Establishing Relationships & Expectations With Brands

Jacket – LOTD | T-Shirt – LOTD | Jeans – LOTD | Sunglasses – PRIMARK | Heels – Christian Louboutin

At the beginning of the month, I was asked to be a guest speaker at the Ellefluence Summit, which was an absolute honour. My speech was all about brand expectations and how to create lasting relationships and partnerships with brands, when I told Twitter and Instagram, you guys who couldn’t make the event requested I put together a blog post on this and here you have it.

 Let’s start with me, and my background! My marketing career began when I was just sixteen, in Asda. Yes, you read that right Asda. I was a brand ambassador, long story cut short I gave free things away to the general public on a Saturday. I essentially represented big brands, told people how great a product was in hope that they’d buy it. It was kind of like an old-school version of influencer marketing.

I studied Media at GSCE and A Level, and I’ll always remember my teacher telling me ‘Alice, you’ll go into Marketing one day’ while we were in the middle of a branding module. And she was right, look at where my path leads me today. Media was a subject I was good at, a subject that came really natural to me and I enjoyed.  I made the decision to not go to university after my time within full-time education, for a couple of reasons. 1. I was so over the classroom environment and 2. I was desperate to get out in the working world. You can you read all about reasons about university in this post.

I’d had a taste of independence with my Asda job and had that fire in my stomach to get out there and do me. Therefore, I went out and got myself an apprenticeship. A week after I left sixth form I bagged a job at one of the North East’s biggest digital marketing agencies, and that job set me up for this crazy world of digital marketing and public relations. I was at that same agency for the first three years of my career, and at the beginning of my fourth year, I decided to spread my wings and fortunately landed a new for a different company. The company I work for now isn’t an agency, we’re a consultancy. We help companies find their feet online, we guide, we educated and we create solutions. My day to day role includes managing client’s social media channels, paid social, content and relationship building. Relationship building is what I’m writing this post around today. I’m on both ends of this partnership since I’m a blogger and a marketing executive. I know what brands expect from bloggers and what bloggers expect from brands. We have to work in sync with each other, don’t we? Or else, how would it work? It wouldn’t, and that’s why it’s a partnership.

Let’s start with how to create a relationship with a brand. I always feel rewarded when a brand reaches out to me, they’ve found me and actually want to work with little old me. Some public relations and brands are really to the point and lay it out exactly how it is plus what they expect from you whereas others don’t. I’ll be honest I don’t when I’m in PR mode because I want to build lasting relationships with bloggers not just work with bloggers. It makes me more excited as a blogger to work on a campaign when the PR actually has a conversation with me, about me, not just about an opportunity. I always outreach to bloggers in a way that I’d want to be approached and personalisation is key, and it’s up to you, as a blogger to be receptive to that. Manners cost nothing. There’s not a bigger turn off than a sassy email back that just says “Hi, what’s your budget?’ after the initial interest email.

First impressions are everything when it comes to the creation of a relationship. And that leads me to my next point, it would be great if every brand just sent us an email and asked to work together, but sometimes it doesn’t work like that and we have to put ourselves out there. We as bloggers, have to promote ourselves, we’ve got to show off and blow our own trumpet because we’re damn good at what we do. Again, I’ve been on both sides of this. I’ve received an email from a blogger asking to collaborate and I’ve sent an email to a brand asking to collaborate. Here’s an example of what not to say, I received this just last week: “Hi, I heard you’re the PR person for XXX and I’d be grateful for a pair of shoes in return for a review. Thanks.” My reaction to that was, ignore. I’m not going to reply to you when all your after is a pair of shoes to wear at that party you’re going to, that you’ve just tweeted about needing a pair of shoes for. No.

Here’s what to say: “Hey Alice, how are you? Happy Hump Day! I was just dropping you a quick line to see if you’d be interested in working closely together? I hope you don’t mind but another blogger who you’ve been working with gave me your email! I love XXX and would be honoured to share some of their recent ranges with my readers! My social stats include, my domain authority is xxx. Let me know, Kind Regards” Now that would be an email I would engage with. It’s personal, it’s informative and it gives me, as a PR a chance to explore and research into this bloggers or influencers content and social channels. That’s an email that I’ve received and I’ve used as a template to outreach to brands as a blogger, wanting to work with a brand. It’s worked really well for me. The same applies for ‘cold calling’ a brand, I don’t mean picking up the phone, I mean emailing them directly, hoping you’ve emailed the right person. You have to present how you’d help the brand, what use you are to them.

