Resources

A Brief Introduction to Public Relations for Your Food & Beverage Brand

We’re talking with public relations experts from the Foodboro community about working with a PR agency, in-house PR, engaging with social media influencers, common mistakes, and so much more! 

A Brief Introduction to Public Relations for Your Food & Beverage Brand

We’re talking about PR (Public Relations) with experts from the Foodboro community, who gave the DL on how to employ PR for your brand, whether you’re using a firm or doing it in-house. 

With ever-evolving mediums of communication (magazines are out, TikTok is in), a PR campaign must be flexible. Brands need a tailored approach that evolves as the company scales. We’re excited to share some thoughts about working with a PR agency, in-house PR, engaging with social media influencers, common mistakes, and so much more! 

The Panel

Basics: Working with a PR agency

What are the benefits for hiring outside PR support? 

Karina: A PR team knows how to effectively communicate VALUE to the writer or person on the other end. It’s not a transactional relationship but a value exchange relationship that comes with time and trust! When brands do their own PR, especially younger stage ones, they often don’t realize that it's not about them (the brand) but about the person on the other end. Sharing less about themselves or their product and more on how it connects and relates to this person's work is so important. Being objective can be tough for founders who rightfully think their product and story is the best of the best but in reality this writer probably gets pitched the BEST new “sparkling  water” everyday. 

Brittany: A strong PR partner helps you uncover and capture different angles by which you can connect with your target audience/potential customers.

First step in building a campaign: what’s most important to have in place? 

Quick Takes

Brittany: A strong website (or website with potential to improve) and a story. 

Nikki: 1. Taste  2. Branding! 3. Your Knacks! What are you doing that no one else is? 4. Poised to take action!

Holly: Brands should understand the problem they are trying to solve and who their consumer is before approaching PR. It’s also crucial that a potential client has the bandwidth to support a PR partner. 

Karina: The brand has firm footing: at the very least soft launched and folks have been able to try the product. 

The Full Story

Brittany: A strong website (or website with potential to improve) and a story. Without these two things, there’s little a brand can do to quickly demonstrate their value to a prospective client or customer. Their “why” is paramount. Why are they doing what they’re doing? Why is what they’re doing different (read: better, more impactful, more efficient, etc.) than their competitors? Why are they driven to do what they’re doing? 

Nikki

  1. Taste! It’s important that there is not a big formulation around the corner that will majorly improve the product. When we send samples to reporters, the brand is making its first - and sometimes only - impression. 
  2. Branding! Just like taste, we want to know if a big rebrand is right around the corner. We want the pictures that land in publications to be recognizable when the reader takes action and shops for the product in store or on your website. A consistent experience is important. 
  3. Your Knacks! What are you doing that no one else is? While the CPG scene is undeniably crowded, your story and journey to bringing your brand to life set you apart. Can we make you stand out in the crowd just like your packaging has to work to make you stand out on shelves? 
  4. Lastly, we want to make sure that the reader can take action! If someone discovers your brand in a blog, newspaper, podcast or TV segment, we want to make sure that they can take action and press purchase! If you are out of inventory for months or have not done your first production run yet, it’s wise to wait to press “GO!” with your PR partner. 

Holly: Brands should understand the problem they are trying to solve and who their consumer is before approaching PR. Clear, impactful positioning should be baked into all owned channels so that as media drive traffic to a brand’s website, the consumer is receiving consistent messaging across every touchpoint. 

It’s also crucial that a potential client has the bandwidth to support a PR partner. Working with a PR firm requires a time commitment that many brands that have yet to activate PR may not realize. Do they have an efficient system for sending samples to media and influencers? Do they have a dedicated team member who will be able to manage the PR relationship? Do they have high-res imagery? Will they be able to take on affiliate marketing? These are questions I consider. 

Karina: Before we look at any social pages or website we want to make sure the brand has at the very least soft launched and folks have been able to try the product. I’ve learned that just-launched brands sometimes have a hard time finding their footing, figuring out who they are as a company and even have to go back to the drawing with formulation. It’s hard to create a strong communications strategy if you’re still figuring out those things as you go. We like to come in once you have a good understanding of these things and now are starting to look at how to build a wider and stronger audience. 

avana creative

Campaign Building: Media Approaches

Quick Takes

Karina:  We have to treat every medium (events, social, newsletters, influencers) like macro or micro outlets with a curated audience and create unique value-add messages to them. 

Holly: Most brands who connect with me consider earned media the top priority. Top tier consumer media placements are still the main driver for PR.

Brittany: Influencer marketing: So important. Social media: A strong marketing partner will help you determine where you should have a social presence, how to plot out your roll out on those platforms, etc. Traditional Media: Keeping your message tight, concise and meaningful is what really matters.

The Full Story

Karina: It all depends on the clients’ goals. PR is extremely versatile in helping achieve brand presence but every platform has a different audience and has to be treated unique to that audience. For example, social media might not help build brand credibility that you can leverage when looking for investors but it will allow you to reach a younger demographic that might be looking for a product like yours. 

The reality is that traditional media is becoming more fragmented and the younger generations aren’t reading things like The New York Times or Forbes for their news consumption. So we have to treat every medium (events, social, newsletters, influencers) like macro or micro outlets with a curated audience and create unique value-add messages to them. 

