04 Jun Reaching out to Brands
On Saturday, I was invited to speak at the annual EC Meetup hosted by Eleanor from Just Ella Bella and Luchae from My Spreadsheet Brain. I was honoured to be asked to speak for the second time and was most impressed that the attendance had more than doubled since my first time speaking 3 years ago. As always, the event was impressively organized, featured lots of time to meet and network with our peers and brands and included an abundance of spoils, good eats, and lots of friendly faces.
Over the next week I will be sharing a series of blog posts that covers everything I said at the Meet Up, where I tried my best to really dig deep into the fundamentals of working with brands, covering everything from what you need to get started, how to find contact information, approach a brand, how to establish a relationship, etiquette and how to make money from your blog.
If you missed the first post, sharing 3 things you need before approaching brands, read it here.
Okay, so now we get to the good part. You have everything ready; your blog is looking good, you have a media kit and you feel confident enough to approach a brand or two.
A lot of bloggers who are just starting out DM me on Instagram asking for brand’s contact info or… and I quote, “how can I get free stuff too.” I have said this before and in fact, I swear it’ll be on my headstone, but nothing is free. Better yet, I am not in the position to pass on someone’s information – no, I am not being nasty, or selfish. But as a very good friend of mine explained, it’s sort of like when you’re out, and a random guy approaches you and says, “Hey, I really liked the look of your friend – want to give me her number?” You don’t know this stranger and your friend has a relationship with YOU, she trusts YOU – are you going to give out her contact number? No? So why do you expect someone to give out a PR’s info? Remember that I don’t know what you’re going to do with that information and I’d be risking my own relationship with the brand. But above all, it is against the law. So please, don’t be the friend who makes things awkward and asks for a PR’s info.
Which brings you to question, where or how do I find the RIGHT contact information?
Through the years, I have actually had most of my success through some good old research. Sometimes I might see a blogger tag the brand and a PR company in a social media post, which tells me which PR manages the brand. Click over to their website, and boom – contact form. Other times, I am not as lucky, but I go to the brand’s website, or Facebook page and look for email addresses. Worst case scenario – when all my options have been exhausted – I send a friendly message to their social media accounts asking if they’d kindly send me the email address of the person who manages their media-requests.
Once you have the email address, it’s time to compile the actual email that you’re going to attach to your media-kit. This, to me, is the most stressful part because first impressions do matter. I typically like this sort of format:
Hi there XYZ,
I am currently working on a review or feature and feel that it might be of interest to your client.
I am Megan Kelly, a local blogger over at By Megan Kelly, which shares the latest in beauty, parenting and lifestyle. I have been blogging for the last 5 years and contribute to several online columns and online media, including X, Y and Z. My blog has a collective following that exceeds XXX monthly readers and continues to grow through my consistent approach.
From there, I like to explain my history or experience using the brand’s products, link to any previous features, chat about how I think we could work together and then ask if they’d consider adding me to their media-list.
A media-list is basically a database and being added to it means that you will receive future correspondence, news about the brand and perhaps even press drops.
I think a point that needs to be stressed is that if you’re contacting just ANY and ALL brands in hopes of getting free stuff, brands are likely to see through you and not want to work with you. That’s why it’s important to show how you have featured them previously or share ideas on how you think you could work together. This shows the brand that you are willing to invest in their product and that you are passionate enough and WANT to create content about them.
From there, you do a grammar and spelling check, read it aloud, take a walk, come back, read it again, make sure your media kit is attached and then send off the email.
Often, bloggers think this is where the work ends and that now you’ll just start receiving products and opportunities to work together but that isn’t always the case. In fact, in my experience, I don’t usually get a response and that used to leave me feeling unmotivated – especially after all this work I have just put into it. But I have learnt that PR are just humans they might have seen your email and gotten distracted before replying, or perhaps at the time, you didn’t meet the brand’s current marketing efforts. So, my advice is to keep doing you – if this is a brand you really love, you will create the content regardless, so keep sending them emails with new links and features you’ve done about them and in time, they will see and reward your consistency.
Next, I will be chatting about the importance of relationships when working with brands and PR.
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I have great news! After so many messages, emails and requests, I have finally decided to launch my own online blogging workshop. Over the next month, I will be sharing the details, how you can sign up, and what I will be covering. Everything will be available online so that no matter where you are in the world, you can access it. In the meantime, sign up for the newsletter to get updates and follow @bloggingworkshop on Instagram.