4 Insider Secrets on Working with Brand Collaborations

4 Insider Secrets on Working with Brand Collaborations

Fam !!

I am super excited to be talking to you today because 1. I need to thank you for all the love recently on my branding/blogging posts – you guys ask for more, I will deliver.

And 2. I love writing tell-all posts for my team here. You guys are the ones I want to share my best blogging tips + secrets with

What I Do Away from Slightly Savvy..aka my 9-5

I don’t talk about my full-time job on here at all, but I am going to share with you some details specifically. It’s going to help you see where I’m getting knowledge from, and honestly, it’s going to help you trust me a little bit more when I tell you things you don’t want to hear.

So I work in brand PR, which means I represent a brand. I head up all of our PR and marketing for the last 2 years. I started this job literally two days after I graduated college when the company was kind of a small start up.

Fast-forward two years later and the company has really exploded, and now I have a team of four people underneath me (who are all older than me BTW). I work on all our press, social media, and I travel the world for our conferences and shows. I manage probs close to a million or so dollars in marketing budget.

All of this means I am on the flipside of blogging – I’m the PR girl asking for a certain thing or being semi-annoying for my client.

This makes my perspective as a blogger a little bit unique because I see the flipside of bloggers, which is brands and PR companies. With starting my own blog, I want to share some of that wisdom, so I hope you guys hear advice/tips/tricks you’ve never heard before.

 

here’s me…doing said PR things

1. YOU have the leverage

As a blogger, you absolutely have leverage over the PR person. As a PR girl, I want press. I need to go to my boss and be like, “Hey, look at this great article written about us.”

Press is everything to a lot of brands. Look at the ones who went from 0 to $100 million in revenue because they got the right press consistently at the right time.

♡ your secret tips

  • negotiate – if you get approached by a brand OR you reach out yourself for brand collaborations, you do absolutely not have to agree 100% to their terms. They want 4 Instagram posts – say you’ll do 2 instead. They offer you $150? Say you need $200 minimum.
  • pitch yourself – love a brand + want to work with them? I don’t really believe in waiting for opportunities to come your way. Make your own opportunities. Pitch them (with VALUE) and see what they say
  • leverage them against their competitors – if you see Nike doing tons of Insta story content…and adidas is doing none, use that to your advantage. Say “Hey Adidas, Nike is doing a ton of Insta story content that seems to be really connecting with their consumers. I’d love to do some of my own Insta story content for you.”

Learn more insider tips on pitching to brands –> here 

 

2. BUT don’t be a B+ blogger

Let’s flashback to high school/college and talk about grades.

One summer, when I was little, my mom made up this grading scale for me and my sister. And every day, depending on how good we were, we would get a grade.

So, let’s talk the grades bloggers would be getting.

♡ the C+ blogger

You passed enough to get your payment, but the brand regrets working with you or feels like they wasted money. They’re not coming back for more, and you probably didn’t drive too much brand awareness or sales for that.

♡ the B+ blogger

You have some pretty good photos and your followers are fairly authentic, so you did a decent job. The brand is satisfied and feels like it got its money’s worth.

Here’s the difference between B+ bloggers and A+ bloggers / / you promote a product for two weeks and then we never see you use again…we’re not idiots. We know that if you promote something for two weeks and then we never hear about it again…you just did it for money.

Over time, that inauthenticity is seen. You’re doing #ads with brands that don’t seem super legit, but they are willing to pay you.

And if you want to be a B+ blogger that’s fine. You do you. You’ll probably make a bit of money off blogging. But don’t expect to reach the big leagues when you’re doing stuff like that.

♡ the A+ bloggers

In PR, I absolutely see the difference between the bloggers who are absolute top notch and the B+ bloggers.

The A team are the ones who, when I see their post and all the social media promotion they do behind it, I am shocked. It’s not just going above and beyond, but it’s going above and beyond forever.

Instead of promoting a product for two weeks, A+ bloggers are promoting products they really love. And they’re using them for months and months. And they’re not working for an Instagram post limit because they’re used in their Stories every single day.

