ConAgra’s bait-and-switch with bloggers turned surprise into anything but delight.

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I’m sure many of you saw the headlines this past week over ConAgra’s debacle with bloggers.

What they thought would be a pleasant surprise backfired on them when they invited mom and food bloggers to event at a restaurant where the bloggers thought they were going to be served by a chef. Instead of a fine meal by Chef George Duran, they were served frozen Marie Callender’s lasagna followed by their Razzleberry Pie dessert. Hidden cameras were to capture the blogger’s conversation and reactions but instead captured their dismay at the bait and switch. Needless to say after it blew up on blogs and Twitter, ConAgra dropped any further dinners.

They forgot the first rule in a world where social media and the consumer rules: honesty/transparency.

1. Be honest and transparent. If ConAgra had invited the bloggers to the nice restaurant to taste Marie Callender’s lasagna, wine and for a discussion with TV Chef George Duran, they would have started out on the right foot and I believe, would have had a different outcome.

2. Never start your outreach with “Dear blogger”. I got one of those emails just this week. It’s a big turnoff. If you want a relationship with any blogger, you need to remember they have a name.

3. Take time to know your bloggers to make sure your event’s content will be relevant. Just this week I got invited to about 5 blogger events and not all of them are relevant. How does a blogger attend an event and write about it if it has no relevancy to his/her life?

4. Provide information, links and images to help the blogger with her content. She may not always use them, but it’s very helpful and it conveys a message that you know she is a busy mom. I attended a blogger event where we were walked around to 4 different stations, were fed information and given demonstrations. Every one of us asked if there was a blogger press kit because of the sheer amount of information. At Blogher, many brands provided disks and handouts that are extremely helpful.

5. Do introductions if it’s a small event. For the blogger, these events are networking opportunities on top of monetary or social currency for their blogs. Provide a list of the attendees whenever possible.

6. Set expectations for your blogger event. Bloggers get lots of requests and need to prioritize which ones they will attend or decline. The right information can help her make the decision to attend your event over another.

7. Utilize hold the date messaging. Bloggers are busy moms. They need advance warning. Hold the date messages allow a mom to put it on the calendar while you pull the last minute information together.

8. Follow up post your event. See if the blogger has all the information they need to write about your event. It’s all about building a relationship with your bloggers.



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