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Influencer Gifting 101: Tips from Oh Joy Founder Joy Cho

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This post contains affiliate links which earn me a small commission.

If you have been wondering how to go about gifting your products to bloggers/influencers, there are some tricks of the trade that will certainly help you get what you’re hoping for.  I happened to see a great story on the @OhJoy Instagram recently where founder Joy Cho spelled out how she goes about influencer gifting.  She has an awesome new line of fun and colorful paper goods that she created along with Cheeky (at Target), so here are her thoughts on how to gift your products successfully!  Be sure to check out my other favorite Oh Joy collaborations here, like the fun hat box suitcase that I’ve been loving!

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1. Research the best fit for your products. Make sure that blogger’s style aligns with the aesthetic of your products.  Can you really envision them using and loving your products? Try to mix it up so you don’t always gift to the same people.  

My two cents:  Try to find people that are already sharing about your products or similar types of products.  They are even more likely to share if they are already a fan.

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2. Reach out to make sure they’re interested.  Narrow your list to 5-10 people to gift product to, then email them to make sure they are open to receiving your product.  You’ll have to email them anyway for their address, but this gives them the opportunity to politely decline if someone passes- they are just being respectful of you if they know it’s not a good fit for them.

3. Wow them with your package.  It’s all in the presentation!  Do a creative wrapping job, send it in a colorful bubble wrap with fun tissue paper, etc.  Include a postcard or something with your branding along with a hand-written note. This is a great way to share where people can buy your product and any relevant tags/hashtags you are hoping they’ll share.  

4. Have no expectations.  If you’re not offering to pay for them promoting your items, you shouldn’t necessarily expect a blog or Instagram post.  When you reach out, let them know that there are no strings attached so they will feel like they can share it in a way that’s as natural as possible.  

My two cents:  When I’ve given my products to bloggers with smaller followings, I’ve gotten a bigger return on the type of content they share.  For example, it’s more likely that you’ll get a dedicated Instagram post or blog post from a blogger who is just starting out. With larger influencers, I usually only expect an Instagram story or to be tagged alongside the other brands they might be getting paid to promote.  You never know- if they really love it they might share in a big way, but this has been my experience when gifting my Turkish towels. 

5. Just keep your fingers crossed that they will love it and share it in some way!  Typically influencers that know something is coming ahead of time will usually share in some way.

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It can be great to reach out to bloggers, and other times they might reach out to ask for your products.  If you aren't comfortable gifting, the best way to decline (well, the way that I most like being turned down) is to say that you have already reached your gifting budget/limit for the time being. Try following Joy’s steps if you're doing the "pitching", and it will most likely help you spread the word about your awesome products!  If you enjoy learning about entrepreneurship, blogging, and social media, read more free resources in the Social Media University section of my site. 

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Getting Press for Your Brand: Top Tips From a Celebrity Publicist

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I hope you're enjoying my guest bloggers as much as I am! We are all in this entrepreneur game together, my friends.  Catch my last post for a convo straight from the folks at Instagram, but first read on to hear from a fabulous publicist and influencer, Molly Schoneveld!  We recently met up in LA so Molly could share her tips on getting published.  
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Molly is the president of SW PR Shop, a boutique entertainment and lifestyle public relations firm formed in 2008. With over 15 years of experience in the industry, she specializes in entertainment talent as well as luxury lifestyle brands. The same year she started her business, she launched her lifestyle blog called This Yuppie Life, which has given her a unique perspective on the influencer space. 
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Liz: In terms of crafting a pitch, whether it be to ask a media outlet to be published or to secure a brand partnership for your blog, what are some of your main recommendations? 

Molly:

DO YOUR RESEARCH!  Know something about who you are pitching. If it’s a media outlet, read multiple stories especially from whomever you are pitching and try to make reference to something specific so they know you’ve done your homework. If it’s a brand, pay attention to what types of partnerships they have done and actually use the product before you pitch. You want to be able to truthfully say that you are a fan of the brand and have used their product or service.

KEEP IT SHORT, YET IMPACTFUL. This is the challenge of pitching. You have a lot to say, but about 1-2 short paragraphs in which to say it! Edit down your pitch so that you get your main ask within the first few sentences.

YOUR PHOTOS MATTER.  When pitching, only embed one low res image within the email and then send a Dropbox link with the rest. Nobody likes having their email inbox clogged up.

IT’S ALWAYS ABOUT THE BOTTOM LINE!  I say this a lot, but you have to remember this is a business. Whether you are pitching yourself to the media or to a brand, you have to know what you bring to the table and tell them how you can add value. If it’s media, it might be beautiful, free images and a story you know will resonate with their readers. If it’s a brand, you will need to share analytics or better yet, a case study that shows that by working with you they will get something valuable.

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Liz: Do you recommend that bloggers reach out to brands directly or should they reach out to PR agencies when they want to work with a company?

Molly: I recommend both. PR agencies are great because they represent multiple brands, and often times have a lot of control over who the brand works with. Offer to take the publicist to lunch or see if you can go into their office for a quick meet/greet. Face time goes a long way. A lot of brands have an in house team that oversees partnerships. I utilize Linkedin a lot to find the right contact.

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Liz: Can you share how a blogger or brand can go about using HARO (Helpareporter.com) to get more press features? 

Molly: HARO is a tool that is completely free—all you have to do is subscribe. Three times a day, a list is emailed with inquiries from reporters looking for sources for specific stories. The key with HARO is to only pitch yourself when there is a perfect fit. Don’t try to stretch to fit a mold that just isn’t you. These reporters get lots of responses, so make sure you really read the inquiry and follow the rules exactly, otherwise you risk annoying the reporter.

