Finally, Part 3!
Dealing with FTC Disclosure Guidelines
Ahh, the FTC guidelines. These caused quite a stir when they were first released, but not much has happened since then. If you haven’t heard about them, basically the FTC is “requiring” bloggers to disclose any perks or freebies they get from companies they are blogging about.
PR rock stars Brian Solis of FutureWorks and Sarah Evans of Sevans Strategy were the panelists, and they both agreed that the FTC guidelines weren’t a problem yet. “It’s less about the FTC and more about your audience,” Brian says.
Letting your readers know you got something for free helps show your level of ethics when it comes to blogging. But, as Sarah says, “Don’t go out of your way to say ‘I’m a product whore’.” We’ve all seen posts where the blogger is clearly just reiterating a press release or being completely biased in their reporting. (Face it, as bloggers, we’re also reporters.)
Brian and Sarah both recommended having disclosure and PR sections on your site somewhere, both for your readers and any potential PR reps who might be looking at your site.
Disclosure doesn’t have to be a staid sentence at the end of your post. Create some fun around your disclosure in order to make it more interesting for your readers (and yourself). Tweeting your posts with disclosure actually helps clicks, too.
Sarah also moderates #journchat, a live chat on Twitter featuring journalists, PR pros, and bloggers.
Working with Brands
Our final panel was Jessica Randazza, marketing manager at Digitas, moderated by Babette. Jessica works for KitchenAid to find appropriate blogs and communities to advertise on.
Jessica says that if you’re interested in working with brands on your blog, to first think about the brands you really love. Come up with a list of about 10, and from there research the company as much as possible, using tools like the Google News Search. You want to know everything you can about a company before aligning yourself with them.
Any company you contact will most likely have a brand manager that will work with you, someone like Jessica who can help determine if your site is a good fit. Jessica says she looks at the analytics of your site, but that’s not the only factor in her decision. Even if your blog doesn’t have thousands of hits, it could still be a fit for a particular brand. And, Jessica notes, even if she says no today, she might not say no tomorrow.
Jessica also advised thinking about branding your content itself – don’t just be limited to ads on your sidebar. Jessica gave the example of having a post about the history of spices being sponsored by a spice company. When you think about branding in this way, the possibilities are endless!
The day was capped off with amazing food provided by Parkside, two signature cocktails, and cupcakes by SugarMamas Bake Shop.
Thanks again to everyone involved in TECHmunch Austin! I’m already looking forward to next year’s event!
My Food Looks Funny
All-in-One SEO plugin (WordPress)
Google Webmaster Tools (including Crawl Rate)
Hubspot (website grader)
Knowem (find your username)