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May 08, 2017

PR 101: HOW TO WORK WITH BLOGGERS + INFLUENCERS

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Alright, here it is.  This is a post I’ve been wanting to write for quite some time now.  With 10+ years of blogging, content marketing and PR under my belt, I thought it was time to shed light on a topic that no one seems to be talking about.  This is the raw, ugly/pretty truth and the do’s and don'ts of influencer marketing. Whether you own a small business, work in public relations or are a kick-ass blogger, these are crucial tips and reminders when it comes to working with bloggers. These are the cold, hard facts that every brand need to know, but no one is telling them.

There is a mutual frustration across the board when it comes to blogger/brand relationships. At the end of the day, the simple truth is, the brand needs the blogger and the blogger wants the brand.  I’ve worked with numerous small businesses who want to partner with influencers. Not all of them understand this easy, although still tedious process. The clients that are open to understanding it, or allow me to lead them on the journey, are the most successful ones. Don't be one of those brands that are missing out.


" Once you understand how we work and think, you should be on your way to building successful blogger and influencer partnerships in no time! "


These are vital tidbits and tips on understanding the blogger/brand dynamic. I hope to empower each and every one of you, by sharing these important insights that every brand needs to know. I'm just going to pull the band-aid off, so be warned this may sting a bit. This is not personal, it's business. I want us to grow together so I'm going to save you the time and cut through all the bs.


The influencer doesn’t need the brand, the brand needs the influencer.
Shocked? Don’t be. Back in the day, only celebrities were the ones dancing while sipping your soda, chewing your gum or wearing your shoes. Welcome to 2017, where bloggers and influencers rule the game. Whether it’s a micro- blogger or a top-tier style influencer, these are the ones validating your product and filling your pockets with all that dough.  Bloggers are your best friend.  We tell it like it is and we don’t like to talk about a product that we don’t love.  We are your voice.  The key ingredient, between product and consumer.   

Blogging is not a hobby.
This is our business. Whether it’s a side business or a full-blown operation, every blogger has put their heart and soul into their baby.  Thousands of hours, a shit ton of blood, sweat, tears and huge sacrifices were made in building our brand. We take this seriously and we expect you to do the same.

Brands don’t give influencers enough credit, where credit is due.
Just because you might view us a one woman (or man) army, don’t underestimate our dedication, success and ambitions.  Blogging is not an easy feat, and there are layers upon layers of things we have to manage. We are entrepreneurs, just like you. Whether we owe money on a business loan, hired out our entire family or are so exhausted from juggling it all 24/7, we are the ultimate boss babe. From the outside, it might look like all we do is receive gifts in the mail and eating sprinkled cupcakes for dinner, but that is just what we choose to show you. Really, we are sitting in our pj's with a head full of dirty hair and five empty cups of coffee on our desk. We are dedicated more than you know and we won't stop until we check off every goal on our list!

Please, no micro-managing.
We are big girls and boys and this isn't our first rodeo. When working on a sponsored partnership, we completely respect and understand their are specific brand requirements and rules.  However, just leave the creative part to us. That’s why you hired us, right?  Make the guidelines and details simple and easy to read, then let us work our creative magic. We guarantee you will be more than satisfied with the results.   

Don't try and calculate our worth.
Yes, you have a budget, but we also have set rates too.  99% of bloggers will be a bit flexible in their rates if they absolutely love your product or brand and just really want the partnership.  However, you have to respect our value.  There are several websites that offer an online calculator for determining an influencers worth based upon followers, comments, etc.  This is not accurate information.  If you simply based my rates on my instagram following, you wouldn’t know that I actually have 275,000+ monthly readers on my blog and each one of my instagram pics are posted right on my website. You also wouldn’t know that I push my instagram posts to pinterest, facebook and twitter.  We don't blindly set our rates and we have a reason they are what they are.  If you want to know our stats, just request a media kit. Bloggers, if you don't have one, stop reading this and create one right now.
Party invites don't pay our bills.
Do you have any idea how many invites a blogger receives? Way too many to attend each one.  Our time is precious, as most of us are balancing all the writing, photo shoots, website edits, shopping, business meetings, conference calls, traveling and attempting to control our monster of an inbox everyday.  We want to attend your events.  It gets us out from behind this screen, we get to meet people face to face and enjoy a cocktail while snapping pics to create new content.  But, we have to be selective with the events we can attend and if it’s not of value to us, we usually have to politely pass.  If we can’t attend your bash or pop-up, don’t just accept a no and hope to connect with other bloggers instead.  Send over a bottle of wine and a goody bag from the event with a note that reads “sorry we missed you” . A simple note can go a long way to show us you really to value the relationship and believe me, we notice those things. We might even give you a shout-out just for you being you.

