5 Steps To Elevate Your Brand By Encouraging A Sisterhood Community By Nathalie Selvon-Bruce

As most of the country finds itself under Government restrictions, businesses are having to get creative to find a way to trade in an ever-changing landscape. This could be a transition to online services, new products or a change in your client engagement processes. 

Whatever the change, your brand needs to communicate that – and the best way to do that is to have original, eye-catching, clear media content. This article written by Nathalie Selvon-Bruce, the Managing Director of Vanilla Chinchilla Ltd, T/A Buttercup Bus Vintage Campers , talks about how to create media for your online and printed publication, investing only your time and company resources – the key is to build a pride of complementing business contacts, who can come together to create shared content. A Sisterhood of like-minded, creative individuals, who not only have a similar media requirement – but can all bring something unique to the table to create an incredible media session – be that a styled photoshoot, production of a promotional video, or perhaps an infographic.

Having a clear concept

It is good to think about what you are trying to achieve, so that you can share your vision with potential collaborators, to identify if you could complement each other.

What are you looking to produce, and for what purpose? For example, are you creating a styled shoot to create images or video footage that will showcase your new product or service?

Do you have a platform lined up to showcase the resulting media from your shoot? Perhaps you could approach some industry blogs or magazines, to see if they would feature your content (if you put a certain angle on it that makes it relevant to them). Pperhaps you have a YouTube channel, know an online influencer, or produce your own printed materials? Finding the best collaborators is easier, when you have a platform lined up to showcase the results to a targeted audience.

Be aware of any date you may be working towards – perhaps a magazine publication date, or a seasonal event or product launch date. You will need to find a date that works for your collaborators too.

What elements could you provide for the shoot, using your own existing resources? Perhaps you have a beautiful product and a fabulous setting for the shoot – but could do with some models, a photographer, some lighting and props to really showcase the product? 

Find some inspirational images of how you would like to present your product – resources like Pinterest and Instagram are a great start. Collect the images that you feel illustrate how you would like to set up the shoot – it could be a collection of little details – perhaps expressions on the models faces, or a colour palette, or perhaps a table setting, props or arrangement for your product.

Capture these images (and the source, so that you can credit where you found them – and return to the images later if you need).  There is a free online tool called Canva, to collate images into a mood board. Equally, you could create a Pinterest board. These are basically a collection of images to capture the look, feel and mood of what you are trying to create in your styles shoot / video shoot etc. They are there to inspire, rather than to use as an exact copy.

Once you have your concept captured, it’s time to share your vision, and find your fierce and fabulous Sisterhood to help you turn the idea into a reality.

Finding your Sisterhood of complementing businesses to collaborate

Having worked on your concept and mood board, you are now ready to reach out, and find talented, complementing suppliers to collaborate.

It is important that you are clear about the concept – that this is a collaboration of people with a shared vision looking to come together, to use their talents and resources to create beautiful media that all can use to promote their own businesses. This is very different to reaching out to purchase suppliers services to create something uniquely tailored to your own needs with your own exclusive rights to the content. 

A common term for a collaboration shoot is TFP – meaning Time for Prints. This is where collaborators are not compensated monetarily, but instead, they “swap” services. Everyone donates their time – models, stylists, photographers etc – giving up their services for free in return for permission to use the resulting images for their business needs.

Start by finding your key collaborators first. This is often the photographer, artist or videographer – the talent that captures and edits the media content. 

Once you have found the key collaborator, it is time to think about geography. Is the shoot taking place at your own premises – or do you need to find a venue? It is important to sort this early in the process, as it may impact the date of the event, and also the catchment area for your other collaborators.

It can be challenging to find people prepared to work on a TFP basis. Finding collaborators that have recently started up and need to create portfolio content can help – or perhaps companies that come with great experience but are only just venturing onto a new social media platform and need content – or perhaps you are lucky enough to find collaborators with huge social media following, but have created something new and need to capture it in beautiful images.