Lauryn from The Skinny Confidential – I could probably go shopping for her because I know exactly what products to get. She is so consistent about sharing the things she loves that when she does sponsorships, I barely notice because the brand/product is “hers” to me already.

Your extra credit homework: check out the below blogs + see what I mean by A team

The Skinny Confidential –> here

Not Another Blonde –> here

Fashionlush –> here

3. We evaluate your brand is 5 seconds or less 

We look at your site and your Instagram. And we judge it in 5 seconds or less. Is it unique? Is it cookie-cutter? Is there synergy between our brands? Are you someone I want to talk to on a daily basis? Does your personality come across? 

Branding can be a hard concept to grasp. I so get that.

In PR, I see a lot of aesthetics and a lot of branding. And I see the people who are just copying and pasting other successful influencers or bloggers (not LITERALLY copying + pasting, but you get the idea)

♡ your secret tips

  • What does your story look like from beginning to end? From your header photo to how you sign off your blog posts
  • What are the tiny little details that are going to make it from a B to an A+ brand? I fully believe great brands are built on the little details.
  • What’s YOUR differentiator? Your truth is the only thing that makes you unique – figure out what it is, get specific, and go from there
  • Ask 3 blogger friends – What advice would they come to you exclusively for? What are their favorite posts of yours?

Your extra credit homework: 5 Telltale Signs You’re Going To Fail At Branding –> here

4. Over curation is OUT

Guys, in the smart PR world, over curation is out. It feels sales-y, it feels like an ad, and it’s forced. I feel like it’s very circa 2012 to be so so perfect and so curated.

Is a perfect Insta feed so tempting to want to achieve absolutely?

#bts is all the rage right now. After years of having perfect blogs and Insta feeds shoved down our throats, people are primed for something different, something more REAL.

How do I know this? Because of the rise of Instagram Stories, Vine, and Snapchat.

All mediums/platforms that blew up because of the raw factor. In the early snap days, influencers were sitting there just talking for 4 minutes straight. No editing, no camera cuts. 

As a PR person, it’s actually way more valuable for you to share something every day on your Insta story, with semi-bad lighting, your dog in the background, or your messy car in the shot. It means you’re using my product/brand authentically

♡ your secret tips

  • take your realness 1 level deeper – the next time your blog photo shoot fails, SHARE that.
  • write EXACTLY how you talk – I do this by literally drafting my posts out loud in my Notes app. Am I a psycho for talking to myself? Sure. But does it get my real voice across? Definitely.
  • if you can leverage to a PR person that you’re going to use their brand/product authentically + in your everyday life – you’re going to win

5. If you appreciate us PR peeps, we can do a LOT for you

Cultivate a one on one relationship with the PR person. 9 times out of 10, we’re the quarterback.

If something goes wrong, we take the blame. If it’s a slam dunk, we take the praise.

We get yelled at and underappreciated a lot. You will thank yourself 50 times over if you cultivate a personal 1-1 relationship with a PR person.

And no, I don’t mean be super fake or start your emails with “Happy Monday!!”

♡ your secret tips

  • Anticipate THEIR needs – what season is coming up? How can you help THEM? We can spot fakeness 8 miles away, so make sure it’s coming from a true place of genuine-ness. Not that you just want to promo yourself for summer.
  • Talk to us..but make it short – go for it, add that PR girl on Instagram. Comment on her photos every once in a while, let her know “good luck” on the event she’s sharing in her Insta stories. We don’t need lengthy love letters – a simple “That event looks gorgeous !! Congrats girl!” goes a long way. 

Learn wayyy more about getting paid collabroations with brands –> here

Okay fam, that’s all for this Monday. I’m contemplating how badly I’m going to get drenched in the rain when I try to take Tallie to the dog park. If I get struck by lightning and die, it’s been nice knowing you all.

If you loved this post, you’ll love Summer Camp even MORE.

If you’re a serious blogger looking to make serious $$ from working with brands, this is for you.

One blogger used the information in Summer Camp to nail down $1200 in brand collaborations in less than a week AND she upped her normal pricing.

Summer Camp is built to teach you exactly what brands are looking for in influencers, how to email pitch to brands, how to structure your press kit, and SO much more.

