Welcome to the Inside Influence Blog Series, where we're tracking down Scrunch Influencers across the globe to give you their insight into what makes a successful influencer marketing campaign and how they believe brands, marketers and entrepreneurs alike can navigate the influencer marketing space better.
We are thrilled to kick-off the series with an interview with Phoebe Lee from Little Grey Box, a travel lover turned full-time blogger who serves up travel tips with a side of serious lols. Phoebe has worked with tourism boards, international airlines, hotel chains, tour operators and hospitality partners all around the world to share travel experiences with the Little Grey Box community. In her time running Little Grey Box with partner Matt, she’s experienced both the epic and the ugly side of working as a travel influencer. Here she gives us an insight into her world...
When you’re reviewing brand requests to collaborate, what makes a brand stand out?
A personalized approach always stands out for me and a PR/media contact who's organized, informed and prepared stands out too as they make me feel confident I can rely on them to help me get my job done well.
Can you tell me more about why you think it is so important that brands and agencies take a personalized approach when working with influencers?
It shows you care about your own brand, that you’ve done the research and truly believe we’re a good fit for you and what you want to achieve. It also shows me you’ve looked into our work, like it and want us to produce content for you - that’s a great feeling. A personalized approach is professional and classy, it builds trust and confidence.
How do you make decisions about what brands to work with?
It comes down to a few things - how organized and professional the client or PR/Media team come across in our communications, if I get a good vibe from the brand and my instincts tell me it's a good decision and, most importantly, if the brand will be of interest and benefit to my audience.
Agreed, communication is always key! Do you have any advice for brands or agencies on how to communicate effectively with influencers?
I think the first thing is to understand what you want. When you have a clear understanding of what you want from an influencer and from your campaign, you’ll be able to spell it out to them and give examples. I love when brands are very specific and go into detail about what they do and don’t want. Establishing a good rapport between the PR/Media contact and the influencer is essential too.
What was the most successful brand collaboration you have been involved in, and why do you think it was so successful?
I've had some great experiences with Tourism Queensland, I find them to be really on top of things and always upfront about the campaign. They always brief me well, organize activities that are relevant to my audience, easy to contact, understanding and accommodating and, best of all, they never try to micro-manage the project. I always feel like they know and trust my work, which allows me to do my best work. They're also great at sharing content we create!
Not to sound like a suck-up, but I’ve worked on quite a few campaigns with Teagan at Scrunch and they’ve been fantastic. Whenever I have an opportunity come through with Scrunch I say yes because I trust Teagan - I know she believes the client is a good fit for me and I trust it’ll go well. Teagan is a great example of a PR who is organized, clear on what the client needs, communicates this well and is easily available if I need help on the road. Also, I feel like she does a great job of making sure the client’s needs are met but also looking out for me. I’ve actually learned a lot about industry best practice from working with Teagan. (Note to readers: this is all legit! they haven’t asked me to say any of this haha)
Scrunch: We ❤️ this! Whole Scrunch team squeals in excitement 😄
Phoebe: LOVE YOU GUYS!
Could you talk to us about why it is difficult to work with brands and agencies who try to micro-manage the project, and how this can negatively impact on the performance of their campaigns?
I guess I assume if a brand has chosen us for their project, they like what we do and want us to create our signature style of content for them. Micro-managing the project makes me feel like our skills aren’t trusted. Trust us, we do our best work when we have creative freedom and time to organically discover new things to contribute to the project. Heck, we may come up with a brilliant idea we hadn’t ever thought of before and give the content we create a new, exciting edge! Micro-managing isn’t necessary if you brief the influencer really well (unless they’re totally useless, in which case you probably don’t want to work with them anyway).
What makes you want to maintain a relationship with a brand?
I have to feel the work we do is valued, just as the brand has to feel we value them. It's a lot like any relationship I guess, there has to be trust, respect and good communication.
This is a great point. We often talk about how important it is for brands to develop mutually beneficial relationships with influencers. We believe that to collaborate successfully with influencers, brands should not focus solely on what they can “get” out of working with an influencer, but on creating mutual value. What do you think?
Yes, yes, yes!! Totally agree with you, Grace.