Holly: I take a holistic approach to building campaigns and weigh the priorities of my clients when considering to utilize various tactics such as media relations, thought leadership, influencer marketing, celebrity giftings, co-branded partnerships, events, and the list goes on. Ultimately my goal is to increase visibility wherever it’s going to most impactfully reach the brand’s target audience, and campaigns aren’t ever one-size-fits-all. 

With that said, most brands who connect with me consider earned media the top priority. Top tier consumer media placements are still the main driver for PR.

Brittany:

Influencer marketing: So important. Especially in this day and age, while maintaining a presence of your own on social media is important (for brand sake), leveraging influencer marketing is crucial. I’ve worked with businesses of all sizes and have not found an instance where a well-executed influencer marketing campaign failed to produce results. It’s about getting your product (or service) in front of someone who has already developed trust with the audience you’re trying to reach.

Social media: I often see initial panic from businesses who maybe have limited experience with or presence on social media. There is no need to panic if you’re a young CPG brand! A strong marketing partner will help you determine where you should have a social presence, how to plot out your roll out on those platforms, etc.

Events: Not a huge focus when I initially start working with CPG brands.

Traditional media (radio, print, tv, mailers etc): If a brand has previous traditional media appearances to leverage, that’s great. If not, it may be even more important to get some level of media training down and under their belt before you start pitching them for these opportunities. There’s nothing better than having a brand willing to create talking points, both for themselves and for any influencers they work with. Keeping your message tight, concise and meaningful is what really matters.

Basics of Influencer Marketing - The Guide for Successful Business  Cooperations – Fanpage Karma Blog

What to Know Before Going Solo

Must dos: 

Nikki: Storytelling! If you’re reading this, you’re likely an authentic founder-led brand with a great story and mission. Kraft, Kellogg’s and the other big players can’t put their founders out there, but you can! Allow your story to be your superpower. 

Karina: A good product isn't enough anymore. You need to have a strong story, purpose and mission. Figuring this out as early as possible and leaning into this messaging in everything that you do is essential. 

Holly: Remain consistent. Understand what you stand for and make sure every marketing tactic points back to your mission. Too many brands try to stand for everything and end up standing for nothing. I find that the most powerful marketing campaigns champion one (maybe two) issues and they do so without restraint. Examples of CPG brands that I feel are doing a good job at this are Moonshot Snacks, Miyoko’s Creamery, and Omsom.  

Brittany: Know your unique value proposition (UVP) and be able to adapt it as needed for any and all channels you plan to deploy (ie: social media, content marketing, etc.).

Lessons Learned

Quick Takes

Karina: Press doesn’t happen overnight. These things take time, patience and strategy. Don’t follow up a dozen times just to follow up. And don’t take it personally if you send someone a product and they don’t immediately cover it in a story.

Brittany: Oftentimes, brands (especially new ones) have a much smaller view of what they bring to the table. 

Nikki: Keep it short and sweet! Do not ask to be included in a story that has already run. Do not follow up a zillion times.

The Full Story

Karina: Press doesn’t happen overnight. It’s like asking someone to trust you on a first date. These things take time, patience and strategy. Don’t follow up a dozen times just to follow up. And don’t take it personally if you send someone a product and they don’t immediately cover it in a story. Remember this is one person who is part of a way larger organization who also has their own deadlines, quotas and people to report to. The reality is they may love your product, your story and mission but their publication isn’t focused on food right now, or maybe they’ve profiled a similar product recently and want to wait to not have similar stories or maybe the readership for this style of story isn’t as strong during this time of year so they will wait for when it makes more sense to them. Again, it’s all about value! The publication has a duty to provide valuable content to their readers and they will always prioritize what their readers engage with and what is most helpful to them first! 

Brittany: I see brands not fully communicating their unique value. Oftentimes, brands (especially new ones) have a much smaller view of what they bring to the table. They often fail to recognize all the ways in which they can create really meaningful connections through their experience. 

Nikki: Annoying reporters. While PR is not rocket science, it certainly is a communication artform. Personally, I’ve been (working on) mastering it for over a decade and always continue to evolve my outreach style. I fully support brands doing some DIY PR before they can afford to bring a publicist on to take it off their plate, but there are a few things to know before you put your story out into reporters’ inboxes: 

  • Short and sweet! A PR pitch is only intended to capture the attention of the reader and make them want to learn more. Do not rattle off your life story, and please don’t send large attachments. You’ll be gone girl-ed so fast. 
  • Do not ask to be included in a story that has already run! If Shape published a piece on the best pancake mixes and left you out, please resist the urge to ask to be added in. Instead, compliment the reporter on their work and introduce your brand (briefly) to be kept in mind for future relevant stories. And don’t forget to offer to send samples! 
  • Do not follow up a zillion times! Ship your perfect pitch off into the universe, and after a week, follow up. If you still don’t hear back, give it another week or two and throw one last hail Mary. After that, look for your next target.

Benefits and Common Errors in Working with Social Media Influencers

Quick Takes

Brittany: Long-term influencer relationships are key. 

Karina: Do. Your. Research. Big numbers don’t mean big ROI same with small numbers don’t mean small ROI. understanding their audience, what their audience responds to and how your brand or product fits into that audience is how you win.

