9 tips on how to work with brands

Lots of BMB’ers tell us they’d like to work with brands but aren’t sure how to get started. So we decided to get an expert on the topic to dish out her advice.

Natalie runs one of the most visible blogs in the UK, Bambino Goodies, and her blog Baggage Reclaim was nominated for the Cosmo Blog Awards. We’re trying to think what Natalie hasn’t done, what with her books, workshops, blogs and brand relationships. Here she tells a little about her latest foray with a brand and gives her very wise tips. Over to Natalie:

A couple of Fridays ago my eyes went on stalks at a tweet asking me if I was free to go to New York the following week! I’d met Nick from JCPR a few weeks before at a blogging workshop. When tasked with sending a  ‘mummy blogger’ to New York to check out the launch of the very exciting Kinect for Xbox, he thought of me.

If you’ve never heard of a Kinect, it’s a device that works in conjunction with the Xbox 360, letting your body control the game instead of using controllers. Totally revolutionary, your movements are replicated on screen as you interact with the game. Sounding very American here, I have to say, quite frankly, it’s awesome!

A few days later, my three year old daughter and I were at the crowdsourced celebration in Times Square, watching 600 dancers shaking their moneymakers in sync while Ne Yo and er..Lady Sovereign performed. Afterwards we checked out the retail promotion at Toys R Us where queues of hundreds of people, some who had started queuing two days before including mums, were snaking around the blocks. Although we didn’t go to the midnight party, it was very interesting to see a PR effort in action. (See Natalie’s post about the trip on Bambino Goodies.)

My visit to NYC was a pretty unusual and rather cool experience – in fact, after six years of blogging, I’d say it’s my favourite!  For you, as a mum (or dad) who blogs, as I explained at Cybermummy in the summer, it’s important to get savvy about working with brands so here are some tips.

1. Get out and about. You never know who you might meet when you’re at events, which is why it’s important to put your best foot forward, create a positive impression of yourself and make sure that when people think of your name and your blog, they have positive associations with it.

2. Sell yourself. Brands, retailers, PR etc love when you can speak knowledgeably about yourself, your blog, readers, ethos etc.  Explain what your blog is about/does in less than thirty seconds, especially if whatever you say differentiates you.

If you struggle or just say ‘Er…um…I write about being a mum’, it’s all a bit vanilla. You don’t have to have a high readership but if you get all huffy about revealing your numbers, you will alienate yourself and someone more forthcoming will step into the fold.

Incidentally, you don’t have to write a personal diary type blog about parenthood to be of interest to brands – they’re looking for people with influence.

3. Be discerning. Despite hearing from a hell of a lot of PRs each year, content generated as a result of an event, press release etc accounts for probably less than 5% of what is featured on my blog making the Xbox experience for me very unique and unusual. You don’t have to work with every brand that approaches you. Choose opportunities that resonate with you and your readers. I read about brands on some blogs and I’m left feeling very confused about the blogger – don’t let that be you!

Remember, if you’re discerning, this is good PR for you.

4. It doesn’t have to be a review! The phrase ‘product review’ sets my teeth on edge as it’s widely abused in the blogosphere. You can write about products without writing like a robot *adopts transformer voice* ‘I am reviewing such and such because X got in touch and asked me to’. We write about ‘stuff’ every day on Bambino Goodies and the word review is rarely used.

5. Actually it doesn’t have to be a competition or event blow by blow lowdown. If lots of you feature the same competition or write about the same event all around the same time, the net effect equals dilution. It’s important to remember, you don’t actually have to write about an event – you could write about the brand a few weeks later. A magazine that attends a Christmas event in July won’t write about the product till later in the year.

6. Be creative. Take lots of photos and do a montage, make videos, find an unusual angle to write about it – this will get you extra brownie points but also stop your blog looking like product review road kill.

7. Be passionate. As someone who can squeal over a giant bubble blower, I find it helps to be passionate about any products/brands/services that I feature. The boyf and I love gaming and own a Wii, a PSP, Nintendo DS, an Xbox 360, an iPad etc – in fact we love gadgets and technology so I was moonwalking in glee at the thought of laying my hands on a Kinect. Note, I will be trying out moonwalking in the Dance Central game!

Genuine enthusiasm as opposed to ‘You got in touch with me and offered me a bar of soap so I’ll take it and write something lacklustre’ doesn’t do you or the brand any favours – you don’t need anything that badly.

8. Create your own opportunities. OK on this occasion they approached me, but generally speaking, I seek out peeps I want to work with. If you don’t want to get lost in the crowd, it’s good to make your own approach especially as you’ll generate unique opportunities with high relevance.

9. Manage expectations. There are few things worse than a PR riding your arse like Zorro looking for something that you haven’t specifically said you’ll do. Find out what they expect, say if it’s too much or if you have a better idea, and be clear about what you can do and timelines. Don’t be afraid to say NO.

Got tips of your own? We’d love to hear them!

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About Jennifer Howze

Jennifer Howze is the Creative Director and co-founder of BritMums. She blogs about family travel at Jenography.net, tweets at @JHowze and Instagrams at @JHowze. Previously, she wrote the Alpha Mummy blog at The Times and as a journalist has contributed to The Times, The Guardian, The Independent, The Wall Street Journal, Travel & Leisure, Budget Travel, CNN.com, Allure, SELF and Premiere, among others. She won The Maggie Award from the Planned Parenthood Federation of America for a health article in Seventeen magazine.


  1. 11 November 2010 / 18:38

    Jolly useful advice Natalie – but then I’d expect nothing less. Sounds like your trip to NY was fabulous!

  2. 11 November 2010 / 19:14

    Great tips Natalie and glad you had such a fabulous time in NYC! xxx

  3. 11 November 2010 / 22:24

    Superb post. Would love to see some creativity around how blogs approach the blanket campaigns.

  4. 12 November 2010 / 10:04

    I use to run a small event in the UK and got very friendly with some of the big brands, they’d send me free DVDs of their programs for me to use at the event and at the club which I was Chair of at my university. We also got given huge boxes filled with merchandise and DVDs for contests and giveaways which was fantastic! I never had to ask for stuff they just emailed me saying if I needed anything and next day I’d have a post man and a large heavy box by the front door.
    I really want to review baby products (food and toys) but had no idea where to start, this really helped me out. Thanks 😀

  5. 12 November 2010 / 16:50

    Thanks for your comments ladies!
    @Sarah Oh it was! Apart from the bit where I got lost in the dark in the rain in Queens with a pushchair and two cases and a dead mobile ph…
    @Liz Thanks Gaga! Love B x
    @Kat Oh thank you! Trust me, I’d love to see a little creativity too!
    @Helen Glad to be of help!