I get asked a lot how I happen to team up with some of the incredible travel brands I’ve been lucky enough to work with and the truth is most of the time it’s because I asked. I do get approached by a lot of brands but the majority of my sponsored campaigns have come about because I pitched to the brand first.
I started this blog 8 years and since about the second year of blogging I’ve approached brands that I know would be a good fit for my blog and started an open discussion about what I can offer them and what I am hoping for in return.
Every brand is different but if you are just starting out these are some of my top tips for pitching to brands and PR companies, from my perspective as a travel blogger.
Top tips for pitching to brands as a blogger
Before you start
This is an obvious point to start on but such an important one. No matter how well crafted your pitch is, it will get nowhere if you send it to the wrong person.
A hotel, for example, may have a PR agency, an in-house PR or marketing manager and an SEO agency. If you have any previous experience working with anyone in the above teams I would recommend you start with them but remember to adjust your pitch accordingly. The PR may want to know the advertising value of a post, the marketing manager wants the page views and the SEO manager wants to know your domain authority. Find the right person to speak to according to what you have in mind for the pitch.
In terms of finding the right contact, I find the best ways are via sites such as TravMedia, by attending networking events for the travel industry, and by using the powers of Google. If the PR/marketing contact is not listed on the website, search for a recent press release and see who the contact person is listed as. You will also find many PR agencies on Twitter so have a dig around or put out a #journorequest until you find the right person.
Crafting an email pitch
If sending a pitch via email to a person you haven’t previously met, start with a very concise explanation of who you are and what your audience demographic is. Also include a line on what you normally write about (just the parts that are relevant to their brand) and include a link to examples.
Share top-line stats
Include some key stats to give a sense of your audience (monthly page views, unique visits and main social media following) and include a Media Pack as an attachment to paint a fuller picture.
How to create a kick-ass Media Kit
Make it very clear what you are offering the brand you are approaching and be as specific as you can. When talking about blog coverage include the number of words, show them where the post will sit on the site, state how long it will be on the home page (if relevant) and include details of anything extra you are willing to offer i.e. live social media coverage, images or copy for their own website, or an inclusion in your newsletter.
You know how your audience likes to receive content so make it clear how you see the collaboration between yourself and the brand working best.
Try to set a minimum expectation so that you can later exceed it.
What you want
Once you’ve laid out your side of the proposal it’s time to explain what you are looking for in return.
(When I worked for a travel brand and was on the receiving end of pitches it was so surprising the number of times bloggers got in touch showing their value but not explaining what they wanted in return. I found it a difficult way to start the conversation.)
At this stage you may not want to be too specific (the best campaigns I have worked on have been borne out of an open two-way conversation between myself and the PR – see quote from Karen below) but I believe you should lay some foundations at this point. Ask for support that is proportionate to the coverage you have laid out above and see where the conversation goes from there.
Once you come to an agreement, perform exactly what you have promised (go above and beyond if you really want to wow) and you’ll likely never have to pitch to that PR/brand again.
So much of blogger/brand collaborations are about good relations and doing a good job means they may work with you again and potentially send other people your way too.
What goes into getting a sponsored blog trip
Once you’ve done an awesome job, don’t forget to follow up. Always send the brand a link to your coverage plus any other stats if previously agreed. I also tend to include screenshots of any relevant engagement I think they should see and give them feedback on the overall experience, if helpful.
When it comes to travel, in particular, things don’t always go to plan. Everyone has their own ways of working but it’s worth asking yourself what you will do if, for whatever reason, you can’t or don’t want to produce the coverage that’s been discussed.
In the first instance I believe you can minimise the risk of being in a tricky situation by only pitching or accepting opportunities you would be happy to pay for yourself in normal circumstances. Being your honest, consistent self is most likely what attracted readers to your site in the first place. Don’t alienate them by suddenly writing about luxury hotels if you have always been a budget blogger, the readers will see through it.
Similarly if a PR suggests you do activities on a trip that you have no interest in, be honest with them. It doesn’t benefit anyone if you write half-heartedly about a topic neither you nor your readers have any interest in.
And finally if, for whatever reason, the place you arrive at is not what you expected, first and foremost get in touch with the PR or brand involved and explain your situation. Most will be very keen to alleviate any problems immediately. If the situation can’t be resolved then you can discuss between yourselves the best course of action. (Ranting on Twitter is never the answer!).
From the brand’s perspective
I asked a couple of my good friends in PR to weigh in with their thoughts.
“Be prepared to have a two part transparent conversation and expect the same of the PR representing their client:
- Bottom lines for you as a blogger in expectations of support and bottom lines for the PR in terms of content/angles, particularly where flight partners for example are an integral part .
- Expect to guide a PR in what’s best for you and the readers. This is who the collaboration is being designed to speak to, and authenticity is vital. Expect also that a PR, after the bottom lines/deal breakers are agreed, listen to your expertise. You know your readers: content, frequency, style, disclosure.
For me, an honest detailed exchange at the beginning of a project and ideally creating that project as an original concept together is the ideal. By launch, blogger and PR not only know what to expect and what’s expected but also really understand the point, which I’ve found makes an organic social feed, in particular, a great bonus.”
