Tips for Bloggers: How to Build Long-Term Relationships with Brands

February 23, 2012 · 1 comment

Hopefully, you caught the first post about how to develop your brand as a blogger, and I wanted to focus on a different part of that process: the blogger/brand relationship.

As someone who gets pitches both as a blogger and as a brand representative, it’s easy to tell when someone is taking themselves seriously, respecting your time and is reasonable as well as fair and balanced. These are the five key things that make a difference when you’re first starting to build that relationship – all are necessary, no matter which side of the fence you’re on!

Here are the tips!

1. Do your research. It helps to know who to email – there’s nothing more impersonal than an email that is addressed for “To Whom it May Concern.” I hate it when PR people send me impersonal messages, and it’s the same for getting emails from bloggers inquiring about our clients. If you know the brand, look for press releases with the marketing contact. Or go onto LinkedIn. Spend a little time and you’ll see the results. Research makes success.

2. Be honest and transparent. Share your stats. Ones you can back up with proof. Tell them from the first email what you’re hoping to do, whether you’re contacting to get on a mailing list or asking for product, because getting that out in the open empowers the representative or employee to take steps to give that to you. Introduce yourself and then share these following things:

  • Your site URL and how long it’s been active.
  • Where you live
  • How many visitors you have monthly (both UVM and Pageviews)
  • Facebook/Twitter followers (only IF you plan on sharing something through social channels. Otherwise, wait until they ask.)
  • Why you contacted them specifically. For example, what about that specific brand is right for you and your demographic?
  • What you want
  • What they’ll get

Which is the perfect transition into the next tip!

3. Give more than you take. I hate getting emails from a company that are all about their new Facebook giveaway, and telling (not asking) me to post about it on my site. And then there are the people who send the email again and again and again! And to think that they wonder how this style doesn’t work!

The same principles apply for bloggers who want to start a relationship, which implies two things: mutual benefit and continued support on both sides. It’s as simple as the last two bullet points; if you can provide value, they’ll want to work with you again and again. Show them just what you are willing to offer in advance, and don’t focus only on you/your site.

I often use this analogy: you’re at a bar with a handful of friends, each buying rounds as needed. The last person, right as their turn comes up, mysteriously has a phone call… leaving the first friend to pick up the tab. After a while, no one invites that person around anymore because it was a completely one-sided relationship.

4. Be calm. I know you feel like it’s been ages since you got a response. Like you, the person who found your message in their inbox may be swamped with work. Or maybe they’re going to bat for you and getting what you need.

But, maybe they just meant to respond and didn’t. You can and should absolutely follow-up, but I prefer to wait three weeks unless it’s very time-sensitive.

5. Spell Check doesn’t catch names. Make sure you do. This sounds so silly, I know. And for those of you with common or phonetic names, you’re probably confused. But nothing shows a disregard for the relationship itself like incorrectly spelling someone’s name (unless you call them something else altogether. THAT is bad, guys!) – so check, double check and then maybe do a quick Facebook stalking session just to be sure. It’s worth it.

What would you add to this list – either as a blogger sending out the first email or as a brand representative receiving it?


{ 1 comment }

1 Angela R February 24, 2012 at 9:19 am

Oh this is such fantastic advice!! It’s so funny to me that as bloggers, we can so easily get upset when we get a bad PR pitch, but it goes the same way!

I had a couple relationships I’ve worked hard to build and I have to say that there is a definite “courting” period with them. Particularly brands I really, really want to work with – I’ll prove my worth a bit to them first. Offer to interview someone from their team. Write a post about their promotion or product and send them the link. Give them a taste of the value I can offer them, so when I pitch a specific idea, there’s context there.

Great post, Jaime.

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