I always wondered what it would be like if I hadn’t been in my line of work today and worked in the “creative” industry instead. I have always believed that I am somewhat creative.
Being the blog manager for bangsarbabe.com has given me the avenue to explore that “road not taken”. Who knows one day I might just drop everything and join the art-sy world. 😉
When Sue Lynn (Bangsar Babe) asked me to take over as blog manager I immediately imagined myself as the Tim Cook of Apple while she was the Steve Jobs of Apple. The former would be very process driven while the later, very creative.
“Very professional and easy to work with. Bangsarbabe herself is very friendly and her team is very efficient with their replies.”
From M.T. (Getha Lifestyle Enterprise)
Being the “Tim Cook”, I started with the basics. We established and re-enforced our blog’s mission, which is to:
- Write honest reviews
- Use the Kaizen methodology – Continuous improvements on writing (both grammar and fluidity) and photography.
- Possess journalism ethics and standards
“Bangsarbabe.com is, hands down, one of the best and most efficient blogs we’ve worked with. The best part about working with Sue Lynn is that she takes the time and effort to genuinely write her reviews; giving attention to accuracy of details and using fantastic vocabulary to pen her posts.”
From K.B (Owner and Founder of Kee’s Creampuff)
“I’ve been working with Bangsar Babe for almost 2 years for now. She is passionate in what she does and very ambitious in getting things done. Being a friend of PUMA and a blogger herself, she has been very supportive and well represents the brand as our sport lifestyle ambassador. She always throws in new ideas for us to work together in order to surprise her readers and helps us reach out to the target audience as well. It was a pleasurable experience working her, and thanks for being a part of the PUMA family.”
From I.L (Puma Malaysia)
One of the difficult things about being the blog manager for Bangsar Babe is that I am also Sue Lynn’s husband; the lines between professionalism and husband and wife disagreements often becomes blur. Hence it is important for us to align ourselves regularly to avoid misunderstanding. This is after all the most basic branding exercise.
“The Bangsar Babe blog has given an interesting perspective for foodies to enjoy food and to see it expand to travel makes the blog an even more useful read. We certainly hope to see more and more stories about food and travel in the near future.”
S.W.B (Director of Communications, Mandarin Oriental Kuala Lumpur)
When I first took over as the blog manager, Sue Lynn asked me how she can increase her readership. That was the first task handed to me in December 2011. Suffice to say, in 2012, bangsarbabe.com saw a 100% increase in readership, 3x more Facebook fans, and 3x more Twitter followers. This year’s task for me was to re-brand bangsarbabe.com. The concept of re-branding and re-aligning the blog was not an easy task, yet one that came naturally for us. The main problem we faced was to change the readers’ mindset, as Sue Lynn was seen as a popular food blogger by many. Nevertheless, this was easily mitigated with the communication methods we deployed.
“We are delighted to have Sue Lynn from Bangsarbabe.com at our resorts – Sheraton Bali Kuta Resort and Le Meridien Bali Jimbaran. She was truly unique and different, where she demonstrated in-depth questions and showed her knowledge beyond the surface between hotel service and the quality of food we serve. Her interactive and straightforward personality is a welcome change, as this allows us to work beyond normal blog reviews and getting to know the other side of things. We definitely felt the impact after her reviews: For example our video hits went up as she worked with us on her post and other personalized engagement which made that extra difference.”
A.G (Former Director of Marketing and Communications, Starwood Bali)
Now, Bangsar Babe is known for FOOD, TRAVEL, and LIFESTYLE write-ups and to enforce that, we came with blog missions for each category:
- Food – only honest reviews; if it’s an invited review we try to go back there a few more times just to check on the consistency.
- Lifestyle – this encompasses a huge category which includes but not restricted to tech gadgets and fashion, which have been a big part of the blog this year.
- Travel – to balance at least one travel review per month. “Give a travel review that is relevant to bangsarbabe’s readership.”
“Working with Sue Lynn proved to be a very professional and efficient experience. It was a pleasure hosting her and Jien. The review posts that ensued were honest and fair, never once compromising her credibility. I’d love to work with Sue Lynn again in the future.”
From K.K. (The Destination Resorts & Hotel Marketing & Communications Manager)
Next task in hand was to ensure that Bangsar Babe remains a trendsetter in Malaysia’s blogging scene. This was executed through the introduction of Vlog (Video blog), blog business cards, QR code on the blog business card, and blog giveaways. This year, one of the communication tools we used to connect with our readers about the blog re-branding was the blog header.
Yes, coming up with a blog header is nothing new. But if you haven’t already noticed, all Bangsar Babe blog headers are themed based. You may read about it here, here, here, here and here. Each header has a direction and a purpose. Most bloggers put a header they think is “pretty” and what they think is “nice”. 🙄
Themed based headers for Bangsar Babe must have the following criteria:
- Blog branding
- Consistency with blog branding
- And last but not least, a theme.