Holly: Offer giftings to influencers with no strings attached. Over time, this will build rapport with creators, which may convert them into real brand fans who are willing to share organically. 

The Full Story

Brittany: Influencers - good ones - have achieved something you may not have already conquered yourself: grabbing the ear of your potential clients and customers. They’ve developed a level of trust and confidence among the people you see mostly closely tied to your business success. In that way, it’s important to make the relationship mutually-beneficial for them. Influencers can benefit from promoting your business or service, if it also provides another chance for them to grow trust with an audience. Long-term influencer relationships are key. Anyone can rattle off that they like/use XYZ product, but that can fall flat and lack authenticity. Instead, I work hard to align my brands with influencers who are truly positively-impacted by the products or services my clients share. 

Karina: Do. Your. Research. Big numbers don’t mean big ROI same with small numbers don’t mean small ROI. understanding their audience, what their audience responds to and how your brand or product fits into that audience is how you win. Influencers are now micro publications with a strong and loyal curated audience so doing your research and presenting them with something valuable to their audience is how you win. Offering simply to send them a sample isn’t helpful but if you engage with them and present them with a product or opportunity that will bring value to their followers is how you win. Remember their main focus is to keep their followers engaged and grow their credibility within that loyal community, it’s not transactional it’s bringing value. You have something you think their audience would enjoy and they have an audience you wish to reach. 

Holly: A common mistake I see new brands make is offering influencers product in exchange for required social shares. While this approach may work for very small creators (think: under 5K followers), larger influencers will not only decline, they may even take offense to any partnership query that doesn’t involve compensation. 

A better strategy for brands that don’t have budget for paid partnerships quite yet would be to offer giftings to influencers with no strings attached. Over time, this will build rapport with creators, which may convert them into real brand fans who are willing to share organically. 

If brands do have budget for paid collaboration, my biggest piece of advice is to have a clear goal in mind and determine metrics for success from there. Of course we hope that these partnerships will drive sales, but additional campaign goals could be to: collect UGC, increase awareness, drive home key messaging, support retail partners, etc.  

10 Food Influencers You Should Be Following in 2022

Final Thoughts

Brittany: Stay humble and understand that getting your product into the hands of your target audience is paramount. Bursting through the clutter of your competitors is key. Set yourself apart, communicate your value before they even experience your brand, be willing to give product away (to the right, influential people) and then make their entire consumer experience worthwhile and seamless. Make it easy for them to give you a glowing testimonial.

Nikki: Avoid imposter syndrome! It’s so hard (even as a publicist) to see other brands landing dreamy press that you wish you could be a part of. Know that your time to shine will come, and then they will likely pester their PR team to ask why they weren’t included. :) 

Don’t forget to leverage all of the awesome press you secure! Share on social and tag the publication + reporter… create a Canva template for easy sharing… paste the links in your email signature - “As featured in Forbes, Well+Good and the Today Show!”. The list goes on and on! There are SO many impactful ways to help great stories live on long after they run! 

Karina: My biggest piece of advice when working with an agency is BE. INVOLVED. If you aren’t willing to dedicate at least 3-5 hours a week on PR then it’s not the right time. We work extremely collaboratively with our partners and need their support and internal insight to help us push our narratives. Think of PR as a large megaphone. If we don’t know what’s going on in your business then we can’t share that with the world. We can only be as successful as you equip us to be! 

Holly: Most top-tier consumer outlets prioritize brands with affiliate programs for inclusion in gift guides and other product roundups. It can be incredibly difficult to land coverage in shoppable content without an affiliate program, so I highly advise that brands activate on ShareASale or a comparable platform before hiring a PR firm. A workaround can be if the client has an Amazon page, but going that route means we aren’t able to track conversions or gather consumer data.

Want more Foodboro? Give us a follow on LinkedIn!

We’re talking about PR (Public Relations) with experts from the Foodboro community, who gave the DL on how to employ PR for your brand, whether you’re using a firm or doing it in-house. 

With ever-evolving mediums of communication (magazines are out, TikTok is in), a PR campaign must be flexible. Brands need a tailored approach that evolves as the company scales. We’re excited to share some thoughts about working with a PR agency, in-house PR, engaging with social media influencers, common mistakes, and so much more! 

The Panel

Basics: Working with a PR agency

What are the benefits for hiring outside PR support? 

Karina: A PR team knows how to effectively communicate VALUE to the writer or person on the other end. It’s not a transactional relationship but a value exchange relationship that comes with time and trust! When brands do their own PR, especially younger stage ones, they often don’t realize that it's not about them (the brand) but about the person on the other end. Sharing less about themselves or their product and more on how it connects and relates to this person's work is so important. Being objective can be tough for founders who rightfully think their product and story is the best of the best but in reality this writer probably gets pitched the BEST new “sparkling  water” everyday. 

Brittany: A strong PR partner helps you uncover and capture different angles by which you can connect with your target audience/potential customers.

First step in building a campaign: what’s most important to have in place? 

Quick Takes

Brittany: A strong website (or website with potential to improve) and a story. 

Nikki: 1. Taste  2. Branding! 3. Your Knacks! What are you doing that no one else is? 4. Poised to take action!

Holly: Brands should understand the problem they are trying to solve and who their consumer is before approaching PR. It’s also crucial that a potential client has the bandwidth to support a PR partner. 

