How To Pitch Brands and Influence Media: The Basics

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Last week I talked about the FTC Blogger Guidelines and how Edelman is changing the data analytics game for bloggers- both important subjects to have a basic understanding of in the day and age of the career blogger.

When I first started blogging my Freshman year of college, I had no idea that in a few short years there would be a “business” side to something that I found pure enjoyment in. As I progressed in my blog and ultimately started working with brands, I had to learn the basics, like how to create a simple media kit and how to send a pitch to publicists and journalists. Being a PR professional, it is slightly comical to look back at something that caused me so much anxiety!

According to Webster’s Dictionary, the textbook definition of PR is: professional maintenance of a favorable public image by a company or other organization or a famous person. The state of the relationship between the public and a company or other organization or a famous person. While this is true, a PR person is as follows: the gatekeeper between you and the brand. To work with a brand, there are numerous people that have to approve: the marketing director, the PR director, the social media strategist…and on and on.

With blogger + brand partnerships being extremely prevalent, something I often get asked is “what does a proper pitch look like?” While that is a tricky question to answer because every PR professional has their own style of pitching, there are some basics that will help you get across the finish line in a brands’ inbox and hopefully a response!

Pitching brands versus media is very different. A brand pitch is tailored to one specific product and has a call to action. For example: “Would you like to partner…”, “Will you send me XYZ product….”. The question to ask yourself is, what do I have to offer this brand that the ten million other bloggers do not? Make sure you are asking for the right things. While these pitches will help you be professional, also know what level of goods to ask for. If you are a new blogger, request samples to review and start building a relationship with a brand you love.

Remember that when you are pitching media outlets, you are pitching to a writer/journalist. When you are pitching to a brand, you are pitching to a publicist. The job of a publicist is to protect their brands image and think about the business side of how actions will benefit the brand. Also, keep in mind timeliness: if you are pitching a holiday style segment positioning yourself as a fashion expert, give at least a month leeway for scheduling.

One thing that will help to set you apart is using PR to your advantage and aligning yourself with a brands current initiatives. If you directly link your blog or Instagram page and a brand immediately sees their product pop up, that helps set you apart. Below are an example of a brand pitch vs. a media pitch:

 

 

Example Brand  pitch:

Hi Kaylee,

I hope you are having a lovely week! I just wanted to shoot you a note getting Chicago based blog XYZ on your radar for the upcoming Spring months! We explore career, food and fashion combined with unique elements.

(Introduce yourself and tell the publicist exactly what you do!)

Utilizing our background in public relations and digital strategy, we have tapped into a demographic of 21-27 year old women that value experiences over physical items.

(What sets us apart.)

With “spring break” season quickly approaching in Chicago, I just wanted to reach out and see if you would be interest in a collaboration post with us across XYZ and  showcasing XYZ HOTEL as the ultimate alternate hotel from getting away from the craziness of the strip but still having all the amenities you could ever want at your fingertips.

(What are you asking for? What are you going to do in exchange for XYZ?)

I am more than happy to answer any questions you might have and am happy to shoot over my media kit.  Do you have any time for a call next week?

(Try to get on a call- it is MUCH harder to say no to someone on the phone than email. Offer to send media-kit if you have one!)
Alex
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Example Press Pitch :

 

Hi Stanton!

Hope you are having a lovely week! I just wanted to shoot you a note getting XYZ BLOG on your radar for XYZ PUBLICATION. Utilizing our backgrounds in public relations and digital strategy, we decided to launch XYZ BLOG as a culmination of our passions. Do you have any “Real Women, Real Style” segments coming up?

(In this case, we are asking to be featured for a specific segment “real women, real style.” This lets the journalist/producer (if a tv show) know that you did your homework and actually know what they cover.)

XYZ BLOG is based out of Chicago and will be on the ground at Lollapalooza for activations. I just wanted to reach out and see if you would be interested in any kind of festival fashion piece or behind the scenes Snapchat takeover for XYZ or a “10 Craziest Things We Saw At Lollapalloza” segment for the WXYZ Morning Show?

(What can you offer that is different: come up with a catchy headline and offer it up. Also, mention specifics of what you can talk about.

