By Alexandra Booze, @eastcoastcontessa
Influencers of every size from 1,000 to one million followers share one common fear when it comes to working with brands: rejection.
Thousands of new bloggers and millions of pieces of content pop onto the social media scene every day. Landing sponsorships becomes highly competitive at every level – even for the big guys – as the answer to a campaign proposal isn’t always going to be yes. Sure, influencers with one million followers might be more likely to land partnerships with larger brands, but that isn’t always the case, and it doesn’t have to be.
There are a number of ways influencers can land sponsorships including blogger support groups and marketing agencies like Muse and others, but there is one secret marketing weapon that many of them are unaware of or unversed on. In the public relations world this phenomenon is known as “cold pitching,” or the ability to become your own publicist.
Learning the art of cold pitching, sometimes referred to as “unsolicited e-mails” is a no doubt a tricky one, but one that can yield significant personal and monetary gains for any digital business if executed confidently and professionally.
After nearly a decade in the public relations industry and partnering with more than 450 consumer and hospitality brands through my own digital food and travel publication, East Coast Contessa, I have shared five common cold-pitch practices that influencers should implement when marketing themselves to brand representatives and public relations professionals:
Be Intentional. Before you even hit the “send” button, make sure you’ve done your research. Become familiar with the style and tone of a brand, including what their target audience is. Examine their social media pages over time and take note of other brands they partner with as well as any unique quirks in their aesthetic – this will help with content development should a collaboration arise in the future.
What to Avoid: Mass or “blanket pitching” to brands that don’t compliment your target audience. Sending copious amounts of generic e-mail templates comes off as impersonal and unprofessional. Brand representatives get hundreds of e-mails from influencers each day – you don’t want one or all of yours to end up in the trash bin.
Ensure a Mutually Beneficial Partnership. Lay the foundation of the partnership and your reasoning for your interest in partnering with the brand up front. Explain how an exchange of product or monetary investment will not only be beneficial for you, but for the growth of their brand. Interested in partnering with them long term? Have you used the brand before and loved it? These are all things that should be included in a pitch up front.
What to Avoid: Partnering with or advertising for a brand simply because they offer you money or a chance in the spotlight. Know your target audience and get to know the type of content they like to see. No matter the amount of money or recognition of a particular brand, if your followers don’t engage with it, it won’t matter.
Show Off Your Skills (Just a Little). Influencers sometimes get a bad rap for acting entitled, but one can still be confident without being cocky. If you’ve worked with hundreds of big name brands in the past, that is most certainly something to allude to in your cold pitch inquiring about a brand partnership or ambassadorship. Did one of your blog posts on hair care go viral? Were you the recipient of a prestigious award in the influencer community? Mention it! It’s ok to toot your horn a bit to establish respect and expertise.
What to Avoid: Coming off as entitled or over-confident in an e-mail. Brands get hundreds and sometimes even thousands of e-mails a day from influencers requesting products or paid services, so you’ll want to keep your pitch as brief as possible while still promoting your work in an accurate and professional manner. Self-promotion without appearing self-absorbed can be tricky, but that’s why it’s an art. It takes practice.
Expect Nothing but Be Open to Almost Anything. While no one likes to be rejected, it is sadly a part of business. Not every brand you pitch will want to work with you right away, if at all, but that’s ok. Sometimes the answer might be yes with a few caveats thrown in. Regardless, there are thousands of brand partnerships and sponsorships out there that are ripe for the picking if you work at it enough and target the brands that most appropriately fit your demographic.
What to Avoid: Accepting a paid sponsorship opportunity for the sake of making a quick buck. Because the blogging community is so competitive, it’s easy to forget that you have just as much power to turn down a proposal for sponsorship as brands themselves. If you don’t think a collaboration will help lead you towards your ultimate goal of increased growth and visibility then it’s likely best to turn it away.
Know Your Tribe – and be Proud of It. Is your tribe full of fun-loving moms that work 9-5 jobs? Maybe your main demographic is full of eclectic 20-somethings that enjoy head banging concerts and the newest trends in grunge fashion. Either way, identify your tribe and own it. All content that is produced should aim to appeal to them first and foremost while everything else is secondary. One of the easiest ways to identify your target audience is to regularly review your social media stats on a weekly basis to monitor trends or shifts in engagement.
What to Avoid: Putting the wants and needs of a brand first. Yes, it is important to uphold promised deliverables and signed contracts, but make sure the guidelines and expected outcomes work for you and your followers before signing the dotted line. Regardless of popular belief, influencers are not beholden to any brand for any amount of money or product. Ensure the requested deliverables are fair and fit the interests of your audience, and always remember why you’re an influencer in the first place: them!
About the Author:
Alexandra Booze is the Editor and co-founder of East Coast Contessa, an international digital publication that has worked with more than 450 travel, hospitality, restaurant, and consumer brands to provide editorials, still photography, social media content, and videography. For nearly a decade she has provided public relations and influencer marketing strategy services to non-profit and corporate for-profit companies in the U.S. and abroad.