8 Tips for Finding Sponsorship
Eat, Write, Retreat is an all-inclusive food blogging event taking place May 20-22, 2011 in Washington DC. This intensive, hands-on learning weekend focuses on educating food bloggers and writers through workshops in food styling, photography, cooking, writing and professional development.
When planning to attend Eat, Write, Retreat, you may ask yourself, “Should I find a sponsor?” Securing sponsorship to attend any event entails entering into a somewhat formal business relationship, so you may want to first consider whether a sponsorship is a good fit for you.
One of the major benefits of finding a sponsor is having some or all of your costs covered. Think beyond the bottom line and picture how the relationship with your potential sponsor(s) will unfold. Are you comfortable promoting products on your blog, writing sponsored posts, tweets and FaceBook updates? How will you feel about representing a product at the event and how aggressively will you be expected to do so? Are you good at wearing multiple hats (food blogger, brand ambassador, promoter)? Will the sponsorship in question present a conflict of interest with the content, advertising and/or other sponsors currently on your site?
If after careful consideration, you are comfortable pursuing sponsorship, here are some tips that may help in your quest.
1) Know Thyself
When you are clear about the mission of your blog and consistent in delivering quality content that fulfills that mission, you have a head start in approaching potential sponsors. Being able to clearly communicate what you are doing with your blog will do two important things: enable you to identify appropriate companies to approach and help you create a pitch that will appeal.
2) Know Thy Stats
Most sponsors will want to know what kind of ROI (return on investment) they can expect in partnering with you. Traffic to your blog, Twitter followers and FaceBook “likes” all factor in, so be sure to have those numbers handy. Better yet, format them in an easy-to-read document that will become part of your media kit. Be sure to include intangible stats, such as articles published and awards won that support what you are doing on your blog. Also, include your Klout score if it is relevant.
3) Practice Being Pitch Perfect
Reach out to potential sponsors with a well-formed idea. This could be a targeted promotional campaign on your blog such as a giveaway or a series of posts featuring their product. Be specific about how you will showcase the product in question (original recipe development or menu planning advice or nutritional highlights, etc). Mention whether you are able to promote them to your Twitter and FaceBook followers. In short, make it easy for a sponsor to say “yes” by covering all of their questions and addressing their needs as specifically as you can.
4) Play the Numbers Game
Don’t even think about emailing or picking up the phone until you have decided how much money you are asking for. Figure this out ahead of time, when you can approach the equation with a clear head, rather than during your pitch. Once you decide what you need (and why), go for it! (One reason Eat, Write, Retreat is an easy sell: our all-inclusive pricing makes our event an incredible deal for you and your sponsor.)
Potential sponsors can come from myriad sources: national brands, agricultural commodities or smaller “mom and pop” businesses. You can also approach PR firms that represent food and beverage clients. A sponsorship could be funded by several different clients; simply split your needs between multiple potential sponsors, thereby reducing the overall cost to all involved. (Think about how this will impact your responsibilities at Eat, Write, Retreat.) Target brands that are active on Twitter and FaceBook, as they may be more open to investing in this kind of sponsorship. Here is a list of food and beverage PR firms. Be sure to do your homework!
6) It’s All Who You Know
Your highest probability for success lies in relationships you already have. Think about past sponsors of your site, companies about whom you’ve written or whose products you’ve given away. Consider approaching them, as well as any direct advertisers on your blog (not ad networks). Also, brainstorm beyond your blog. Is there an affiliation or relationship from your off-line life that may fit the bill, such as a local company that you’ve helped with social media efforts? Throw a wide net when making a list of those to approach.
7) Dress for Success
If all of your preparation pays off and you find a viable sponsor, be clear about how the sponsorship will proceed. Specifically outline the responsibilities of both parties, with an editorial and payment time line if necessary. Once you return from Eat, Write, Retreat, arrange a follow up call to report on it and to request feedback. Make sure your sponsor is satisfied with the outcome and establish the framework for a continued positive relationship.
8 ) If You Strike Out
Each PR rep, marketing executive and corporate liaison with whom you make contact is a possible partner down the road. Treat them as such, even if they say no the first time around. Plant the seeds for a relationship to develop. Then, take what you learned to hone your pitch for your next attempt.
To sign up to receive future updates on Eat, Write, Retreat, visit the Contact page and leave your information. For more information on registration or corporate sponsorship opportunities, contact Casey Benedict at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Join us in May!