“Ultimately when working with bloggers, we want it to be a long-term relationship, not just a one-off project. So we initially look at whether their style and tone suits ours and what they stand for. What is their reputation like among their peers in the blogging community and other brands they have worked with, and how dedicated they are to blogging. It’s always useful to show a portfolio of assets such as writing, photography and video work, as well as endorsements from other companies in terms of campaign results. We’re always impressed by internal site stats in terms of a blogger’s analytics. Huge followings can be purchased, so show us what’s really going on with the blog, which posts work best and how engaged readers really are.”
You may also like:
13 ways I’ve made money from travel blogging and how much I was paid
How & why you should audit your blog
Blogging bad habits & mistakes I’m guilty of
20 thoughts on “How To Pitch To Brands As A Travel Blogger”
Am bookmarking this one!!! Some great tips yet again. Thanks Jayne
Thank you so much for putting this together. I will be referring to this later this year (hopefully), as I am in the process of growing my readership. I have a question about “explaining what you’re looking for in return.” What is standard? What have you had success with in the past? Thank you so much for the invaluable insight.
You’re welcome. I’m aware I left this a little vague as I don’t think there is any set standard for the industry and sometimes even what I’m willing to offer will change depending on how badly I want to work with that company and what opportunities there may be down the line. As an example though if I’m approaching a hotel I will generally offer a 500 word review and social media coverage in return for 1 night’s stay. If I’m looking to stay multiple nights then I might request a media rate for the duration of the stay in return for the same content. I know roughly the advertising value of a post (based on my readership and past collaborations) so I pitch for something of equivalent value. Does that help a little?
Great tips, thanks Jayne – I’m way to English and reticent about pitching but really need to go for it a bit more. I think the toughest bit is trying to determine which PRs/companies are receptive to working with bloggers so you know where to focus your energies.
This is a really good point Lucy. It’s good to keep an eye on what brands are already working with bloggers – especially if doing so in really fun and creative ways – as then you know they are open to ideas. I’m often surprised by the people who are keen to team up though – sometimes a small business can be really excited that they’ve been approached, where as very social media savvy brands have just ignored my email. I think if you are a genuine fan of the company then telling them that truthfully is always a good start to a conversation.
Bookmarked! Thanks for this very useful insight! I started my blog a few months ago and before that I didn’t even know nothing about press trips and pitches! Your post helped me a lot in getting familiar with everything.
You’re welcome. Let me know if you have any questions!
I am going to use this as a guide when I do my next pitch and see how it works out. Thank You 🙂
I like the fact that the Casey Mead wants to build long term relationships with Bloggers they use – as I would like to do this with clients.It broadens my thinking about this. Being a bit of a relationship girl myself and now having a clear picture about the direction I would like my site to move in…
Especially liked ‘Huge followings can be purchased,” section of the feedback.
Great advice… again!
We are a new beauty ecommerce site skincaretimemachine.com and we are struggling to get in contact with bloggers to work with and reveal our treasures in anti aging skin care products. How do we get in touch with bloggers? They never answer our emails. We are small and new but we really have some great news for people searching for anti aging skin care secrets.
Thank you for the insights, Jayne. I will save your post on my bookmark :). All the best!
Thank you for sharing your tips! I landed my first work with one of the four seasons hotels and I am still so proud of myself and still in shock! haha but that was the only response I received from the 20+ emails I sent. I had a question, when you say PR in this post do you mean PR at a certain brand? or do you mean PR agencies? I’m wondering what PR agencies do and how they can help you get work with different brands. Thanks again for your post!
Hi Parisa, I mean both! Sometimes I contact the hotel/airline etc directly or sometimes I go through their agency – it often depends on who I have the personal relationship with. If I don’t have a personal relationship with either the brand or agency it depends on what contact details my research uncovers. I often look for recent press releases to see who it mentions as the contact person.
Hi Jayne, thank you for sharing this useful and valuable information.
It is great that you have experience from both sides – from a brand perspective and a blogger perspective.
Thank you for letting your readers know what is the story 🙂 Not everyone is so generous as you are. We really appreciate what you do.
I actually send pitches before saying I will do this this and that and then I ended up not having too much content for all lol… So yeah, it is absolutely true that it’s better to promise less and then deliver more!
I was doing blogging for free just as a hobby for like 3 years and I really want to take it to the next level. Thank you for your help. If you are in Australia any time – let me know 🙂
Just realised you are probably already in Australia, sorry ! 🙂 Do you do any blogging coaching by any chance ? Thank you. Cheers, Inna
Hi Inna, thanks so much for your comments – I’m excited to have you as a reader 🙂 I am indeed based in Sydney when I’m not gallivanting but I don’t have any time for blogger coaching at the moment. That being said a few bloggers like yourself have asked the same thing though so I am thinking I might arrange a little bloggers brainstorm over tea and cake in the coming months. Is that something you might be interested in joining?
Hi Jayne, thanks for reply! Yes, absolutely, I would love to and hope I could be in Sydney by that time, if I know in advance I could organise myself. Enjoy your trip!
Some great tips here! I have been doing a lot of research so I can connect with more brands.
Awesome! thanks for writing out these tips. Very helpful