My post regarding the relationship between Fashion PR and the Fashion Blogosphere inspired some fascinating dialogue, and was chosen a Coutorture Must Read for March 28. The issues addressed in the post resonated with both PR's and Bloggers alike, and remarks on both sides felt indicative of how crucial it is for public relations professionals to cultivate the kinds of relationships with bloggers that we do with traditional media. Especially now, the idea of doing work with integrity and providing a valuable service to online writers is fundamental to the future of sucessful PR practice. I think the most crucial piece to take away from this discussion is that public relations neends to let the bloggers tell us what they think, what they want, and how they want it. Only then will we be able to successfully integrate our publicity goals with trends in new media.
I'm glad to see this conversation continuing, evolving and being expressed elsewhere. Kathleen Fasanella over at Fashion Incubator has written the post that has been floating around in my head for some time now, and she has done a truly amazing job. No Fashion PR should even think about pitching a fashion blogger without first reading, then memorizing, and finally sleeping with this amazing read tucked under his/her pillow. I'd say Fasanella's tips are a great benchmark for fashion bloggers as well, by explaining her expectations and personal sense of responsibility, she gives a great insight into how to do the PR/Blogger relationship right, ie return the samples if you've promised to return them, etc.
I'm reposting this little bit regarding the issue of samples, freebies, because pay for post is a question that gets asked repeatedly in PR circles, often with regard to the new PR buzzword: Transparency.
Policy on gifts and samples
A lot of bloggers enjoy free goodies; they consider it to be one of the perks of blogging. I am not attempting to question anyone's integrity but it is a psychological fact that gratuities increase the likelihood of exposure. For example, it's well known that free jaunts for doctors affect their prescribing habits, so it is unlikely that others can evade the allure. In other words, don't send me free products unless the value is limited or low and I have agreed to accept it. If I like your product and it's something I will use, I'll pay the full price you charge everyone else. If you think that sending me some free camisoles or whatever from the line you are promoting will make me write about you, I tend to view these disfavorably, akin to bribery attempts and it is possible that your client's product line will end up being the unanticipated subject of a product review (so it'd better be good). Now, if your product has to be tried to discern its value and I've agreed to look it over, I will appreciate a sample, a review copy (if it's a book), test trial, or sample issues (products will be returned in pristine condition). If you would like continued coverage of your media service and it's not something I'd use for my own purposes, a subscription would be appropriate. However, do not expect me to buy your product for the purposes of review if it is not something I could use in my own business. It is truly amazing how many companies want me to write about a product or service I will not use but expect me to buy it anyway. If you want to send something for review, email me beforehand because I don't want to get something I am unlikely to write about.