By Julie Livingston, Senior Director, Client Development, CarrotNewYork

My last post provided the first part of an interview with Debbie Bookstaber, a leading parent blogger and publisher of Mamanista. Bookstaber has worked extensively in the toy industry, with associations, toy companies, and brands. Following is more valuable insight from this leading blogger and social media expert on what to expect from bloggers and how to work with them more effectively. Connect with her on Twitter at @buzzmommy. To view part one, visit

What constitutes a product review on a blog?

Unfortunately, there is no consistent, across-the-board standard. It all depends on the individual blogger’s style (factual vs. conversational, for example) and the format of the blog. Some bloggers may simply post a product photo and caption lifted from your press release, which for your brand, may or may not suffice. Others will take more initiative and include a detailed product review, including a description of the packaging, individual components, special features, price/value, and retail availability. Such bloggers may go as far as taking snapshots of their own children playing with the toy as well as a link to your company or product web site or Facebook page.

To get a feel for a blogger’s typical review coverage, take a quick look at their blog first. How do they generally handle toys and youth entertainment products? If their reviews are brief and include a photo and caption from your press kit, that’s probably what you’ll get, too. If paid sponsored reviews are the norm on that person’s blog, then consider the cost and value to your brand. If you can build a personal rapport with the blogger, he or she may write a review free of charge.

Should I ask bloggers who wish to see my product line to first sign a non-disclosure agreement?

No. A non-disclosure agreement (NDA) can be a turnoff. Social media as a media platform is not synonymous with secrecy. If the product is confidential and not yet in stores you should think twice about showing it to a blogger. Highly successful blogs that are similar to media properties such as She Finds, Cool Mom Picks, and She Knows may be okay with signing an NDA, but other bloggers may react negatively.

Should I allow bloggers visiting my exhibit booth to take photographs or video?

While many companies may prefer that bloggers do not take photos or video, understand that, to be effective, blogs create impact through visuals, and a personal perspective is best. If this is still an issue, explain why taking a photo is not allowed or offer to send them company-approved, high-resolution photos.

What’s the best way to follow up with bloggers after Toy Fair?

First, be sure to save business cards and/or contact information so you can easily follow up. If possible, make notes about what each blogger was most interested in since this is helpful in developing an ongoing relationship.

After the show, send a personal email to thank them for stopping by your exhibit booth and, most importantly, reference your meeting along with any of their questions or requests. On a critical note, if your products were under embargo at Toy Fair or if you had no product samples to share at that time, explain when you will have samples to share. Avoid being demanding. In general, bloggers will be more willing to work with you when there are samples available for them to test out and enjoy. Most of the casual/hobbyist-type bloggers who cover Toy Fair want to see what’s new and cool; if they like it, they’ll send a Tweet to their followers, and perhaps, even more.

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