Brand/Blogger Partnerships

So, this is kind of meta, but I’m going to blog about blogging. As a sort-of follow-up to my last post, I want to talk about bloggers and brands. More specifically, how they work together.

Over the past few months, I’ve gotten some emails from companies that want to partner with me in some way. I’ve mentioned on here that I work in marketing and a big part of my job is social media. Partnering with bloggers is one of the latest PR strategies for brands. The two social media conferences I attended recently both had break-out sessions on working with bloggers. It’s cheap PR for the brands, and you the blogger get free stuff. Win win. Usually.

I don’t accept every single offer that comes my way, and lately, I’ve been thinking about why I accept some offers and turn down others. And of course, seeing that some of my fellow bloggers do talk about products/brands, and some don’t, it’s made me wonder what you all think.

So far, the brands that I’ve agreed to partner with/promote/accept free stuff from/agree to talk about/be an affiliate for, are usually:

  • a product I do or would personally use
  • a company I can ethically get behind
  • bonus points: small brands that need more exposure
Free things I’ve gotten as a result of this blog (the Firmoo glasses and the Brooks shoes).

So, clearly, I have received a few offers that made me say “yes, please!”

But, I have received a few offers that have made me raise my eyebrows. Some were just for products I would never personally use and have no interest in testing out, and I’m not so hard-up that I would push any old product on my blog. Some were just bad pitches made by lazy or desperate PR people.

But a couple of offers have been questionable to me. One was a product that I felt had zero connection to my blog (no matter how hard the publicist tried to connect it to running), and that would make me feel like a “sell out” for agreeing to partner with. Another was a “non-profit” with what I personally consider questionable business practices and would never knowingly support, publicly or privately.

In both cases I mulled over whether to accept the offer or not, but ultimately had to listen to what my gut was telling me. If I have to talk myself into agreeing to a partnership, that’s not a good sign.

Now, I don’t think that I’m some super famous blogger (and my blog stats support that self-awareness) or that it really makes a difference to some company whether or not I accept their offer. But, I do have some integrity, and at the end of the day, this is still my blog, with my name on it (OK, half of my first name), and I want it to be something I can get behind and be proud of. Shilling products that I wouldn’t use otherwise, or for companies that I don’t support, doesn’t jive with me.

I do not judge (most) bloggers who agree to partnerships. Obviously, I have agreed to work with some brands, and I know each of us has to decide what is a right or wrong fit for our individual blog.

So, I’m curious – If you have partnered with a brand, why did you agree to it? And, have you ever turned down a potential partnership? Why?

If you’ve received offers, but have never partnered with a brand, why not, and what do you think of bloggers who do? 

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19 Comments on “Brand/Blogger Partnerships”

  1. I think this post sparks some interesting questions. There are some brands I’ve gotten emails about that I, too, have turned down. If it doesn’t seem like something that is a fit for me, I wouldn’t want to post about it. I am a Oiselle ambassador and I am obligated to talk about certain things if asked. BUT I really love and stand behind all of their products so I don’t mind doing it (I was already promoting their brand before I officially became an ambassador anyways). I don’t have a lot of blog followers either but I’d like to think that I would like to continue to support brands that I believe in.

    Everyone has their own blog for a reason. I don’t like to judge others for the decisions they made on what products they support, but I probably won’t read their blog (as much) if I don’t like how they represent various products (or themselves).

    I think one of the strangest requests I received was that a charity asked me to post a video where they would pay me for each video view. I responded that I would rather have the money raised go to the charity than to me. I honestly didn’t understand the marketing behind that one.

  2. I’ve turned down a few because they were food and i was like, “I don’t eat that. Nor would I. I’m sorry.”

    And the one or two that I’ve reluctantly done after they pushed back a little more, I’ve given bad reviews because I didn’t like it… like I said I wouldn’t… duh

  3. gr8 post! I am the same as you, I’ve turned down a few. Lately I’ve been getting a lot of requests to write guests posts on my blog for money. As tempting as the money is the company or content of what they wanted to write is just not something I want to endorse.

    Sometimes though, ya want the money…or free thing.

  4. I’m not cool enough to get a lot of pitches so I haven’t had to turn them down! Actually, I’ve gotten some emails from companies that say things like “blog about us and we’ll give you an affiliate link and if people use it you get 5% of what they buy!” Well, I know my readership and I know they probably won’t buy so why would I bother?

    Your rules of thumb are good guidelines and ones that I’ll use in the future!

