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*