Do you have any advice on how brands can bring value to you and your audience?
I’m a small business owner myself, together with my videographer husband Matt, and our business is our passion. We love working with brands who are genuinely passionate too, it oozes out of them and it’s a way we can connect with them. When we relate to the brand and can see how genuinely dedicated they are we tend to get into it more and produce more content than promised, get better photos and create better videos.
What are the most common reasons you would decline to work with a brand or agency?
Anytime I feel the client is trying to use me and doesn't value the work we do, I choose not to work with them. I also don't work with brands that don't align with what our readers want or if the PR/media contact is disorganized or unprofessional.
I've also been having trouble with invoices lately, clients not paying me on time. It takes time away from my business to follow up invoices for months on end and it's honestly really disheartening. I deliver my work on time but my payment isn't received on time (often months late). I'm now refusing to work with some brands based on this because it makes me feel like our time and hard work isn't valuable to them at all and that's not the kind of client I want to work with.
What was the WORST experience you have had with a brand or agency and why?
I've had a few, just as I'm sure brands have had horror experiences with influencers or bloggers. I received the rudest email of my career from a major Australian airline about something I wrote (which was intended to be very kind but was seen as an insult). I would never work with them or recommend them to readers if that's the culture there. Paying customers deserve better and there's never any justified reason to speak to someone rudely.
I've also had some difficult experiences due to poor communication. It could be the brand is nervous and maybe hasn't worked with an influencer before, so isn't sure what's okay and what's not, but it's always best just to be honest and upfront with us. Don't be afraid to tell us exactly what you want, what's included (free and not free) and what you do and don't want to see from us.
What advice do you have for brands or agencies who want to start collaborating with influencers?
I would urge brands and agencies to slow down and take their time. Make sure the campaign is fully formed and the client knows exactly what they want. Take the time to review a range of influencers and choose the right one for the campaign. Brief them thoroughly, give examples of what you do and don't want to see, tell them exactly what's included and what's not, detail what's expected of them in terms of deliverables. Don't expect influencers to work for free and don't micro-manage them. Choose an influencer you can trust and someone you genuinely value.
What is your audience like and how has it changed since you started your journey?
I’m very lucky to have a fantastic group of people read the blog, watch our videos and enjoy our content. Our audience tends to be travel lovers with a great sense of humour, regular people who want some genuine help, advice and inspiration for their adventures. I’ve shared some really personal things on my blog and even if they don’t agree, I find readers are always respectful - they’re an amazing group of people.
Our audience has definitely grown and evolved, especially as our blog wasn’t travel based for the first few years. We tend to have different people engaging with different things. Some only enjoy the videos, others only read the blog while some prefer just to follow the adventures on Instagram. I’m grateful for each and every one of them, they may not realise it but without them, we wouldn’t get to live this life.
It sounds like you are sharing really valuable content with your audience across a range of platforms. Could you give us an idea of which platforms work best for different influencer marketing goals and objectives?
We’ve found video to be the most powerful form of content at the moment. It’s becoming more popular and people love to watch, rather than read. We’ve had success creating funny luggage reviews and find hotel’s get better engagement when we create an entire destination video and splice them into it (rather than a dedicated video review of the hotel). That said, written guides still perform incredibly well on our website - things like list-style guides perform well in search engines and provide evergreen content for the site and long-term exposure for the brands we work with.
Do you have any advice for brands who may want to work with you on how they can help you to share relevant and valuable content with your audience?
With Matt and I, our business focuses on really engaging and inspiring video content and practical, useful written content. We’re looking to work with brands who have a genuine passion for what they do and are interested in fun, inspiring and engaging content. Our audience loves travel content and is always looking for the insight they can actually use. We’re constantly looking for the best food tips, accommodation recommendations and all the top things to see, do and experience. At the end of the day, we’re just looking to find brands that can genuinely help travel-lovers have a great time on their next adventure.
Thank you to Phoebe for giving us an insight into the world of influencer marketing, from her perspective. What were the key things you learned about influencer marketing from this insightful interview? Comment below to let us know!
Discover amazing influencers like Phoebe from Little Grey Box on Scrunch