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Fashion Blogs+ Free Samples - The PR Community Speaks

Fashion Blogs + Free Samples: The PR Community Speaks

With traditional media struggling through its reinvention and the voice of the consumer growing exponentially through social media channels like blogs and Twitter, the influence of fashion bloggers as powerful allies in the quest for online PR is a growing component of fashion PR strategy. Now the FTC is proposing blogger regulations around disclosure and eyes are refocusing on just what goes on between brands, PR and blogs. More on that later, this post is about the changing expectations for both PR agencies and bloggers when it comes to sending out client samples.

Fashion Street by SideLong
Fashion Street by SideLong

From a PR perspective, there are several key benefits to developing relationships with fashion bloggers and including fashion blogger pitching as part of a client's strategic plan. "I love print, but we are witnessing a paradigm shift to the web," said Matt Meyerson, RPRT Communications and Management, who spent years working in product placement for fashion brands. "When you think about it, a blogger covering your client is doing you more of a favor than Vogue in a lot of ways, they are spreading the word immediately and to an international audience," he concludes.

Positives

The immediacy of blogs can mean instant coverage as opposed to the much longer lead times required by print publications, passionate fashion blog readers find product reviews on blogs more credible than those from traditional media, blogs aren't limited by their circulation so a blog hit potentially extends awareness to an international audience, and finally, inbound links from a popular fashion blog to your web site can provide powerful SEO benefits.

Top fashion blogs can drive significant traffic and awareness for fashion labels, and email-powerhouse Daily Candy has been known to launch more than one brand with their signature cheeky copy and monstrious database of trend-seekers. Fashion bloggers are regularly featured in Vogue, Teen Vogue, Marie Claire and Lucky, both on and offline. The L.A. Times has recently written several pieces on fashion bloggers, including one specifically about fashion designers working with bloggers for PR.

The downside

Despite all these positives, there have been a few negatives, mostly due to the fact that many bloggers are not trained fashion editors. Also, as a new form of media, PR has had to learn what works and what doesn't work in the space. As a result, the relationship between fashion PR agencies and bloggers has been rocky, as both sides have blundered their way through a communication strategy that is at times more “show-time synergy” than your favorite Jem & The Holograms episode, and at others more like a cringe-worthy karaoke rendition of “Like a Prayer.”

A bit of history

To be fair, most the blunders have been on the PR side. In the last 3 years, the industry has seen fashion PR agencies hiring interns to post anonymous comments lauding the benefits of clients on fashion blogs, fashion weeks refusing any fashion bloggers press access and recently,  a fashion designer going into a rage over a top fashion blogger posting pictures of herself wearing said designs on her blog.

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Fashion blog fever

With the increased media coverage and endorsement of fashion bloggers, we have also seen a great insurgence of new fashion bloggers, no doubt inspired by the success stories of fashion bloggers being flown to fashion weeks, consulting for major fashion houses, and of course, the allure of that fashion editor major perk, samples.

As a result, many fashion PR agencies now receive daily emails from fashion bloggers looking for samples to review as well as requests for additional product samples in order to host give-aways on their blog. This has created a bit of a conundrum for fashion PR's and emerging designers as they try and figure out what the ROI is on sending out so many non-returnable samples. There is also the issue for agencies of negotiating the potential coo of easy coverage on smaller blogs, with realistic results, combined with growing client inquiry into quantifying the value of blogger outreach.

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Managing expectations, proving results

Anonymous fashion designer “K” is currently working with a PR agency, and shared her frustration this way, “it ceases to be a sample request when you root through my line and find the specific free goodie you want and ask for that item in a specific color and size. You aren't asking out of journalistic interest, you are asking for free stuff. Second of all, my products aren't "free" for me. There is a cost I incur from supplies and shipping and labor when any piece of merchandise leaves my shop and those costs add up when no name blogs hit me up for freebies every day. The bloggers don't seem to get this and my agency doesn't either. It's not just a cost of doing business when the blogger isn't actually really exposing my brand to anyone. It's just ripping me off.”

