10 Tips for Pitching to Brands
As an influencer, there are a few things you need to consistently have on your to do list in order to be successful. One of the most important things on that list is pitching. We discuss pitching a lot here at The League, because it is one of our 5 education pillars (Influencer Branding, Social Media Growth, Blogging, Monetization & Brand Deals). Being on the brand side of Influencer Marketing has been extremely insightful because it has given us first hand experience with dealing with pitches from influencers. We know what our client wants to see from influencers, and we know what we want to see from an influencer, in order to receive a response. The difference between a response and being ghosted are these 10 tips for pitching to brands.
Align Your Content
The FIRST thing you should do when wanting to pitch to brands is to make sure your content aligns with their brand.
When scouting for influencers for a campaign, we always have to keep the brand first in mind, and find influencers who fit well with the brand. It’s easy to skip over an influencer whose content doesn’t feel like the right fit. One of the most common reasons an influencer can not feel like a “good fit” is their lack of relatable content.
If you’re a fashion influencer but your content is comprised of mostly selfies and makeup looks, it can be hard to gauge whether you will be a good fit for a fashion campaign. For example, if Olly is scouting for influencers for a new campaign, they are going to be searching for fashion, beauty, lifestyle, health & wellness influencers to promote their products using the #happyinsideout tag. These type of influencers are likely to consistently share content that is high-quality, bright and fun. They also smile. A lot. So, take a good look at their content. What type of content do they share on their social channels and does your content align with theirs? Pro Tip: The best way to gauge whether your content aligns with their brand is to check out other influencers they work with.
In your pitch, be sure to include an example of a previous post of yours that aligns with their brand.
Write an EFFECTIVE Subject Line
People who run influencer campaigns get tons of pitches in their email on a daily basis. Because there are hardly any set rules to follow when pitching to brands, this part can feel a bit overwhelming. Unlike digital publications, most brands do not openly have submission guidelines for influencers to follow. When deciding on an email subject line for your pitch, you have 2 options:
- Keep it short & sweet
- Make it fun & engaging
Email subjects that are short & straightforward are easy to recognize in a cluttered inbox.
As an influencer marketing manager, it’s easy to see when a new email is from an influencer if it is titled, “Influencer Collaboration Request.” I can set aside time during my day to open those specific influencer emails.
The other route to take is to make your subject fun & engaging. Try making it intriguing enough to where the receiver feels like they HAVE to open it to know more.
For example, “130 hours, a dog, a toddler & a Toyota Highlander” is a lot more interesting than, “Influencer collaboration with Toyota.”
HOWEVER, “[Influencer Name x Toyota Collaboration] WILL suffice.
The choice is yours, so don’t fret! Try AB testing your subject lines. If you are pitching on a weekly basis, try sending half of your emails with a straightforward subject line, and the other half with a fun subject line. Keep count of which pitches you receive responses to the most.
Know WHO You’re Pitching
Do Your Research! The most common advice when it comes to pitching to brands is to send your pitch to a “PR person.” This advice is faulty for numerous reasons:
- If someone works for a PR agency that runs influencer campaigns (in addition to 10 other services), everyone in the agency is a “PR Person” yet not everyone runs influencer campaigns.
- Everyone who DOES manage influencer campaigns DOES NOT have the title of “PR Person.” The titles very GREATLY. Some titles do not have the word “influencer” in it at all.
Secondly, if you send your pitch to a general PR email address, then you risk it not falling into the right hands.
The larger the brand, the more likely they use multiple agencies for multiple retailers. For example, the agency that runs campaigns for Pampers at Target is NOT the same agency that runs influencer campaigns for Pampers at… Click To Tweet
Research the brand and try to find out if they run their campaigns through an agency, or if they keep everything in-house, then find the format of the company emails. They are usually along the lines of email@example.com or JDoe@company.com. If Jane Doe worked for a brand, her email may either be JaneD@company.com, JDoe@company.com or Jane.Doe@company.com.
Know WHAT You’re Pitching
WHAT do you want to promote for the brand of your choice?