  5. I turn down most offers, mostly because i like saying whatever i want on my blog. Some things that i can really get behind i have no problem spreading the word about (DO YOU HEAR ME, MRS. T’s BLOODY MARY MIX??) I also automatically turn down anything to do with dieting, and any company that is against gay rights (sorry, but it is my gay-loving blog!) But seriously, maybe a dozen people read my blog, and it’s mostly just to be sassy. I never expect or want it to be a source of revenue.

    1. The best thing you can do is read and comment on other blogs, and connect with other bloggers and readers through other channels – Twitter, DailyMile, Facebook, etc.

  6. Rather than articulate my thoughts, let me point to Shelby’s post:

    http://www.eatdrinkandrun.com/2012/07/18/two-things-i-dont-get/

    Actually, I will add something:

    I don’t roll my eyes at bloggers for getting free shit. I roll my eyes at companies that just hand out free shit to people that get the most hits as opposed to people with, you know, actual content. The best example of this is that whole Oiselle TOTALLY TRIALS debacle which seemed engineered to bring two of their ambassadors to Eugene, despite being opened up to the blog world at large. Yes, it was effective from a marketing standpoint but was there really ANY doubt over who would win? I know I won’t ever buy their shit because of that but what the hell do I matter – I don’t blog enough and swear to much to get free shit.

    1. I was wondering if you’d comment on this post. I agree that there are some bloggers & brands that see a little too … cliquish. Basically the ones pointed out on GOMI. Although cliquishness is one of my issues with certain bloggers, with or without brands.

  7. As a follow up, I’m agreeing with her target in the post – not saying EVERYONE who gets Brooks shit is inherently evil. Because clearly, I <3 you!

    1. The funny thing about the stuff I’ve gotten from Brooks is that they never asked me to talk about it on my blog. I actually asked straight out if they wanted me to, and the person I worked with was like “if you want to, that’s fine, but you don’t have to.” Personally I think reviewing running shoes is pointless because it’s all so dependent on your feet, gait, mileage, where you train, etc, and you really should go to a reputable running store and have them recommend your shoes. Not some blogger. Anyway.

      But I totally agree with Shelby’s point.

  8. I only accept offers on things I already use AND like or something I would like to try (the yurbuds inspire for women!!!). I always decline (or basically don’t respond) to supplement/vitamin offers for product and/or advertising. I’m an AdvoCare distributor and its a personal conflict. Plus, the majority of the stuff I giveaway is something I already own and I have no connection or reward (like free stuff), only the reader gets hooked up with the freebies. I don’t like to say bad things so like to stick with the stuff I know & like in order to avoid getting myself in a messy situation.

  9. You’ve written what I’ve been thinking about a lot lately…

    I’ve gotten offers to review things or partner with X and turned them all down. All of the free stuff I’ve mentioned on my blog (race entries- Nike stuff) I’ve received because of winning contests Or giveaways.

    I get a very bad taste in my mouth with blogs or twitter when I see people hocking questionable products and gush about “OMFg how amazing it is!”

    Recently some HLB’s got compensated for parking lot reviews. I kid you not. Desperate in my opinion.

    My blog is my online journal and the easiest way to share photos and stories with my family. (so I don’t have to repeate the same conversation 2+ times). I’m also thankful for the people I’ve met because of having the blog. I swear to god i wouldn’t know a soul here in Chicago if it weren’t for the blog. If a company who fits my ideals came along and offered me something awesome to review, I’d give an honest review about the product. But until then, I like just writing whatever whenever I want 🙂

  10. Completely agree with you about shoe reviews. Each person needs to get the brand/model of shoe that is best for their feet/gait etc. Also, don’t mind bloggers plugging products if it is only now and again and they are upfront about the fact that it is a “paid” review.

  11. I echo Erin’s comment above for myself in that I am not cool enough to get many pitches, so I haven’t had to turn anything down. But I would only want to blog about products that I truly believe in and would stand behind myself!

  12. I respect bloggers who clearly only review things that they stand behind. It drives me crazy when I read a review about an item that so clearly does not fit the blog’s imagine. I guess it’s easy to get caught up in the free swag and accept anything that may come your way, but then the blogger just ends up looking like a fraud.

  13. So happy you wrote this, as I have been reading A LOT of reviews and honestly? Wondering why people are selling out. Yeah. Like you, I only review things I can get behind and I get a lot of requests that make NO SENSE to my online persona. So, I do the same as you – it has to be a product I would actually use/a company I support. Most of the time, I just host my own giveaways.

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