How to Pitch Like a True Influencer

July 2018

blogger on the beach

Image: iStock

Last month, The Atlantic published an article on luxury resorts struggling with requests for free stays from so-called Instagram influencers.

Such exchanges are nothing new; in fact, the FTC mandates that bloggers and other social media users disclose if a product or service is given gratis in exchange for a review or mention. Typically this disclosure comes at the onset or closing of a post with a line letting the reader know this post is sponsored by a brand. On other platforms, like Twitter and Instagram, promoters call themselves “brand ambassadors” for a specific company.

What struck me most from The Atlantic article, in addition to some people’s audacity, was this quote from a brand consultant  hired to work with  high-end hotels fielding inquiries from self-described influencers.

“You can sort the amateurs from the pros very quickly,” he said. “The vast majority of cold-call approaches are really badly written. It sounds like when you’re texting a friend inviting yourself over for dinner—it’s that colloquial. They don’t give reasons why anyone should invest in having them as a guest.”

So, if pitching is your problem, and not that you are peddling far more influence than you can deliver, might I suggest the following:

Sound professional.

This is a business-to-business transaction so approach it as such. Quickly introduce yourself, outline the purpose of the query and list the benefits to the brand for a limited or long-term partnership. Use bullet points—and solid grammar, punctuation and spelling.

Do your homework.

Research and know how a brand promotes itself and then key in those differentiators in your request. Send the pitch to a specific person, not a general mailbox. Match the voice and tone to that of their brand, not just yours, to show you care as much about helping them gain exposure as you do your own brand.

Present yourself accurately.

This is a numbers game, so include your own stats. Know the demographics of your followers, but don’t oversell yourself. You may have, say, 500 followers, but if 20% are considered A-list or the bulk of followers fit a resort’s ideal guest, that is more impressive than someone with 10,000 followers obtained primarily by bots.

Get to the WIIFMs—quickly.

Your pitch needs to be clear: I have the kind of followers you want; let me help you connect with them. Once you’ve established your own credentials, shift the messaging to what’s in it for the brand, not why you are worth an all-expense-paid trip. What do they get from this transaction? And how are you uniquely qualified to deliver?

Then, of course, deliver. Provide the kind of coverage you promised. Know that landing those freebies could come at a price. Followers may perceive your posts differently since you too are now under the influence of another brand.

You’ll need to find a balance between offering the authenticity your followers demand and the exposure your sponsors or brands seek. It’s a dynamic, delicate balance that the best in the business achieve without compromising what made them so popular in the first place.

Thanks for reading this,

Anne Saita