From the Experts | How to Successfully Pitch Brands

Jul
5th

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:

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.

Blogging 101 | How to Pitch Brands

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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.”

If you’re new to the game, send out a one-pager PDF to agencies with a short intro on your personal brand, highlighting the channels of your site that you’re keen to collaborate on (beauty, food, travel, etc.) and ask to be added to their lists (this was my personal M.O.). It will not only get your blog recognized, but eventually you’ll start to be invited to events where you can have one-on-one time with brand reps.

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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.

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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.’

What does that mean exactly? Do you have a fee? What’s the creative concept? What kind of content will you be producing? For which channels? How many posts? What timeline were you thinking? How do our audiences/demographics relate? Does this feed into a campaign I’m promoting? Of course, you don’t need to enter the conversation with all the nitty gritty details but you should treat the outreach like a true pitch. The more you concisely spell out your idea or approach, the better.”

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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.

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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.

“We can easily see your stats just like everyone else, so this shouldn’t be the main focus of your pitch. It’s my job to sell you, the creative, to my client and I challenge myself to think outside the box and work with people who are truly influential for the specific client I’m working with.”
And remember that influence isn’t all about online – have you been invited to speak on panels recently? Are you a regular contributor to a magazine? Do you host monthly meet-ups with local creators offline? It’s all about what makes you different – instead of relying on the number of followers you have, highlight the things that make you stand out from the hundreds of thousands of other bloggers vying for attention from brands.

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 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.

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Stay tuned for a more detailed look on how to draft a pitch email!

 I’ll also be continuing on with this series ‘From the Experts’, with my next post highlighting tips for small business owners on how to pitch bloggers/social influencers.
 
Anything else you want to hear from the experts on?
Let me know in the comments below!

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  • Such an informative post! I always love learning from the PR pros! Thanks for this inside scoop!

  • shyma says:

    This was BEYOND helpful! I can always rely on your posts to be thorough and informative. Thank you so much for all the hard work you put into the content you share. Can’t wait for the draft e-mail pitch, and really looking forward for more experts posts! Would love a future post where you share your personal journey navigating the PR world as a blogger 🙂

  • Thanks for this! Awesome as always:)

    • Lauren | This Renegade Love says:

      Cheers Zehra! You’ve got it down, but hopefully it offered a bit of insight into the world of pitching 🙂

  • Hi Lauren, thank you for this great blog. Yup, the hardest part of freelancing is putting your heart and soul in a pitch and not getting it or worse, never hearing back. Great advice and insight.

  • This was a very informative post! Thanks for getting the insider’s opinion 🙂 I learned a lot.

  • Becky says:

    All I want to say is THANK YOU. You’ve generated such an informative series with very applicable topics for creative entrepreneurs. This topic in specific has already helped heaps just when I needed it. Looking forward to more on how to pitch to brands coming up!

  • Ashley says:

    First of all, I’d like to express my unwavering love for you & your blog! You da realest. Also, this post couldn’t have come at a better time as I’m FINALLY getting around to launching my own blog, so thank you. Can’t wait to see what’s next!

  • Stef says:

    Thanks so much! Ah, I love reading your posts and even tuning into your Instagram lives. I’ve started a local-focused blog in the Collingwood area and I appreciate your tips + tricks. You’re a genuine soul, I can tell!