So, what’s next after you’ve gained their interest and they want to work with you? Clarification of the campaign objective, partnership and budget. Don’t be afraid to just ask brands outright what they expect from you! Once you’ve established what their expectations are, you can crack on with whatever it is they’ve asked for whether it’s an Instagram post, or a blog post, or a link. Link building is what I specialise in, for those of you who don’t understand what link building is, it’s basically the process of actively trying to increase links pointing to a website. Every link you acquire is a vote towards the website, which impacts positively on a websites SEO and ranking factors within Google. Budget is another taboo subject isn’t it within the blogger-brand partnership.

Every blogger has a different price, a different media kit and it’s really about knowing your worth. Personally, I probably charge a lot less than some bloggers when it comes to my blog posts because I can sympathize with PR’s and agencies since I know what it’s like working with a tight client budget but I appreciate blogging is a full-time job for some of you and it’s your sole income, so why shouldn’t you charge the same as a freelance writer? But, just to reiterate my point about knowing your worth. Don’t get too big for your boots, if you can’t justify why you charge that amount, don’t charge it. It’s a sad truth and old-school approach but most brands and agencies only look at numbers and figures for results. You could be the best content writer in the world but some brands only want to know your social reach and domain authority.

Don’t get me wrong, there are a small minority of brands who now concentrate solely on engagement and blog content, which is good. It’s the approach I take too, I’d much rather invest in a blog or influencer that is going to make a difference, get that engagement and great good quality content. Speaking of good quality content, that is the result of a good partnership, do you agree? There is nothing more disappointing from a PR perspective, if you’ve built a relationship with a blogger or influencer, firstly for them to take ages to get a piece of content up and secondly it be ultimately a let-down. Good content and coverage is what we’re after, not a brief mention or a sentence, actual content.

There is nothing more satisfying then sharing a piece of fantastic coverage with a client, if the client sees it and love it, we’ll be back in touch with more opportunities.  If you want to create a lasting relationship with a brand or agency you need to actually graft for it, impress them. A brand partnership isn’t a one-way thing, it’s a two-way thing. What I hope you’re taking away from this is three things, how to manage expectations, how to build a relationship with a brand and how to continue that relationship. If you have any further questions, I’m happy to answer. Drop me a line!

 

In Collaboration with LOTD*

Inspired Look

 

20 Comments

  • Reply Mandy November 20, 2017 at 6:38 am

    This was a really great talk and eye opening in some respects, I’m only really at the start of putting myself out there and because of my age and the fact that I’m nearing Delia Smith in the fashion stakes, I don’t really get an awful lot of opportunities, I wish when I started my blog nearly 12 years ago that I’d done something with it a lot sooner. I love your jeans, I also wish I’d had more fashion sense, you look amazing in whatever you wear, I also can’t believe how young you are because you have this fabulous knowledge, you know I’m your biggest fan!!

    • Reply Alice November 20, 2017 at 9:10 am

      Ah I’m really glad you enjoyed it, Mandy! Don’t let your age get in the way, you can do anything you want to do! You need to blow your own trumpet sometimes and that’s ok! 🙂 Ah thank you so much, your support means so much x

  • Reply Donna November 20, 2017 at 6:53 am

    Oh Alice! What a flipping fantastic post! You’re spot on with everything you said here. I love a blogger with a bit of chat, it keeps them in mind for future collaborations and also makes my job a lot easier. I totally read every word of this post in your lovely accent!

    • Reply Alice November 20, 2017 at 9:12 am

      You’re the perfect example of a fantastic PR! I really look forward to your emails and our chats, we’ve almost gotten to know each other haven’t we through our emails back and forth. Haha, pleased you enjoyed it and read it in my voice haha x

  • Reply RUTH FISHWICK November 20, 2017 at 9:20 am

    Love this post! I’m in a similar position to you in that I blog and I work as a PR Exec within an agency. I find it fascinating how some bloggers approach PRs and always value the ones who want to build connections and mutually support the growth of the brand whilst getting their content out there.

