Working With Brands – What THEY want

Are you a food blogger looking to work with brands (or work with brands MORE)? This guide to working with brands is written by the brands and PR reps themselves. Find out what they DO and DON’T want!

How to Start a Food Blog - Working with Brands -- what they want, from them! Great DO and DON'T list! Get it on RachelCooks.com

It’s been a few weeks (at least) since I posted about food blogging – I’ve been brainstorming ideas and hope to bring you a few really good posts over the next couple months – I hope they’ll be helpful to you food bloggers out there. If you have any topics you’d like to see covered in this series, please let me know!

I’m SUPER excited about today’s post especially. I asked some Public Relations (PR) reps and brands that I’ve worked with closely over the last few years to help me out with this. I’ve come to consider them friends and I want to start by thanking them all for contributing to this post. This post is LOADED with great tips, straight from PR reps and brands.

I have plenty to say on my own about this topic (you can catch some of that in the Chopped podcast I was recently a guest on) but today I’m keeping my mouth closed and letting the brands and PR reps tell you exactly what they like and do not like.

In this post, they tell you what they’re looking for when they choose bloggers to work with – in DO and DON’T format. This information is so valuable and I’m just thrilled that they shared it with me, and you! 

Grab a cup of coffee and soak it all in!

DO:

  • DO: Be active on social media. Engage with your followers and respond to questions and comments.
  • DO: Take the time to write your recipes well. Explain steps thoroughly and correctly.
  • DO: Be flexible. Oftentimes clients and brands are beholden to forces out of a publicist/marketer’s control – like budget and timing. Depending where a budget is being sourced from (Public Relations or Advertising) what is available can vary. PR budgets are always smaller than Advertising, so don’t be offended by a first offer. Above all, they will try to make a collaboration work as much as they can, flexibility on both sides is key.
  • DO: Set results goals. Our clients and brands live off the results. Many are marketers at heart and need numbers to rationalize. It’s important early on to set attainable goals so we can manage our client’s expectations.
  • DO: Take time to evaluate whether the project is right for you. Are you endorsing a product or company you ordinarily would vouch for? If the stars don’t align and you can’t get excited over the partnership, then it’s probably not right for you and it may show in the end result.
  • DO: Truly collaborate. We love working with influencers and hearing proactively from them about what they think will create the best results for their audience. Enthusiasm and personal suggestions, while understanding what guidelines are necessary, go a long way!
  • DO: Send friendly reminders and updates when you’re working on special projects or events. Stay in touch with your PR rep at least every month or two in short, casual form.
  • DO: Send a quick link in an email just saying the post is live when it hits.  Sometimes I don’t catch them for a while and this is a great way to show off your work, as I will often forward that email along to several sources immediately.
  • DO: Be sure your ‘numbers’ are kept updated.  We understand you grow and your rates go up – keep up informed on both.  We’re excited for you to grow, because our old content still lives on your blog too.
  • DO: Remember to keep us updated on local events and outreach.  Your gardening club, local food retreat, or even dinners provide opportunities for brands to reach people in your area.  Even though blogs are national, a push for your local readers can go a long way with brands looking to target these markets with extra love.
  • DO: Stand out. Don’t be afraid to remind us of who you are “Im the lady that made the guacahummaisalsa pie that got 500 shares!” or something.  It doesn’t have to be fancy or showing off, but to help us connect beyond “I want to write a recipe and have you pay me” followed by another “Want to do that again?”  if I have no idea what you did the first time or if it was successful for either you or the brand.
  • DO: Be willing to be patient and flexible – sometimes the best laid plans change with the client and timing needs to be readjusted.
  • DO: Tell us what works best for your blog and how you are successful.  We can work with that.  We have ideas of what we want, but we want to work with you to be successful with your readers.
  • DO: Be willing to share ideas of things you’ve wanted to try – we might be open to taking a risk with you.
  • DO: Get to know us and the client.  You want us to know about you, we want you to also know about us and our clients.  It creates a lot of synergy to call and brainstorm things and foster new opportunities.
  • DO: Personalize your pitch when you want to work with a brand. It’s nice to address someone by name when reaching out for partnership, rather than “Dear Brand X” or “To Whom it May Concern.”
  • DO: Do some research when you’re going to reach out to a brand to inquire about collaborating. If the brand is focusing on healthy recipes in social, don’t ask them to partner with you on a fully loaded deep dish pizza recipe. If they post about Meatless Monday each week, acknowledge that you know they do this and ask about a partnership for something that is meaningful to that particular company.
  • DO: Feature great photography and creative and trendy recipes.