Karina: The brand has firm footing: at the very least soft launched and folks have been able to try the product. 

The Full Story

Brittany: A strong website (or website with potential to improve) and a story. Without these two things, there’s little a brand can do to quickly demonstrate their value to a prospective client or customer. Their “why” is paramount. Why are they doing what they’re doing? Why is what they’re doing different (read: better, more impactful, more efficient, etc.) than their competitors? Why are they driven to do what they’re doing? 

Nikki

  1. Taste! It’s important that there is not a big formulation around the corner that will majorly improve the product. When we send samples to reporters, the brand is making its first - and sometimes only - impression. 
  2. Branding! Just like taste, we want to know if a big rebrand is right around the corner. We want the pictures that land in publications to be recognizable when the reader takes action and shops for the product in store or on your website. A consistent experience is important. 
  3. Your Knacks! What are you doing that no one else is? While the CPG scene is undeniably crowded, your story and journey to bringing your brand to life set you apart. Can we make you stand out in the crowd just like your packaging has to work to make you stand out on shelves? 
  4. Lastly, we want to make sure that the reader can take action! If someone discovers your brand in a blog, newspaper, podcast or TV segment, we want to make sure that they can take action and press purchase! If you are out of inventory for months or have not done your first production run yet, it’s wise to wait to press “GO!” with your PR partner. 

Holly: Brands should understand the problem they are trying to solve and who their consumer is before approaching PR. Clear, impactful positioning should be baked into all owned channels so that as media drive traffic to a brand’s website, the consumer is receiving consistent messaging across every touchpoint. 

It’s also crucial that a potential client has the bandwidth to support a PR partner. Working with a PR firm requires a time commitment that many brands that have yet to activate PR may not realize. Do they have an efficient system for sending samples to media and influencers? Do they have a dedicated team member who will be able to manage the PR relationship? Do they have high-res imagery? Will they be able to take on affiliate marketing? These are questions I consider. 

Karina: Before we look at any social pages or website we want to make sure the brand has at the very least soft launched and folks have been able to try the product. I’ve learned that just-launched brands sometimes have a hard time finding their footing, figuring out who they are as a company and even have to go back to the drawing with formulation. It’s hard to create a strong communications strategy if you’re still figuring out those things as you go. We like to come in once you have a good understanding of these things and now are starting to look at how to build a wider and stronger audience. 

avana creative

Campaign Building: Media Approaches

Quick Takes

Karina:  We have to treat every medium (events, social, newsletters, influencers) like macro or micro outlets with a curated audience and create unique value-add messages to them. 

Holly: Most brands who connect with me consider earned media the top priority. Top tier consumer media placements are still the main driver for PR.

Brittany: Influencer marketing: So important. Social media: A strong marketing partner will help you determine where you should have a social presence, how to plot out your roll out on those platforms, etc. Traditional Media: Keeping your message tight, concise and meaningful is what really matters.

The Full Story

Karina: It all depends on the clients’ goals. PR is extremely versatile in helping achieve brand presence but every platform has a different audience and has to be treated unique to that audience. For example, social media might not help build brand credibility that you can leverage when looking for investors but it will allow you to reach a younger demographic that might be looking for a product like yours. 

The reality is that traditional media is becoming more fragmented and the younger generations aren’t reading things like The New York Times or Forbes for their news consumption. So we have to treat every medium (events, social, newsletters, influencers) like macro or micro outlets with a curated audience and create unique value-add messages to them. 

Holly: I take a holistic approach to building campaigns and weigh the priorities of my clients when considering to utilize various tactics such as media relations, thought leadership, influencer marketing, celebrity giftings, co-branded partnerships, events, and the list goes on. Ultimately my goal is to increase visibility wherever it’s going to most impactfully reach the brand’s target audience, and campaigns aren’t ever one-size-fits-all. 

With that said, most brands who connect with me consider earned media the top priority. Top tier consumer media placements are still the main driver for PR.

Brittany:

Influencer marketing: So important. Especially in this day and age, while maintaining a presence of your own on social media is important (for brand sake), leveraging influencer marketing is crucial. I’ve worked with businesses of all sizes and have not found an instance where a well-executed influencer marketing campaign failed to produce results. It’s about getting your product (or service) in front of someone who has already developed trust with the audience you’re trying to reach.

Social media: I often see initial panic from businesses who maybe have limited experience with or presence on social media. There is no need to panic if you’re a young CPG brand! A strong marketing partner will help you determine where you should have a social presence, how to plot out your roll out on those platforms, etc.

Events: Not a huge focus when I initially start working with CPG brands.

Traditional media (radio, print, tv, mailers etc): If a brand has previous traditional media appearances to leverage, that’s great. If not, it may be even more important to get some level of media training down and under their belt before you start pitching them for these opportunities. There’s nothing better than having a brand willing to create talking points, both for themselves and for any influencers they work with. Keeping your message tight, concise and meaningful is what really matters.

Basics of Influencer Marketing - The Guide for Successful Business  Cooperations – Fanpage Karma Blog

What to Know Before Going Solo

Must dos: 

Nikki: Storytelling! If you’re reading this, you’re likely an authentic founder-led brand with a great story and mission. Kraft, Kellogg’s and the other big players can’t put their founders out there, but you can! Allow your story to be your superpower. 

