What puts them on your radar?

“If a mom blogger reaches out to me directly, I always make sure to check out her blog. I also discover a lot of great bloggers via Twitter. Whether it’s a new blog post on recipes or an industry-related article, I’m always reading everything I can (or that time allows!)””Honestly, someone who I know and interact with via Twitter, my blog or who emails me to keep a relationship going. If I know you, know you write great content and are fun to work with, I’ll likely include you in all the outreach I do for my clients and also recommend you to my colleagues.Beyond that, bloggers who are regularly included in other high-profile campaigns (Walmart Eleven Moms, Lifetime Moms ect) it will catch my attention. It also helps us sell you in to our clients as bloggers we should reach out to.”

Check out this post if you are looking for the names of PR Reps that would like to work with mom bloggers.How important are statistics in your campaigns? Can you give me the min. stats you are looking for?

“The quality of your content and how connected you are with other bloggers is most important. However, I do look at unique visitors per month to gauge whether to include bloggers into bigger campaigns like trips and larger giveaways.””Unfortunately, statistics do matter for the most part. In an ideal world, I would love to work with every single blogger. The reality is companies need results in the form of measurement. However, statistics are not the end all be all of working with a blogger. If a blogger has a niche audience (ex. coupons/frugal or cooking) and I’m working with a client that is relevant to that specific audience, then there’s more value in who’s reading the blog than how many people are reading the blog.Keep in mind that just because I might not be able to work with you right now, doesn’t mean we can’t work together in the future. I love hearing from brand new bloggers; we all have to start somewhere!”

Looking to learn more about stats? Check out this post on Understanding Your Blog Statistics.How important is a mom bloggers social media reach to you? What social media outlets are most important to you?

“Social media reach is pretty important. In addition to looking at blog outreach, we also look at how influential that reach is. Is the blogger on Twitter? Does the blogger enjoy going to events? Is the blogger active in the mom blogging community? Is the blogger active in his/her own community? Does the blogger contribute to other blogs/web sites?””It’s important for bloggers to be very well-connected to other bloggers and moms via Twitter, Facebook, YouTube ect. We typically will vet every blogger to see what their presence is like in those outlets. Plus if we know that your friends/followers are highly engaged with your content and will respond with comments, votes, entries ect. we’re more likely to reach out to you.”

As you can see from the above comments your social media (especially twitter) presence is very important to PR. If you are new to twitter, here is a post I wrote on Getting Started on Twitter.If you are a PR rep and would like to participate in answering, email me and I will send you over the survey. Here is your chance to tell us mom bloggers what we need to know about you.

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