DON’T:

  • DON’T: Say you’re loyal users of our brand, but have posts showing competitor’s products.
  • DON’T: Let typos sneak into blog posts – this gives the impression that the post wasn’t important.
  • DON’T: Oversell. Today’s marketing landscape is highly competitive and more often than not, depending on the client, reach is very important. We strive to partner brands and Influencers that make sense, so if a client wants a Twitter chat but you know your Twitter followers may not be as engaged, be upfront and honest!
  • DON’T: Share confidential details with other bloggers. I know blogging circles are often tight-knit and friendly and that’s great to see! However, sometimes it is best to keep specific details (payment, deliverables, etc.) under wraps between publicists and yourself only – ESPECIALLY when an NDA is involved. (One of the most frustrating things is hearing from another blogger within a campaign that they “heard from xx that…”)
  • DON’T: Copy and Paste. I know publicists often provide messaging and key points to hit within brand campaigns, but the reason we tap influencers/bloggers is for your personal, unique voice. Rather than just regurgitating an exact paragraph from pitch letters when talking about a campaign or product, we love when content is fresh, personal, and authentic and fits within an aesthetic that makes sense with what you already do!
  • DON’T: Get your feelings hurt if you weren’t “picked” – it’s the hardest part of the PR person’s job.  Often it’s because of a bunch of factors that have nothing to do with you personally. It could be geographic targeting, a cost thing (including going with a lower price point), or size (going with larger readership for a smaller and more focused project).
  • DON’T: Over inflate your fees based on “great photos” or whatever other reasons.  No matter how great your photos are or creative your recipes seem, it still comes down to numbers, and brands will measure you based on your reach vs post rate. Once those numbers are out of the way, then bloggers who have great photos are chosen.  But first and foremost, I always choose bloggers who are a pleasure to work with.  Who are professional, courteous, and understand that we are busy doing a million things and try to help instead of be demanding.
  • DON’T: Be arrogant and tell us what makes you awesome.  We are all good at our jobs and we wouldn’t have called you if we didn’t think you were good at yours.
  • DON’T: If we invite you on a tour – be kind and inclusive to everyone participating, not just your friends, not people you want to get things from, or the people who sign the check – everyone.  We watch what you do and how you act. We don’t have time for diva behavior and we probably won’t opt to continue to work with you if we see unfriendly behavior.
  • DON’T: School us on what it takes to do your blog – and why you are worth X.  We already know that.  We have a budget we need to hit, your explanation of your worth doesn’t change our budget – your resourcefulness to help us find ways to work with you and meet the client goals is what matters.
  • DON’T: Be afraid to show off all your hard work. Send a one-pager with your stats, send a few links to related work you’ve done. The more excited and passionate you are to show off your work, the more enthusiastic a brand will be about working with you.
  • DON’T: Be shy! Attend blogger conferences to network and meet brands and other bloggers, comment on other blogs that you enjoy, show your support of the community any way you can. Brands like to see how you’re contributing to the larger community and will be more likely to work with you if they know how supportive and passionate you are.

 

Great stuff, right? Another huge thank-you to my PR and brand friends. Thank you for your honesty – I hope this post serves you as well as it does the bloggers you are helping by increasing the pool of great bloggers to work with.

   
When you make a recipe from my site tag it with #RachelCooks!
I love to see what you're creating!

36 comments

  1. sounds like common sense advice 🙂

  2. I have actually seen a lot of the “don’t”s happening, so it’s actually great to hear these straight from the PR companies. Love this!!

  3. Rachel, this is great. I hate trying to “sell” myself so hearing that PR reps don’t want the big sales pitch, but a relationship with both the brand and the rep makes me feel better. I know my strengths (and weaknesses) so I try to only do work that is a good fit for all involved. I do need to reach out more to those brands that would be the perfect partnership, I am working on it.

  4. This is such helpful info! I am pinning this to my blogging board. Thanks for putting together such a great post!

  5. These posts are so helpful!! I literally don’t know what I am doing sometimes (ok most of the time) and these have helped me out a lot!! I have been wondering about sponsored posts a lot and don’t even know where to start. I have tried asking others for some help but their answers are so vague or they don’t answer at all. You give a lot of details that no one else wants too. Thank you!!!

  6. Thanks for sharing! Great advice for a beginning blogger like me 🙂

  7. Great post Rachel!!! Such helpful advice, and love hearing directly from PR and the brands themselves! 🙂

  8. Great, straightforward tips, like sending a quick email when the post goes live! I’m sure little things like this make all the difference for companies remembering which bloggers are courteous (or remembering bloggers at all!)

  9. Thank you so much for this information. This is so helpful. I’m in the beginning stages of blogging and can use all the information I can get.

  10. This is seriously valuable information Rachel! Thanks for taking some of the guesswork out. I love this.

  11. This is such a great post, Rachel! So helpful and it’s great to hear directly from the PR reps what they are looking for!

  12. Love hearing these specific do’s and don’ts directly from our PR friends! Such a great resource for new bloggers (and old!)

  13. Fun to read — and a great reminder as to why I couldn’t be a successful food blogger at this point in my life! #lovereadingfoodblogs #justcantbeonetoo

  14. This was awesome Rachel! So nice to hear it from the source!

  15. Thank you so much for writing this! It actually answered a few questions I had!

  16. Great post! This is very helpful information from a PR prespective. One thing I always wonder when creating my rates is how to come up with that $x per hour amount. I know how much time it takes to put together a recipe, photos and the post {maybe it is 8 hours total} so how I do I know the industry standard when setting a per hour rate which then translates into a sponsored post rate. In my other career there is an industry standard for what is charged per hour as a consultant but I can’t seem to figure out if there is one in blogging. Thanks for any thoughts you might have!

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  19. Amen sister! I can’t believe I’m just reading this post for the first time! I love everything you’ve outlined and that’s why I love working with you!!!!

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