It is important to note here that we, set the trend. While others, follow and copy. Malaysia boleh-mah, we ciplak anything we can!
As of writing this article (Dec 2013), Bangsar Babe is the trusted ambassador for Puma Malaysia, Samsung Malaysia, Neubodi, Peep Boutique, Azorias and Mori Pin. It is with great honour and pleasure that these brands have chosen to work with the Bangsar Babe brand.
“Bangsar Babe or Sue Lynn is no doubt a ‘foodie’ by nature and has good flair for writing appealing reviews. So I do urge you to invite her (in advance) if you want your restaurant / hotel / event to stand out.”
E.O (Holiday Inn Melaka)
The idea of blog giveaway was first tabled in 2009, when a sponsor came up to us and gave us some dining voucher with no questions asked. I suggested to Sue Lynn that we should give back to the readers and give them the dining vouchers as a form of gratitude for supporting bangsarbabe.com all these years. Until today, our sponsors love the idea as it is a form of product placement and communication to all Bangsar Babe’s readers.
“Sue Lynn and Jien (The bangsarbabe.com team) always go above and beyond for the brands we work with. On top of a great audience and an even greater return-of-investment, they further add value to our collaborations by making them such a breeze! We work hard and play harder as it’s definitely a cool mix of both when we get together.”
C.H.M (PR Consultant)
As of 2013, I dare say that bangsarbabe.com has the highest % of readership growth in Malaysia. Having said that, there are some low lights during the year and I would like to apologize in advance if I offend anyone;
- The responsibility and pressure weighted on Sue Lynn is rather heavy as a public person and brand ambassador/evangelist. The delivery of posts was slightly delayed at times as we always make sure the posts are of good quality even when we are on a tight schedule.
- I always believe that having many bloggers in Malaysia is a good thing, but having too many SHITTY bloggers is another issue these days:
- The “blogger” image has been an issue for us – brand owners, sponsors, and restaurants alike tend to associate us together. We’ve heard many PR people complaining about some bloggers not delivering posts (at all); they merely go for the review. Perhaps the product was not good? At least inform the owner/PR about it.
- Greedy bloggers who take as many reviews as they can because it is FREE. Yes, some people actually create a blog to enjoy freebies.
- Bloggers desperate enough for invites, that they are willing to polish the PR person’s shoe till you can see your reflection.
- Inappropriate blog posting. I feel that sexist, age-ist, racist, and any form of pornography are not appropriate blog posts.
- Other bloggers bad-mouthing bangsarbabe.com and distributing a “bloggers blacklist” to PRs. An infamous blogger issued a “blacklist” that commanded the PR/Company to not invite certain bloggers including Bangsar Babe for any of their reviews. Not cool.
- Just because alcohol is free flow, it does not mean you should drink till you are pissed drunk. Yes, you are allowed have fun but there is a limit.
I was once asked to quote our advertising rates to a product owner, and he proceeded to ask me how many products I can guarantee him we can sell. That was a perplexing moment for me. Long story short, they did not advertise on the blog. For brand owners out there who are thinking of using bloggers as an avenue for advertising, this is my advice:
- Bloggers are not salesmen. We do not sell products. We are here to merely promote/advertise the product but at the end of the day, we are not your salesperson.
- Do your homework – work with relevant and reliable bloggers. You don’t want to work with an unprofessional blogger, do you?
- It is always better to work with a small handful of “elite” bloggers than to work with a large group of “smaller” bloggers.
Why you ask? Think about it. Who are the “small” bloggers’ readers? Most probably their friends and other bloggers. So what would happen if you invited all the small bloggers you can find? They would simply be sharing about your product/event to each other. How’s that going to work for your brand? Wouldn’t you want “organic” readers from the internet? Think about the multiplier effect of elite blogger vs a small blogger – Your ROI.
- Just like you do for mainstream media, maintain a steady group of bloggers. Keeping the same group of bloggers in your portfolio will earn you dividends in the long run. They would know what you want and need after weeks (or even months) of working together.
- You pay peanuts you get monkeys. I don’t think I need to elaborate on this. LOL!
- Yes bloggers work freehand most of the time, but it doesn’t hurt to share the advertising direction and brief with them. Please do not mistaken “advertising direction and brief” as a press release.
- Blogger’s vs local celebrities (in my opinion). In Malaysia, I believe that both bloggers and local celebrities are equally popular. Mainly because of 2 factors:
- Our entertainment scene in Malaysia is not doing well (sad but true).
- Malaysians spend more time on the internet; especially blogs and social networks more then they watch TV these days. So the likelihood of your target market reading something online is actually higher since they would be spending more time in front of the computer than in front of the TV. Why spend so much on a celebrity when you can have the same or more “reach” by using a blogger?
As noted from the testimonials attached throughout this article, I believe we have proven ourselves (Bangsar Babe) as a trusted brand. We will be improving the blog each year, so expect exciting things to come in 2014. Before I end, I’d like to wish all Bangsar Babe readers a Happy New Year!