How To Build Credibility When Working With Brands
Building brand relationships is so important for any blogger. Public relations exec Lindsey Smolan has a few tips on how to create credibility and ensure that you foster long-lasting brand partnerships:
As the founder of a PR agency, many of my clients pass along influencer requests to me that they receive and ask for my thoughts and feedback on influencer pitches to determine whether to work with them.
Many of the brands I work with are very knowledgeable about the benefits that working with influencers can bring, but if you’re pitching yourself to brands there are a few key points to keep in mind to maximize your chances of success!
Have a Voice
It’s important to set yourself apart from your peers when developing your platform. You need to have a strong vision and voice that shines through with every picture, video, and caption, from the styling and photography editing to the hashtags you use.
Have a clear reason for WHY you created your social media presence/blog, as this will often help you to differentiate yourself and let your personality shine through and be as authentic as possible. Create a quick elevator pitch for your brand; summarize what sets you apart in a few key words and make sure your posts always reflect that.
Don't Buy Engagement
This probably goes without saying, but please do not buy followers, likes, or engagement! It can be tempting to boost your social media following and engagement quickly, but doing so will only hurt you in the long run. Brands are becoming more savvy to this practice and checking influencers’ stats before working with them.
Often, a quick glance at recent followers and likes can reveal fake or bought accounts, and websites like SocialBlade show how many followers an account has received in a given amount of time. If someone’s following jumps by 5,000 in a day, there’s a strong likelihood that those followers were bought. Even if a brand doesn’t research ahead of time, they’ll realize something is off when a campaign performs poorly and likely won’t work with that influencer again.
Follow The Rules
The FTC (aka the Federal Trade Commission) has been cracking down on brands and influencers that are not properly disclosing sponsored posts. Always make sure that you're following the guidelines as set forth by the FTC, otherwise both you and the brand could face fines.
The brand might give you guidelines, but you’ll want to strive for total transparency with your posts. Always disclose any paid sponsorships or gifted products in a way that is completely clear to your followers that you have a “material connection” with the brand. The FTC’s site has some great info here if you need more information.
Don’t work with just any anyone. The brands you work with should be aligned with your vision. While it can be tempting to take on well-paying projects, if they don’t match your audience (ie, a beauty influencer all of a sudden posting about vacuum cleaners), your readers might lose interest and unfollow your page if it’s completely unrelated to what you normally post about.
You’ll also want to ensure that any brand or product you recommend is both aligned with your own values and meets your standards! If you wouldn't use the product in your everyday life if you weren't getting paid, it probably isn't the right fit. Keep your feed curated with only the best of the best. That way, your audience will trust you and keep coming back to your page!
Treat Your Platform Like a Business—Because It Is!
A common reason why some brands don’t respond to influencer requests is that they’ve worked with influencers in the past who don’t meet their expectations. Whether past influencers failed to fulfill the terms of the contract (i.e. it says they must 5 post times but only post 3), made errors about the product they posted about, or didn't use the right tags, these experiences can lead some brands to be skeptical of working with influencers.
While it’s unfair that a few unprofessional influencers and bloggers have made some brands dubious of an entire industry (and in my experience, the professional, easy to work with influencers far outweigh the few bad apples!) as a businessperson, you need to convince brands that you are valuable to them. Have case studies of how similar brands have performed, offer referrals and testimonials, and show the power of your audience. Always be polite and professional; don’t miss conference calls, respond to emails in a reasonable amount of time, and don’t take on more than you can handle.
About Lindsey Smolan
Lindsey Smolan is the founder of LSPR, a beauty, fashion, and lifestyle public relations firm headquartered in New York City. A love of storytelling, the beauty and fashion industries, and all things pop culture made a career in the lifestyle communications field a no-brainer.
After honing her expertise both working in-house and consulting for NYC public relations firms, Lindsey launched her own agency focusing on her love of communicating great stories and unique products from top fashion, beauty, and lifestyle brands.
Today LSPR is headquartered in midtown Manhattan and counts gorgeous accessories, fresh fashions, and innovative beauty products in its client line-up.