    Look forward to seeing what’s next for your blog!
    Ruth // http://www.ruth-writes.co.uk x

    • Reply Alice November 20, 2017 at 9:46 am

      Ah thank you Ruth! I do too, some are so out there and a little rude where some bloggers are really genuine! x

  • Reply Sally Morgan-Moore November 20, 2017 at 9:31 am

    I adore this insight into your knowledge of marketing and PR first hand. You knew what you wanted to do, and you blooming well went for it!!
    I totally agree with the brand relationships part too. They’re few and far between, but I love it when brands send really personable mails, instead of “Dear <oops the insert name field didn't work.". Starting out with a chat about what they like about your content, and so on. BUT we should always remember to be just as personable back when speaking to brands and making introductions. They are human too, and making scattershot, copy paste demands just…well…it firstly would feel terrible, surely, and second, where's the fun in that?!
    Great post, Alice! xx
    Sally.
    http://www.sallymorganmoore.com

    • Reply Alice November 20, 2017 at 9:47 am

      Thanks for your lovely words Sally and really pleased you can benefit from this post. Being human is essential, manners cost nothing! xx

  • Reply Poppy Mayy November 20, 2017 at 1:50 pm

    Lovely informative post! I really enjoyed reading this and getting to know another bloggers perspective on the “controversial” subject that is the relationship between bloggers and PR agencies.

    • Reply Alice November 20, 2017 at 3:10 pm

      Ah thank you so much Poppy! Really pleased you found it useful! It really is such a controversial subject! x

  • Reply Eleni November 20, 2017 at 2:15 pm

    This was so useful and well written Alice, thank you so much x

    • Reply Alice November 20, 2017 at 3:09 pm

      Ah thank you so much! Really lovely to hear your feedback x

  • Reply Sarah November 22, 2017 at 10:01 am

    Alice I absolutely love this post! I’ve found it so helpful! I’m starting to get more and more emails now and thanks to this information I feel like I can totally reply back in the right way! Thank you! xxx
    http://www.plainsarahjayne.com

    • Reply Alice November 22, 2017 at 11:45 am

      Ah I’m really pleased you like it babe! Good for you, you go girl! You’re very welcome xxx

  • Reply Tania November 25, 2017 at 3:17 pm

    Thank you so much for this Alice! It was so helpful, particularly the examples you’ve given of good and bad ways to approach a brand or PR company. So far, I’ve never reached out to anyone, other than replying to tweets looking for interested bloggers. I think it’s partly because I want so badly to do a good job that I end up doubting myself. But with actual examples, I now know that the emails I’d have sent wouldn’t have been seen as annoying/not good enough/asking for freebies/any of the other things my brain was worried about. I wasn’t going to make new years resolutions for 2018, but I think I’m going to make one after reading this post – contact brands and PR companies that I love. Any tips for finding the right person to email? I’ve always aimed to write job application cover letters to a specific person rather than “Dear Sir/Madam” as it shows I’ve done my research and care about the company I’m applying for. It’s worked well and makes sense that I do the same when contacting a brand or PR company. Xx

    Tania | When Tania Talks

    • Reply Alice November 27, 2017 at 9:36 am

      You’re very welcome Tania, I’m so pleased you found this article of use! You’re amazing at what you do and what you write about, do not doubt your self! You have to blow your own trumpet, get out there! You might surprise yourself 🙂 xx

  • Reply Emily November 26, 2017 at 5:36 pm

    What a informative piece! I’ll definitely be taking this all on board

    • Reply Alice November 27, 2017 at 9:37 am

      Glad you liked it Emily!

  • Reply Michelle December 1, 2017 at 11:45 pm

    Incredibly helpful article and really nice to know the views of someone that has been on both sides of the equation. I’m just now starting to work with brands and PR agencies and I agree that talking about fees is quite a taboo subject, specially because most I’ve found expect to have a big campaign launched with me without any type of payment involved, any advice on how to handle this? I understand that some brands might just be starting or haven’t established a budget for influencers/bloggers, but as the content creator, I feel my time and work are worth more than just the product in exchange. Is it crazy for me to ask for compensation in return for my efforts? Thanks for your help 🙂

    • Reply Alice December 4, 2017 at 10:08 am

      Ah thank you Michelle, really pleased you found this useful! 🙂 The budget thing is so hard, it really is down to the client and their campaign. It’s so annoying! x

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