A Content Creator’s Guide to Aligning with Brands.

Here are the ten steps you need to nail when reaching out to brand managers and PR pros for collaborations.

Well hello there content creator,

When PR managers, brand managers or marketers are considering whether or not to align the brands they represent with an influencer or content creator there’s a few things they look for as the north stars of decision-making.

This blog will spotlight the things you need to be mindful of to optimise your pitch and move you up the consideration ladder for brand alignment opportunities and take-up. Also known as influencer ambassador partnerships, or sponsored content opportunities.

Yep, here are the eleven steps you need to nail when reaching out to brand managers and PR pros for collaborations:  

Step 1: Know your brand values

Your brand values are no different to your personal values. They inform everything your brand does; including language, design and all touch-points to your brand. Just like we choose friends who share the same values; this is also how we choose the brands we join. It’s no different when reaching out to businesses for potential brand collaborations. Shared values are key. When we see brands or content creators that share the same values we are drawn to them, this is called Attraction Marketing.

You can find our free Brand Values Discovery download here.

Step 2: Know your purpose

Your brand purpose is the reason you exist beyond making money. It’s your cause and it’s why what you’re doing with your content should matter to a wider community of people. Purpose is why customers join brands and it’s also what compels brands to say yes to partnering with content creators. When you know your purpose it creates communications clarity for everything you do. Brand purpose is important because it shows you stand for something beyond your products, services, or content campaigns. Your purpose is about the action your taking to have a positive impact on the world. Brands are selective about who they work with, just as you should be. They make decisions based on aligned values and purpose.

Step 3: Know what makes you unique

There is a deluge of content creators all looking to align with brands and be considered by PR reps. You’ll need to establish your differentiation and amplify that in your content and when you reach out to brands for consideration.  Get clear on what makes what you do unique. And get clear on who should care.

Step 4: Get your content channels in order

Get your online presence synchronised and singing the same song across all platforms. Brand managers and PR reps will definitely check out what you’re up to across all channels to build a case around who you say you are and to ensure that the brands they represent can confidently align with you and all that you produce by way of content. Make sure that your language is in a tone-of-voice that represents you and your personal brand well and that your visuals are professional, consistent and well-positioned with your authentic self and the brands you’d like to attract.

Step 5: Know the value you bring to a brand

Get clear on the value you bring to a brand be it through your compelling copywriting, access to an engaged community, professional photography, or dedication through content to a social or environmental cause. Perhaps you can produce high quality product-based content at scale that saves brand marketers and PR reps a heap of money on production costs. Know your genius zone and what you’ve got that will appeal to brands if they partner with you.

Step 6: Have a powerful pitch deck

When you reach out to brand managers, marketers or PR reps make sure you have a beautiful pitch deck that represents you and your personal brand well.

I don’t recommend sending this in your first email outreach; but have it ready for your follow-up or if you’re asked. Also, just by the very nature of having it; it will help you clarify your brand essence; your point-of-difference, your pitch.

The pitch deck helps set the creative tone for you and the content you produce and helps brand managers establish if your aesthetic is right for them. This is your opportunity to show them why you’re a good fit to promote their product or service.

What to include in your pitch deck

  1. Highlight your skills and mention the different social channels you use to connect with your audience.
  2. Focus your pitch deck on the compelling content you produce, this is your point of difference, this is part that is uniquely yours and unlike numbers and stats; it’s the part that can’t be faked, or replicated. All the creative assets and how you bring your content to life is the most important focus of the pitch deck.
  3. Include relevant social media figures, analytics or metrics to pitch yourself and spotlight the viability of your work and past partnerships. (Be sure to ask for testimonials along your journey.)
  4. Spotlight relevant examples of past partnerships and collaborations; just a quick overview of a recent experiences and be sure to define any partnership and collaboration goals that were set and how you achieved them. If you haven’t yet partnered with a brand you can leave this part out or create a mini mock example of how you’d show up in potential, future brand partnerships.
  5. Best not to include rates in your initial pitch deck send. Instead create a few pitch deck variations, one with a rate card and only send that once you’re in the stage of negotiation. It’s best to negotiate costs personally and directly with the brand rather than have a flat rate across the board.

Step 7: Research

Do your research. Be very familiar with the content of the brand you’re reaching out to. One would assume that you’re only reaching out to brand’s you legitimately already know, like and trust but if you’re not around it, get around it. Brand Managers and PR reps can easily pick up on authenticity and they look for content creators who are showing up as a fit for the brands they manage. It’s important to have familiarity not just within the industry you’re hoping to show up in but equally with the brands and businesses you’re reaching out to. Know the brand’s website, social profiles and be across any influencer campaigns. This helps you get clear of their brand voice and content approach. Make sure you share the same ethos and a similar content direction. Be a fan. It makes collaboration a more natural next step.