Karina: A good product isn't enough anymore. You need to have a strong story, purpose and mission. Figuring this out as early as possible and leaning into this messaging in everything that you do is essential. 

Holly: Remain consistent. Understand what you stand for and make sure every marketing tactic points back to your mission. Too many brands try to stand for everything and end up standing for nothing. I find that the most powerful marketing campaigns champion one (maybe two) issues and they do so without restraint. Examples of CPG brands that I feel are doing a good job at this are Moonshot Snacks, Miyoko’s Creamery, and Omsom.  

Brittany: Know your unique value proposition (UVP) and be able to adapt it as needed for any and all channels you plan to deploy (ie: social media, content marketing, etc.).

Lessons Learned

Quick Takes

Karina: Press doesn’t happen overnight. These things take time, patience and strategy. Don’t follow up a dozen times just to follow up. And don’t take it personally if you send someone a product and they don’t immediately cover it in a story.

Brittany: Oftentimes, brands (especially new ones) have a much smaller view of what they bring to the table. 

Nikki: Keep it short and sweet! Do not ask to be included in a story that has already run. Do not follow up a zillion times.

The Full Story

Karina: Press doesn’t happen overnight. It’s like asking someone to trust you on a first date. These things take time, patience and strategy. Don’t follow up a dozen times just to follow up. And don’t take it personally if you send someone a product and they don’t immediately cover it in a story. Remember this is one person who is part of a way larger organization who also has their own deadlines, quotas and people to report to. The reality is they may love your product, your story and mission but their publication isn’t focused on food right now, or maybe they’ve profiled a similar product recently and want to wait to not have similar stories or maybe the readership for this style of story isn’t as strong during this time of year so they will wait for when it makes more sense to them. Again, it’s all about value! The publication has a duty to provide valuable content to their readers and they will always prioritize what their readers engage with and what is most helpful to them first! 

Brittany: I see brands not fully communicating their unique value. Oftentimes, brands (especially new ones) have a much smaller view of what they bring to the table. They often fail to recognize all the ways in which they can create really meaningful connections through their experience. 

Nikki: Annoying reporters. While PR is not rocket science, it certainly is a communication artform. Personally, I’ve been (working on) mastering it for over a decade and always continue to evolve my outreach style. I fully support brands doing some DIY PR before they can afford to bring a publicist on to take it off their plate, but there are a few things to know before you put your story out into reporters’ inboxes: 

  • Short and sweet! A PR pitch is only intended to capture the attention of the reader and make them want to learn more. Do not rattle off your life story, and please don’t send large attachments. You’ll be gone girl-ed so fast. 
  • Do not ask to be included in a story that has already run! If Shape published a piece on the best pancake mixes and left you out, please resist the urge to ask to be added in. Instead, compliment the reporter on their work and introduce your brand (briefly) to be kept in mind for future relevant stories. And don’t forget to offer to send samples! 
  • Do not follow up a zillion times! Ship your perfect pitch off into the universe, and after a week, follow up. If you still don’t hear back, give it another week or two and throw one last hail Mary. After that, look for your next target.

Benefits and Common Errors in Working with Social Media Influencers

Quick Takes

Brittany: Long-term influencer relationships are key. 

Karina: Do. Your. Research. Big numbers don’t mean big ROI same with small numbers don’t mean small ROI. understanding their audience, what their audience responds to and how your brand or product fits into that audience is how you win.

Holly: Offer giftings to influencers with no strings attached. Over time, this will build rapport with creators, which may convert them into real brand fans who are willing to share organically. 

The Full Story

Brittany: Influencers - good ones - have achieved something you may not have already conquered yourself: grabbing the ear of your potential clients and customers. They’ve developed a level of trust and confidence among the people you see mostly closely tied to your business success. In that way, it’s important to make the relationship mutually-beneficial for them. Influencers can benefit from promoting your business or service, if it also provides another chance for them to grow trust with an audience. Long-term influencer relationships are key. Anyone can rattle off that they like/use XYZ product, but that can fall flat and lack authenticity. Instead, I work hard to align my brands with influencers who are truly positively-impacted by the products or services my clients share. 

Karina: Do. Your. Research. Big numbers don’t mean big ROI same with small numbers don’t mean small ROI. understanding their audience, what their audience responds to and how your brand or product fits into that audience is how you win. Influencers are now micro publications with a strong and loyal curated audience so doing your research and presenting them with something valuable to their audience is how you win. Offering simply to send them a sample isn’t helpful but if you engage with them and present them with a product or opportunity that will bring value to their followers is how you win. Remember their main focus is to keep their followers engaged and grow their credibility within that loyal community, it’s not transactional it’s bringing value. You have something you think their audience would enjoy and they have an audience you wish to reach. 

Holly: A common mistake I see new brands make is offering influencers product in exchange for required social shares. While this approach may work for very small creators (think: under 5K followers), larger influencers will not only decline, they may even take offense to any partnership query that doesn’t involve compensation. 

A better strategy for brands that don’t have budget for paid partnerships quite yet would be to offer giftings to influencers with no strings attached. Over time, this will build rapport with creators, which may convert them into real brand fans who are willing to share organically. 

