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]