Our new Ask the Expert Series will feature interviews with people on the other side of the PR and digital marketing world. We will learn more about their careers and best practices when it comes to asking them for work and collaborating with them.
First up in our series is Tina Muir, founder and CEO of Running for Real, a blog and award-winning podcast that is a collective of conversations about running, the climate emergency, and social justice. Tina’s podcast, Running for Real was awarded the 2021 Best Fitness Podcast at the Sports Podcast Awards and her second podcast, a highly produced podcast with Knox Robinson called Running Realized, was noted as “The ‘Invisibilia’ of running” by Women’s Running. Did we mention she is releasing her book next summer titled, Becoming A Sustainable Runner? She is seriously busy, y’all!
Tina believes running is a vehicle for social change. She not only sees running as a metaphor for life but about being vulnerable and courageous about the things that matter. She started Running for Real as a business and podcast in 2017, since then she has collaborated with the United Nations and has been celebrated as one of the lead climate activists in the running space. We are blown away by the work she is doing and were thrilled when she agreed to chat with us about why she got into the blogging/podcasting business and why it’s important to not sell yourself short when it comes to business partnerships as an influencer.
How did you get into the blogging/podcasting/influencer business?
To be honest, I really struggle with the word influencer, and I understand that is part of my own stereotypes and judgments I have towards myself and others that I need to work through. I started blogging in 2012, and my blog was originally just a place to share my sweet treat creations (which were just excessively sugary concoctions). Over time, as my readers became more interested in my running career, I started sharing more about that, and I became the person who spoke the truth about running. At the time, it was very rare for an elite athlete to show any kind of weakness, but to me, that didn’t sit right, so I would talk about the struggles and the hard moments. People seemed to really appreciate it and it helped them with their own journey.
To answer your question, I would say probably when Body Armor, an up-and-coming brand at the time, did a campaign with me and delivered about ten crates of their drinks to my apartment in Philadelphia. I realized that there was potential here, and excited to see where it went.
Do you have a community of like-minded creators with whom you can talk through business strategies and questions?
Yes, I am definitely a connector and a communicator. I love building friendships with people in the space. I keep in touch with a lot of people who own small businesses and are working on taking that leap. I like to speak to people who have made the big jump into making their brand globally known, but I also love to support and mentor other people who are just beginning their journey to connect them to others who might be able to help them on their way.
One thing I have learned is that if I am talking to someone in the space, they have something to contribute, something I can learn from, something to make us both better. For that reason, I keep in touch with as many people as I can as often as I can. I believe a rising tide lifts all boats, so I love seeing others succeed.
When a brand trusts me enough to commit to a year and allow me to do the work in the way I see fit, I want to work extra hard to make it worthwhile for them.
What is the typical project cost for photo and video deliverables?
In theory, I charge $600 per post on a social media platform and $1000 for a video, but it can vary wildly depending on what the brand needs. I generally don’t take on projects that are one post or a few items, instead doing three-month, six-month, or one-year packages. I believe in the power of partnerships, and my integrity means everything to me, so I would rather say no to a brand that just wants to use people in the space for exposure, and instead work to find a brand that sees the strength in a long-term partnership. I encourage others to do the same.
Do you charge different prices on deliverables if they are being used in either paid vs. organic ads, or is it the same?
I don’t typically do deliverables with single ads. I like a combined approach with multiple platforms at the same time.
Which do you prefer and why: one-time partnerships for promotion or long-term relationships with brands?
I think you know my answer here. I am moving to a place where I primarily work in relationships with brands. I find that way there is not only the most ROI as listeners know someone is not just jumping from brand to brand seeking money, but it also allows me to share my experience and expertise with the brand to help them find the most effective way into the space.
When a brand trusts me enough to commit to a year and allows me to do the work in the way I see fit, I want to work extra hard to make it worthwhile for them. If it becomes transactional through short-term partnerships, it becomes like a chore and something most people in my position will do the bare minimum for because they know the brand will move on. The audience can also see right through it as they know it is not authentic.
When is it appropriate for a company to ask you for content in exchange for product and when is payment required? Do you have a threshold on product price/company size?
I absolutely do not believe in exchanging product for content. While I mentioned in an earlier question that Body Armor providing me product was the first time I realized I could have a potential career here, I feel this is very damaging to the space. It is one thing to provide a training group or club with some product to support them, it is another totally to ask people to use their creative energy and ideas in exchange for product.
It is also extremely damaging and tokenizing to People of Color and other underrepresented communities. People from those groups should absolutely be paid for their content, even if they do not have the audience size others in the space might. That said, most people in the space understand that with a small business, payment is really difficult to find the budget for, and most people in my situation are willing to work around that and find a way to support the business without payment through some kind of trade.
What is the funniest thing that has happened to you in your work?
I was once paid $800 to review a yogurt brand on my blog that was the most disgusting yogurt I have ever tasted in my life. I ended up telling the company that I would forgo the money because if I reviewed it, it would not look good on them. Then a few days later, I saw lots of other bloggers writing about it, and I had to laugh to myself about how they had managed to come up with positive things to say about it. That was the moment for me that I realized I had to stick to my integrity no matter what.
What is something people would never guess you have to do in your line of work?
I think I am quite different in that I want to be real, so I tend to just take things once and call it good, whereas others will spend hours getting the photo/video right, another hour editing it, and then still wonder if it is good enough. But beyond that, I guess it would just be deleting emails all day long. The amount of emails we receive from companies sending out cookie-cutter emails is hard to comprehend (and more reason why a brand should be respectful and show they have been thoughtful about WHY they want to work with that person, otherwise it blends into those spammy emails).
What is the strangest request you’ve ever received from a brand for partnership?
A race once offered me two free bibs in exchange for multiple videos, posts, blogs, and write-ups. No thank you! I can’t think of anything else strange, but there have definitely been some!
Interested in being an expert on Ask the Expert or have a profession in the marketing realm you’d like to learn more about, contact us and let us know!