As a blogger over 4 years I often receive the question from fellow bloggers or instagrammers how to get PR and the attention of brands. It took me a long time to become a successful influencer. This is a sensitive subject because no one wants to tell their secrets or contact person of a brand, unless you have a great relationship with this person. Beside being a blogger I’m also the PR and Content Manager of various brands in the Netherlands like Olaplex, Tangle Teezer, Color Wow, invisibobble and Florence by Mills. So I know what brands are usually looking for when you approach them. In this blogpost I will share my secrets as a blogger and how to approach brands to build a great relationship with them. Please keep in mind that this is how I think you should approach brands.
What is PR?
PR means Public Relations and is often the department who works close with content creators, famous people and magazines to expose the brand on diverse platforms and different ways. Just a small part of the PR exist out of working with influencers: you want to find the perfect influencers who fits well with the brand.
When do I approach a brand?
I started to approach brands and PR agencies when I was blogging and doing Instagram for over a year. First I wanted to create a solide platform with great content before someone takes a look at it. During that time I had over 7.000 Instagram followers and 5.000 unique visitors each month on my blog. I thought that was a great number to start mailing brands and agencies. You want to make a great first impression, only approach them when you think they can’t say no to you. It would be a pity and waste of time if you are not happy with your content but you expect the brand will see it differently.
DO: Create a platform that is unique, that makes you happy. Starting a blog or an Instagram account shouldn’t be the reason to get free stuff. No, you want to do this because it is your hobby or you have to much on your mind and want to find a way to express this. Show your niche, beauty, fashion or food and make it your own. If you think you can’t to better than this, you are ready to set up some great emails to your favorite brands!
DON’T: Please don’t approach a brand or agency when you just have 500 followers or an Instagram account that looks like a personal account with your cats or friends while you are a ‘beauty blogger’. Your account should show in a glimpse what your niche is and the amount of followers has to be above the 1.000 before I can even put you on a PR list for updates (not even talking about receiving PR). If you just started your account a month ago it is better to wait. I want to see that you created a platform that shows what your passion is and that you have a decent amount of followers that also interacts with you.
How do I reach a brand or PR agencies?
I often receive the question from people on Instagram: “Hey, I saw you received a PR package from that brand, do you have contacts for me?”. First of all, I usually ignore these questions because they often come from people who never like or comment on my Instagram posts or they don’t even follow me! When people ask you these questions, all they want is free stuff. No, not letting you get it. So here is what you have to do.
DO: if you post regular, create unique content, tagging brands and using the right hashtags your favorite brands will find you! Almost every brand or agency has an Instagram and if they see your post where you tagged them, they might will contact you for the amazing content you created. Or interact on their Instagram, like their posts and ask genuine questions to them in the comments. They will notice you. If you can’t wait you can approach them by mailing them. Most of the brands don’t have a direct PR mail on their website, but they always have an info or hello mail. You can use this email and ask if they can redirect your to the right department within the company. That is how easy it is!
DON’T: sometimes an influencers is unboxing a PR package on their Instastory and they tag the brand and PR manager so they can track it. Please don’t approach the PR manager on their Instagram account! They usually share their Instagram so they can stay in touch with their content creators and track all the content that is posted. Back in the days I worked for brand X and someone knew I was doing their Social Media. She approached me on my beauty account and asked how she could get on the PR list because her emails were ignored. I thought it was kinda rude because I was not responsible for the PR and if they ignore your (it was a huge brand) you are probably not good enough or match. Just approach the brand in a proper way by emailing them or sending them a DM on Instagram but never bother the PR manager directly on their personal Instagram account. The only thing you could do is follow their personal Instagram account and hoping you will catch their attention!
How to make a great first impression
You emailed them through their info mail, ended up at the right PR person within the brand or received a direct mail address from another sweet blogger who was so kind to share it with you: what now? Keep in mind that this is like an interview and you want to show why they have to put you on their PR list. Some brands actually track your email address, so if you received a decline for their PR and approach them 6 months later they can see that they said no to you. That’s why it is very important how to approach them and what to say in your email that convinces them to put you on their PR list:
Hello, Thank you for your time! Let me introduce myself: my name is An and I'm a beauty blogger for over 4 years now (tell why you started this platform and why beauty or fashion). I'm mailing you because I believe I'm a great fit for the brand and I want to keep up to date with all the news and launches. (why are you approaching them? Do you already love their brand or do you see lots of positive reviews about them?) Tell them what you can do for them in exchange for being on their PR list! Maybe show them your work you made of their products. Brands love to hear that you already tried their products and created content with it (show your numbers or your unique work) It would be great if I can be put on your PR list because as you can see I'm a huge fan of the brand.