Be professional, but be yourself.
You don’t have to be stuffy in your approach, in fact, just be yourself.  Make a joke, tell us you wish you had the nerve to pull off a bold, pattern dress too. Be real. Approach us in a fun way, but keep your sense of professionalism. We aren’t saving babies, we are promoting fun brands, products and experiences we love.  This is an ah-mazing gig we have and we are grateful to be able to make a living doing something we love.  Brand partnerships are the icing on the cake for us, so bring it!

Your email is one of hundreds we receive every day.
I hope that you've learned a thing or two and that you have taken away enough info to make your pitches stand out.  The truth is, unless the blogger has a team working with them, if your email doesn't stand out it will just get deleted.  Build those relationships, put in the time and do your research.  It takes just a little bit of effort and you will have a fan and customer, for life.  

We don’t work for exposure.
Unless you are a global brand and we just joined the blogging world yesterday, we don't work for exposure. This does't mean we aren't open to a mutual partnership where you share our post or interview to your audience or include it int you newsletter, but this is pretty rare. Your invite to have us share a 10% discount with our readers on a product we have no interest in has absolute no value to us whatsoever. We know exactly where to go to find discounts if indeed that is what it is we want to share with our readers. But that is only beneficial to you and we aren't interested promoting for free.

No, I won't promote your product in exchange for a high-res image.
I laughed so hard, I spit out my coffee. Yes, this is quite common. Seriously?! I can't even comment on this because if you think we can tell our readers how great these new jeans fit, by seeing a high-res image that we can simply find on your website, then you are in the wrong business.

We are just as valuable as “old school” traditional advertising, if not better.
TV, radio and billboards can be great for brand awareness but guess what, you can't click and buy. In today's world, we are way too distracted by unicorns and pretty flat lays, that if you aren't shoving your product down my throat through one of these methods, you might not capture my attention. Everyone is online and everyone is addicted to their phone, even in the bathroom. If the blogger has influence on instagram, then there is great value there. End of story.

We don’t give a rat’s ass about your press release.
Unless you are invited us on a private jet to the red carpet premiere of the latest Johnny Depp flick, where I get to sit on his lap during the film, while he feeds me popcorn and champagne and Ryan Gosling brushes my hair, then I'm probably not interested in your long ass, boring press release. (*disclaimer* this is strictly my personal wish, but you get the point.  Oh, and if you are the media contact for Johnny’s latest flick, you know where to reach me.)

We don’t need content ideas.  
Being a content creator, is knowing how to create enticing, clickable content.  That's our job.  If you want to pitch us , then tell us about your product but don’t assume we are sitting around without a clue or idea on what to write. Believe me, I'm sitting with more than 100 blog post ideas that I still don't have time to write.

Ease up, on the follow up.
Yes, we know it’s your job but the more you harass us, can almost guarantee you won’t hear from us, even if we were interested. We heard you, we saw your email and we will get back to you if we are interested and have the time. Plain and simple.  Just like dating.  

No ghosting.
On the flip side, you reach out to tell us about an exciting campaign or an idea for a partnerships and we take the time to research and respond then we never hear back.  If you're just not into us anymore, there are no hard feeling, but can’t you at least have the courtesy to tell us? Just like we had the courtesy to get back to you too.

What’s in a name?  A whole hell of a lot.
Please for the love of {insert your preference here}, Know who you are pitching.  The first time I received a pitch from a very large and reputable PR firm that said “dear gmail.com”I threw up a little in my mouth.  This isn't for only bloggers or influencers, this is for anyone with an email account.  If you are an intern or fresh out of college and you still haven’t learned that you should not be dressing people with a "dear gmail" then (I’m gonna pull a Simon Cowell here...) you shouldn't be in this business.  Your job is to sell me, not annoy me in the first two words.  

We make the rules.
Every blogger has their own way of working with brands. For me, I offer dedicated, sponsored posts on both my blog and social networks. I also accept products for review. Before we jump into bed together though, I'm upfront and honest about the details. My standards and morals are high and don't sell out for anyone. When I say I love a product, you can guarantee that is the truth.

