This Sunday I had the privilege attending a series of events hosted by the Silicon Valley Moms Group fo DC Metro Moms. Representing BitMoms in my new role as Chief BitMom, and later as my own blogging self, allowed me to reflect about the kinds of relationships I’ve had in the last 2 ½ years as a blogger and working with brands.
On a daily basis, blogging is a pretty solitary venture. Lots of late nights in front of the computer don’t allow for the face-to-face conversations you would have with colleagues in a traditional office setting. In the online world, relationshipsthing I have learned about blogging, I would have to say that relationships are critical in the blogging world.
This Sunday I had the privilege attending a series of events hosted by the Silicon Valley Moms Group begin on Twitter or by following blogs through a feed to get to know writers and their content. Think of it as speed dating. Whether via RSS, through your reader, or Twitter, you may start out following many but after a few rounds of reading, you narrow your selection down to a few that really click with you.
Virtual speed dating can move an online relationship to the dating stage. Email exchanges back and forth between a blogger and PR/ brands can be sometimes lead to a long term relationship. But sometimes the date never gets off the ground. Maybe the pitch is impersonal or there’s no match between the blog audience and product. Or perhaps the relationship is one sided with bloggers being asked to post a link/contest/ giveaway with nothing offered in return. Sometimes there are mistakes made and while it may be difficult to move beyond some, others are merely rough patches on the road to a long term relationship.
I believe long term relationships are the best kinds of relationships that a blogger can have with a brand or PR company. Interest comes from both sides and the relationship is cultivated over time to be meaningful. Both sides are honest, respectful, and realize the value in working together.
I’ve been fortunate to have long relationships with companies like Scholastic and T-Mobile where there is a willingness to share ideas. PR firms such as Voce and 360 PR (like the lovely Brett from the 360PR team, pictured right) constantly demonstrate their respect bloggers through the way they conduct business regardless of the brand they are promoting. Clever Girls Collective gets it as a company run by well respected women in the blog and social media world who have a ton of experience with brands. The previously mentioned are fair, honest, operate with integrity, and a dream to work with because they have taken the time to get to know me.
The epitome of the brand-blogger relationship is a marriage of ideas that realizes a blogger’s goals- regardless of what they may be. Every blogger’s goal is different. If you are a brand, get to know them and you will understand what they strive for. Or ask. Engage them in conversation. Trust me, we always have lots to say.
That’s what LeapFrog did. They asked. After being a fan of the brand and writing regular posts without being paid a dime, they asked me how we could continue to work together. They put me on the spot but I told them my pie in the sky dream. Now I’m a paid contributor and get to write about the things I know and love- technology as it relates to education. All because they asked.
By no means do I recommend that bloggers around for a company or PR firm to ask you about your goals. If you have a relationship with the company, come up with a great idea and pitch them! As my mother always says, “The worst they can say is no.” While the time might not be right or it might not be a fit for their long term vision, they are likely to remember and come to you when other opportunities arise.
Going out on a limb can only work to your advantage. In the two months that I’ve been working with BitMoms, I’ve seen some real potential to take my work with the online community and extend into more meaningful work based on parental need. I can’t fully disclose plans but I was comfortable going out on a limb and sharing my ideas with them. That’s part of the BitDefender crew above right!
So why am I talking about relationships and telling you all of this?
Besides the relationships with brands, my friendships with fellow DC Metro Mom bloggers, and others who are part of the Silicon Valley Moms Group, are priceless. I love being part of a blogging community and having relationships with women I admire, respect, and can have truthful conversations with. Because we are a garrulous and honest bunch who interact more virtually than in real life, we have a fantastic time when we see each other. The event could be in a back alley or at the swanky Ritz and we would have just as much fun as long as someone remembered the wine and a slab of cheese.
I appreciate the hugs and a glass of wine that come with face time because it is always a nice reminder that we truly do look out for each other. The wheels in my head start to turn as I think about the brands I work with, who might be a good fit for an opportunity, the ways I can support others in the blogging community, and- for those of us who consult or freelance- ensure that we work towards establishing a fair rate of pay for our work. It’s all about having each other’s backs.
So yes…In the blogging world, relationships are important. Many companies struggle with how to engage in respectful relationships with bloggers but there are clearly brands- both big and small- that get it. Many brands demonstrated their willingness to develop relationships and a desire to learn more about what bloggers want through the SV Moms Group Brand & Blogger Symposium. While some admitted to being there to learn, their presence demonstrated a willingness to listen. I only wish that every brand would pull up a seat to the table like those who were there on Sunday did.
Huge thanks to the following companies for their support of last weekend’s DC Metro Moms events and offering the chance to try their products, some of which you will learn more about in future posts.
- BitDefender and BitMoms for serving as the title sponsor of the event, hosting a fabulous brunch focus group, and sending me home with the sweetest handmade lemon smelling spa products and antivirus software
- Reconnecting with K12.com after a wonderful dinner in the fall. It was nice to see Dave again hear about the latest happenings over at K12 and I appreciated the box of art supplies that we are going to delve into as soon as school ends.
- The Ritz Carleton Pentagon City as the posh host for all the day’s events plus info on princess tea parties over cookies
- Bosch for the opportunity to jump start my afternoon with a delicious iced chai made during a Tassimo demonstration
- Stonyfield whose organic Greek Oikos yogurt is always a favorite in our house
- TLC for the opportunity to meet the rock star sister founders of Georgetown Cupcake and will be starring in a new series called Cupcake Dream
- Litl whose new little web book is functional and well designed for the littlest computer user
- Cinnabon for expanding their product line beyond cinnamon buns and allowing me to try their cupcake goodness
- iGo Green for my iGo Charge Anywhere which will help me reduce bag clutter come summer travel season
- 23andMe because I really am looking forward to mailing in my saliva to see my genetic profile! Crazy but true!
- Love/Avon Army of Women for their dedication in the very important fight against breast cancer
- Lice Happens who are on the front lines eliminating lice from heads on a daily basis. As a teacher, I thank you!
- Cultural Care Au Pair who were so nice to share that getting an au pair is competitively priced and can often be less than a full time nanny. Really!
- Lawry’s for yummy marinades, new flavor profiles, and the ever-classic Seasoning Salt
- Organically Grown for the super soft organic cotton bag that is now permanently affixed to my side
- Mary Gardella of LoveLifeImages.com for her wonderful photographs from the day that you can view here
- Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts for tickets to a summer Theater in the Woods performance. Our pick is Rocknoceros!
- And also Yoplait Kids, EasyPrintDesign.com, Safety 1st, and Eden Fantasys
Thanks T-Mobile for providing me with a Dell Mini Netbook 10 with T-Mobile webConnect service so I could tweet and blog about the day’s events while they were happening! That’s a photo that Mary snapped of me using my Dell Mini during the Brands & Blogger Event wearing my Yummie Tummie Maxie Dress that was intended for my Cannes trip. Thanks Yummie Tummie for my new all time favorite dress!
Product samples were provided by the above companies during the event. I consult for BitMoms, powered by BitDefender, who was the title sponsor of the DC Metro Moms Silicon Valley Moms Group events. All opinions stated in this post are my own and are not influenced by my work with BitMoms and BitDefender.
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Original post by Tech Savvy Mama