Thursday, March 7, 2019

Pitch It Girl! Tips on How to Pitch a Brand From the Brand's Perspective

Tips on How to Pitch a Brand From the Brand's Perspective

I would never claim to be a big blogger, or even one with a large readership or following. But I have been around for almost 6 years and I've learned a few things along the way and had some amazing opportunities! I've been able to collaborate with numerous other bloggers and boutiques, Shopbop, thredUp, JORD, Daniel Wellington, Chadwicks of Boston, 4EurSole, ABEO Footwear, SheIn and I recently became an ambassador for Aventura this year. Over the years, I've had people ask me for advice on reaching out to brands and pitching them for collaborations. It really got me thinking, what do brands think when you reach out to them? What do they ignore versus what sparks their interest? I only know from my experience and compared to full-time bloggers, that is fairly limited. The best place to go for advice on pitching brands is directly to a brand! Hearing what brands want from their perspective can give you an inside look and help make your pitches and communication with brands even better! I reached out to a couple of companies I have been very fortunate to work with several times in the past and asked them to answer some questions about what they look for and some tips for bloggers looking to contact and pitch brands.

I asked two different contacts I have done multiple collaborations with and was so grateful when they both responded and said they would answer some questions I had. I asked is Angie at Darby Communications who I have been in contact with for my collaborations with Aventura Clothing. Her answers are in purple. The second person I asked is Dinah Erasmus who works with ABEO Footwear and The Walking Company. Both of these women are a wealth of knowledge and experience and I am so grateful for working with me in the past and agreeing to work with me on this post today! 

1. What is your position title, the kinds of things you do as a part of your job, and a little bit about the company you work for?

Angie: I’m the Vice President of a boutique communications agency. We handle PR and digital marketing for brands in the outdoor, fitness and wellness industries. We like to think of ourselves as an extension of our client’s marketing team. My day is made up of everything from managing employees and helping them problem solve, working with account coordinators to secure PR coverage for clients (whether through print or online reviews/partnerships), writing press releases to share with the trade, developing our target audience for pitching for the week, to working with ambassadors, athletes, and influencers to ensure they are aligned with our client’s target audience, engaged with their audience, relevant and are willing to share positive messaging about our brands. Additionally, we manage and develop social media strategy for our brands by creating and implementing a social media calendar, engaging with followers and making sure our pages are in alignment with what our followers want to see from the client. We also develop newsletter campaigns and blogs for clients. Every day is different, which is what keeps it exciting!

Dinah: I am PR manager at The Walking Company & ABEO footwear. The Walking Company is the nation’s largest comfort footwear retailer with over 190+ stores nationwide, plus an ecommerce site We also own a proprietary brand ABEO footwear, developed and sold through The Walking Company and is one of the fastest growing comfort footwear brands.
2. When a blogger sends you an email to pitch a collaboration, do you prefer longer emails with more information or short and sweet and to the point?

Angie: I would say somewhere in between. I want to know why you want to collaborate with us, what makes you different than others and I need enough information to know that you’re not just looking for free product, but would like a mutually beneficial partnership.

Dinah: As a PR professional in a digital world, I receive several pitches a day. I prefer a basic, who, what, when, where to kick off a conversation which includes expectations (product exchange vs. paid) as well as the bloggers basic demo. I can assess if it is a right fit for our brand, and we can go into further details!

3. What are the key things you look for in a pitch?

Angie: How did you hear about our brand? Why do you feel a connection to it? How long have you been blogging and what is your audience like? Are you active on your blog and social? If so, what are your UVMs (Unique visitors per month) and please, please hyperlink to your blog, social, etc. If I have to go search for those things and you don’t include them, I usually will move along and think someone isn’t saavy enough to partner with us or they aren’t going to give the partnership 100%. If you heard about us through a blogger we work with or one of our ambassadors, definitely mention that – it makes a difference! Come to us with unique ideas for a partnership as well.

Dinah: Timing for post, why you contacted The Walking Company/ABEO (genuine interest/knowledge of brand is key), what you are interested in doing, and even a little about yourself (occupation, mom, location, why you blog).

4. Are there specific social media platforms you prefer bloggers to be active on and why?

Angie: We really look to see where the blogger is most active and where their audience is most engaged. Our key social media platforms we use are Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest.

Dinah: For us its Facebook and IG. Our core demo is active on FB, and IG is a fantastic place where consumers go for aspiration and innovative new products that they may not find on their own.

5. What types of things do you look for on a blog? What types of things do you consider negative aspects of a blog?

Angie: Are they taking clear, high-quality pictures of themselves using the product or are they using blurry or dark imagery or stock photos from the company? We want to see the blogger using the product and we like high-quality imagery that is well-lit, and shows the product well. Are they writing a review that really talks to the brand/product, or do they just casually mention the brand? We like to see bloggers talk about why they like the product they received, tell the readers if you feel a connection to the brand and why you like/love their product. I think organic mentions throughout other posts are nice too, and show that a blogger truly likes the brand and it isn’t just a one-off, but we like to see one review/feature with more info too. Are they doing giveaways every week? If so, we’ll tend to stay away from that because more than likely their audience is following them because they are looking to enter to winIs what they write about in alignment with our products/brand? Does it make sense for them to review our product or is it out of place?

