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 negotiating a raise with a brand partner as part of her ongoing Show Me the Money! series.
In our previous column we looked at when to raise your rates, and it’s the perfect lead-up to this next topic, how to negotiate a raise with a brand partner.
We’re not talking raising your rates with just any old brand partner here, no. We're talking conversations with the brands you work with on the regular, the ones your readers regularly know to expect content from, ones who appear regularly in your invoice spreadsheet for tax purposes. Those are the kind of partners we are talking about here.
7 Steps to Negotiating a Raise with a Brand Partner
Getting a raise should, in all honesty, be very achievable if you’ve got your ducks in a row (and all external factors are in your favour). So here are my proposed ducks/steps.
1. Dig Deeper & Investigate
This should come as no surprise, but the first step here should be to PICK UP THE PHONE and dig deeper. Call your in-house brand rep or PR person and get chatting. Have a list of questions lined up …
- Plans for the future
- Goals for projects
- Areas of interest or new features they're working on
- Are they looking to start carving a new niche or target a new audience?
Ask questions, listen intently and — most importantly — gain a better understanding of the lay of the land. What's their budget year? When do they map out projects and assign budgets? When would be the best time to talk about budgets and future projects?
Be specific, dig deep, and hopefully this will give you all the insights needed for your next steps. Including …
2. Time Your Request
We all know there are good times to ask for things and bad times. You want to ask when it’s a good time. (See #1 above). This may be a week after your phone call or it may be three months later. The timing is not for you to decide, but it is for you to take advantage of. Instead of racing out to ask for a raise, take the time to dig deep (again, see #1) and really learn more. This will allow you to effectively time your request and also …
3. Present Solutions
I had a boss who said, “Come to me with solutions, not problems.” This was great advice and has proven a solid skill to have.
In your digging I urge you to gain a deeper understanding of the problems your brand partner is encountering.
- Are they having trouble connecting with a particular audience, or growing a particular platform?
- Do they need more people buying their new awesome gadget?
- Do they need to increase their recipe bank?
A well timed, well thought-out presentation of solutions that you're uniquely able to offer will always be welcome. Show them you understand their business (or are trying very, very hard to!) and are looking for ways to help them achieve their business goals and solve problems. This also shows the brand that you clearly …
4. Look to the Future & See Opportunities
Just like in any relationship, clear expressions of love and commitment can never be a bad thing. Clearly communicating to your brand partner you're looking to the future and see opportunities (in the form of solutions) will only reinforce to them your commitment. In order to speak about the future you should also be able to look to the past and …
5. Clearly Express Your Value (to Them!)
You must clearly express the value you bring to your partner. They work on many projects with many people, so remind them of the awesome results you consistently deliver. Show them how well your audience resonates with their co-branded content. Show them the clicks you drive, the likes you generate, and the value that brings to them as a company.
6. Be Prepared To Follow Up
Be prepared to follow up with links and a pitch or deck with solid proof points and action items for the future. Be professional, be grateful for the opportunity, and then keep your fingers crossed. But …
7. Be Prepared for NO
Sometimes the answer is NO. No matter how much value you bring, or how much the brand may want to give you more. Sometimes the market won’t allow it. Sometimes budgets have been cut and you're lucky to keep working at the same rate. Sometimes no is just no. Your decision is then to continue on at the same rate, or move on.
If the answer is YES, this is wonderful news and you should high five yourself and then immediately get to work on proving you can deliver.
- A Blogger's Guide to When To Raise Your Rates
- PR Desk: Why You Should Ditch Your Rate Cards
- A Blogger's Guide to Determining Your Value
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.