I write this today, not as a blogger, influencer, or content creator who has worked with select companies in the past to promote their products or services. I write this today as a person who has spent years in public relations, managing influencer campaigns and working my butt off to bring on the best bloggers, Instagram creators, and what-have-you, so that companies and brands were connected with the right people.
Yes, this is a slight deviation from the content you might normally expect from me. It isn’t about food, my recent vegan change, or some random thoughts, but I’ve noticed a trend online recently and it’s something I feel like I need to address.
As a member of a few Facebook groups that are all about bloggers supporting each other and sharing their tips and tricks, I’ve seen an astonishingly large number of posts from brand new bloggers who are begging for insights into how to connect with brands and start earning money through partnerships – before their blog has even gotten off the ground and they’ve had a chance to fall in love with the content they create.
“I started my blog last month. How can I begin partnering with brands?”
It’s a very common message I’ve seen way more times than I care to admit. When I read these messages, I don’t pick up on anything innately positive about the person or something that tells me, “Hey, I’m a blogger who does X and I’m always striving to share Y. I’d love some tips on how I can best approach brands I believe in to show them I can really bring value to their product/service.”
Instead, the messages are hollow, lifeless, and wreak of desperation. And as someone who has been blogging for over ten years, seeing people jump into the game solely for the purpose of making money, who give up after a month because they aren’t raking in the dough, is incredibly disheartening and kind of a slap in the face to the people who put their hearts and souls into what they do.
With that being said, I’m going to share 5 tips with you today that you absolutely must understand and practice when you want to partner with a brand or PR person for a potential collaboration.
1. Have a media kit or a structured email with your basic numbers (following, engagement, traffic) and basic rates for a variety of platforms/services.
Nothing is more frustrating to a person in charge of connecting brands and influencers than being contacted in a way that screams, “I’ve sent this exact email to 15 other people and I’m just hoping one of you will bite.” They’re trained and attuned to finding the best people and sift through the worst.
Be upfront and open about who you are and what you have to offer. Don’t worry about numbers you think might be too low. PR people look at way more than just numbers, but they’re always nice to share because it shows that you understand that time is precious and that you’re serious about collaborating.
2. Make sure your content is primed, ready, and reflective of who you are.
Don’t be afraid to be transparent. Make sure you understand your niche and that it comes through in the content you produce. Every time I’ve ever received a cold-email from someone, I would immediately go to their Instagram and blog to check them out. If they told me they were a food blogger, but only had pictures of themselves on their Instagram, or if they told me they loved fashion, but their content didn’t match, I’d immediately pass them over. And it wasn’t because there was anything wrong with them, but consider how many messages and emails PR people get each day. They simply don’t have the time to sift through your content to try and sell you to themselves.
3. Understand your value, but be ready to negotiate.
When you’re approaching a brand or the PR person who works for that brand, the absolute goal is to get paid and every side knows that. You typically have a base price that you’ve set for yourself. Whether they’ve reached out to you or you’ve reached out to them, be prepared to negotiate and not always get exactly what you want. Say for example you charge $300 for a blog post and the brand wants you to do 3 blog posts over the next 6 months, but their entire budget is only $700. Do you say no to the entire campaign on principle or do you go back with a compromise? Perhaps you offer 2 blog posts and an Instagram post?
It’s all about understanding the value in negotiating, but being reasonable enough to understand that both sides are running businesses and at the end of the day, if you won’t do it, they will find someone who can.
4. Know the brand.
This is probably one of the most important factors to consider when pitching a PR person. Understand the brand you want to work with – their services, their products, where they operate, what they stand for. It’s blatantly obvious when a blogger or influencer wants to work with a company, but has no fundamental understanding of what that company is about.
When you reach out, throw in a few sentences that show your understanding. Something like, “One of the things I love most about CompanyX is that they are committed to environmental sustainability, which is a topic I’ve discussed frequently, both on my social media and blog.” It adds legitimacy to your inquiry and will go a long way in getting that PR person on your side.
5. Be prepared to revisit and revise.
So this final tip is a bit of a two-parter. There’s a good chance that you may not hear back from a brand or PR person, even after following up. And that’s okay. If you haven’t heard back from someone, it generally means that they aren’t interested right now. Give it roughly six months and, if you choose to try again, make sure you go back with a fresh perspective, new ideas, and measurable growth. The same pitch you used the first time will not work. They can and do remember pitches they’ve received from months ago and will likely remember yours.
If they’re as excited to work with you as you are with them, congrats! This is a big deal and you should be incredibly proud of yourself. Once contracts are signed, briefs are shared, and your content is ready for review and approval, brace yourself for revisions. Social posts (like Instagram) tend to be a bit simpler to revise, and typically the photos you share won’t need to be retaken because any good brand or PR person will have given you strict guidelines on what to shoot. Blog posts and YouTube videos may have lengthier revisions to align with messaging. Remember that when you’re being paid by the brand to promote their product or service, you are, in some cases, speaking for them. If a PR person comes to you and asks for revisions, give them a break, and know that most extensive edits are coming from the brand they report to.
Bonus Tip: Most contracts and briefs will state this, but if they don’t, be sure to speak with your point-of-contact, before signing anything, about how many edits/revisions the brand is entitled to. One or two rounds of edits are typically the norm. Anything more and you may feel entitled to additional compensation. Either way, make sure you have in writing, and up front, the number of revisions the brand or PR person is allowed to ask of you before additional charges are incurred.
Free Pitch Template
*Use this template as a way to reach out to a brand or PR person to introduce yourself and what you’re about, and request a product sample. If you’re looking for a paid partnership, simply amend the middle of the pitch to reflect that.*
Hi (their name),
I hope you’re having a wonderful week. My name is (your name) and I’m the (creator, founder, blogger, etc.) behind (your blog), a (lifestyle, food, fashion, etc.) blog based out of (where are you from?)
I’m reaching out today because I’m in the process of planning my fall content, and as part of it, I’m working on an upcoming post reviewing some of the best beauty products for the season. I’ve had my eye on (brand)‘s (product) and think my readers would respond really well to a review.
I’ve attached my media kit with rates, demographics, and social numbers (or simply include that information in this email). I look forward to hearing from you soon and hope we have the chance to work together.
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