While only you can measure your own blogging success, sometimes a different perspective can help you set your own goals.
PR and fashion companies have started to look to blogs to disperse content about their clients and labels, the advantage to this often comes in the form of pitches. While some bloggers look at pitches as spam, and sometimes they are… but there are companies that send great content along saving you time in finding out who's having a sale, what labels are being sold in which stores, what new designer opened up a web shop and the list goes on. Higher profile bloggers, tend to get samples sent to them, they get samples reviews, giveaways, even sponsorships for fashion week coverage. I have been lucky enough to have several great experiences with PR companies and fashion labels to help produce content I wouldn't have been able to do on my own. Which is why I felt the LittleBirdie to be a helpful resource in getting bloggers connected with companies to help develop that relationship. Yet the service has opened up a whole new host of questions…
So what do companies look for when determining which blogs to work with? Well, I asked a few professionals who handle PR for fashion companies, Tim Gill from Shopbop.com, Jennifer Plantz from Echo Design and Lindsay Kordik form Parish PR about what they look for in a fashion blog…
What do you look for in a blog?
- Tim Gill- I look for focus and engagement. I measure engagement by looking at how many comments each post has. That shows quickly what kind of a fan base the blogger has. I like to see a blog that is really passionate about something.
- Lindsay Kordik- Originality, strong readership (a lot of reader comments), frequent posts.
- Jennifer Plantz– We like to see a lot of activity (mostly in blog posts and comments.) We also like to see a profile about the person writing the blog – helps us to relate
How do PR companies go about searching for blogs? Do they just stick with the most famous bloggers? Or do they search for new “talents”?
- TG– I like to look for new talent. With no editor involved the internet can quickly determine which bloggers really have talent for writing unique and engaging content. Great content floats. Great content with good connections and smart promotion can get lots of traffic.
- LK-We often check blogger networks like IFB. We look for “underground” blogs with a strong readership that we may not have formerly heard of. We also often go from the blog links of bloggers that we have relationships with or like– we trust that they have good taste.
- JP– There are SO many blogs out there and usually we ‘stumble upon' them -generally through links from other blogs or we also subscribe to ‘Google alerts' – which emails us any time our name is mentioned. But once we find a blog, we do have some criteria we consider when deciding to approach them for a Hello.
In terms of content -do they prefer working with bloggers that exhibit their own personal style through “what I wore” posts? Also, do they ever consider a blogger's “internet celebrity” to be a negative, if so – why?
- TG-I think internet celebrity can be a double edged sword but for PR firms it is easier to work with fewer people.
- LK-We really do like it when bloggers add a personal touch to a review. It helps their readers identify with the product beyond a “still life” picture of a purse or pair of shoes. However, in representing small designers we can't always give product away so it is great when the blogger can write in an engaging editorial voice to start a conversation about the product with their readers. Sometimes “internet celebrity” can be a negative, because our clients can be lost in the mix when a blog highlights the writer more than the content.
- JP– I know that we personally LOVE the ‘what I wore' posts and sites. This is really the beauty of the internet. The writers of these blogs and the fans are so creative and they really pay attention to what each other is wearing – and how they are wearing it. For a scarf company the ‘wear' is so important to our product – honestly, that's how scarves are sold: when people get inspired by how someone is wearing one.
How much does traffic play into your decision on whether or not to work with a blogger?
- TG-To me traffic is important but other factors such as PageRank, social news success (have you ever been on the first page of Digg?), and lots of user comments shows me a deeper level of importance.
- LK-It is very important for product samples. Usually we choose to send samples only to very established blogs, because at the end of the day, their post is meant to drive sales or increase exposure for our client. However, we are always excited to send information/photos and start relationships with smaller and up-and-coming blogs.
- JP-We will notice if a site is getting a lot of traffic and / or if they come up on the first page of search results on Google – that is definitely important. But really the most important is how long the site has been around. You'll find a lot of companies want to optimize their sites for search engines. This means that if a blog as been around awhile, and, in our case, discusses fashion, and has been established as an expert in fashion by Google spiders, and then posts about us, then all of this is worth much more to us than a new site with a lot of traffic. Because the established site will give us more valuable in-bound links to our site from that post.
How much traffic do you consider substantial?
- TG-I think 100 unique dailies is a good target for a blog.
- LK-At least 10,000 viewers a month… or more– although we have worked with everything from brand new blogs to blogs with millions of page views a month.
- JP-We like to see at least 10-20,000 hits a month.
How do you like to be approached? What information do you expect up front?
- LK-We like to start relationships. It is disheartening to be approached for free product if the blogger is only interested in self-gain. We'd like to see example posts, readership info and a level of professionalism.
- JP– We love to get emails with a short intro about the blog, the main topics covered, and the writer's name, contact info, etc. Of course phone calls are nice too but we aren't always at our desks so we don't want to miss you. We also like to know if actual merchandise is required or if jpegs of products works just as well.
What site assessment systems do you look at, ie Alexa, Technorati, Quantcast, Google PageRank? Which do you find weighs most heavily?
- TG-All of those are not too reliable and have their different flaws. When I really want to dive into a sight I usually go to Google Adplanner. They have the best stats around IMHO. I also like Google trends. I also like to know what keywords your blog does well for.
- LK-We look at Google Page Rank. (we should check more but we get so many requests it is time consuming)
- JP-We mostly use Google Page Rank and Alexa, sometimes we check Technorati. We like blogs that are part of a network – we think they are easier to find and often we get more coverage throughout the network. Plus we meet more people that way
How much do comments play into your impression of a blog?
- TG-Comments show engagement. Preferably the comments add value and are more than snarky remarks or spam.
- LK-Big time!!! We like it when bloggers have active conversations on the blog and reader feedback. It shows us that our clients' product are getting exposure.
- JP-Comments are important in terms of quantity and quality. I love to see the community in action and especially voicing their opinions. It's great feedback and it's also great if our products are mentioned in the mix. We do understand that not everyone comments so if there are a lot of page views but not a lot of comments – we can still find the value of that blog.
How much does design play into your impression of a blog?
- TG-While the design is important I think site architecture is more important. Does the blogger use titles effectively to capture traffic. Are things tagged and archived nicely.
- LK-Big time!!! Less clutter and more content is very important.
- JP-We like a pretty site but we don't need to see someone with a masters in coding and site design. I do recognize the same format on a lot of sites because of the blog service they use but we can appreciate someone taking the time to add their personality to the structure with colors and pictures etc. I think that overall makes for a better blog because it's just more interesting.
Do the answers to these questions surprise you?
Do they reflect how you measure a successful blog? Do tell!