Erica Dermer

What Influencers Want (Or Don’t Want) From PR Outreach

Video Transcription

Hi. It’s Erica and I’m here to present what influencers want and don’t want from P.R. outreach.

Hopefully you’re here because you’re interested in outreach marketing. Obviously the Outreach Marketing Virtual Summit is a great place to learn, but if you’ve never done outreach marketing for before or you’re interested in reaching out to new influencers, make sure you grab a pen, take some notes and learn about what influencers want and don’t want from potential P.R. outreach.

This could be new blogger or influencers that you’re interested in reaching out to, or if you just want to make sure that you’re making the most out of the influencers you currently have.

Before you send that press release, do you really know how to reach out to influencers? You may think you know, but from an influencers perspective, it make not be exactly what we’re looking for.

We definitely want to cultivate relationships, so if you’re just thinking this is a wham, bam, thank you, ma’am, kind of opportunity to reach out to influencers, that’s definitely not what we’re looking for. Make sure you’re not burning bridges before we even have an opportunity to work together, and I put together some examples of what not to do and how you can change a no into a yes.

Yes, these are real life examples. As an influencer, I get plenty of opportunities, daily, to interact with P.R. firms, advertising firms and brand managers themselves, reaching out to me for influencer opportunities, and some of these are actually taken from Facebook groups of bloggers I belong to.

I’ve asked them about some of the no’s in outreach marketing when it comes to P.R. firms working with influencers, so yes, these are real life examples.

First one is that you tell me you know who I am and what I’m about. I’m a celiac, which means I have an auto-immune condition. I have to be gluten free. Making sure anyone that pitched to me knows that I’m gluten free is incredibly important. I don’t want wheat-based products. I’m also dairy free, so when I get pitched a lot of cheese products, I wonder if people actually know who I am.

It came up that vegans were actually getting pitched, in the food world, meat based products, and that’s a clear story to an influencer that the P.R. person or outreach person has no idea who the person actually is, and it’s such a turn off.

Pitches that are addressed to dear blogger, or celiac and the beast, which is my blog name, you know—that’s not my name. People who start conversations with dear Erica, that—I know that they actually paid attention to something on my website.

There were plenty of people who complained about pitches to bloggers who don’t do reviews or that are asked to do reviews of the wrong genre. A big thing is actually kid-friendly stuff that is pitched to people that don’t have kids.

I actually don’t have children and am pitched kid stuff and then it’s clear to me that they don’t know who I am or haven’t read any of my other pitches. If they assume I have kids, that’s fine, but if you’re going to pitch a kid specific thing, make sure you check to see if the blogger actually has kids. Know that the yes’s on this—definitely find my name on the blog.

Check any about me page. Every influencer should have an about me page. It’s the place where we can brag about who we are. Also, know about my other hobbies. I get pitched fitness stuff and travel stuff, and that’s when I know that they know that that’s also things I’m interested in.

I do have an auto-immune disease, but that’s not necessarily who I am on my day to day life. Real examples of real bad pitches. It’s part of your—yes, these actually were pitches to me.

A real example here of a bad pitch is the to is someone other than me. I was actually blind carbon copied on this and my name appeared nowhere on this, and the hi, without the name attached to it, is a clear sign that they don’t know who I am, and the I discovered your awesome website—they don’t even have my brand’s name in here.

Also, the—my CEO gave me 10 bucks and said I can give out for free on a first come first serve basis. That sounds more like an infomercial than anything else. Also, a bonus, you’ll see in the starburst, not all their products were gluten free, so clearly, I know they didn’t know what they were talking about when they pitched me.

Next one is tell me about your product and the ingredients. This is especially important for anyone that works with food bloggers or especially food allergy bloggers. When I have to email a company several times after the initial pitch to get me their ingredient  list and manufacturing processes, I clearly know they weren’t mean to reach out to food allergy bloggers.

Be deeply knowledgeable about your product. You know, ingredients, manufacturing policies, especially for food, but also if you’re any brand, your unique selling points, where the readers can purchase it and the standard retail pricing so we can actually include that, so we know if it’s going to be a fit for our readers.

Real examples of real good pitches—this is actually Nicole’s Natural Mix. It’s a waffle mix. They have this idea—it was reviewed by the Los Angeles Times, you’ll see on that first one and it was called a waffle you want to eat.

That’s great. It’s not anyone from Nicole’s bragging about it, it’s a review they’ve had before. They know what’s inside, it’s gluten, wheat, dairy and soy free, so they have that in there. They talk about their ingredients, which is fantastic, and the last bullet is exactly how they want to work with me, which I think is fantastic when they know this is what we plan on giving you in return for the promotion.

That was a real good pitch. The next one is tell me why I should care, and I think this is a huge problem. You guys need to stop over selling your products. These are real examples. XYZ is the new holy grail. Oh, that was just sent me. I can’t stand it. It’s not. It’s not.