You’re also going to get 1 on 1 access to myself and 2 other ladies who work in PR with brands like Dove, Kitchen Aid, and TRESemmé – ask us any questions, get feedback on your blog, talk strategy with us, etc.

“I’m vetting a 50 person list right now, weeding through people who are a fit for an upcoming program. I wish I could help these women understand how to make their content feel more authentic + brand friendly.” – Account + Influencer Relations at Edelman PR

“So many times I’ve wanted to tell bloggers exactly why they weren’t chosen for a campaign and just give them some insider tricks, those little tweaks that take a blogger to the next level.” – Brand Manager at $300M Global Company

I would LOVE to help you guys grow your brands and blogs.

Enroll in Camp –> here

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  • Kaitlyn Rose

    Love this post, your tips are super helpful. Especially for myself being a pharmacist turned blogger and not having the slightest clue about literally anything! =p Do you have any recommendations for how to make a media kit/how you should pitch it to a brand you want to collab with? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

    -Kaitlyn | http://confidentlyrose.com/

    • Yeah girl! Honestly I say bump the media ket. PR people are busy and a lot of times, media kits are full of stats we don’t need to hear. I would actually recommend a super short email!

      “Hey Katherine, saw your coconut face mask on Instagram, and I think it looks amazing! My readers really love organic skincare, and I have a background in pharmacy. My blog(link) sees over 2,000 page views a month, and my Instagram(link) engagement hovers around 30%. I would love to potentially work on something with you guys!

      (link to blog, link to Instagram)”

      Try that out and let me know how it works for you!!

      • Kaitlyn Rose

        That’s really helpful, I’m going to give it a try! Thanks so much, I’ll let you know how it turns out 🙂

  • Ouuuu, love this post! Packed with value and your unique perspective, work it girl! I’m happy that you decided to “niche” down. It’s true, there are so many recipes, beauty reviews, and style posts out there…we all gotta find what makes us pop as an expert and I love your insider secrets as a PR girl. Keep em comin!!

    http://www.insearchofsheila.com

    • Thanks girl, I love that, too! We all have stuff that makes us unique and doubling down on that strength it’s where it’s at. Your support = <3 <3 <3

  • Jordyn Upchurch

    Love, love, love your perspective in this post and that you were willing to share! I love the idea grading yourself (& that getting back to basics is actually what PR companies want to see!)

    xoxo, SS

    Southern And Style

    • 100%! Thanks so much for reading all this. Follow some of these tips + lmk if they work for pitching yourself !!

  • I love that you offer a unique perspective with that PR background! I loved this post and it was so helpful – definitely coming back here later when I need a refresher!

  • Krista Aoki

    Love this post, as usual girl! Thanks for the insider scoop for how to go above and beyond as a blogger. <3

  • i love the A+ blogger stuff, really good read!

  • Beauty and the Ballroom

    Great read…thanks for sharing from your view of things. Very helpful 🙂 xx

  • Samantha Lee

    This is so helpful! I especially like the advice to be less curated and to authentically use the product beyond the paid requirements. Thanks so much for sharing!!

    http://www.wonderlandsam.com

    • I knew I recognized your name – I love your blog girl! I like how you put the little reading time on there always.

      And for sure, as a consumer, I know I can 100% tell when a campaign is “done” because the blogger never uses the product again and I never see it again.

  • Shell

    I read this. I loved it. I sent it to my daughter. I shared it with others…omg. HAD to sign up…I’m now craving more of your advice! Thank you!

  • Elizabeth Johnson

    This is really great!! I love how you break things down. Especially the kinds of bloggers and the differences between. I am such a visual person and that helped sooooo much! Also, you have a great writing style! I felt like we were in a conversation!

    • Same! I am super visual and I love details. I also NEED examples. And girl that is 100% the goal! Just to always talk to you guys like I would in real life.

  • Caitlin

    Thanks for sharing these tips, really great informative read!

    Beauty & Colour | Vegan Lifestyle Blog

  • Great post, this is something I am really trying to work on. I am new to blogging and really want to work with brands I love. This really helped, thanks. 🙂

    http://www.naturallyteighlored.com

    • I 100% think you can work with brands as a small blogger. Just present yourself with tons of value for THEM.