If there isn’t a budget, don’t bother.
Do you work for free? Then why would you expect us too? Think of it like this... We are an extension of your marketing department. Your job is to promote, create brand awareness and drive sales.  Our job is similar, but in a more creative and organic way. You wouldn't hire a production company to produce a commercial without paying them, would you? Instead of being on the payroll, our portion just comes out of the marketing budget.  

On the other hand, we don’t always require monetary compensation if the partnership is exciting enough for us.  I partner with brands all the time, because I simply love the product.  A great example of this is when I partner with a hotel.  If I have a trip planned already, then it's the ideal situation, to stay at their property complimentary in exchange for exposure. In this case, the blogger is getting something out of great value and the hotel is getting the exposure, basically for free. Especially if the hotel was fully booked.  It’s easy. This isn’t new and it goes all the way back to the ole' barter system.

Big numbers don’t mean big sales.
As cheesy as this ole’ saying goes, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.”, it's true.  After the reader/follower leaves our site or social platform, we have no control.  All we control is how we are going to show off your product and create awesome and unique brand awareness. Of course, the more followers an influencer has on their blog and social media, the bigger the reach is, but this isn't always best for the brand.  How is the product being showcased? Is their audience your ideal demographic audience? Are you selling sweet-tasting champagne to an audience of underage teenagers? These are things to think about and factor in.  I promise you this is not rocket science.

Keep it short and sweet..
Define your goal and execute it. What is it that you are pitching? We don't have time to read a novel about how your beauty serum is the newest and greatest fountain of youth.  Show us a photo, highlight the product in 1-2 sentences and tell us what it is you want from us.  PLEASE include links! This is the single, most ignorant mistake you can make. Welcome to PR 101.

Do your homework.
If you’re going to pitch your product or client, don’t you want it to be successful?  Take the time to research who we are and what it is that makes us special. Why do you want to work with us?  Do we own a dog?  Are we vegan?  Are we recently engaged?  Any partnership should just organically flow and fit into our aesthetic and be a perfect fit.  

Woo us.
Influencer marketing is just like dating.  You need to impress us, wine and dine us, appreciate us, then you can tell us what it is you really want out of this relationship.  This has to be organic. It has to be fun and exciting, but don’t rush it.  

Despite this post being a bit lengthy, I still feel like this discussion is just getting started. I’m sure I will chime in again soon on this topic.  I want to help in any way I can when it comes to these pivotal relationships. Bloggers, I would love to hear from you and get your feedback.  PR reps and small business owners, I invite you to join in this conversation, so please leave a comment below if you have any questions.

Influencer Marketing and Blogger Outreach is a fairly simple process, as long as you can put yourself in our shoes. Recap...
  • Get to know who you're pitching.
  • Appreciate them and their value. 
  • Pay attention to the details.
  • Keep it short and sweet.  

*another quick tip when pitching to bloggers/influencers, try using Gmass , a powerful mass emailing service that integrates seamlessly with Gmail, Google apps, and Google Drive with the ability to send auto follow-ups, break sending limits, avoid spam filters, and send customized individual emails in mass email campaigns.


For Influencer Marketing, services please click here to learn more.


7 comments :

Wife Sense said...

Wow! And you followed all that up with "For Influencer Marketing, services please click here to learn more." I'm sure they'll be lined up just as soon as they wipe the blood splatter from their office walls. Brand managers can't say your post wasn't informative and neither can I. ;-)

justine @ sunnyinjune.com said...

AMEN!
as a new blogger, i was super hesitant to charge for my posts. but now, i have NO SHAME telling businesses my price for posts and social shares. knowing your worth is extremely important in this business.
I also really loved how you said that this is a BUSINESS. people want to be instal-famous super quick and it's just a hobby for them... like a side hustle. but blogging is a full time hustle!
thank you for this post, it really put everything into perspective and lot of amazing tips for new and seasoned bloggers <3

BREE COOLEY said...

Wife Sense, you made my day! I'm glad you could appreciate my tone and learn a little too. :)

BREE COOLEY said...

Justine, I'm so glad I could empower you! Good luck with your blog and remember your worth!

Shannon said...

Yes yes yes!! Girl I was nodding along this whole post! So good and I couldn't agree more! Keep on tellin' 'em!

Kayla said...

Amen! Tell them how it is. Your time is precious and you should get paid as so.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your advice, been using GMASS for a year, amazing tool!

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