Of all the questions I get asked as a full-time content creator, one of the most common from beginner bloggers is: “How do you pitch brands?”
Working on brand partnerships for my blog and social media has been my main source of income over the past two years. Although I have plans for expansion of This Renegade Love (because you should never get too comfortable with an income that relies on your popularity), collaborating with brands has been an excellent way for me to create some awesome content, and also generate an income doing something I love.
Although now most of the pitches come to me, in the early days, I had to hustle to get my name out there and pitching my ideas to brands was just part of the daily process. I was lucky to have had an extensive background in marketing and PR, so over time I gained a solid understanding of what a good pitch looked like and what a terrible one looked like.
And whenever bloggers reach out to ask, I’m happy to share my strategies and tips to get them started on the right path. Because the thing is…. it’s not easy. You have one shot to make a great first impression, and if you don’t have a clue how to approach it, you can end up overwhelmed and totally flustered.
To help navigate the current landscape, I reached out to three PR pros in Toronto who have worked in the industry for years, asking them to provide tips on how bloggers can pitch brands their ideas for collaboration:
- Halla Rafati, Managing Partner of Halo Public Relations (formerly in-house PR for Four Seasons Toronto)
- Ashley Cassidy Seale, Founder + Director of Ruby Social Co (previously in marketing at Holt Renfrew and PR at top Toronto agencies)
- Jess Hunichen, Co-Founder of Shine PR + Shine Influencers
These savvy PR professionals have seen hundreds (maybe thousands) of pitches come their way over the years, and have offered up some of their best tips on everything from initial outreach to what you should be including in your pitch.
Create strong relationships
PR has always been about who you know and the relationships you maintain, and the blogging world is no different. “This industry is highly competitive and new bloggers pop up every day, so building relationships is key,” advises Jess. “Get yourself on PR agency event lists, chat to them about their clients and develop an understanding of what their goals are. From there, reach out and let them know what you’re working on and how you think their clients can fit into that.”
Focus on what you can bring to the brand
One of the biggest mistakes bloggers make when pitching to brands is focusing on what they want from the brand, not what they can give to the brand. “Research your target brand and the campaigns they are executing so you can present a proposal that aligns with their messaging and goals,” suggests Halla. “Be creative and unique with your approach, and offer an interesting way to tell the brand story that differentiates yourself from other bloggers.”
Before creating your pitch, visit the brand’s site and social channels and get to know their core values and past campaigns – as important as it is for a brand to understand you, it’s just as important that you understand what they represent and how they market themselves. Then, build a pitch around how your brand values align, and what you can bring to future campaigns that hasn’t been touched upon before.
Come prepared with an idea
“I can’t express how important it is to come to a brand’s agency with an idea, especially if you don’t already have a relationship with them,” says Ashley. “This sounds really obvious but you would be surprised with the amount of emails and DMs I receive from bloggers who send me one sentence stating simply that they ‘would love to collaborate.’
Lead with video
“Every brand wants engaging video content,” says Halla. “If you can, aim to make video the cornerstone of your proposal.” With 55% of people watching videos online everyday, it’s no doubt that it’s one of the fastest growing ways we digest online content. YouTube is an excellent way to host video content, but you can also integrate a video strategy into existing social media audiences if you’re not savvy with video editing. Look to get creative with your Instagram Stories or Snapchat as a way to show experiential content, like brand events or snackable interviews. You can also tie Instagram Live and Facebook Live sessions into your pitch, suggesting sponsorship from brands on related topics.
Go beyond the numbers
These days, relying on your followers and engagement rate isn’t enough to attract brands. “In an age when we can buy followers and join comment pods, it’s more interesting to me to know why you genuinely love the product/brand or why it will resonate with your audience,” says Ashley.
Don’t be a d*ck
I’ve said this before when it comes to working with brands, but Jess reiterates my sentiments when it comes to your attitude in this industry: “A little friendliness goes a long way.” When you’re reaching out to a brand or agency, don’t be afraid to show your personality, but always be polite and professional, even if your pitch gets turned down. And aways (ALWAYS) remember that brands can see everything you do online – being entitled or bitching about events and other brands is a quick way to get you on everyone’s shit list.
Stay tuned for a more detailed look on how to draft a pitch email!