      Hit me up if you need anything as you start reaching out!!

  • It’s taken me many years of blogging to understand my true value. Looking back on my younger days, I want to help newbies that take on less than they deserve!

    • It’s tricky because you’re SO excited starting out that you want to do everything!! That’s fab you want to help people, too.

  • Thank you so much these tips are awesome!!! I can’t wait for more post like this one to learn more

  • These are fantastic tips. Thank you so much. I LOVE your blog and your advice.

  • Megan

    These tips are awesome! As a new blogger, I found this really helpful!

  • Daynna Hartjes

    I love this post so so much. I’m really in the process of finalizing my branding and making sure everything is solid, so as soon as I feel good about that I plan on reaching out to brands I love to cultivate partnerships. This post was incredibly helpful, thank you!

    • I definitely say start immediately! The worst thing that happens is you get told no. I tell a lot of people “no” only to have them come back and surprise me 2 months late with bumping their game up!! People like to see growth and works in progress.

      Thanks so so much for reading Daynna!

  • Rachel Ritlop

    GIRLLL!!!! I had no idea that’s what you did for a living! And holy moly this post is legit the best one I’ve ever read on working with brands!! Anddd I had no idea your blog was so young! You are killing it! Do I have your email?? I want to interview you for a forbes post I’m working on mine’s just my name at my blog url if you want to send it over 🙂

    • Katherine

      Just emailed you!! ❤and thank you times a million. Your blog is a huge source of inspo !

    • Just emailed you!! That’s so awesome, thanks x 1 million. Your blog is a huge source of inspo!

  • Brianne George

    Love these tips!! Please keep them up 🙂 would love to see a post about pitch emails!

    • Katherine

      That is 100% on its way!! You’re ahead of the game lol.

    • For sure coming your way. I think it’ll be up on Monday!

      Thanks for reading girl xx

  • What great insight! Thank you for sharing these insider tips!

  • Jackie Hauer

    I’ve been looking for advice on this topic! Currently in the process of negotiating brand ambassadorship terns with a company based on my story and experience with their product, and I’ve been wanting to approach a few more companies whose products I do use and swear by, but I wasn’t exactly sure of how to best go about it considering my specifics. I launched my site (HauteMessLife.com) and social media channels in March, so everything is relatively new, but I do have compelling content and good engagement.

  • I came across your blog last week and actually had it saved on my phone. I totally agree about the overcurated photos. I think they are pretty but they are sooo fake! I need to start pitching more. I’ve always let brands come to me! And yes, it’s obvious to tell the bloggers who did something for the money. I only post about products I love!

    • SO agreed! They’re beautiful but if I wanted to look at perfection non stop, I would go to an art gallery or something. I love knowing the girl behind the pics because let’s be honest, there are only so many times you can see a girl on a beach.

      I totally don’t believe in waiting for brands to just fall into your lap. If you’re motivated enough to do the work and the research and reach out yourself, I think you’re going to get where you want a lot lot faster.

      xx

      • Oooh! I never said wait for brands to contact you. I just said that so far with my new blog, every brand I have worked with contacted me first, and that I’m going to start pitching more on my own.

        • Katherine

          That’s awesome girl! Yeah I knew what you meant, I was just throwing that in there because I have heard a lot of people saying “just wait and be patient.” Love that you are doing it already !!

        • Oh awesome, yeah I knew what you meant! I love that you’re reaching out to them yourself!

  • Nicole

    These are such awesome tips thank you! I’m all about authenticity – I love looking at the beautifully styled Instagram pics but that’s not really who I am so I just show the real me. Sure, I use stock photos every once and a while for Pinterest or blog images but I really do strive to be myself.

