Conference Sponsorships: What Bloggers Can Offer Brands
After reading my post about How to Make a Lasting First Impression at Conferences, Jules left the following comment:
“Since I have never been to a conference, I was not aware that it is considered taboo to hand out swag from a company that is not an official sponsor. This is confusing for me as it leaves open the question as to how I get a company to sponsor me that is not an official sponsor. What benefit is it for them if I cannot promote them?”
Good question. Official conference sponsors are companies that help defray conference costs. As official sponsors, their presence is felt through the products you get in the conference swag bag, signage during the event, booths in the expo hall, sponsored meals, logos that appear on the conference website, and branded suites located in the same hotel as the conference. Such exposure can be expensive and some companies prefer to select bloggers to represent them at conferences as a more personal attempt at brand awareness.
While an unofficial conference sponsorship limits the types of promotion you can do within the event space, there are many ways you can share the company’s message before and after the conference. Here are some ideas:
- Dedicated posts: Determine the number of blog posts you will write on behalf of your sponsor before and after the conference. Review their products, share their mission, host giveaways, etc. Just be sure you are transparent and ensure that your readers know that the company is helping you cover conference costs.
- Media buys: Consider running an ad on your site before and after the conference.
- Host a Twitter party for your sponsor to raise awareness about the brand prior to the conference.
During the conference it is important to find ways to share your personal sponsor without it conflicting with the conference policy or infringing on the conference experience of other attendees. Shannan Powell from Cribs to Car Keys says, “Don’t spam the event hashtag with requests for a sponsor OR your sponsor’s messages. It’s rude to the other attendees and official sponsors.”
There are many ways to authentically represent your brand and yourself at events without engaging in behaviors that fellow bloggers will find offensive. These methods are generally viewed as acceptable:
- Create an elevator pitch about yourself and interject your sponsor as part of your introduction
- Hand out double-sided business cards that contain your name, email, blog name, URL, and Twitter handle on one side and information about your sponsor on the other
- Include your sponsor’s Twitter handle in your conference tweets. Be sure to include #sp (sponsor) for transparency purposes.
- Shoot some video to include as part of a conference recap on your own blog. Include your sponsor’s logo at the beginning and thank them at the end.
- Wear a shirt bearing your sponsor’s logo or have them send you a sticker or bumper sticker to affix to your laptop.
These are just some of the many possibilities that can appeal to companies and PR firms but are not the only ways to raise brand awareness. Figure out how best to capitalize on your knowledge about your audience and using your social media reach, offer creative strategies that will aid a brand in getting the word out for a fraction of the cost of being an official conference sponsor.
Regardless of which strategies you choose, be sure to demonstrate your value and reach in order to make your pitch stand out to the company with whom you’d like to work. Also, be transparent as you represent yourself to other bloggers at the event.
If you’ve been sponsored by brands in the past, what tips do you have to share with those seeking sponsorships for upcoming conferences?