“LET’S COLLAB!“ I seriously received some emails and DM’s from influencers who approached me like this. I can’t even take you serious anymore. They never get a reply from me. In my previous part I said it was okay to approach a brand through the DM, but never start talking about PR or collaborations in the DM. Usually the person behind the account doesn’t do PR and they can direct you immediately to the right person. Only ask for information like: how do I get in touch with the PR manager of your brand? What is the email address of the brand? Never send a brand a direct DM on Instagram with: He, I love your products! Want to collaborate? I still think this is not the right way to approach a brand because
- I don’t know who you are
- you ask for a collab without telling me what you do
NEVER ASK FOR FREE PRODUCTS. If you are not on the PR list yet and you approach a brand or agency with the question if you can get some products, you are doomed. You first have to take all the steps above before you even dare to start asking this question. Luckily I usually receive this question from girls who just turned 15 and think they are an influencer because they have 400 high school friends following her account, I can’t blame her. These days everyone think they can become an influencer en receive free products.
How to receive PR
Okay, the fun part is starting now! When you are on the PR list it means that with novelties you will be the first one to receive a press release about this new launch. That still doesn’t mean that you will instantly receive products as soon as you are on the list.
Receiving PR can be done in many ways. Brands can approach you because they think you fit with the specific launch or brand, you can apply yourself for influencer marketing platforms like Octoly to receive products in exchange for content or you can ask the brand or agencies.
DO: When you ask for samples or PR packages, always tell them what you can do in exchange for receiving the samples. Be clear and on how many and where you will post the content for them and what kind of concept you have to create it. When a new product launches or when you ask for a sample, we want to hear from you how you will highlight this product. Come up with a plan and never ask for simple just receiving the product. The best timing to ask for samples is when a press release has been sent to you: in the press release they always state if there are samples available for the press to test out. Reply on the mail and tell them what you can do for them!
DON’T: A lot of brands don’t always have samples because the products are just too expensive to gift them to everyone or they only send them to the magazines and celebs. Even when you are on the PR list doesn’t mean you will always receive products. There are no unlimited amount of samples available so usually brands only pick x amount of influencers. And when you see your friend receiving PR and you not, don’t attack the PR manager. There is always a reason why you didn’t make it on the list this time because you never post something about the brand or you don’t fit with the product. So stop asking why you don’t receive anything from them and start asking yourself what would be the reason: are you not active anymore, do you still post relatable content and are you a great representative for this brand?
Building a relationship with the brand
For brands it is always great to see the reach we have on diverse platforms. We are genuine happy when we see you posting about our products. It is always a two way street when brands and influencers work together. But if you just started doing this you have to perform outstanding to be always on the list.
Keep tagging the brands in your post. When you completed the “can I receive the product in exchange for x content?” we are always happy to see that you keep showing the products on your feed. It doesn’t need to be a dedicated post but just a glimpse is enough. That is how you build up the goodwill.
When you are on the PR list and you receive a package from them, it is always great to post something about the product you received. Some brands keep a list of the influencers they have send PR packages, and if you don’t post anything of the product you might don’t receive anything the next time. They will probably give someone else the chance to try something.
Be patience, build your platform and create content
They key is to keep creating content, stay active. If you haven’t been active for a month the brand might will might ignore you. When your account hasn’t been active for a while, your Instagram and blog will loose unique visitors. This has an impact on your reach. Try to post at least 2/3 times a week and on the days you don’t post keep interacting with your followers.
Building your platform means creating unique content but also stay in touch with your follower and the people you follow. You can only grow with the help of others. Back in the day (3 years ago) I posted 3 pictures a day on my Instagram to keep my account active and to build a community. If you do this, your account will get noticed.
Becoming a blogger or starting a beauty Instagram account has to be something you are passionate about. Not because you want to receive free products some day. It is all about being part of a community where you can share your thoughts and experience with each other and learn from other. When your account starts to grow and your followers amount stick with you, your account will become big. Stay true to yourself and create content that makes you happy.
I hope these tips helped you to approach brands and receive PR one day. Be patience and you will get noticed by your favorite brand. It always helps to first buy their products and review them so they see you are familiar with their products. Like I said, it is all about goodwill! If you did something for them without even asking, they will always be pleased to see your beautiful content!
Why did you started blogging or create an Instagram account?