Learnt to prioritise credibility and say no to brand collaborations if values diverge: Prajakta Koli

In an exclusive conversation with BuzzInContent, Koli delved into key success markers in brand collaborations. These include a preference for long-term brand associations and the positive responses garnered from her community towards the content she creates

Sakshi Sharma
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Prajakta Koli

The surge in brand marketing's reliance on influencers has been noticeable lately as more and more companies are increasingly turning to these social media figures, drawn to the substantial audiences they have cultivated, aiming to harness their reach for campaign objectives such as building brand awareness and securing top-of-mind recall.

However, today, there's a notable shift in brand strategies, as they increasingly move away from confining collaborations solely to short-term partnerships with influencers. Instead, brands are now venturing into long-term collaborations with social media personalities.

Simultaneously, content creators themselves are acknowledging the advantages that come with these prolonged associations.

In an exclusive interaction with BestMediaInfo, digital content creator Prajakta Koli, who has hands-on experience collaborating with diverse, well-known brands, emphasised her preference for longer-term associations over short-term ones.

Having worked across various categories, she finds extended collaborations to be more seamlessly integrated into content creation. For Koli, the key lies in comprehending the communication goals, making the overall process more effective and cohesive.

Koli began her career as an RJ, transitioned into comedy and content creation, and now she is making waves in the film industry. She explained how actually this transition unfolded for her, and also her plans for the future in terms of the career trajectory.

“The transition, honestly, I couldn't have planned this. When I quit being an RJ and started content, it was in early 2015. There was absolutely no way that I knew that this is what my life would become or no idea that I had about the scope of being a creator on a digital platform, putting myself out there and it has just been a surprise for me year after year,” Koli said.

“I had no expectations of these doors opening up and I am grateful that they did and the way they did. The transition unfolded playing it by the year. I have been winging it for 9 years and I will continue to do it. I don't know my plans for the future, where it is going to go. I just know I want to write more, act more and don't want to stop creating content,” she added.

Koli has been lauded by her audience many times for seamlessly incorporating a brand's presence into her content, turning it into a compelling viewing experience that proves mutually beneficial for both herself and the brand. While elaborating how creators ensure that the brand's presence seamlessly integrates into their content without feeling forced or inauthentic, Koli said that most of the creators try and there is no other way around it. It's a trial-and-error method where one has to keep going at it and see what works and what doesn't.

In the influencer space, some creators prefer long-term associations, while others opt for multiple short-term collaborations. Koli, while explaining what works best for her, said, “The good thing about being a creator is that you don't have to choose. It really depends on what the brand has in their digital marketing plan. I love long term associations slightly more as it's just more seamless into content. It comes down to understanding what the communication has to go down to, what is the call to action.”

“Sometimes, it is just technical, it is just one product and it is for a week and can't go up for a year and sometimes it is you sitting with a brand and planning the next two years of your life together. It really depends on how it comes and there is no one right way of forging relationships as to whether you should go for long term or short term. I like both long term and short term. Both are fun,” she added.

While speaking of long-term associations, Koli further went on to explain her journey with the brand Gillette saying that the collaboration with the brand was an organic and seamless fit into her life as she has been using the brand since way before she even started creating content.

“When the conversation with Gillette first happened, I felt that this would be the easiest fit as I was already speaking about their products and also it was a good foundation for the long-term partnership that we have. The key elements or efforts that come from both brand and creator is that the communication is so free flowing, I am really grateful for the fact that I get to work with this one brand that is so open to all sorts of good, bad and ugly ideas,” Koli said.

“I am not saying that every idea will go through but the fact that the door to communication is open, the fact that I can pick up the phone on my brand manager that listens, here's an idea. Most times it goes through or sometimes they come and tell me why it can't go through or sometimes they suggest that Prajakta, can we do this? The fact it is so healthy and successfully we have found our middle ground, it makes it even more fun,” she added.

Furthermore, she emphasised that it is a great brand to work with, she and the brand both are very similar when it comes to the things they believe in, the things they want to speak about or the way they want content around hair removal to be put out there.

“They are not looking at positioning their products or communication around anything that is sensationalised. It could be conversations around pubic hair, underarms, facial hair. It is also normalised and that is something that I wanted to work around for a while now when I started speaking about body positivity. So, it is a seamless fit,” she added.

While highlighting some of the primary indicators of success in a brand collaboration, Koli said that if it is a long term association then it is in itself a great indicator.

“My community reacting to it is a great indicator, the fact that every time I put out content around hair removal with Gillette, the engagement or the reaction that I get from my community are positive, inquisitive, curious and helpful,” she added.

Koli frankly accepted that having worked with various prominent brands, there have been instances where she felt a misalignment in values and she had to learn things the hard way.

“There are so many times I have felt that my values don't align here yet I have gone ahead with the collaboration and it has backfired at the same time I have put my foot down, the brand has agreed and we have seen how it has worked better. I have had multiple experiences of trial and error and that's how I have reached a point where I feel very privileged to be in a position where if it doesn't work I will put my foot down and say no, I will decline something because it is not just a one video thing, it is your and brand’s credibility that you put out, and it is a mutual loss if the collaboration does not work,” she added.

Collaborations sometimes pose challenges when brands impose specific scripts, potentially compromising a creator's creative freedom. So, on being asked how Koli navigates such situations and what measures can creators take to avoid being in a tight spot while preserving their credibility, she said that for in her case, her team first asks brands about the brief and product.

“We do a little bit of research ourselves around the communication that the brand is looking for. We will work on our script and have it ready and send it to the brand and work back and forth on the script and when and if we agree on it, only then we will go ahead on it. There have been instances where in fact we had reached a point where studios were booked, monies were transferred for the collaboration, till the end minute the brand and I could not get on the same page for a point on the script because of which we had to drop it. But this is very rare,” Koli said.

“The scripts get discussed way before everything else is in place because that is your MVP, your main thing that you are trying to sell and that is what is going to be the vehicle for your collab to take you to if it is working or not. As long as that gets sorted, you're fine,” she added.

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