Nothing is worse than receiving an email from an influencer & it simply says, “I would love to work with your brand. How can I do this?” There’s no backstory, no brand affinity established, no products mentioned, and no mention of WHAT they influencer wants to do.
Do you want to create a blog post? YouTube tutorial? Share a static post on Instagram? If so, what will it be about? Think of that key factor that is going to set your idea apart from everyone else. If you know exactly the product you want to promote, or you have organically promoted the brands products in the past, include a description of the product in your email.
Typically, a campaign brief includes key messaging that covers the product description.
For example, if you plan to pitch a clothing brand, say to them, “I would love to create a clothing haul on IGTV titled ‘5 prints you MUST own this Summer. I recently purchased this top and shared it on my Instagram (include screenshot & link to post). This top is my favorite because of the cotton-blend material, and how easy it is to wash!'”
Explain how the Brand Will Benefit
Just like with the art of negotiation, you should NEVER be the first to mention how you will benefit from this partnership. It comes across as if you are reaching out to the brand with the intent of being compensated, and not because you are an avid supporter and fan.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t benefit as well. It simply means that you will introduce your rate AFTER you’ve received a response from the brand. When pitching to brands, make sure it’s clear that they will benefit from this partnership. Key metrics that brands look for are:
- Engagements (Likes, Comments, Shares)
- Link Clicks
What can the brand expect as a result of partnering with you? Prove that by providing screenshots of your most recent (relevant) posts or stories.
Are they necessary? Yes & no. Depending on who you ask, a campaign manager may not ever take the time to check out your media kit for a number of reasons.
- Media Kits are not 100% trustworthy and need to be constantly updated
- Larger brands typically use influencer databases where they can vet an influencer, review their stats, and see their previous brand deals.
- If they’re receiving numerous media kits per day, it can be difficult to keep up with everyone.
Outline everything clearly in a short, concise email (3 SHORT paragraphs MAX) instead. If the campaign manager is truly interested, they WILL want more information, so use that second email to send your media kit over!
However, it never hurts to send your media kit in an initial email. Instead of adding it as an attachment which could potentially be blocked, add a LINK to your media kit to the email.
Follow Up – But Don’t Blow Them Up
It is a best practice that after you submit a pitch, to follow up with the person you emailed within a week. If you still do not hear anything after you have followed up, then they probably do not want to work with you at that particular time. That DOES NOT mean give up on pitching. Double check that you are sending your pitch to the correct person & try again in a few months.
For example, an influencer sent a pitch to a brand manager one day. No response. Instead of giving up, she sent a follow up email 8 days later, and immediately received a response.
The follow up email does not need to be anything fancy. Simple reply to your initial email with a quick check in along the lines of, “Hi! I hope your day is going well. I’m sending this email as a follow up to the email I sent last week. I’m eager to work with and I look forward to your response. Please let me know if there is any additional information you need from me.”
This is one of the most important tips! If you have typos, spelling errors, etc. in your pitches, you risk it going ignored. If you cannot submit a simple pitch without errors, then it will be hard to be trusted to complete the sponsored posts without the manager having to do some serious editing on their part (which is more work for them). There have been times where my influencer team & I have decided not to work with someone again because of the minimal attention to detail they gave their assignment, their captions, and their blog posts.
Make the pitch short and sweet. As I mentioned before, people who run campaigns get a lot of inquiries. Make a large statement in a few words. Review this thread on how to format your pitch!
Working with Brands: The other day, we shared a little Golden Nugget for you all re: working with brands. Today, we want to drop a few tips & answer some of our most commonly asked questions.
— The Influencer League (@influenceleague) October 18, 2019
If your Pitch is Rejected, Build a Relationship, Pitch Again Later
Just because one of your pitches does not get a response, does not mean your others will not.
Before you pitch, make sure you have a well-crafted message, your content is relevant to the brand you are pitching, and you have found the correct contact person.
If you’re really passionate about working with this particular brand, try to provide your idea from a different perspective or different angle. If you get rejected, re-evaluate your pitch, and make necessary adjustments so that you are ready to pitch again in a few months. By following these tips on pitching to brands, you will be well on your way to scoring the collaborations of your dreams!