Pictured above: we recently attended the Phineas & Ferb show because I took the initiative to contact the entertainment group putting it on.
Through February, I’m going to run a mini series of posts that I’m calling “Talk Shop Saturdays.” The idea is to share some of my thoughts on blogging and give bloggers an opportunity to chat about a variety of topics. If you have topics you’d like to “talk shop” about, leave a comment or email me at angela @ thecouponproject dot com. In case you missed it, you can go back and read previous posts on Defining your “enough” and Managing your Emotions Online.
For the next couple weeks, I’d like to share some secrets on a topic I feel I’ve had some success with in my four years of blogging – how to build positive relationships with brands. In my case, “brands” also includes grocery stores, but for your blog, define “brand” as any company large or small you feel you could align yourself with for your chosen niche.
Today I’m going to talk about how I approach brands and next week, how to keep those relationships positive once you’ve established them.
Identifying the Brands you Want to Work with
After I’d been blogging for a few months, I noticed that I was naturally writing about some of the same companies over and over – because I personally believed in their products, shopped their stores, liked what they were about. Pay attention when this happens! And, pay attention to how your readers are responding. Are they enthusiastic as you are about that store or brand?
I recently had this happen again. I posted about a particular company for the third or fourth time and got a very strong response from my readers. At this point, I decided to reach out to the brand directly. Let’s call this company Company X, because I’m going to share more of what I did in just a moment.
Sometimes I will hear of bloggers reaching out to brands that might not be a good fit. If you are a frugal living blogger, do you really think Tiffany’s wants to work with you? If you blog about luxe fashions, I’m not so sure a partnership with a discount auto parts store is going to make a lot of sense, either. Why would bloggers contact these companies anyhow? Usually because they want something – an opportunity to review a product or service. This isn’t bad at all and I do ask for these things myself, but make sure you’ve considered from the brand’s perspective – why should they want to work with me? Don’t contact them until you can honestly answer that question.
How to Pitch a Brand
Before I share what I do to reach out to a brand, let me tell you that in spite of your best worded pitch, you will get no’s. I’ve gotten a lot of no’s, but I see them as learning opportunities and I’d rather stick my neck out there than not at all! I can also remember one time I was very disappointed over a particular no only for that company to approach me over a year later asking if I’d help them. Today they are one of my biggest brand partners. So, don’t give up!
Let’s go back to Company X. I’d identified that my readers loved this company, they fit in with my focus of frugal living, and I came up with a specific request I could ask them. I could answer the question: “why would this brand want to work with me?” From there, make sure you have a good email address. Try to locate a social media manager you can email or a press/media contact. Unless the company is very small, a general “info@” type email is probably not good enough.
Here’s more or less how my email worked:
My name is Angela and I run the money saving site The Coupon Project. I am writing today because I’ve posted several of your recent promotions and my readers have responded very positively! (I may include another sentence giving them an example of # of shares, link to the post, FB reach stats, etc. Keep it brief though!)
I would love the opportunity to team together on a promotion. I would like (here is what you ask for – a product/service, don’t forget something to give away to your readers if you want). In exchange, I will offer you (how many posts? social media promotion? ad space? please do not omit what you can offer in return!). Given my past experience, I believe I can offer a positive review. (I sometimes also add a sentence here about what I like about their brand or online presence and how I feel I can capture that. For example, you might start: “What I love about your brand is…”)
A little bit about me: I have a Klout score of 63, and my site has a Google pagerank of 4, and an Alexa of ~90K. My readership is predominately female in their 20s and 30s. I have 7 years of experience as a freelance copywriter and possess a BA in Creative Writing. I’ve attached my media kit for further review. (You DO have a polished media kit, right? If not – do that before you pitch anyone!).
I am happy to provide samples of past work if you’d like. I am also able to schedule a phone interview so we can chat more.
Thank you for your time and consideration –
My pitches basically follow that structure: 1) quick intro, 2) what I want – again, give them a specific idea!, 3) give them compelling reason to choose YOU, and 4) call to action. Tell them you want to work with them and you want to hear from them! Also notice how professional I kept this? Sometimes people get far too casual in email exchanges. Think cover letter.
Woah – I can contact these people?
When I started blogging, I remember how exciting it was to get contacted out of the blue by a company. But you know what? You can contact them, too! You don’t have to sit around and wait for those opportunities to come; in many cases, you can initiate them!
Let me quickly recap the key points in today’s post:
- Make sure the brand you’re reaching out to is a good fit for your blog. Even better if you’ve already written about this company and can share those initial results with the brand.
- Be specific in your pitch. Make sure to suggest a specific idea you’ve come up with for a promotion or giveaway and make sure to share what you can offer in return. (Many bloggers forget the part about what they can offer!)
- Keep your pitch brief, on point, and professional. Think cover letter, not texting your bestie.
- Don’t give up. The more you try, the more chances you’ll have of hearing “no.” But if you never try, you’ll never have a chance of getting a “yes.”
I would LOVE to hear from my bloggy friends today! What other tips would you have about reaching out to brands? Can you share a specific success or fail you’ve had in this area? If you’ve never done this before, what questions do you have for me? I’ll be keeping a close eye on the comment thread and will respond to you just as quickly as I can.