Dinah: I think a blog with well written content that is also from a personal perspective is essential. Also, clean photos that fit into our aesthetic is crucial from a business perspective for a mutually beneficial relationship. One turnoff is when a blogger basically cuts and pastes copy from our website, or reiterates our catalogs/marketing collateral and makes that their blog.

6. Is there anything in an email pitch that might make you ignore it?

Angie: Poor grammar and formatting. Someone who sends one-two sentences without telling me why they want to review the product and nothing about their site. Emails that seem spammy.

Dinah: A pitch that is blasted out through a paid database, not pitched with genuine interest, or is someone who obviously just seeks free product. Any qualified blogger will want to work with a reputable company that reflects their own style perspective, and same vice versa.  

7. What kind of blog/social media platform would be too small for a collaboration in your opinion? Do you look at numbers/followers or take it all into consideration?

Angie: Honestly, if they do a great job and have a beautiful site, are engaged on social and excited about the brand….we will work with them. We do take it all in consideration because we know some people are stronger on social than their blog and vice versa. If you are just starting out, but can plead your case to us of why you want to test it, who is listening to what your writing, etc., then we will more than likely work with you.

Dinah: We are small enough that we like to curate and look at the big picture, but of course numbers/followers do help the product reach further (thought it depends on if the following is actually authentic).

original post | mules (on sale!)

8. How important are good photos on the blog or instagram? How does it compare to good content? on a scale of 1-10?

Angie: This is really important to us. It’s the first thing people see when they come to your site and speaks to the quality of the content and the seriousness the blogger takes in curating that content. One a scale of 1-10, I’d say 9.

Dinah: I’d say an 6-10 depending on how authentic their content is. There may be an influencer with an ailment like plantar fasciitis with 100 followers, but those 100 followers would be key for us to reach. Good photos just always help, but authenticity is key.

9. When are good times during the year to propose collaborations with your brand (bearing in mind when new items roll out for the coming seasons)?

Angie: If it’s the clothing brand we work with, March/April/May/June and September/October/November/December. Our sales usually start in the shoulder months, so we don’t have as much product to send out and we get concerned that the next season’s product may be in stores or up on the site before the review comes out on last season’s wares.

Dinah: The beginning of any season is good, but there can be a very quick turnaround to get things approved/posted as well. But always keep in mind that key times, like the holidays, or Mother’s Day, we prefer to jump on a few weeks ahead.
10. Do you like to see a link to a blog post with previous collaborative work in the pitch email?

Angie: This is great and super helpful! Shows that you’re really excited about the possibly of collaborating and will go the extra step.

Dinah: I can judge with just the blog itself and navigate that, but it doesn’t hurt to have specific examples (it’s like showing a portfolio).  

11. How much time do you take looking at an email or blog before deciding if you are going to collaborate with them or not?

Angie: Hmmm….that’s a good question. I’m terrible at knowing how much time it takes me to do daily tasks! Haha…I would say time to read the email, dig around on their blog, research their social and then come to a decision of what would fit best. So however long that takes…with the 5 million distractions in between. ☺

Dinah: I can usually decide within a few minutes.
12. Anything else you would like to add or can think of as a tip?

Angie: I love it when a blogger is also connected with their local community and will suggest a local retailer where their followers can go buy the product, not just online. I also love unique ideas. Last year we had an ambassador who was going on a girl’s weekend with other bloggers. We outfitted them all with PJ’s for a PJ party in exchange for high-quality photos and content. It was such a fun collaboration and we were able to reach a larger audience by working with so many bloggers at once and we shared their content with our followers to help them reach more people too. It was a total win-win.  

Dinah: I think just understanding that the digital space is very cluttered and doing your research on a brand/company and telling them why you reached out is a bonus. I get so many ‘blanketed’ pitches and that can come off as ‘looking for free product’, and they sometimes are which in the end isn’t mutually beneficial as we rely or entrust them to be ambassadors of our brand/s when we collaborate.

I had so much fun putting together this post. It was wonderful being able to work with brands I have collaborated with in the past in a new and unique way. I would like to thank Angie and Dinah for their openness to this collaboration, graciousness, and the time it took them to answer my questions. I learned so much from picking their brains and I hope you did, too! 

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  1. Great post, Laura. Thanks so much for sharing your knowledge. How wonderful that you have cultivated such relationships with these women that they would be willing to answer these questions at such length. This is so rich and helpful.

    Would you mind sharing with me how you generally go about finding contact information, specifically email addresses, for the pr or marketing people that you pitch to?

  2. Love this post! What a clever idea to go from the brand’s perspective. And what amazing women to take the time and help us all out!