The The PR Desk is a regular column on FBC written by PR professional Heather Travis to help food bloggers navigate the ins and outs of working with PR agencies and brands. This month, Heather shares her tips on building and sustaining long-term relationships with brand partners as part of her ongoing Show Me the Money! series.
What's a Brand BFF?
Do you have a brand BFF? A brand or two (or more) you work with on a regular basis and have for multiple years in a row? Do you have a repeat client or partner that's easy to work with, aligns perfectly with your brand’s mission/values/goals, and allows you to share totally awesome authentic content while generating income you feel good about (over and over and over again)?
In this next part of our Show Me the Money! series, we’re going to chat about just that: a brand BFF, the partner you love for a long time. Let’s talk about how to have and build long-term meaningful and mutually beneficial (read: profitable) relationships with the brands you love.
But first, let’s look at who'd make an ideal brand BFF (and don’t forget, you can have lots).
Who Makes an Ideal Brand BFF?
A good brand BFF, one you want to build a long-term relationship with, is a brand or product that:
- You use, buy and stock on the regular — it’s your go-to
- Aligns perfectly with your blog/brand in every way
- You can easily and authentically tell co-branded stories with
- You know you can add value to
- You've already worked with in some capacity, AND
- You talk about already on your socials for FREE because you love it
Did you just hear the record stop? Yes, you heard me. You talk about these products without getting paid. These are the brands you should seek out partnerships with. If all you're seeking is dollars and won’t talk about a brand otherwise, it’s not the brand BFF for you.
From the Brand Side
Please show me evidence of your brand love, don’t just tell me you love it in an email. Any brand seeking to build a long-term relationship with a blogger/influencer/content creator is looking for someone who's come on the radar organically (i.e., “this gal talks about us ALL the time!"). They're not looking for someone who's never ever mentioned their brand in socials and just out of the blue cold calls them.
A Guide to Building a Mutually Beneficial Brand Relationship
So, how do you go about getting into a long-term mutually beneficial blog-brand relationship?
It’s simple: start small, prove yourself, and go from there.
You’ll never sign a five-year deal right out of the gate (or at least that's beyond rare). The first step to any long-term co-branded relationship is to start small with a campaign or two. Once you’ve tested the waters and both parties are pleased with the results, you can then start to work towards the long-term by using the following as your guide.
1. Personal and Regular Interaction With the Brand
Finding the right contact means also making personal and regular interaction. Being a supporter of a brand doesn’t just mean liking every IG post; it means engagement behind the scenes.
Being a supporter of a brand means engagement behind the scenes
It means picking up the phone and regularly engaging with your brand contact(s). Check in mid-way through a campaign to see how things are going from their end, and if there are solutions you can offer or help with. Check in even when there's no campaign!
A co-branded relationship goes two ways, so remember to reach out and interact behind the scenes just as much as at the front of house (your blog, socials, etc.).
2. Consistently Delivering Value
No matter how nice you are or how easy you might be to work with, if you don’t consistently deliver value for your brand partner your partnership timeline will be limited.
That consistency applies whether your support is paid or unpaid. If you do regular work each fall year after year with a particular brand, it only makes sense for you to support that brand all year long. Not only does this consistency bode well for your authentic support of this brand to your readers, but it also shows the brand you 'e committed for the long term.
3. Going Above and Beyond
Make your brand love obvious and exceptional.
Building on #2 above, share posts you aren’t paid to share, make an extra recipe because you were so inspired, edit an extra video because you got a great amount of outtakes perfect for a gag reel. Make your brand love obvious and exceptional. Your readers will notice and so will your brand partner.
4. Consistently Communicating the Value You Deliver
Yes, of course you'll provide a results report with all the awesome you delivered for your campaigns. But I also encourage you to share anecdotes and other examples of ways you were able to add value, help reach a goal. et cetera. I’ve said it before and I'll say until I am blue in the face: a HUGE success factor in your co-branded efforts, in particular long-term ones, is your ability to effectively and consistently communicate the value you deliver.
5. Being Part of the Team
And finally, while you aren’t in the brand or PR office every day, regular behind the scenes and online interaction will help make you part of the team in spirit. Ask to visit the office and sit down for coffee and meet IRL — it goes a long way. Think like the brand and come to your contacts with solutions to their problems, ways you can add more value, or share unique outside-the-box thinking.
Do you have a brand BFF and tips on how you’ve managed to achieve this? I’d love to hear.
- 7 Steps To Negotiating a Raise with a Brand Partner
- PR Desk: A Blogger's Guide to Showing You’re PR Friendly
- The PR Desk: 5 Ways To Work with Brands Beyond Your Blog
Heather Travis is a PR professional and lover of all things creative. She has extensive experience developing and implementing integrated public relations and marketing programs for agricultural brands, producers and processors, as well as high end sporting goods. She’s a DIY junkie with a mean power tool addiction, and can often be found painting, refinishing, and scouring both junk yards and antique markets for her next fix … err, piece of content for her blog heatherinheels.com. Find Heather on Twitter @heathertravis and Instagram @heathertravis.