Part of the problem may lie in perception and a lack of understanding about how the fashion industry works. As Lauren Rich, owner of RICHPR explains, "[I wish fashion bloggers had a better] understanding of startup vs. established brands.  Bloggers must understand that asking large, established brands for samples is completely different than asking a startup brand for samples.  From my experience, I feel a lot of bloggers don’t understand why small, newer brands won’t give samples when they’ve received samples from/reviewed numerous larger, established brands.  While having those big names is certainly impressive, it’s not that the brand doesn’t want to give a sample, it’s that they can’t.  Smaller brands typically only have the budget to produce limited quantities of samples, so not only are excess samples scare to begin with, but sending one out is literally money out of their pocket.  It’s a shame because it’s these new brands that really need the coverage, and many times they don’t receive it because of “nonreturnable” sample policies which they can’t meet."

Are you wearing my shoes? Is that my clutch?

Janna Meyrowitz, Founder and President of Style House PR explains the change in online media relations this way, “Five years ago, the online section of our media outreach lists included maybe 10-20 key, important online publications. Since then that has grown tremendously. When [our focus on fashion bloggers] first started to grow I remember there was a lot of pressure on PR companies to really fully do their research before pitching a blog, or any online publication, to really understand it and pitch on-topic, even moreso than with traditional print and television. Why? Because these bloggers could publicly chastise you on their site and ruin the reputation of both you and potentially your clients. I’ve seen a zeitgeist in the past year – the tables have turned. [At Style House PR] we have learned to regularly read the blogs/online pubs that we want to see our clients in so that we can adopt their language and pitch them items and ideas that we know they and their readers will love.  Meanwhile we are getting an influx of inquiries from bloggers from all different backgrounds covering all kinds of topics who are pitching us before they have done any research on us or our clients.”

Art Comments
Art Comments

The CEO of an anonymous Los Angeles based PR firm who we'll call Mr. Jones, agreed that fashion bloggers are getting a little greedy. He said, “I do feel fashion bloggers expect too much. Recently, during a fashion week, there were many requests from bloggers for front row seating. After looking up their sites I only granted front row to two of [them]. [Many of the sites] were local bloggers but their sites were either outdated or just not read.”

A snippet on samples, of the non-returnable kind

With traditional media relations, agencies are used to sending out samples to be photographed. While the occasional sample goes “missing”, and return of samples might be a bit delayed, the majority of the time, you get the product back. As fashion designer Heidi of WaterField Designs explains, “The interesting thing to me is that large media outlets not only return samples upon request, but are usually *required* by their publications to do so. I have read about bloggers upset that they are not treated as serious journalists by some companies. I always make sure to respect them for their work, but if they come across as bloggers who mainly want "free stuff" they should consider the professionalism of the [those] publications, and try to emulate [them]. If they do, they will see that the same professionalism comes back in how they are treated.”

Don't make daddy (likey) angry

With tens of thousands of fashion blogs out there, it has become increasingly difficult to determine which bloggers are the best to pitch or send out coveted samples. As Meyrowitz attested, there is also concern within the PR industry that an angry blogger could generate some serious reputation damage. This is increased by the nature of bloggers to pick up on each other's stories and spread content virally.

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Trying on solutions

As a result, Style House PR has taken a pro-active approach to moderating blogger inquiries. “Style House PR has created a Blogger Consideration Form that we send to bloggers in response to queries if we have never worked with them or heard about them before. We’ve found that it really helps us to differentiate between those who wefeel will be a valuable asset to our outreach, and those who we feel, unfortunately, are just looking for swag.  It’s also been a valuable tool on Twitter where we say Are you a blogger interested in products for review? Click here to download our Blogger Consideration Form to be added to our roster of consideration. Every time we tweet that we get a handful of inquiries and they are usually serious bloggers who we inevitably work with soon thereafter.” Meyrowitz added, “Of all the inquiries we receive via email, who then get this form, only about 40% of them take the time to fill it out and send it back. And we are fine with that because we know then that we are working with the best of the best.”

