I had the privilege of attending “The Evolving Relationship of Brands and Bloggers,” a panel put on by the Publicity Club of New England. The event took place in downtown Boston at the office of 360 Public Relations. There were around forty attendees from PR firms, content marketing agencies and tech companies.
The panel consisted of:
- Laura Tomasetti, CEO of 360 Public Relations (Moderator)
- Audrey McClelland, Founder of Mom Generations
- Morra Aarons-Mele, Founder of Women Online
- Dave Charest, Senior Manager of Content & Social Media Marketing, Constant Contact
- Melanie Feehan, 360PR Influencer Program
There was a rousing discussion of how blogs have evolved into seriously influential channels, whether businesses are blogging to build an audience or brands are reaching out to bloggers to help create campaigns around products. Here’s what each panelist had to say about the state – and art! – of blogging today.
As an in-house content manager, Dave spoke about the journey Constant Contact took in building an influential blog that speaks to small businesses and organizations. He explained that, three years ago, the blog was getting around 9,000 visits a month and that number has skyrocketed to 300,000 visits a month.
The secret, according to Dave, is to create the kind of content that helps customers become more successful. My colleague, Sarah Love, will share more about Dave’s vision for blogging later this week.
“Content is the currency of the Internet,” Dave said. Brands that create content that people want to share will end up connecting with prospects and customers.
Audrey started off by discussing how she got started as one of the very first “mom bloggers” in 2005. She emphasized that, from the start, she has always worked to be an authentic brand spokesperson. Audrey works with brands to help promote different products, but only the ones she believes in and, in many cases, already uses.
She discussed the power of the brand and blogger relationship, and how bloggers can become champions for brands, building awareness, testing new products, and even defending the brand during times of crisis.
As the founder of the digital cause marketing agency Women Online, Morra works to promote awareness of different political and humanitarian causes through online channels. She works with organizations such as the United Nations Foundation and AARP and said that the best way to find out what will work across social media is by listening to your audience first.
She noted one thing often gets overlooked: “Social media is a matriarchy.” Aside from LinkedIn, every social channel is dominated by women. The top fifteen mom bloggers have a greater reach than the New York Time. With that kind of influence, different causes can gain significant momentum and reach.
Melanie got her start by blogging about great coupon deals, gathering a huge following from those efforts. She’s intimately familiar with the networks of bloggers and knows that each blogger has a unique influence that brands can tap.
As part of the 360PR Influencer Program, she works with companies to identify brand ambassadors. In part, that means evaluating each blogger’s “social equity.” Social equity is measured by taking into account all social channels, the quality of content being produced by the blogger and the traffic to a blog.
Content Marketing, PR and the Blog
From the discussion, it was clear that blogging – and, more importantly, content – is something every PR firm will have to offer clients today. It’s exciting to watch this evolution take place and agencies should be excited to experiment with all the new options that are now available to them. So start blogging!