LiveBlog: Monetizing the Pitch

Kelly Olexa founded FitFluential– a nationwide network of highly influential fitness enthusiasts sharing their journey both online and offline via multiple social media platforms. As of June, 2012, FitFluential has 5300+ Members reaching over 100 Million people online each month.  Her extensive professional experience is a mixed blend of Sales, Marketing, Business Development and now Social Media Strategy. She has worked for tech startups, several small to medium-sized businesses, as well as Fortune 500 organizations. Passionate about social media- but more passionate about creating real RELATIONSHIPS, Kelly is a Social Butterfly- both online and off.

Kelly: I’m going to start off by giving some tips that are key for achieving success.  These tips are the ones that are common sense traits and habits that are frequently asked about. It doesn’t matter if you want to blog part-time or full-time, these tips will help you be successful.

Kelly: Think of the single most annoying sales experience ever. What did it entail?

Audience: Constant badgering, won’t take no for an answer, feeling like being sold, feeling pressured into sale.

Kelly: Exactly. One of the best tips is simply to not do things that you wouldn’t want a brand/sale person to do to you – think back to that sales experience.

Beyond that, here are the top five things I see that can hinder your success:

– Having no patience

– Having no tenacity

– Not having a thick skin

– Being a copy-cat. Don’t try to be someone else – be who YOU are.

– Not being confident in your ideas. Don’t only do what’s be done before, be willing to put out crazy ideas

Also, don’t go out and intend to make money from blogging. Everything that has happened to me has come to me – I didn’t set out to make money blogging.

Kelly: Now I’m going to open it up for questions.

Audience: What is the negative feedback about pitches that you hear from brands? What is the worst thing you can do?

Kelly: The worst thing that you can do is not doing your research about the company, brand, etc. that you are reaching out to.  Think about what annoys you – that’s what annoys a brand – think about that going into a brand.  Treat it like a job interview – it’s business. Also, have something creative to say and be specific about what can you do for that brand. Be willing to work and over-deliver.

Audience: How persistent can you be without being annoying regarding follow up?

Kelly: There is no hard and fast rule. Air on the side of too much with follow up but be smart about it, don’t follow up every day.  Follow up on a regular basis until you get tired and decide to move on. It’s a fine line – just use common sense.

Audience: You have foot in the door with a brand or company, get invited to events, have gotten products, etc. and are looking to get to that next step of getting compensation. How do you pitch that compensation and take that next step?

Kelly: Ask open-ended question such as “Who handle bloggers relations at your company? I’d love to explore how we can work together.” Make sure to follow up until you get a definitive answer. Don’t ask one time and only ask about one thing – focus on utilizing the unique perspective that you can bring to the table.

Audience: What’s the most creative pitch you’ve gotten from a blogger?

Kelly: I don’t really get many pitches anymore but I can tell you that I often get a lot of long pitches that are trying to be creative and those aren’t good.  Learn to right short emails – a lot of people and brands don’t have time for long-winded creative pitches. Being creative is great.  The bad creative is taking up too much of someone’s time – the best thing you can do is to do your research and be brief.  Being creative means doing something different – do something different than writing a blog review, offer to do a video or regularly talk about a product.

Audience Member: The best tip about pitches I’ve ever gotten is to just solve the person’s problem.  For example, if they don’t have a big YouTube presence, offer to remedy that.

Kelly: Also, don’t be that “yes” person – don’t be scared to creatively give constructive criticism. Give the criticism and then, offer them a solution. State it in a way that gives them a problem and a solution.

Audience: How you come across the correct people to contact to work with the brand? For example, if I see a product and want to work the brand and maybe I tweet them and get no response, what is the next step?

Kelly: You’ve got to be in this for the long term – be willing to develop relationships because out of relationships comes all of that success.  A lot of time PR agencies are running the Twitter account – so ask “who can I talk to that handles blogger outreach/marketing?” Search for CMO, the PR agency for a brand, utilize LinkedIn to find information and see who is looking at your profile, and try to find a Twitter profile. What you don’t do – don’t “vomit” all over them. Develop a relationship, talk to them for a while, and assume that you’re not going to talk to them about what you want for a while. Probably the best way to find out who works for somebody – ask friends in PR “Who reps for x company?”  Just make sure you don’t become “that person” – don’t annoy the person – develop the relationship first. Don’t give up if they say no – they may say no right now, they could come back to you later.  The more that you give at that approach – it’s going to help you.

Audience: How do you handle pushy PR people that bug you about reviewing products, etc.?

Kelly: There are two things to consider.  Whatever you do, remember that your reputation is everything. Be proactive and handle it like a business – that annoying PR person may work at a better agency later.   Ask about budget –  ask “Is there is a budget for this?”. That way you can weed out people who just want editorial.  Be proactive – take a creative approach. Show the value that you can bring to the table and make it work both ways. People are going to remember you. If someone is hounding, put something finite on it (a time, deadline) – there is a misconception that bloggers don’t have anything to do.

Audience Member: You can do a tweet or facebook update about something that you get unsolicited that you don’t want to do a full review for.  Give them something. Also, email them and give them your honest feedback – they appreciate it and are looking for it. Be specific about issues and ask if they still want a review.

Audience Member: Be willing to negotiate – if you can’t do a post with it, offer to do an instagram campaign if that is easier for you.

Audience Member: Best solution for avoiding people hounding you – set the terms in the initial email. Treat it as a contract – say you have some “paid” things you have to do first and they may offer compensation or open up a dialogue.

Audience Member: If you accept a product from a PR company or brand you are technically obligated to deliver.  Just tell that you’re busy – they will respect you.

Audience: How do you handle reviewing a product if it is terrible?

Kelly: There is an integrity issue – if you take that product and can’t use it, you owe them an email. Remember that you are developing relationships and that you have a reputation.

Audience: What do you do when the company gets the product wrong?

Kelly: Tell them. It could open up a dialogue or improve the relationship and open up new opportunities. Give the constructive feedback.

Audience: If someone asks you to do a review, is it okay to give constructive criticism in addition to positive feedback?

Kelly: Absolutely.  Be honest – it builds trust. Put in your REAL feedback – be real.

This LiveBlog was captured by Gabby at Gabby’s Gluten-Free (@gabbysgfree).