If brands do have budget for paid collaboration, my biggest piece of advice is to have a clear goal in mind and determine metrics for success from there. Of course we hope that these partnerships will drive sales, but additional campaign goals could be to: collect UGC, increase awareness, drive home key messaging, support retail partners, etc.  

10 Food Influencers You Should Be Following in 2022

Final Thoughts

Brittany: Stay humble and understand that getting your product into the hands of your target audience is paramount. Bursting through the clutter of your competitors is key. Set yourself apart, communicate your value before they even experience your brand, be willing to give product away (to the right, influential people) and then make their entire consumer experience worthwhile and seamless. Make it easy for them to give you a glowing testimonial.

Nikki: Avoid imposter syndrome! It’s so hard (even as a publicist) to see other brands landing dreamy press that you wish you could be a part of. Know that your time to shine will come, and then they will likely pester their PR team to ask why they weren’t included. :) 

Don’t forget to leverage all of the awesome press you secure! Share on social and tag the publication + reporter… create a Canva template for easy sharing… paste the links in your email signature - “As featured in Forbes, Well+Good and the Today Show!”. The list goes on and on! There are SO many impactful ways to help great stories live on long after they run! 

Karina: My biggest piece of advice when working with an agency is BE. INVOLVED. If you aren’t willing to dedicate at least 3-5 hours a week on PR then it’s not the right time. We work extremely collaboratively with our partners and need their support and internal insight to help us push our narratives. Think of PR as a large megaphone. If we don’t know what’s going on in your business then we can’t share that with the world. We can only be as successful as you equip us to be! 

Holly: Most top-tier consumer outlets prioritize brands with affiliate programs for inclusion in gift guides and other product roundups. It can be incredibly difficult to land coverage in shoppable content without an affiliate program, so I highly advise that brands activate on ShareASale or a comparable platform before hiring a PR firm. A workaround can be if the client has an Amazon page, but going that route means we aren’t able to track conversions or gather consumer data.

Want more Foodboro? Give us a follow on LinkedIn!

We’re talking about PR (Public Relations) with experts from the Foodboro community, who gave the DL on how to employ PR for your brand, whether you’re using a firm or doing it in-house. 

With ever-evolving mediums of communication (magazines are out, TikTok is in), a PR campaign must be flexible. Brands need a tailored approach that evolves as the company scales. We’re excited to share some thoughts about working with a PR agency, in-house PR, engaging with social media influencers, common mistakes, and so much more! 

The Panel

Basics: Working with a PR agency

What are the benefits for hiring outside PR support? 

Karina: A PR team knows how to effectively communicate VALUE to the writer or person on the other end. It’s not a transactional relationship but a value exchange relationship that comes with time and trust! When brands do their own PR, especially younger stage ones, they often don’t realize that it's not about them (the brand) but about the person on the other end. Sharing less about themselves or their product and more on how it connects and relates to this person's work is so important. Being objective can be tough for founders who rightfully think their product and story is the best of the best but in reality this writer probably gets pitched the BEST new “sparkling  water” everyday. 

Brittany: A strong PR partner helps you uncover and capture different angles by which you can connect with your target audience/potential customers.

First step in building a campaign: what’s most important to have in place? 

Quick Takes

Brittany: A strong website (or website with potential to improve) and a story. 

Nikki: 1. Taste  2. Branding! 3. Your Knacks! What are you doing that no one else is? 4. Poised to take action!

Holly: Brands should understand the problem they are trying to solve and who their consumer is before approaching PR. It’s also crucial that a potential client has the bandwidth to support a PR partner. 

Karina: The brand has firm footing: at the very least soft launched and folks have been able to try the product. 

The Full Story

Brittany: A strong website (or website with potential to improve) and a story. Without these two things, there’s little a brand can do to quickly demonstrate their value to a prospective client or customer. Their “why” is paramount. Why are they doing what they’re doing? Why is what they’re doing different (read: better, more impactful, more efficient, etc.) than their competitors? Why are they driven to do what they’re doing? 

Nikki

  1. Taste! It’s important that there is not a big formulation around the corner that will majorly improve the product. When we send samples to reporters, the brand is making its first - and sometimes only - impression. 
  2. Branding! Just like taste, we want to know if a big rebrand is right around the corner. We want the pictures that land in publications to be recognizable when the reader takes action and shops for the product in store or on your website. A consistent experience is important. 
  3. Your Knacks! What are you doing that no one else is? While the CPG scene is undeniably crowded, your story and journey to bringing your brand to life set you apart. Can we make you stand out in the crowd just like your packaging has to work to make you stand out on shelves? 
  4. Lastly, we want to make sure that the reader can take action! If someone discovers your brand in a blog, newspaper, podcast or TV segment, we want to make sure that they can take action and press purchase! If you are out of inventory for months or have not done your first production run yet, it’s wise to wait to press “GO!” with your PR partner. 

Holly: Brands should understand the problem they are trying to solve and who their consumer is before approaching PR. Clear, impactful positioning should be baked into all owned channels so that as media drive traffic to a brand’s website, the consumer is receiving consistent messaging across every touchpoint. 

It’s also crucial that a potential client has the bandwidth to support a PR partner. Working with a PR firm requires a time commitment that many brands that have yet to activate PR may not realize. Do they have an efficient system for sending samples to media and influencers? Do they have a dedicated team member who will be able to manage the PR relationship? Do they have high-res imagery? Will they be able to take on affiliate marketing? These are questions I consider. 

