APPROACHING A BRAND OR PR AGENCY
So, you’ve set up your blog/Instagram/YouTube channel. You’ve got into the flow of regularly posting content and are growing an engaged follower base. The next step, naturally, is to start reaching out to brands and PRs you’d like to work with.
But how do you make the move? We asked our founder, Anna – who also has some experience as an influencer – to talk us through the approach...
The biggest mistake influencers make is assuming that because they’re creating content similar to other (often larger) influencers they too should be reaping the rewards (be that product or payment).
New influencers watch established ones receive gifts, compensation and the like, and assume they’re automatically in line for the same. Sadly, it just isn’t that simple. You aren’t “rewarded” for the amount of time you dedicate to creating a social media presence, and neither should you be. Starting a blog hoping for “fame” or the perks is only going to lead to frustration. Established influencers have worked for months (if not years) to get to the stage where commercial opportunities come about, and it wasn’t easy. It’s very frustrating for them when new kids on the block give the industry a bad name by trying their luck asking for freebies before they can justify such rewards.
Brands don’t decide who to gift based on aesthetic (or at least they shouldn’t). Influencers are chosen based on what they can give in return. So, if you feel you’ve got to the point you have something to offer a brand, where do you start?
Developing relationships with companies is like dating, or developing any modern-day friendship. It takes time, effort and consideration. The first “time” factor comes in well before you even consider approaching a brand or PR. Your account – be that a blog, Instagram page or YouTube account – needs to be good. By good, we mean it needs to look the part and have a decent following. What you need to remember is that PRs and brands must be accountable for their decisions – if they work with or gift an influencer they need to see a result. So, only approach when you are comfortable revealing your stats and figures
Remember, though, that it isn’t all about having big numbers. Recent times have seen the rise of the Microblogger; brands and PRs should now understand that an influencer with a smaller, but highly engaged following can be just as impactful – if not more so – than one with hundreds of thousands of followers.
If you have a small following that are interested in something specific, make sure you’re showcasing that (in marketing terms, it gets interesting once you’re into the 1000s of people being interested/engaged in a certain topic/brand). Rather than send a generic, introductory email, contact the brand and say “I have X followers who are interested in purchasing from brands like yours, so I think a collaboration could work really well.” Include examples where you’ve talked about their brand before, or your style complements theirs. The most important thing is, don’t ask for any freebies unless you can already show how you convert for them with specific examples.
Request an online look book, or offer to shoot with samples, or some simple information – explain that you’re planning to write about them again and would like a little more detail/content to work with. Essentially, show genuine interest. This kind of approach will usually warrant a response, in which case that’s the first line of communication made.
When you have created the content you discussed in your first email, drop them a quick note saying “FYI, here you go! Hope you like it, I’ve put a tweet out about it - would be great if you could RT.” Press days are a great way to meet people face-to-face, so also ask to be included on their invite list in this second email. And so it goes from there… Soon enough, if your content is good enough, you’ll be chosen to do something more closely.
Rules for Emailing Brands and Agencies
First communication: introduce yourself, show examples of your coverage of their brand or relevant content. send over some basic details about you – send a media card if possible. Anticipate that they will ask for your traffic figures as that’s the textbook way of benchmarking the standard of a blog.
Second communication: if replied to, send a link to future posts featuring the brand and if you feel it’s appropriate ask them to push on their social channels. Ask to be kept in the loop with any press info or updates, or better still events so you can meet them in person.
Third communication: you may have popped into their most recent press day by now. If your coverage so far is well received, ask for samples. Always return them quickly and deliver the content in the timescales you promise. The etiquette is that they send it out to you, you send it back to them (and cover the cost)
Fourth communication: by this stage you have probably built enough of a relationship, it’s ok to drop them the odd email asking for a retweet on Twitter when you cover their brands, and to say “are you planning any outreach projects this season?”
You’ll notice not once have we suggested asking for payment. I guess what I’m trying to say is: have some patience. You didn’t start this all for free stuff (we hope you didn’t, if you did be ready to be sorely disappointed) so you don’t need it to continue what you’re doing. It’s a lovely bonus when it does happen, because you’ll know you earned it.
Remember, slow and steady wins the race…