 

Things to ask yourself when writing a pitch:

  • Who gives a crap? Why should someone care about what you are writing?
  • What makes your story outshine the others?
  • Where does your story fit into the writers world? How can they use you to make news?
  • When is this most important? (EX: if it is a pitch about Lollapalooza, make sure you send it out 4 weeks prior.)
  • Timeliness to a pitch presents a sense of urgency to the Journalist/Publicist.
  • Why would people want to read your story?
  • How can this story help readers?

 

 

General Tips on PR:

 

  • Have an idea for a specific niche collaboration? Offer it up!
  • If you aren’t comfortable with your stats yet, don’t offer them up right away! Focus on the gorgeous photos you take of your reader demographic.
  • Make sure your public image is clean, brands do not want to be associated with people with dirt in their closet (or on their timeline.)
  • If you can’t find the direct PR contact for a company, try multiple versions in the BCC. Ex: info@morescopr.com, alex@morescopr.com, am@morescopr.com. One of them is bound to work!
  • Know when to follow up: follow up a few days prior to your first email.
  • The best time to pitch is first thing in the morning when a journalist/publicist gets to their desk (9am) or midday when they are not buried in emails.
  • Have a catchy subject line that fits the length of the line.

 

I know this is a lot of information to take in, but it is worthwhile to know in the long run. Next week I plan on covering the basics of a brand phone call, a sample call agenda and what questions you should be asking. If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments!

If you are looking for more information about the business side of blogging, please check out: FTC Blogger Guidelines + how Edelman is changing the data analytics game.

 

<3 Alexandra Moresco

Alexandra Moresco is the owner and founder of A Moresco PR + Digital Strategy.

 

 

 

Questions About Monetizing Your Social Accounts

Just because you are on social media, does not mean you are a social media expert. In the same way, having an Instagram…does not make you a professional photographer. I joined Instagram at the end of my Freshman year of college when I first started my previous blog, StreetStyleChi. I knew little about how to use social media, or, how beneficial it could be. After spending so much time working with the women of Nike in Chicago, I got to see first hand how one of the most influential companies in the world crafts their brand voice.  I quickly gained insight and learned how important a strong social media voice is. After spending the last few years creating brand images on social media for my clients, I have learned that everyone has to have their own unique voice and each fan base responds positively to different content. The fact is, that good social media can move mountains between a brand and it’s consumers.

Back in 2011, social media was looked at as purely an egotistical and frivolous (which it still can be). It was just a silly place for teens to express their love for the latest member of One Direction (again, still very much alive). Only in the last few years have we started to fully take advantage of what it really is: a direct line to your consumer.

 

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While many view giving bloggers monetary compensation to wear certain products as deceptive, it is truly just another form of advertising for these large brands trying to tap a specific market; and it is SUPER smart. Consumers no longer want to click on a banner ad or follow a brand on social media; they want to follow a personality. Bloggers and “influencers” being sent product help brands build a direct relationship with their consumer through this third party (being the blogger) that consumers already deeply trust.

A great example of Instagram marketing can be found at @WeWoreWhat, founded by blogger Danielle Bernstein. Her Instagram account boasts a million followers, with sponsored posts trickling down her feed that to an untrained eye look organic. In reality, Bernstein charges $5-15K per Instagram photo, with monetary compensation going up as the number of Instagrams goes up. So why would a brand be willing to pay tens of thousands of dollars for a single photo on a social network? Bloggers build lasting relationships with their readers for years, thus, when they promote a brand, the brand gains that loyalty as well.

WWW Sponsored Insta Post

When looking at famous instagram accounts we are not just talking number of followers, but engagements, which are measured by number of likes and comments on a photo. If you have 20K followers on Instagram, but are consistently getting 15 likes on your photos, there is a very fair chance that you bought 19K of those followers and brands will keep their distance. Essentially, your data will speak for itself.

If you look through any “instafamous” personalities, their content glows. Their photos boast the same filter to show consistency, and their snapshots are taken with fancy camera attachments or a Nikon. Every photo is strategically placed on their feed with the same intensive thought that goes into a full-throttle pr campaign. Why? They are their brand, and their social tool of choice is their main place of marketing themselves, so it better be good. To see what I mean, check out our tips for Instagramming like a professional.

What are your opinions on sponsored posts? On growing your social media accounts?

Make sure to follow me on Instagram @AliTMoresco. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

<3 Al