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 how to partner with brands for big picture campaigns, as part of her ongoing Show Me the Money! series.
Sometimes we bloggers can’t see the forest for the trees. We’re down in the weeds stuck wondering about Instagram algorithms and Tailwind schedules, and forget to look at things from 10,000 feet. We forget to look at the big picture. Our blog suffers and we miss out on opportunities.
Big Picture Campaigns
In this next post in our Show Me the Money! series we’re talking big picture campaigns. We’re talking seeing things from 10,000 feet and focusing on doing things better (and bigger), not just doing more things.
You can always do more things: more sponsored campaigns, more IG stories, more videos for YouTube, more recipes. There's nothing wrong with this, but there's an opportunity to do something bigger and work in a more integrated way with one (or more) of your favourite brand partners.
Big picture campaigns take big amounts of time and planning to achieve big results.
Bigger, more integrated campaigns, aren't something you should be doing with everyone and all the time. That’s how your brand becomes way too diluted. You want every impact to be meaningful and that means taking the time to be strategic and very deliberate in your actions.
Working closely with a brand means having a clear (and deep) understanding of their business goals and how you can strategically work with them in achieving them. And, big picture campaigns take big amounts of time and planning to achieve big results.
How Do You Know if You’re Ready for the Big Picture?
We’ve talked before about demonstrating your value and working with brand partners for longer campaigns. If you do this on the regular and have solid proof your brand delivers, it might be time to pick up the phone and start chatting with your favourite brand about the BIG picture.
Step #1: Choosing a Brand Partner
The first and most critical step is thinking through which brand you should work with on a big scale. If your face and name were attached to every single piece of marketing or advertising (junk mail, flyers, FB ads, TV commercials, you name it) would you be proud? Would you tell all your friends? Would your mom call BS (because you just pretend to use XYZ product but really you love the discount version you buy online)?
Think very clearly about this partnership. You're in it for the long haul, and you and the brand you've worked very hard to build up are now forever associated with one another.
If your brand partner were a spouse would you still choose them?
Now that you know which one or two select brands you'd even consider working with on a larger scale, you need to pick up the phone. I’ll repeat myself: pick up the gosh darn telephone!
A friendly chat with your brand bestie should be easy. If you hesitate or don’t have a strong enough relationship to pick up the phone, I'd strongly reconsider going big with them. When you’re on the phone you want to let them know you love working with them and want to work more closely with them. Notice I said "work more closely," not “want to do more with you.”
Step #2: Planning Your Brand Partnership
The next step is to start planning … and planning well in advance. This planning stage is where you dig even deeper into their business planning, where you achieve understanding of their budgets, goals, expectations, and their own plans for the future.
Working on bigger picture campaigns doesn’t happen overnight. It happens in tandem with business planning (and budgeting) cycles. You could be working on a big picture campaign for a year (or more!) before it even gets mentioned on your socials (more about this below).
Step #3: Big Thinking
Big picture brand campaigns also require big thinking. Going beyond the blog and doing a media campaign with recipes you developed that are in an online e-book and also in a beautiful printed cookbook available in select grocery stores where you’ll be doing recipe demos. And the folks attending your recipe demo heard it about from any number of possible sources like your blog, your socials, the store socials, a printed mailer, a flyer, a YouTube ad, a sponsored FB post.
Is the BIG picture becoming clearer?
The amount of "things" (activities, events, content) you can create is limitless, but your key focus on any big picture campaign should be on making sure each of those things:
- Links to the others
- Is strategic, and
- Directly helps you achieve your goals.
And your goals and the brand partner's goals should be mutual — you’re in this together.
Why Big Picture Campaigns Take So Long to Come to Fruition
So now you see why big picture campaigns take a long time to come to fruition: because they have many moving pieces and everything is connected/integrated. Tactics within the campaign (an event, photo shoot, new recipe, cookbook launch, media campaign) must all feed off one another and link together under a unified strategy. Each tactic or element builds on the last and leads to the next, and complete consistency is required in brand imagery, messaging and everything else, no matter the platform.
Some things take a long time to get out into the world.
Ask any blogger who's been featured in traditional media how long ago the photos were shot or the article was written. Some things take time to get out into the world.
Your job as a partner in a big picture campaign is to think about how many ways you can serve up content that's unique and helps you reach your mutual business goals. You need to understand this means long lead times and massive amounts of coordination.
Because of the amount of planning, coordination, and behind-the-scenes work you’ll be doing as part of a big picture campaign you want to be very cautious about how many other commitments you take on. A big picture campaign requires a big commitment.
How the Best Results Come About
While there are many fun shiny things to do, the best results will always come from making smart strategic choices and adding in some of your unique flair.
In the case of your big picture campaign work with partners, your unique flair is what will help them distinguish their work with you from other things out in the marketplace. It might be partner content, but never forget it’s your unique voice and brand personality you're sharing, so be sure it's authentic and gives you all the feels. It’s easy to add flair and work your buns off if you really believe in it.
I hope this adds some fuel to your fires and gets you thinking about longer-term partnerships and the evolution into bigger picture campaigns with the brand partners you trust.
What's Next in Show Me the Money!
Next up in our series, we’ll be chatting about how you can clearly show brands you’re ready to go beyond the blog.
- Love You Long Time: 5 Tips for Building Long-Term Brand Partnerships
- 7 Steps To Negotiating a Raise with a Brand Partner
- 5 Reasons You're Not Getting Blogger Campaigns
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.