Congratulations! You've Got a Brand Deal!... Now What?
So, you’ve done it. You’ve taken a hard look at your own platform, found brands, in and outside of the space, with whom you’d be comfortable working, reached out, and successfully entered into one or several brand deals. Congratulations! This is the point where many creators breath a sigh of relief, only to find that the obligations to which they’ve committed themselves are a brand new source of stress and anxiety. These relationships are important, and making sure they’re healthy will be an ongoing part of your job from now on. But don’t worry! Staying in top of things doesn’t have to be difficult. With the right focus, and preparation, managing your brand relationships can become just another part of your streaming routine.
Know Your Contract
Brand deals and relationships are official agreements between business associates. As such, there will always be a contract involved, and it’s important that you fully understand its ins and outs. Your responsibilities to the company, and theirs to you, will be made explicit, and these facts need to be at the forefront of your mind so that you can plan around these obligations, and also be sure that you’re getting everything you’ve been promised.
These contracts will also often delineate a clear and set amount of time in regards to the length of the relationship, typically with the ability to renew the agreement periodically. These dates are important, and need to be clearly marked on your calendar. Know your metrics, your viewership and engagement numbers, so you can state your case for renewal, or even get a better deal. It’s also important to be prepared, in case the relationship ends, so these dates are vital to planning ahead and budgeting.
Finally, be sure to have a legal expert read anything, and I mean anything, your intend to sign. The law can have a language all its own, and having a firm understanding of every element of the agreement can be difficult if you don’t know the language yourself. To really know what you’re getting yourself into, you’ll have to reach out to someone who knows a thing or two about the process. Don’t skip this part, or you’re liable to get burned.
Point of Contact
It’s likely that you’ll have just a single actual live human being with whom to converse at the company with which you’re working, and this person is your lifeline. Any issues you have, concerns, questions, or anything else regarding the arrangement between the brand and yourself will be managed by this person, and that means you need to be friendly. But, and isn’t this just typical, you’ll also find that who this person is will change a lot. Marketing departments are places of constant change, with people moving up the ranks or on to new opportunities, so there’s a lot of natural changeover amongst these positions. Stay in regular contact with whoever it is you have access to so that you can keep apprised of these changes as they happen, or even before, in addition to simply having access to any additional opportunities as they arise. We’ve covered the importance of networking elsewhere, but it bears repeating that building out that professional network with solid contacts is a must for any creator. It’s no different here than anywhere else.
Fulfilling Your Responsibilities
As stated previously, your obligations in regards to fulfilling your end of the bargain will be made quite explicit in any contracts you sign, and this means that the actual execution of the endorsement isn’t always something you need to come up with yourself; rather, how you do so will be spelled out in the contract. If you’re being given game codes to give away to your fans, for example, the manner in which you are to do so will often be dictated for you, not something you have to figure out on your own. Direct sponsorships will feature similar guidelines in regards to when and how you talk about them.
That being said, it’s important to keep in mind that brands that work with you will be watching your stream. What that means will vary. There are some companies out there that don’t care if you give them a hard time, and most are loathe to stifle your creativity or voice to force in their endorsement. They’re paying to associate themselves with your brand, which might include your critical attitude. Still, rare is the company that would be okay with one of their influencers aggressively putting down the brand in public. You should always feel free to speak your mind, and should always be authentic, but don’t expect to keep the endorsement of a company you openly attack. Consider the damage such a relationship might do to your stream or reputation. Typically, you’re better off just passing on such an opportunity.
By the same token, it’s the prerogative of any company to end a relationship with a creator who steps into areas not acceptable for their own brand. Crude, crass, ‘controversial’ behavior might be your voice, which is fine, but, again, it will effect your brand relationships. All of this should be considered before you enter into a brand relationship, and whether it’s a good fit. Your ultimate responsibility is to your audience, and the overall health of your channel depends upon them. They should always be the top priority when considering whether a relationship is good for the stream. Sometimes, easy money in the short term can cause you bigger losses in the long term.