There has been a lot of controversy lately over influencers, pitching and freebies. Thanks to that hotel pitch, a lot of people (and businesses) are questioning why bloggers and influencers should “get things for free”.
But influencer outreach is a huge part of marketing these days, and it can have a massive impact on a business.
There was fault on both sides in that example. The hotel should have replied with a polite “no thank you” and moved on, rather than publicly shaming the influencer. But, likewise, the influencer shouldn’t have sent an impersonal pitch to a business which she hadn’t really researched.
You shouldn’t let incidents like this put you off from pitching to brands. There are lots of fantastic businesses out there who really understand the value of working with influencers, but you have to make sure your pitch is on point so brands can see why working with you would be mutually beneficial.
Here are some key points to keep in mind when you pitch to brands as a blogger.
Do your research
Start by thinking about the sort of brands you want to work with and narrow down a list of businesses you potentially want to contact. But before you go any further, research each and every one of them until you find the perfect fit for the project you have in mind.
Take a look at their social media profiles – does their imagery and style fit in with yours? Read all about the brand’s ethos and history on their website – does this fit in with your values? Find out if the brand has worked with influencers before – what kind of collaborations have they done? What sort of products or services do they sell – are they actually relevant to your blog or do you just like the brand?
Spruce up your blog and social media
First impressions really count, so make sure your blog and social media profiles are looking as good as they can be. Before reaching out to a brand, take some time to update your About page, proof-read and properly format your latest blog posts, update your blog design and delete any Instagram photos you’re not happy with.
Also make sure you’re writing the kind of content you want to be paid to write. If you’re a fashion blogger, a travel brand isn’t going to offer you a free holiday if it’s something you’ve never written about before. Instead, take some time to write up travel diaries from holidays you’ve been on or city guides for the place you live. This will show the brand that you’re able to write great travel content, and will give them an idea of how well your readers react to it.
Consider your audience
Although you may love a brand, will your followers love it too? Even though you’re the influencer, you’re not actually the most important part of this collaboration – your audience is. In order for a campaign to benefit a business, they need to know that their brand will be seen by people who are interested in it and will hopefully become new customers.
Luckily, it’s often the case that your followers are pretty similar to you. There’s a reason they follow you, right? If you’re a 20-something woman in Glasgow who loves restaurants, chances are a lot of your followers are also 20-something Glaswegian restaurant-goers. But it’s always a good idea to check so you can say for definite what your audience looks like. You’ll find demographics information in Google Analytics as well as in the stats section of social media platforms like Instagram.
Create a media kit
If you don’t already have one, you need to create a media kit if you’re pitching to brands. This essentially acts as your blog’s CV, so use the opportunity to really sell yourself. Explain a little bit about who you are and what your blog is all about.
Then go to town with the statistics! Make sure to include lots of information about your all-important audience. Don’t worry if you don’t have a huge number of followers – as long as your audience is the perfect fit for the brand, there’s a good chance they’ll want to work with you.
Also include information about previous collaborations you’ve worked on, and the type of content you can offer – do you only write blog posts, or would you be keen to do things like Instagram Stories takeovers too? Make it visual with some of your best photos and your blog’s logo and branding. Include lots of information, but display it in a way that’s engaging and easy to digest – and try to keep your media kit to around two pages long. If you’re struggling to design it yourself, Etsy have lots of great pre-made templates.
Find the right person
Sometimes it’s impossible to track down the exact person you want to talk to, but try your best to find someone specific. There’s more chance your email will get read if you send it to the right person at the brand (or the PR person from the agency looking after their marketing).
If you can’t find the email address you’re looking for on their website, head over to LinkedIn to see if you can track down someone from the press, communications or digital department of the brand. Failing that, head to Twitter or Instagram to drop them a private message and ask who the best person to speak to would be.
Plan your pitch
Brands and agencies get multiple pitches from influencers every day, so you have to make sure yours stands out. Rather than a generic “please let me know about any upcoming opportunities” kind of email, go in with a carefully considered pitch that is tailored to both you and the brand. It has to be something that works for the brand in terms of coverage and potential sales, but it also has to fit in with your style and the sort of thing you’re good at creating.
Why are you, specifically, a good fit for this campaign? Make sure to emphasise this. Explain what makes your blog unique, how you’re going to create great content for the brand, and why your audience are going to react well to it.
Be specific about what you can offer. Instead of offering “coverage” or “exposure on my channels”, go in with something like “a blog post featuring X, plus two Instagram posts and at least 5 Instagram Stories during my visit”. Even better if you can show a previous example of a similar collaboration, and briefly explain the results it got.
Brands love it when their products or services are featured in a unique and engaging way, so try and be creative with your pitch idea. Is there something you can suggest that’s a little bit different from what everyone else is doing?
“Big” brands (and especially small businesses) don’t always have a massive budget for things like marketing and influencer outreach, so be prepared to alter your pitch. They might ask you for specific coverage or to promote a certain product that they’re pushing at the moment. Or they might not be able to offer you payment for a campaign, but can send you free products instead. Work out if what they’re offering is something you’d be happy with, or whether you’d prefer to politely decline.
If you’re pitching for something like a hotel stay to review, be prepared to travel out of season or midweek. Businesses like hotels are always busy at weekends and peak times throughout the year, so you may have to work around this in order for them to be able to accommodate you. Consider this when writing your pitch, and try to offer them options that might work for both of you.
Don’t get disheartened
If you don’t hear back from a brand or they decline your offer, it’s not personal. There are thousands and thousands of influencers out there, but brands only have so much time, budget and resources to commit to projects like this. It doesn’t mean your idea is terrible or your blog isn’t worth working with, it just means you’re not a good fit at that time – for a variety of reasons, many of which are out of your control.
Instead of getting upset about it, stay polite and keep in touch with the person you’ve contacted if possible. That way, if an opportunity does crop up in the future, they’re likely to remember you. Pick yourself up, research another brand you’d love to work with and get pitching again!