    Nicole | The Professional Mom Project

    • You’re smart to adjust for different platforms! I would agree that Pinterest is still about beautiful photos and curation. That’s what people are expecting as like #pinterestgoals

  • Olivia Thibault

    Love this! I feel like I’m in the same position as you just a few years behind! Looking to go into PR too, but still also trying to blog!

    xoxo Olivia
    http://www.ourwanderingmind.com

  • What a relief to read #4! Not only is curating perfect content/feeds hard, but it feel so fake! It’s good to know that companies can see through that, and that raw stuff is making a comeback!
    This is definitely a great post!
    -Kristin
    countdowntofridayblog.com

    • Definitely! People want to see people use things in their natural state. Not necessarily in a flawless, heavily photoshopped situation. Plus, with Snapchat becoming so popular so fast, I think everyone was trying to say that we wanted something more real and raw.

  • This is such a fantastic and informative post. Thank you so much for your unique perspective!

  • I loved this post, Katherine! Can you write a “how to” post on how to contact brands and email pitches? I would love to gain more knowledge on that kind of stuff! xx

  • These are all excellent tips! Thanks for such a great informative post – #4 was nice to hear – I feel like my behind-the-scene stuff gets more attention anyway.

    • Definitely! I always try to think about just me…as a normal reader…what do I want? I want to see someone use it in their bathroom every morning, not necessarily in this perfectly placed photo by fresh flowers.

  • WOW! I literally felt myself taking so many mental notes, I started writing things down. I always forget about how branding is so crucial when brands come onto your site and have 30 seconds or less to form an opinion. It’s definitely something I’d like to focus in on!
    xo, G
    theswirlblog.com

    • Ah that’s so amazing!! I love love love hearing that. And yes, that first glance/look is super crucial. Just getting a grasp of who a person is happens in like less than 5 seconds.

  • This is SUCH a valuable post! You hit it out of the park!!! I definitely think it is so important that you noted that blogs need to be the voice of the author. Their ACTUAL voice! There is no need to be super formal and act like you are trying to gain an A+ in English class. That is what allows people to make connections. I would LOVE to see more content on your blog about how to pitch to brands & stay authentic!!

    • I was SO guilty of that at first!! Like taking the time to write something almost like I would a paper.

      And yes yes girl, I’ll write this up!

  • Adriana

    This was soo great to read! It’s so interesting seeing it from the PR perspective. Promoting products you love and can promote/talk about forever is SO key!

  • Okay the tip you gave about how you draft your post by talking into your phone in the notes app is AMAZING! I never would’ve thought to do that. This post was insanely helpful. Definitely pinning and sharing!

    Kayla | kaylablogs.com

    • Yes!! It’s like secret gold. My thoughts are always running around in my head like when I’m walking my dog, so talking them out loud gets my best ideas on paper.

  • Love your description of the difference in A+ and B+ bloggers! I’d much rather hear about a product I can tell someone loves than one you can tell they feel obligated to write about!

    • 100%. And you can totally tell, too. Readers today are super smart and we all notice when someone doesn’t seem totally connected to whatever they’re promoting.

  • This is excellent advise especially about being graded for your blog! I never wanted to be less than A student in school and don’t want to stay less than that on my blog! Thank you for sharing.

  • Miss ALK

    Girl I think this is one of the best posts I’ve ever read (and I’ve been blogging for almost 5 years). AMAZING post and I’ll be coming back to it for sure!

    xoxo A
    http://www.southernbelleintraining.com

  • This post was wonderful, girl! I always wanted to work in PR because that was my major but I ended up as a social media manager which I absolutely love too. Thank you for the insight.

    • So fun! We do a lot of social media management, too. It kind of all blends together these days. Thanks so much for reading!!

  • I loved this post- it was so helpful to get an “insider’s perspective.” Definitely bookmarking this to reference later!

  • This was sooo insanely helpful—also, thanks for cutting right to the chase and getting into the tips from the start.

    I’m very interested in working with brands soon, but I want to approach them in a way that is knowledgeable and respectful, as well as mutually beneficial for both the brand and myself as well.

    This advice will definitely help me get it right. 🙂

  • These are such helpful tips – so interesting to see from the PR point of view! I’ll definitely be keeping all of these things in mind, thank you!

  • thesophiadiaries

    These are great tips!!!! I’m glad you shared these, they will be very useful in the future!!!