Karina: Before we look at any social pages or website we want to make sure the brand has at the very least soft launched and folks have been able to try the product. I’ve learned that just-launched brands sometimes have a hard time finding their footing, figuring out who they are as a company and even have to go back to the drawing with formulation. It’s hard to create a strong communications strategy if you’re still figuring out those things as you go. We like to come in once you have a good understanding of these things and now are starting to look at how to build a wider and stronger audience. 

avana creative

Campaign Building: Media Approaches

Quick Takes

Karina:  We have to treat every medium (events, social, newsletters, influencers) like macro or micro outlets with a curated audience and create unique value-add messages to them. 

Holly: Most brands who connect with me consider earned media the top priority. Top tier consumer media placements are still the main driver for PR.

Brittany: Influencer marketing: So important. Social media: A strong marketing partner will help you determine where you should have a social presence, how to plot out your roll out on those platforms, etc. Traditional Media: Keeping your message tight, concise and meaningful is what really matters.

The Full Story

Karina: It all depends on the clients’ goals. PR is extremely versatile in helping achieve brand presence but every platform has a different audience and has to be treated unique to that audience. For example, social media might not help build brand credibility that you can leverage when looking for investors but it will allow you to reach a younger demographic that might be looking for a product like yours. 

The reality is that traditional media is becoming more fragmented and the younger generations aren’t reading things like The New York Times or Forbes for their news consumption. So we have to treat every medium (events, social, newsletters, influencers) like macro or micro outlets with a curated audience and create unique value-add messages to them. 

Holly: I take a holistic approach to building campaigns and weigh the priorities of my clients when considering to utilize various tactics such as media relations, thought leadership, influencer marketing, celebrity giftings, co-branded partnerships, events, and the list goes on. Ultimately my goal is to increase visibility wherever it’s going to most impactfully reach the brand’s target audience, and campaigns aren’t ever one-size-fits-all. 

With that said, most brands who connect with me consider earned media the top priority. Top tier consumer media placements are still the main driver for PR.

Brittany:

Influencer marketing: So important. Especially in this day and age, while maintaining a presence of your own on social media is important (for brand sake), leveraging influencer marketing is crucial. I’ve worked with businesses of all sizes and have not found an instance where a well-executed influencer marketing campaign failed to produce results. It’s about getting your product (or service) in front of someone who has already developed trust with the audience you’re trying to reach.

Social media: I often see initial panic from businesses who maybe have limited experience with or presence on social media. There is no need to panic if you’re a young CPG brand! A strong marketing partner will help you determine where you should have a social presence, how to plot out your roll out on those platforms, etc.

Events: Not a huge focus when I initially start working with CPG brands.

Traditional media (radio, print, tv, mailers etc): If a brand has previous traditional media appearances to leverage, that’s great. If not, it may be even more important to get some level of media training down and under their belt before you start pitching them for these opportunities. There’s nothing better than having a brand willing to create talking points, both for themselves and for any influencers they work with. Keeping your message tight, concise and meaningful is what really matters.

Basics of Influencer Marketing - The Guide for Successful Business  Cooperations – Fanpage Karma Blog

What to Know Before Going Solo

Must dos: 

Nikki: Storytelling! If you’re reading this, you’re likely an authentic founder-led brand with a great story and mission. Kraft, Kellogg’s and the other big players can’t put their founders out there, but you can! Allow your story to be your superpower. 

Karina: A good product isn't enough anymore. You need to have a strong story, purpose and mission. Figuring this out as early as possible and leaning into this messaging in everything that you do is essential. 

Holly: Remain consistent. Understand what you stand for and make sure every marketing tactic points back to your mission. Too many brands try to stand for everything and end up standing for nothing. I find that the most powerful marketing campaigns champion one (maybe two) issues and they do so without restraint. Examples of CPG brands that I feel are doing a good job at this are Moonshot Snacks, Miyoko’s Creamery, and Omsom.  

Brittany: Know your unique value proposition (UVP) and be able to adapt it as needed for any and all channels you plan to deploy (ie: social media, content marketing, etc.).

Lessons Learned

Quick Takes

Karina: Press doesn’t happen overnight. These things take time, patience and strategy. Don’t follow up a dozen times just to follow up. And don’t take it personally if you send someone a product and they don’t immediately cover it in a story.

Brittany: Oftentimes, brands (especially new ones) have a much smaller view of what they bring to the table. 

Nikki: Keep it short and sweet! Do not ask to be included in a story that has already run. Do not follow up a zillion times.

The Full Story

Karina: Press doesn’t happen overnight. It’s like asking someone to trust you on a first date. These things take time, patience and strategy. Don’t follow up a dozen times just to follow up. And don’t take it personally if you send someone a product and they don’t immediately cover it in a story. Remember this is one person who is part of a way larger organization who also has their own deadlines, quotas and people to report to. The reality is they may love your product, your story and mission but their publication isn’t focused on food right now, or maybe they’ve profiled a similar product recently and want to wait to not have similar stories or maybe the readership for this style of story isn’t as strong during this time of year so they will wait for when it makes more sense to them. Again, it’s all about value! The publication has a duty to provide valuable content to their readers and they will always prioritize what their readers engage with and what is most helpful to them first! 

