Are you looking to prove your credibility and work collaboratively with successful brands?
Brands can be creatives’ best friends: they want to get their company’s products and message out to an audience, and creatives have content-led platforms in which to provide that service.
Maintaining good relationships with brands you know, like and trust are key if you want to work with them on a long-term basis.
That being said, it can be tricky to know how to approach brands when you are new: creatives often under or over-sell themselves, or worse, compromise their standards as opposed to creating the best content for their audiences.
When asked about starting to collaborate with brands, there are a few things to remember:
I know it sounds obvious, but it’s not – your platforms are your very personal CV to approach them, so make it about how you want to collaborate and help each other instead of one party getting all of the benefits.
Especially when getting started, rejection can be something that comes up quite regularly: however, if a brand doesn’t want to work with you at any point, don’t take it personally.
There are so many creatives working their butts off that there are often many competing to work with popular brands.
If they say that there are no opportunities at the moment, simply note it down and approach them again after 6-12 months once your platforms have grown and developed.
When working with a brand, remember your audience wants to hear your opinion. The moment you lose your unique voice, the quicker your audience will leave your profiles and blog.
There is only one person who knows what’s best for your blog – YOU!
If a company asks if you’d like to do a post for them along their guidelines, or get involved with a specific campaign, think about how to shape the idea around what would be most appealing for your readers. PRs will most likely be impressed if you give them creative ideas for content that go beyond a standard product review. And remember, you don’t have to say yes to everything.
A big no-no is to copy/paste information from a press release: use it as a tool to get all the key information down, but remember to give it your own flair which your audience know and love!
Show you have an active audience
If you are not really interested in creating a media kit, make sure in your email include your monthly stats and social media following: they are much more likely to sit up and listen to that way!
An email template is ideal, and after a short introduction it should contain key information like your stats, page views, and social following as well as who your prime audience are and the ethos of your blog.
If you don’t have a huge following yet, don’t worry. Engagement is now valued much more than followers – this is what micro-creatives are for!
A handful of hardcore, committed followers is a whole lot better than thousands who completely ignore you.
Demonstrate knowledge of the brand
If you’re a fan of their products and have used them before, say so!
You will be much more appealing to the brand if they feel that your blog has a good alignment with their customer demographic.
Show that you’ve already given some thought to how you might work together – whether it’s creating written content, an Instagram giveaway, or a goody bag collaboration on an event you’re hosting.
Brands are always looking for different types of ways to get their products out there.
Brands want to cultivate honest reviews and work with people who are genuinely interested in them and helping to spread their message. If you approach them first off with a long list of stuff you want, you will likely get turned down.
Instead, ask what opportunities they have for creatives and be open to their suggestions of how you might work together.
Remember to be patient as well – these people are more than likely be working in a time-pressured environment & communicating with several creatives at once, so won’t appreciate five emails in the space of one hour.
If you treat your brand as a business then brands will value that professional relationship, and friendship may well develop over time.
If a company offers you products to review, feel free to accept but make it clear to them that you will only feature if it fits the ethos of your brand.
This may mean that the offer is retracted, but it’s important to stay true to your audience and yourself. What you turn down can often be just as important as what you accept.
However, If you’ve told a brand that you would like to review a product, but then don’t keep to that agreement, there’s not much chance they’ll want to continue a relationship with you.
This can be frustrating for the people who could have sent that product to someone who would have given them great coverage as a result.
If you are too busy to stick to your agreements or have circumstances which mean you can’t do what you originally suggested, be upfront with the publicist who will appreciate the honesty.
If you approach a brand with a few well-crafted blog post ideas, you will stand out from the crowd and the brand will appreciate your time and effort.
Forget lifeless product-centric reviews and instead incorporate the product/service into your post as part of a wider topic. As a blogger, you need to retain authenticity and your readers’ trust, so creating posts that are interesting and written in your unique voice will serve everybody involved.
What about saying no?
Even just working with two competing brands simultaneously can look bad, and won’t get you good relationships with brands. This is why it’s so important to know when to say no.
Ask yourself: do I believe in this product? Do the brand’s ethics and philosophy match mine? Will my followers like them?
Only if the answer to every one of these questions is yes should you proceed. If there’s any doubt in your mind, wait a day or two, and if you’re still not sure the safest option is to say no. You are too valuable, and there is too much at stake.
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My name is Fab Giovanetti and I am a writer, author, marketing consultant, founder of the Creative Impact Group and professional troublemaker. I help people grow their online audience and monetise their content and unleash their potentials as creatives.