  • FABULOUS! I used to work and marketing and this is so so so true. There’s nothing worse than connecting with someone who promotes your brand for a hot second, but doesn’t really love your product (it shows!) – though that’s a mistake I think a lot of bloggers make when they first start trying to make money blogging/do it for free.

    great tips. will check in on all the homework.
    xxox
    Laura @ http://www.cookwineandthinker.com

    • 100% ! And it’s embarrassing for us as PR people because the conversions or purchases or whatever won’t be there either.

  • This is so useful! thanks for sharing!

  • SOOOOO much juicy goodness in this post I just don’t even know where to start. I’ve been working really hard on writing in my real voice. Lately I’ve noticed that my blog posts that get the best responses are the ones that sound like me IRL. I loved getting the insider scoop from the other side of things <3

    • Okay I love that! I can always tell when people write exactly how they talk. I’m sure your readers see that too

  • Loved this post so much! I just found your blog and I’m obsessed sed I would love to hear your thoughts on email pitches!

  • This was such a great, in-depth article. Thanks so much for sharing! Will be bookmarking this for sure.

    • Sometimes I worry about how many words I throw at you guys lol. But I’m so glad you loved this even though it was long!

  • Tabitha Bitner

    I enjoyed your article immensely. It is the behind the scenes people that don’t always get the recognition they deserve. I would love to know more, will definitely follow.

    • Absolutely! On the flip side, there’s a lot PR people need to understand about bloggers. Both sides can def learn more about each other.

  • Karina Ioffe

    This is amazing! I subscribed so I don’t miss any further posts from you. And now I’m going to read the rest of your blog. 🙂

  • Taylor M. Harrison

    So happy I found this post! So encouraging and a lot of takeaways! Thank you!

  • Oh my goodness, this was so cool to read! Your perspective is so new to read, and totally different from just the typical blogger sharing their secrets! I’d love to hear more about reach out to brand through email!

    • Hey Caitlyn! Thanks so much for reading this and I love that you loved it. Email pitching is coming up next!

  • I completed a degree in PR, so it was interesting to read a post by someone who is currently WORKING in PR. Definitely agree with everything you say! Bloggers have all the power, but a brand wouldn’t want to risk it all on someone who is a one hit wonder. I also tried writing my posts out from a voice recording! I felt like an absolute nut job, but it works!

    • Absolutely – I think bloggers get taken advantage of a bit more than brands, but it definitely needs to eventually turn into an equal balance thing.

      So fun you got your degree in PR!

  • Pari Sterri

    I absolutely LOVE this post! I have been reading articles about Instagram and Blogging for the last 6 months and have NEVER gotten more out of an article than with this one!

    Thank you so much!

  • Tear N Wear

    Woow, that was useful! I´d love if you could give me some tips for my blog or any of my social media. I have very veeery little followers and I wonder if there´s a minmum so that I can start approaching certain brands. Is that correct? Thanks!

    • Hmm no I don’t think there’s a flat out minimum. I would probably try to be at at least 1,000 followers on Instagram before I pitched, but who knows? The worst they can say is no. I would still give it a try because it’s a learning experience!

  • Amanda J. Kolar Blouch

    Thank you. Thank you. Oh & THANK YOU! Pinned to look back on. Always looking for info to soak up like a sponge!

  • Loved these tips so much! I’m definitely going to use these tips when working with brands!

  • This is so true! You have to bring value and set yourself apart. Going above and beyond isn’t even an option anymore! You have to do it to really be fruitful in the industry!

    xx,

    Lacey//theglittergospelblog.com

  • Randi Owen

    I love all the secret tips! this is great. Thank you!

  • Amanda Faber

    Loving all of these tips!!

  • This is SO helpful. Will be saving for future use 💖

  • This is a very helpful post! You have such a unique perspective that you can offer to bloggers! Thanks for the behind the scenes tips! 🙂

  • Girl, this is so helpful! I’m glad I found your blog. 🙂 These tips are priceless!

    Liz
    http://Www.lizzieinlace.com

  • Michelle/cocowouldapprove.com

    I got so much out of this post. Thank you so much for sharing.