Liz: Besides HARO, how can you go about getting yourself press such as magazine coverage or a guest podcast feature?

Molly: At least 90% of my business is about building relationships. If you own a local boutique, for example, you need to start meeting freelance writers who write for your local media and/or editors at those outlets. Look to see what press other boutiques have gotten in your area and start making a list. The media likes new and they like “newsy”—meaning you will have better luck pitching yourself as a brand if you are either brand new OR you have something new to report. I have had great luck pitching myself first to people I have a prior relationship with and also providing free professional images.

Podcasts are really the hot place to be right now because they are so niche. Even if a podcast doesn’t have a huge audience, you can know for certain that those that tune in care about the topic. Personally, I only pitch myself/company to people that I have a relationship with and that I know cover people like me. 

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Liz: A lot of bloggers & small businesses don't have a budget to work with a PR team on a recurrent basis, so are there other ways to form a mutually beneficial relationship with a publicist?

Molly: The reason having a publicist is such a large investment (and the reason I have a career) is that pitching media is incredibly time consuming.  It takes thoughtful research and a lot of outreach that can go unanswered. I hear all the time (and I totally agree!) that it is SO hard and sometimes awkward to pitch youself. I offer a consulting package that is way less than hiring my firm on retainer. I have worked with bloggers and business owners on getting their materials in order, crafting a pitch, brainstorming ideas and oulets. Finding a consultant who can be your cheerleader and someone to bounce ideas off of can be a less expensive way to get PR help. I essentially tell you what to do and then you go do it!

I also wrote a whole blog post on 9 free ways to promote your business, so for more tips check it out: https://www.thisyuppielife.com/2017/11/13/9-free-ways-to-promote-your-business/

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WOW!  I can't wait to implement some of Molly's awesome strategies!  If you know you're one of those people that's terrible at pitching yourself, check out her website for more info on her PR consulting.  If you want to give it a try to put yourself out there more, make sure you read my "Secrets to a Better Pitch for Bloggers" post (which has a template for crafting a better pitch).  If you found this as helpful as I did, please share on Pinterest!

images c/o Lish Creative

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My Secrets to a Better Pitch for Bloggers

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Sometimes I forget that the things I finally have figured out are the things that a lot of other people are out there still wondering about!  I am always turning to Pinterest & other blogs to help me with all my questions about entrepreneurship, blogging, Instagram, etc., so I'm going to try to start sharing more (hopefully helpful) info with you!  I just ask that you'll share in your Instastories or on Pinterest if you find this to be useful.  It also helps me when you click on the affiliate links I've included (I earn a small commission from them). Thanks, friends!

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Ok, so do you just KNOW you have an awesome blog and a great reach and feel like you would make an ideal partner for some of the brands you love?  I bet you're right!  You have a solid Instagram following, consistent monthly blog traffic, and/or you are able to provide some fabulous professional photo content to the brands you work with!  

Well guess what?  If you don't entice someone with a great pitch email, then they might never even make it to your Instagram account to see how wonderful you are!  I was looking back at some of my old pitches recently, and realized I had been doing it ALL WRONG.  Here are a few of the mistakes I had been making with those emails:

-Lack of a compelling subject line (PR agencies and media outlets get so bombarded, so make sure your subject is enticing!  Sometimes these subject lines are used as search engines at a later time, so the next time someone wants to work with a Charleston blogger they might be more inclined to be able to find you again if you give more info in your subject line)

-Too vague (i.e. "I would love to collaborate". Get more specific about what you're asking for and offering.)

-Not enough of the info they are looking for (I don't know if everyone takes the time to read your media kit, so putting a brief snippet of your analytics & pricing is a good idea)

-Too lengthy (make sure you offer a specific plan and request, but get to the point in a short and sweet email)

-Too open-ended (you have to give someone a reason to take immediate action from your email.  I offer a deadline to create a sense of urgency for them to reply to me sooner.)

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Here is a basic template to try the next time you're crafting an email to a brand you'd like to work with.  Remember to make it your own; if you copy this word for word, it won't sound enough like you!  Change it up a little to suit your own brand and style.

Dear (Awesome Brand),
I have a bright and colorful blog & Instagram called Charleston Weekender, and I would love to include your (shoes, clothes, location) in an upcoming project I have lined up.  I'll be working with (name of photographer with link to another project you have done with them) for a blog feature about (a certain event or concept, i.e. a local event like "Charleston Fashion Week" or maybe "5 Handbags I'm Loving Lately").
I have a current reach of (# of followers and typical unique views per post), and I have rates starting at ($___. Let them know if you're requesting product instead of payment, most brands prefer that).   My media kit is attached if you would like to see all of my offerings and examples of some of my successful partnerships.
I'll need to have participants lined up for this project by (deadline date), so please let me know if you're interested as soon as possible.  I'm happy to provide further examples or answer any additional questions you might have.  (Insert genuine compliment here. For example, "I am just loving your new duffel bags this season, and I am very excited to share them with my followers!")
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Guess what?  This gets brands to respond every time...NOT!  I still get flat out ignored all the time and get my fair share of nos.  However, I'm getting far more responses than ever before and a good amount of yeses!  By the way, the backstory of these photos with the orange bag is that I recently pitched Land's End via multiple emails to their PR team to work with them to share their new collection.  I've yet to hear back, so I bought this orange Land's End duffel bag anyway!  Can't win 'em all.


Soon I'll be sharing some better strategies for pitching your brand/products to magazines.  Make sure you check out the "Social Media University" section of my site so you don't miss out as I add a lot of free resources this year!

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-Shop This Post-

Duffel Bag // Cactus Print Embroidered Shirt // Rifle Paper Co. Shoes (sold out, but here is a similar platform from Keds) // CHS hat

photography by LISH Creative

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