Step 8: Be a legit fan and friend of the brand

People do business with people they know, like and trust. Be a legitimate fan of the brands you’re reaching out to. Brands a natural extension of yourself, of communities that you identify with and who will connect with your messaging. Only reach out to brands you genuinely like. And show them that you like them on-going by showing up as a conversation contributor, fan and friend of all that they do. Brand managers notice this. This is how to not just be on their radar but form genuine friendships; because you support the same cause. Being a legit brand-friend is how to ensure you won’t be cold-pitching when you reach out.

Step 9: Develop a database

Before you think about what to say in your outreach email create a list of brands you want to work with and then build a database of contacts so that you know who you’re reaching out to. List building in the PR world is a job that’s never done. It will evolve as you move through the campaign; and you’ll update contacts as you go and as you get closer to the right person to speak with; if you don’t know this from the outset. Use the tools you have; scout LinkedIn, Instagram, Google to research for contact details. But expect that it’s a process and track the history and interactions as you go with relevant feedback and dates.

Don’t have a media list or database template? You can grab our free download here.

Step 10: Know how you want to collaborate

There are different ways you can collaborate with brands. Before you reach out to a PR pro or brand rep definitely get clear on ‘how’ you want to collaborate before you pitch. Make sure your platforms are in a position to request payment for the hard work you do or perhaps consider how many freebies you’re willing to accept (just to get your foot in the door with a brand) and before moving to a paid agreement. Remember that your effort to create meaningful content is your time and you should get paid for it. Set the Terms, Terms and Conditions

Ways to Work with Brands 

  1. Free product or experiences in exchange for content.
  2. Sponsored posts and advertorials.
  3. Affiliate links and competitions.
  4. Campaign imagery production.

Step 11: Pitch with value

When you’re ready to send that first message, remember that first impressions count. Remember that brands are just businesses with people behind them. So when you’re pitching a collaboration opportunity or simply to be considered for future opportunities remember that you’re speaking with another human. Be kind, polite, considerate and always pitch with value in mind. Don’t make your pitch too long, keep it brief. What can you give by way of value? How can you position yourself in a way where you are a conduit that can give back to the brand and contribute to their greater cause? Pitch to the individual, reach out to one person at a time as opposed to a team and always pitch with value in mind. Also the best days to send pitch emails and messages are Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. Remember not send your pitch deck on the first out-reach.

Things to remember when pitching to brands

  1. Pitch with value.
  2. Pitch to one person, at a time, and remember they’re human.
  3. Be responsive and thoughtful in your communication. 
  4. Don’t spend too much time talking about yourself. You want to show the brand how working with you will benefit them. 
  5. Pay attention to the details. Do your research on Google, LinkedIn and Facebook to find the right contact’s first name. 
  6. Proof read your message before you hit send! 

Step 12: Phased Follow-up, the Romance

Business is done in the follow-up. But, just like when it comes to building any relationships it takes time and it’s done in phases. Kind of like a romance. Don’t go in for the kill straight up, but rather breadcrumb and build a genuine relationship with the decision makers. People are busy and emails and messages get lost in the deluge of every day task lists and work already in production. So by following-up you’re making it easy for the brand manager or PR rep to remember and connect with you. 

While there are no hard and fast rules and each person is different; generally the industry standard of appropriate time to leave before you follow-up is three to four days.  Long enough to let them get to your email and not too long that they will forget you. Don’t follow-up more than three or four unanswered out-reach efforts; for risk of being a pest. And make sure that when you do follow-up, be courteous; acknowledge that they may or may not have had time to reach your message and if you can and where appropriate, offer new information or a fresh angle or opportunity with each follow-up that they might like to consider. 

Words by Jade Roberts
raraPR Founder and Creative Director

raraPR is above all the sum of people who together help build brands and share stories. We are present in our determination to make a positive difference to the world by representing individuals and businesses that are doing good. We are an extension of the personal stories within us, those that we exist for and those within you that need to be heard.

About raraPR

raraPR is an Australian public relations, digital marketing and branding agency. We are PR mentors, brand boosters and community creators for business owners, industry leaders and entrepreneurs. What we do goes far beyond the typical PR agency.

Our Ethos
We’re a passionate team who thrive on creating content that works. Or in other words, tasteful brand assets that build equity for a business.
We’re driven by the purpose, the meaning and the stories behind why a business exists as much as the quality of the product or service.
We’re inspired by being around the start-up community, entrepreneurs, intrepreneurs, solopreneurs, creators, makers, thought-leaders, dreamers and seekers willing to go beyond the good for the truly great.
The desire to help people take their business to the next level and reach their potential drives everything we do.
We get excited about producing innovative and thoughtful PR, digital, social media and design outcomes.
We’re at our natural best when we’re connecting talent and bringing communities together inside and outside the company.
We collaborate and become a seamless extension of our clients’ team.
We see, listen, mentor, educate, inspire, support, direct, provide clarity and instil confidence within our team andour community.
We care about providing value, which is the fundamental centrepiece of what we do.
We’re all about honesty and integrity, authenticity and transparency. That’s how we roll.