I promise your product is not that revolutionary. Also, like no other product before, you know, unless it’s like no other product before, which, chances are, it’s not, then don’t say that. I got one that says be prepared to be amazed. No, it’s actually not that amazing. It was for chocolate, and it’s not that amazing.

XYZ will change your life. You know, it’s not life-changing. I guarantee you your one food product is not life-changing. Let me figure it out for myself. In the yes column, I say quote reliable review sources, like the Nicole’s that I just had on the last page, and tell me, is it new?

Is it truly revolutionary? Did you update the packaging? Did you change the recipe? Is your product truly improved? Then I care.

This is another bad pitch. This is a real one. They say we make the best gluten free XYZ you’ll ever taste. Okay, well that may not necessarily be true. You can go pretty far, but not that far, alright? This person keeps saying I’m so confident you’re going to love them.

I’m sure you’ll love them so much that you won’t be able to stop talking about them, and you’ll see in my starburst, it’s warning, your life may not actually change based on product use. Especially—this is—I don’t remember what this is even for, but it was something so simple as, like, a bread mix.

Let me figure out if it’s going to be life-changing. You don’t have to tell me if it is or not. A real good pitch is actually Dr. Praeger’s who is a brand that I worked with before.

They actually talked about how they have a new product and what is different. A new rice crust, it’s crunchier, it’s more flavorful, and it’s got this different texture. Also, they added a gluten free certification, which is huge.

These are things that are real, that are actually quantifiable that they’re bragging about, and I think they should and this is an example of a real great pitch when it comes to not overselling your product.

The next one is look professional, but don’t be afraid to ask questions. Unfortunately this one makes me really sad. I get a lot of unprofessional pitches, and although I may just be a blogger, I worked in the corporate marketing world, in corporate market research, I worked at an ad agency that had a P.R. firm attached to it.

I know what a pitch should be and how professional it should be. Why am I, as an influencer, not getting professional pitches? They make me sad when they come in.

This one is—I seen your post on Facebook, so if you want to post something about it—they’re not even complete sentences, and it’s actually a great brand that I love to work for, but it’s hard because I’m not even sure what they want to work with, so again, and this may just be educating the person who’s sending it out—

Making sure that everything you send is a business casual tone. Understand that we’re also a business and proper grammar and spelling—I get that a lot. About asking questions, don’t be afraid to ask questions.

Be business casual, but ask about hey, how do you monetize your compensation? Is it okay to send products? Don’t just send products without asking, and how do you typically run a giveaway with a brand? How can we potentially work together?

That’s more of a partnership than anything else. This is a pitch and it’s actually a company that I really love and this was an email I got from a company that was talking about meeting me at Expo West, but it’s really hard because there’s these double smiley faces and a thanks, see ya, and I’ve never met this person before.

For me to want to engage with them, it’s really hard because it’s not the most professional email I’ve ever received, and casual like this—when you’re sending emoticons, it’s great when we have a relationship, but not when I’ve never met you and for the developing of a business relationship.

The next one—I don’t get this as much, but apparently it’s a really big problem in the influencer world—don’t offer me a chance, offer me a partnership. Apparently reps and brand managers ask you to create a recipe, write a post, promote it, all that jazz—big, big things—for a chance to be featured on a brand’s Facebook page, and we all know that Facebook, with the reach issues that it’s having right now, that’s not much of a big deal, I guess, for bloggers.

A chance for something like that? That’s crazy. The next one is create a new recipe using our product and you’ll be entered to win a chance for the recipe to be featured on the site. You know, these are not contests. We are working very hard, especially creating a recipe, or, you know, putting our time and effort into creating a post.

There’s no need to offer a chance. Just promote the bloggers. Show respect and the desire to be a partner in the future. We’re in it for the long term, we’re not in it just for a chance to be featured in your blog. We want ongoing relationships where we feel special, wanted and needed and I think that’s a huge problem that we’re not a consumer. We’re running a giveaway or we want to introduce you to a brand.

We want long term partnerships, so don’t offer us a chance. Real example of a real good pitch. This is one of the brands that I work for. They start off with it’s really important for us that you get a first look of our new products. Before they even started shipping their new products, they reached out to make sure that we were satiated, that we were the first ones to know that we were the first ones to get our hands on the products, so we got a lead time on all of our competitors in the influencer world, but also it made us feel special that we’re getting a chance to see the new products tested first.

Just so you know, working for a blogger and influencer means more than just sponsored posts. This is making us feel special. It’s not just about sending a product for review and in nine months, when you have another product, sending another review.

It’s about those reviews, yes, but product R&D, which includes recipe testing, creation—you know, send blank boxes. Ask us to help with the product redesign. You know, we are the feet on the ground with your consumers, so we know a lot about it. Don’t forget about that. Speaking opportunities, hosted book signings. I’ve done a lot of that at Expo West.

