TCCE Panel Day

Day 2 (Friday) of The Creative Connection Event was filled with panel discussions.

The first panel on self-publishing gave us a variety of perspectives on how to get your words out to the public. The panel included host Nancy Soriano, who has edited and published various magazines; Terry Walters, who self-published her first cookbook and was then approached by a publisher for a second book; Amy Powers, who hosts the online crafting magazine Inspired Ideas; Janine Vangool, who publishes a quarterly magazine and specialty books through Uppercase Publishing and Amy Barickman, who published Vintage Notions by leveraging local publishing connections.

Amy Barickman, Janine Vangool, Amy Powers, Terry Walters, Nancy Soriano

 Pros of self-publishing included:

  • You have full editorial control
  • It is immediately published online
  • You get to wear many hats throughout the process
  • Your printed book can serve as a stepping stone to being published by a larger firm

Cons of self-publishing included:

  • You may miss things if you don’t have someone review your work with a truly critical eye
  • Paying the high bills for printing, promoting and distribution
  • Distribution is a daunting task
  • Entering bookstores is extremely difficult
  • When not self-publishing you have to agree with the publisher on editorial and creative control and timelines

Each of these women expressed tremendous passion for their publications, and the books they created were each completed with much love and detail.

Next up was Working with a Sponsor, hosted by Loralee Choate with Jessica Rau representing McDonald’s as a sponsor (of both The Creative Connection Event and of bloggers), Jenny Lauck of BlogHer and Laurie Turk of Tip Junkie.

Laurie Turk, Jenny Lauck, Loralee Choate and Jessica Rau

 “If you don’t buy it and believe in it your readers won’t either”
~Laurie Turk

As was hinted at in the BlogHer conference, both sponsors and bloggers seek a win-win relationship, in which both feel good about partnering. Key is to ensure a good fit on both parts, which involves knowing the goal of your blog and whether that aligns with the values of the companies you seek to represent.

“Brand perception is about what is said on- and offline.
We don’t underestimate your voice”

~ Jessica Rau 

Key to finding (and keeping) a sponsor are:

  • Building a relationship with the brand and finding the key decisionmakers
  • Attending conferences where brand representatives are present
  • Checking out the free ebook From Blog to Business
  • Being the solution (to a problem with a product) and presenting it
  • Realizing it is about the sponsor and presenting how you can affect their bottom line
  • Knowing the audience you are reaching (does your audience match the brand)
  • Always meeting your deadlines
  • Sending return on investment reports-recap how your post influenced the audience

“A brand isn’t a single book or a blog with four entries,
it is an intangible idea that is aspirational and inspirational,
it means something to you.”
~Caitlin Freedman

The last panel of the day (for me, I skipped the fourth) was Agents, Publicists and Brand Consultants. PR agent Stephanie Smirnov and Caitlin Freedman, Director of Brand Marketing for Sterling Publishing, indicated to host Margo Tantau of Hallmark that publicists can assist you in crafting your story and provide angles and avenues to get the word out about you and your business. They can offer a perspective you may not have yourself. Leigh Standley of Curly Girl Design felt that after 9 years it might be time for her to hire a publicist or agent since she might have missed some publicity opportunities due to being engrossed in her day-to-day business.

Caitlin Freedman, Leigh Standley, Stephanie Smirnov, Margo Tantau

 Sources to finding a publicist/agent/brand consultant include:

  • Tweeting to #HAPPO: Help a PR Pro Out
  • Walking the Surtex show or a show related to your product as brand representatives will be there
  • Finding out who publicized a related product you like (journalists are happy to provide names)
  • Tweeting inquiries with #brandbuilding, #marketing for recommendations

It was recommended that you contact a representative early (8 months) before a product launch to ensure they can assist you in the best way possible. You can always engage them on an initial ad-hoc basis to brainstorm and then have more of a retainer further down the road.

My brain was full after all those insights and I ventured over to the Handmade Market, which I’ll show you another time.

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