The answer lies in transparency. Audiences are happy to accept there's some kind of transaction taking place, just as long as it's all completely open
Storm Model Management and BespokeBanter.com joined forces on Friday 26th July to host a breakfast panel discussion on the subject of vlogging, with special guest appearance from Estée Lalonde, otherwise known as international vlogger Essie Button.
An audience of over 100 decision makers from the top tier of beauty, fashion and lifestyle brands and agencies turned out to hear Estée and the panel of content experts discuss the future of brands in vlogging.
The morning started with an interview with Estée, in which she shared her experience of integrating branded content into her vlog, with host Scott Wimsett.
Estée Commented, "Working with brands is now something I do regularly, but to begin with I was against the idea. I was pitched ideas and I thought this isn't what I do and I knew my viewers would hate it. But then I thought, you know what, I need to eat, so I started only doing things that aligned with what my audience wanted. And most of my viewers have been really supportive, as I now only do things when I like the product in a way that naturally fits the channel, and understand that this needs to happen and respect the way I do it.
The best thing for brands to do is to discuss with the vlogger the things they think will work.
It’s all about finding a balance between what the brand wants and what the vlogger thinks will work for their audience.
I think the most important thing is for brands to have an open mind and to give over some creative control. What doesn't work is when a brand gives me list of things to put in my video that don't sit naturally, or when a brand wants to put an advert on my channel."
The discussion was then opened up to a panel of content experts consisting of Founding Partner and Head of Creative and Strategy at Bespoke Banter, Sam Orams. Mediacom North’s Head of Content, Karyn Fleeting. PR & Communications Manager for NYX, Irene Moore, and Head of Storm Vision, Simon Chambers.
The overall discussion centred around the issues faced by brands when collaborating with vloggers. To begin proceedings, Host, Scott Wimsett, asked Irene Moore, to comment on the relevance of vlogging from a PR and marketing point of view.
Irene Moore commented,
"Vlogging definitely has a place within the wider marketing mix but it shouldn't be your whole strategy. I’ve always taken a PR approach to content in that you have to look at things from an environmental point of view. Does this person use my products? Does she speak to the girl that I’m trying to reach and is she going to be a good ambassador? Of course, it has to be about reach and awareness as we’re obviously trying to build brands here."
Karyn Fleeting, Head of Content at MediaCom North continued,
"While vlogging can be an important and cost effective element of a content marketing campaign, it is essential to first understand how a vlogger collaboration or outreach programme will contribute to a client’s campaign objectives – and what, exactly, that contribution is worth."
Next up, Sam Orams was asked to share his thoughts regarding the strategy and production of editorial content that is funded by brands.
"The great value of vlogging is that it offers an independent and authentic voice. We need to respect this because as soon as we stick a logo on that voice we risk eroding the very qualities we set out to align ourselves with. So the big challenge is making sure that everyone gets what they need, that the vlogger maintains authenticity, the brand receives good coverage and most importantly the audience still gets the high quality content they expect. The answer lies in transparency. Audiences are happy to accept there's some kind of transaction taking place, just as long as it's all completely open and no one is trying to hide it."
Thoughts then turned toward issues of creative control, specifically on brands handing creative control over to vloggers.
Simon Chambers commented,
"A lot of it comes down to learning. You have to ask yourself who is the most important person here and the answer is ‘the audience’. They’re the potential customers and they’ve clicked play because they are confident, they are hopeful they will find something they want to see and that should not be forgotten. The key is that this is social media and by social I mean it’s a relationship and a conversation, and the way that vlogger speaks and engages with their audience is on a completely different level. That relationship is dependent on the fact that the influencers know best how to communicate with their audience, and the brand has to understand that."
The overriding message that attending brands took away from the discussion was that when working with editorial platforms such as vlogs, the first and most important consideration has to be the audience’s needs, ensuring that there is truth and transparency concerning brand involvement and that it is never at the cost of the editorial voice. At the same time, vloggers and platforms must be prepared to work with brands to help them secure the engagement and reach they need to justify the collaboration and to ensure the activity is both relevant and valuable to all involved.
Attached Picture. From left to right. Scott Wimsett, Irene Moore, Karyn Fleeting, Estée Lalonde, Simon Chambers, Sam Orams, Bespoke Banter
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