Brand ambassadorship, where we actually work for you at events, that’s huge, and then also covering events for you. Live coverage, being an official blogger for an event, which is huge.

Post event coverage, pre event promotion. You know, keep us in mind and obviously these are paid opportunities, because they’re a lot of work, but they’re something you can look forward to in a partnership with an influencer.

Tell me how I can be part of a story. You know, a lot of companies are apparently just sending P.R. pitches, and that’s nice but I’m not a news outlet. I want to know why this matters to me, not just your typical P.R. pitch. I’m not going to copy and paste a P.R. pitch directly into my blog.

We want to be a part of the story. We want to be able to create with you. Another one—I think this is mostly for food bloggers. Brands that only send fully finished recipes to people who are chefs and recipe creators by nature.

Send a fully finished recipe to someone like me who doesn’t do recipe testing—is okay and again, this is about knowing your audience. They say what they heck do they expect to do with the recipes? I’m a chef. I create my own. Why would my readers want to see yours?

That’s a great idea. If you’re pitching these recipe developers, don’t necessarily send finished product. It’s all about being able to create with you. Creating stories, recipes.

Tell me your budget and actually have one. Again, we are important to any marketing budget, and should be considered part of the budget. These giant brands who say you know, we can’t offer pay or even people who don’t offer product, it’s alarming to me when we put so much hard work into it, the bigger influencers.

For example, a brand wouldn’t send me a free product coupon for me or my readers unless I wrote a blog post for it, which for me, are paid. It’s a lot of my time, so I need to get compensated for it. I offered, hey, we can do an Instagram giveaway, a Twitter giveaway, and they’re like sorry, we can’t give out product coupons for that.

Product coupons don’t really affect your bottom line. In fact, it’s going to be more promotion for you than what the coupons are actually worth, so the fact that you couldn’t give me free product coupons for my readers unless I had a post is just—it’s not really acceptable and it makes me not want to work with you in the long run as an influencer.

Like I say in the section, products should always be offered and coupons are shipped directly to the influencer’s place of residence. Don’t make them pay for shipping, don’t make them pay for shipping for giveaways. That’s a huge issue.

Influencers should always be compensated for their time, preferably in money. You know, if I got a very nice blender system, that was a lot of money, and I took that in lieu of compensation for a product, but again, that was a large ticket item.

If you’re just $5 to $10 items, there’s no reason why we shouldn’t be compensated for our time, or especially not being sent product. Also, invite key bloggers for part of your paid influencer program if you have one. Ask them— you know, we don’t necessarily compensate, but we do have a paid influencer program.

Ask them to be part of it. That’s part of a partnership. Tell me disclosures and don’t be shady. Again, the FTC for any influencer had mandatory FTC disclosures.

Don’t ask an influencer to purchase a product unless given a product coupon and something that bothers me, introduce affiliate marketing opportunities after you develop a relationship. Don’t pitch me on affiliate marketing. That’s me selling for you when I don’t even know your product.

An issue—I haven’t dealt with this, but one of my friends did—they asked to—they had to pay a penny for a product and that way they were considered an Amazon buyer and they were doing Amazon reviews. It’s just shady. Don’t be shady. Consider us a partner.

Also, tell me your reasonable expectations. They—there’s a lot of brands out there that ask you to do a million things. Creating a recipe, sharing on social media, taking beautiful pictures, et cetera. If there’s demands, there needs to be pay. Exposure or opportunities for exposure do not equal payments.

We need to know what we have to do in return for product compensation. A blog post, develop a recipe, just tell us what to do and tell me your expectations.

Time frame is a huge one. There’s people—someone received a pitch to post about a super bowl recipe and offered to send product and the super bowl was only four days away. Our editorial calendars fill up fast, so pitch months in advance if possible, and give a reasonable time frame for an influencer to complete a task.

Especially in the food world—developing recipes and recipe testing, it takes forever, so make sure you have a reasonable time frame.

Examples of really bad pitches, this was at Expo West, and yes, they sent me the day of the show when I had been booking months in advance. Also, not my name, my name is Erica, not Leah.

Also, they didn’t even offer free samples, so a bunch of issues in this one. Needless to say I did not reply. These are kind of all of the steps to start your pitch on the right foot and making sure you’re really doing the do’s for influencing marketing instead of the don’ts.

Tell me that you know who I am, tell me that you know my name, tell me about your product and why I should care about it. Be professional when you’re pitching, and part of that professional business development is offering a partnership. Not a chance, but being a true partner.

Tell me how I can be part of your story with this pitch. Tell me your budget, your expectations and your time frame, and don’t be shady about it. These are all the things that we as influencers would like to see in influencer marketing.

That is it. I hope you have learned a lot and I will see you online at the hashtag Outreach Marketing. Thank you so much. This has been Erica Dermer with Celiac and the Beast.