A Brand Perspective on Blogger Outreach


Some of you have been requesting tips on how best to approach brands for the first time.  I thought I would share my experience working on the brand and agency side, and what types of methodologies brands use to screen and approach bloggers for programs (surprise: it's not as organized as you might think).  Here are a few insights on the brand side as they relate to blogger outreach…

It pays to be proactive; brand-side blogger knowledge is not as organized as you may think.

This may come as a surprise to some, but most fashion brands are not very organized when it comes to blogger relations. They will often have a spreadsheet of contacts for some of what they consider the top fashion blogs, but this information is often updated on an ad hoc basis, and it may be one or two people on staff who spend their time reading blogs to update this database.  It pays to be proactive and to do your research when it comes to building relationships with the brands you love.  Find the proper contact at the company – either through the brand's website (contact or press page), a Google search for the PR agency that represents the brand or do a stealth search through LinkedIn to locate the PR or social media manager.

Want to stand out in the brand's inbox?  Don't let your first communication to the brand be a Fashion Week ticket request or solicitation for free product.

If you were trying to build a friendship or working relationship with someone in real life, you would not open the conversation with an ask, so why would you do the same in brand relations?  One exception to this rule is during Fashion Week when many of us spend time requesting invitations to shows for brands with whom we may not have a pre-established relationship.  The brand's inbox contains many generic sounding requests for free product.  Instead of a blind ask for product (which will probably get deleted in the end), send them a blog post you wrote about one of their products or collections, request that you remain on their press alert list (they may not be organized enough to have a press alert list but they would be impressed you asked) and let them know of your hope to stay in touch in the future.

Follow up on email correspondence in a timely manner- even if the opportunity is not one you wish to pursue.

Sometimes brands may reach out with a piece of news or video that doesn't fit with the content on your blog or would be more of a paid opportunity.  Feel free to give brands this feedback- they may not be as educated as you may think about the way blogs work in terms of content distribution.  If it's a brand that you really love and would love to continue to work with in some manner, feel free to politely decline and give them the reasons why.   Often times, brands will send around a press release or information to bloggers thinking that it is appropriate for blogs, but won't get any honest feedback on the outreach itself.  An example might be: “Thank you for this video content- I am such a fan of the brand.  Unfortunately, I don't usually post this type of content on my blog unless it is a paid advertorial.  Would love to stay in touch about future news from the brand, however!”

Do you have any tips to share about building relationships with brands?


[Image source: Shuterstock.com]

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17 Responses

  1. Dominique

    Great tips! My team is actually working on moving to the next level of our brand coverage. One of the first steps was creating a spreadsheet like you mentioned, to see which local PR agencies represent clients that are relevant to the categories that we cover on our blog since we’re a lifestyle blog.

  2. Lexi

    I think my biggest fear with reaching out to brands is that my blog is too small for anyone to want to work with me. There’s a particular dress shop I would love to work with and have made several purchases from, but I Googled blogs that they’ve done giveaways with before and they’re much bigger than mine. I can’t imagine they’d be too excited to work with me.

    • Shari

      I know EXACTLY what you mean, Lexi. But it doesn’t hurt to try! Good luck though. What’s your blog, btw?

    • cecile

      Hey Lexi,
      How big is your blog is not relevant. Brands care about how many followers do you have, how many social media are you using, if you are influencer !
      Good luck.

  3. Filipa

    Great tips! I’ve been wanting to contact a few brands that I really love and see if we could have a nice collaboration. Unfortunately, my blog still isn’t big enough for them to accept me immediately, so I’m trying to figure out how to impress them 🙂
    This article helped a lot!

    Filipa from http://ohmyfilipa.blogspot.com

  4. Kimberly

    Great article — because as a brand myself, I find that most bloggers are awful at working with brands, no matter how established or new they are. The worst thing is random bloggers hitting us up for free merchandise — if you’re interested in our brand you can request to do a feature or interview us first; if you just come after product it’s really obvious you only want free stuff.

    Also — get stuff up quickly. Merchandise should be posted within 2 weeks after receiving it. Anything longer than a month is too long, and when this happens we make a point to never work with that blogger again, regardless of how influential they may be. Don’t accept merchandise if you can’t get it up in a timely manner and if you’ve been holding merchandise for months, send it back!

    But what I really find amusing these days is bloggers that aren’t top tier charging hundreds of dollars to wear one of your items in a post. That and “pr agencies” like Sociolyte.co who make it even worse, charging $500-$1500 for ONE item to be worn on a blog, that’s going to be lost in a sea of a bunch of other credits. Pretty absurd.

  5. #HTStylish

    Twitter can be a wonderful way to get a brand’s attention. I recently got a vox box filled with all types of goodies that I really enjoyed. The companies that I featured on my blog, I mentioned on Twitter and sent them the link. If you choose to do this, I would suggest that the post you link to be more than just a “Plain Jane” review.

  6. Natalie Heather

    Can I just say that I am astounded that anyone who received merchandise would wait up to a month to blog about it? That’s really, really terrible. Unless they stated from the start that they wouldn’t be able to blog about it for awhile, that’s really uncool. A month! Unbelievable. I try to get things up within the week (given I don’t need to review the product: IE beauty items where I really want to know the item before posting about it) and I feel really bad if it goes into two weeks!
    I hate to say it, but I do get the feeling that a lot of bloggers are not really good when it comes to PR (and sometimes just general manners). It comes out pretty clearly when someone will comment on your post asking you to follow them, and sometimes just through reading their blog. I’ve also heard of quite a few bloggers who started blogging purely to receive free stuff. I can’t find a word that describes how I feel about that, but it’s not good.
    P.S. Deanne, great article. I really like your suggestions, and it is really just manners to try building a relationship before asking for free stuff.

  7. Nancy

    I have a question. How big does a blog need to be before reaching out to brands? How much traffic do you need first?

    • Kimberly

      Personally, I like to see 1k GFC and facebook followers as a minimum for a blogger. I also check interaction — do they get a healthy number of comments on each post, and are those of substance or not. Traffic stats doesn’t matter to me — that traffic can come from anywhere, it can be passive, and you never know how legit those stats are.

      Also, it’s an added bonus if they’re on both look book AND chictopia, and have a nice following there. Don’t care much about twitter. Instagram and youtube are different ball games.

  8. Winston & Willow

    This is a really great post with really helpful information. I think it’s a great idea to build relationships with PR agencies before asking them for things, and is something that I will definitely keep on board!

  9. CynthiaCM

    Is it better to contact brands directly or via PR? I recently went on a media package sending spree to various PR companies (mostly boutiques) across the city, either updating or introducing myself to them.

  10. Michelle

    I agree with Lexi. I’ve had my blog for almost 6 months and only have a few followers. I post on Chictopia but I would like to get more interaction and followers to know that people are actually reading what I post. I haven’t given up hope though… hopefully in a year or two my blog will be where I want it to be!