Check out this repost from 2008, in which Kathryn gives the 411 on pitching fashion blogs
Dear Budget Fashionista Readers,
Last week, we received a number of emails regarding a New York Times article (read it here) in which our beloved Target (see Target’s response to me below) allegedly stated that it did not work with new media (read: blogs) and instead focuses on traditional media only (read: newspapers, tv, radio). Needless to say, this caused major ripples throughout the blogging community.
Target was wrong to categorize a whole industry with one big brush stroke. Citizen-lead media, with its focus on projecting information inwards, has changed the way in which we talk about everything in the country- from politics to music to shopping. It’s difficult for traditional institutions, many of whom are used to projecting information outwards, to understand this shift. Change is hard folks, even for individuals and companies that pride themselves on being on the forefront of innovation.
However, in Target’s defense, there are over 75 million blogs on the net today, with varying degrees of quality, traffic, and influence. The beauty of blogging is that there’s no barriers to entry- no massive warehouse production facilities need, no start up capital, and no personnel other than yourself. There’s also no rules (although others have tried to develop them), no standard way of measuring traffic, and no set level of professionalism.
Blogging, in a sense, is the wild-wild-west. But, like the west, it can be won.
On The Budget Fashionista, we try to provide solutions to help make our reader’s lives better, and I view this recent Target “misunderstanding” as a way to help Target and other institutions understand how to work with us.
How to Pitch to Fashion Blogs: Seven Tips
1. Treat EVERYONE with Respect. EVERYONE. My mother always says, in response to the idea of treating everyone with respect, “You never know who you’re going to meet again”. The same can be said about sending dismissive responses to anyone in the media- you never know where that response might end up (in this case the New York Times). When in doubt, treat everyone with respect. Now that doesn’t mean you need to send a personalize note to every blogger, but it does mean crafting a response that respects the person’s opinion, while maintaining your neutrality. A simple, “Thanks for emailing us. Our team will take your thoughts and concern into consideration.”, might have saved Target from a heap of online trouble.
2. To Find Top Bloggers, Try Asking a Technology Reporter at Trade Publication. Most major trade publications have a technology editor or reporter, and these reporters know which blogs consistently produce quality, researched content. In my industry- retail, fashion, shopping- there’s perhaps no greater source for a fair and balanced assessment of the online fashion community than Cate Corcoran at Women’s Wear Daily.
3. Remember Many Bloggers Work Across Several Platforms. Blogs may be where we started, where our heart is, but many of us are very active in other platforms, too. Besides running the #1 fashion blog, I write books published by traditional publishing powerhouses like Random House, give speeches to thousands of women and work as a style correspondent on network TV. My ability to place Target items on my TODAY show segments is because of my blog. My friend Meghan, of Miss Meghan, is a star on the Home Shopping Network. My friend Najwa Moses of Styleaholics, works with NPR and is an editor at AOL. Pamela, of Bag Trends, is constantly featured on Vh1 and writes for InStyle. I could go on and on. We’re successfully straddling the “old” media and “new” media worlds and it’s to the benefit of traditional companies to develop relationships with us. We are not your enemies.
4. Invite Bloggers to a Sit Down. Instead of hiring “new media” consultants who really have no clue on how to work with us, contact a few top bloggers in your field and have them come in and give a talk to your organization. Offer them an honorarium for their time, since many don’t have expense accounts and the backing of major corporations. You will learn more in one hour, than you would in 40 hours working with a consultancy firm, plus save your company tons of money.
5. Create a New Media Section on Your Site. In your online pressroom, create a new media section with press releases, photos, etc. and have bloggers sign up for access to this area. Have an intern visit each blog that registers to see if they’re legit.
6. Traffic Doesn’t Alway Equal Influence. USATODAY is the most popular newspaper in America, but it’s influence pales in comparison to The New York Times. There’s several blogs that may not have a ton of traffic, but are VERY influential. Claire’s Fashion Bomb, is an amazing blog written from the perspective of an African-American fashion insider. I read Claire’s blog and TBF often links to her amazing content. I’ve been reading Julie Frederickson’s Almost Girl since she started it and her thoughts and opinions have often influenced some of my posts on TBF.
7. Develop a New Media Policy. Hire a few bloggers AND traditional media folks as consultants and have them help you create a new media policy that ties into your general media/marketing policies. And make sure you stick to this policy.
I’m sure my friends in the blogging community have additional thoughts/comments on this topic and I encourage you to post them below.
Unfortunately, the original email response to the blogger was in error as it tied our trade media and blog policy together—they are in fact separate and are in place for two very different reasons. Our trade policy is due to our desire to communicate directly with guests. Our blog policy is a result of previously limited resources (spokespersons) given the millions of blogs that exist today.
That being said, we certainly recognize the importance of social media in today’s online environment and know bloggers are in fact, an important part of our core guest base. We are currently reviewing our blog policy and want to do some additional research in order to make a thoughtful decision. Additionally, we want to ensure we are able to maintain a high level of service as we determine how to manage future blogger inquiries.