Often a good mix of these different backgrounds make for a great sisterhood. It gives you the opportunity to get your brand in front of networks that you may not have reached before – for example a model with a large Instagram following – or a new brand that is bringing something fresh or on trend to the table, which will really create media interest.

It is good to have contingency team members too – especially in current times, where self-isolation requirements could mean that a key player needs to pull out at the last minute. Perhaps you could bring on board a second shooter as the photographer?

Finding these people is where you need to put the work in. Perhaps you already have an excellent network that you can reach out to? Alternatively, you could try business networking groups, styled shoot Facebook groups, or even going out to people individually. Just remember to present your mood-board, and be clear about the TFP basis. 

Current times means that there are a lot of people who have time and are looking to get stuck into creative projects to either develop their own portfolios of media content. Many of them may be in the same boat as you, but offer complementing services.

Be open to ideas 

Once you have your fierce and fabulous team of suppliers on board, it is certainly worth being open to their ideas. Perhaps set up an online group, so that all the collaborators can get to know each other and share ideas. Perhaps a Florist wants to try something new with an emerging floral trend – or the model may have a wardrobe supplier or makeup artist that she wants to bring on board. These could all bring an extra dynamic to your styled shoot – just make sure that there are no risks of different collaborators stepping on each others toes. (For example, do you have a Florist that also does balloons – and did you have a balloon artist already bringing their skills to the backdrop of your shoot?)

It is important that the resulting images can be used by all the collaborators – so care needs to be taken over the list of key images to capture, and to share this list with the group for sign-off, whilst not being so prescriptive that you take away the freedom of creativity. For example, if there are collaborators that overlap, you want to make sure that the images produced include detailed images of their particular contribution, so that they get what they need in return of their contribution of time and effort.

Communications leading up to and on the day

It is important to keep up communications amongst your group – building a good team rapport also helps to keep a long-lasting relationship where you may be able to support each other in the future.

Provide a list of everyone’s contact details and social media handles to the group – this is important, as once the images are released, the group should credit everyone when using them – for example, tagging everyone on an Instagram post. 

Provide clear information on the location and timings for the day of the shoot. Include setup times and departure. You may be able to stagger the arrivals, so that people are not hanging around unnecessarily. Check how much set up time people need – it my take time for the hair and makeup artist to prepare models before the shoot commences. Do they need a power source? Does the venue need a PAT certificate? Should they bring their own lunch?

In current times, you may want to issue a Covid questionnaire – and most certainly a risk assessment. You also may want to do due-due diligence on responsibilities and insurance – for example if a wardrobe supplier wants to post you an outfit for the model, who is responsible for it, and is there postal insurance? What happens if it gets damaged? Risks should be identified and managed before the shoot date, to avoid any issues later.

Also, provide a clear guideline on how the media from the shoot can be used. For example, can suppliers post behind the scenes (BTS) media on the day of the shoot? If so, is it restricted to Instragram stories or can they post as they wish? How should they tag people in those BTS posts?

After the shoot

There may be a lead time from the shoot to receiving the professional media / images. Agree up front how these will be circulated across the group, and in what format.

Make sure that all the group are aware of the usage terms of the media. Can they be used on social media? Are there any hashtags that need to be included in posting on social media? Can they be submitted for blogs?  Who owns the images?

Often, if submitting the images to industry blogs, it is best to allocate that role to one person only in the group. That could be you, as the organiser – or perhaps one of your group. The higher profile blogs often require exclusivity to feature your images – linked with a lead time to publication and a tie in period after they have been published. To make sure that you adhere to those rules, only let one person manage the blog submissions and related rules.

The exciting part is that once you can all use the images for your own needs, once you all start tagging the other group members into the social media posts, you all reach a wider network of followers. If you have picked a group that complement your own industry for the shoot, then this could be hugely beneficial. Furthermore, through meeting everyone at the shoot, you will have build great relationships with people that could lead to new and exciting opportunities in the future.


Image taken by Kernwell Photography

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