Over the past few years, with the influx in social media, more and more companies are changing their tactics when it comes to sponsored riders. In bygone years the chances of an amateur rider gaining sponsorship were slim, however, many riders are now getting the backing from well-known brands and from a PR point of view this is paying dividends!
There is a place for both amateur and professional level sponsorship I believe, and it very much depends on the brand, the rider and what the ultimate aim is. For example, an item that is aimed at the leisure market requires a ‘face’ that customers can identify with while at the opposite end of the spectrum a professional product needs the backing of professional riders to appeal to their peers.
I believe that one of the reasons amateur riders are gaining more support is down to their dedication, pro-activeness and enthusiasm for social media, particularly blogging. Blogging is one of those things that you think will take up a lot of time, but actually once you are in full flow it can be a mere 10 – 15 minutes of your time. Here are few handy hints to make your blogging and social media count when it comes to seeking backing and supporting a company…
Make it snappy
Generally people are not interested in reading pages and pages of text on a blog –keep it short, sharp and to the point! Shorter, more regular posts are better than monthly dialogue. You don’t need to describe every second of every day, pick out the interesting/entertaining elements and keep it punchy! And always include images!
If you are mentioning a brand or product, whether you are supported by the manufacturers or not, add links to their website or the page so that a) people can get straight to the product you are talking about and b) if you wave it in front of the company in question they will be over the moon to have external links to their site! It all helps show your support for them.
Supply the full package
If you are supplying your sponsor with a blog, or offering up a product review to a company, always include good quality images, proof read your text before you send it and check your facts! It takes a few minutes to read over your writing before hitting the send button and it creates a more professional impact.
When promoting your own blog on Facebook, always tag the companies that you have mentioned – that way it will show up on their wall and grab their attention. Not only does this demonstrate that you are being active on social media, but it is also more likely that the company will ‘share’ your blog and gain you more exposure.
From the horse’s mouth
By posting on a company’s Facebook wall with your feedback on a product or service you are providing them with marketing gold dust! These posts are so much more valuable to them as it gives other customers the chance to see real experiences and real reviews.
Getting something for nothing
Most PRs will get lots of requests for ‘free’ products in exchange for online content, but the majority of these will get turned down. However if you can demonstrate that you have a large following on your blog and social media, great interaction and that you take the time to create compelling content, you stand a lot more chance. Be realistic about what you are asking for though!
Some dos and don’ts…
DO NOT approach a company asking for sponsorship via a Facebook message, at the very least email or even better take the time to make a phone call!
DO make sure you are familiar with, and have first hand experience of using the company’s product before you expect them to supply you with it for free. They want to know you believe in it as much as they do! How else will you promote it?
DO NOT send copyrighted photos to a company when you are providing them with blog content.
DO take the time to make sure you spell a company’s name correctly! You would be amazed how often this doesn’t happen!
DO NOT simply copy and paste your ‘proposal’ from company to company without checking that you have changed the brand name! It is not ‘cool’ for a company to see that you have also approached their biggest competitor with the same message!
DO sign up and add your portfolio to the Equestrian Creative Network’s new blogger list – this way PR companies will find you and see you show off your skills: equestriancreativenetwork.com
Don't forget that while you want to promote your sponsor or a product you rate, you don't want to come across too 'sales orientated' in your wording. Using your own personal experience is a great way of getting a genuine message across - don't simply regurgitate the product information that is included on the website. To get interaction and valuable exposure for your sponsor make it as fresh and appealing as possible - wherever possible use first hand photographs, or even videos, to illustrate your words.
Happy socializing everyone!
Liam Killen is director of Equestrian Creative Network.