Brittany: I see brands not fully communicating their unique value. Oftentimes, brands (especially new ones) have a much smaller view of what they bring to the table. They often fail to recognize all the ways in which they can create really meaningful connections through their experience. 

Nikki: Annoying reporters. While PR is not rocket science, it certainly is a communication artform. Personally, I’ve been (working on) mastering it for over a decade and always continue to evolve my outreach style. I fully support brands doing some DIY PR before they can afford to bring a publicist on to take it off their plate, but there are a few things to know before you put your story out into reporters’ inboxes: 

  • Short and sweet! A PR pitch is only intended to capture the attention of the reader and make them want to learn more. Do not rattle off your life story, and please don’t send large attachments. You’ll be gone girl-ed so fast. 
  • Do not ask to be included in a story that has already run! If Shape published a piece on the best pancake mixes and left you out, please resist the urge to ask to be added in. Instead, compliment the reporter on their work and introduce your brand (briefly) to be kept in mind for future relevant stories. And don’t forget to offer to send samples! 
  • Do not follow up a zillion times! Ship your perfect pitch off into the universe, and after a week, follow up. If you still don’t hear back, give it another week or two and throw one last hail Mary. After that, look for your next target.

Benefits and Common Errors in Working with Social Media Influencers

Quick Takes

Brittany: Long-term influencer relationships are key. 

Karina: Do. Your. Research. Big numbers don’t mean big ROI same with small numbers don’t mean small ROI. understanding their audience, what their audience responds to and how your brand or product fits into that audience is how you win.

Holly: Offer giftings to influencers with no strings attached. Over time, this will build rapport with creators, which may convert them into real brand fans who are willing to share organically. 

The Full Story

Brittany: Influencers - good ones - have achieved something you may not have already conquered yourself: grabbing the ear of your potential clients and customers. They’ve developed a level of trust and confidence among the people you see mostly closely tied to your business success. In that way, it’s important to make the relationship mutually-beneficial for them. Influencers can benefit from promoting your business or service, if it also provides another chance for them to grow trust with an audience. Long-term influencer relationships are key. Anyone can rattle off that they like/use XYZ product, but that can fall flat and lack authenticity. Instead, I work hard to align my brands with influencers who are truly positively-impacted by the products or services my clients share. 

Karina: Do. Your. Research. Big numbers don’t mean big ROI same with small numbers don’t mean small ROI. understanding their audience, what their audience responds to and how your brand or product fits into that audience is how you win. Influencers are now micro publications with a strong and loyal curated audience so doing your research and presenting them with something valuable to their audience is how you win. Offering simply to send them a sample isn’t helpful but if you engage with them and present them with a product or opportunity that will bring value to their followers is how you win. Remember their main focus is to keep their followers engaged and grow their credibility within that loyal community, it’s not transactional it’s bringing value. You have something you think their audience would enjoy and they have an audience you wish to reach. 

Holly: A common mistake I see new brands make is offering influencers product in exchange for required social shares. While this approach may work for very small creators (think: under 5K followers), larger influencers will not only decline, they may even take offense to any partnership query that doesn’t involve compensation. 

A better strategy for brands that don’t have budget for paid partnerships quite yet would be to offer giftings to influencers with no strings attached. Over time, this will build rapport with creators, which may convert them into real brand fans who are willing to share organically. 

If brands do have budget for paid collaboration, my biggest piece of advice is to have a clear goal in mind and determine metrics for success from there. Of course we hope that these partnerships will drive sales, but additional campaign goals could be to: collect UGC, increase awareness, drive home key messaging, support retail partners, etc.  

10 Food Influencers You Should Be Following in 2022

Final Thoughts

Brittany: Stay humble and understand that getting your product into the hands of your target audience is paramount. Bursting through the clutter of your competitors is key. Set yourself apart, communicate your value before they even experience your brand, be willing to give product away (to the right, influential people) and then make their entire consumer experience worthwhile and seamless. Make it easy for them to give you a glowing testimonial.

Nikki: Avoid imposter syndrome! It’s so hard (even as a publicist) to see other brands landing dreamy press that you wish you could be a part of. Know that your time to shine will come, and then they will likely pester their PR team to ask why they weren’t included. :) 

Don’t forget to leverage all of the awesome press you secure! Share on social and tag the publication + reporter… create a Canva template for easy sharing… paste the links in your email signature - “As featured in Forbes, Well+Good and the Today Show!”. The list goes on and on! There are SO many impactful ways to help great stories live on long after they run! 

Karina: My biggest piece of advice when working with an agency is BE. INVOLVED. If you aren’t willing to dedicate at least 3-5 hours a week on PR then it’s not the right time. We work extremely collaboratively with our partners and need their support and internal insight to help us push our narratives. Think of PR as a large megaphone. If we don’t know what’s going on in your business then we can’t share that with the world. We can only be as successful as you equip us to be! 

Holly: Most top-tier consumer outlets prioritize brands with affiliate programs for inclusion in gift guides and other product roundups. It can be incredibly difficult to land coverage in shoppable content without an affiliate program, so I highly advise that brands activate on ShareASale or a comparable platform before hiring a PR firm. A workaround can be if the client has an Amazon page, but going that route means we aren’t able to track conversions or gather consumer data.

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