At RICHPR, clients who can't afford samples might offer a discount code or a promo code for the bloggers readers instead. Miranda Coggins of LinoLip has started her own blog with a monthly giveaway. As she explains, "this sends people directly to MY website and hopefully will prompt them to purchase. They also have to leave a valid email address to register which gives me the ability to email them our newsletter."

Getting on the list

So which blogs get put into the sample list and how are they evaluated? PR agencies are still checking Alexa ratings, unique visitors/traffic, comments, how often the blog is updated, the quality and length of posts, and aesthetics, as Lauren Rich attests, "visuals are key.  A well-designed site goes a long way."

Mr. Jones uses this formula, “Unless the blog has an international following and they have data to back that up (ie unique visitor stats), we don't send out samples or swag. I also look at the amount of viewer comments because that shows you about the blogs readership. If the count is high, you know its a successful blog. It's also not just the high number of comments its the quality of them as well.” Interestingly, Mr. Jones also shared that “there are very very few blogs that I would send something to and they haven't asked for samples. They work with the photos/stories I provide.”

(Stock photography courtesy of Shutterstock)

Featured image courtesy of Erika Astrid Photography. Design courtesy of Yazmina Cabrera, Girl with a Banjo.

50 Comments

  • Posted June 24, 2009 at 11:11 pm | Permalink

    Fantastic post Crosby. I know there has been much discussion about this on Twitter and I am a bit confused about CEOs making blanket statements about brands not working with bloggers directly. But there are quite a few reputable bloggers who do have journalistic integrity. What I see as a bigger problem here is PR companies not doing their homework for their clients. I was sent a sample from a semi known designer and when I tried to return the sample, I couldn’t get anyone to tell me to whom or where to send it. Being a niche blogger, I don’t have the access to fashion brands that other bloggers do, but I still treat my blog and the content I offer with professionalism. As many of the PR folks you interviewed stated, some blogs are worth the time. But I disagree with Mr. Jones regarding number of commenters. Alexa ratings and traffic can be high with few comment. I know several prominent blogs in narrow niches that have very few comments. ROI is very difficult to measure in the blogosphere so number crunching might not do you any good here.

    Sandra’s last blog post..Vintage Find – 1950s Novelty Zoo Print Skirt

    • PR Couture
      Posted June 24, 2009 at 11:20 pm | Permalink

      Sandra, thanks for your thoughts on this! I agree that many brands and bloggers have negotiated mutually beneficial, thriving relationships and it certainly doesn’t need to be officiated by any third party. I also like what you said about comments, PR Couture doesn’t get very many comments on the blog, instead I get emails, and posts get passed around a lot inside agencies. I was also surprised at the use of Alexa – I actually encourage bloggers to put the quantcast code on their site and I never look at Alexa when analyzing a blog. I do look at comments, and am always jealous when I see them, but it’s not something I put much weight on. I look at who is referencing their posts, who they are talking about, and of course, for me, quality of writing and how the site looks is paramount. xoxo Crosby

  • Posted June 24, 2009 at 11:11 pm | Permalink

    Fantastic post Crosby. I know there has been much discussion about this on Twitter and I am a bit confused about CEOs making blanket statements about brands not working with bloggers directly. But there are quite a few reputable bloggers who do have journalistic integrity. What I see as a bigger problem here is PR companies not doing their homework for their clients. I was sent a sample from a semi known designer and when I tried to return the sample, I couldn’t get anyone to tell me to whom or where to send it. Being a niche blogger, I don’t have the access to fashion brands that other bloggers do, but I still treat my blog and the content I offer with professionalism. As many of the PR folks you interviewed stated, some blogs are worth the time. But I disagree with Mr. Jones regarding number of commenters. Alexa ratings and traffic can be high with few comment. I know several prominent blogs in narrow niches that have very few comments. ROI is very difficult to measure in the blogosphere so number crunching might not do you any good here.

    Sandra’s last blog post..Vintage Find – 1950s Novelty Zoo Print Skirt

  • Posted June 24, 2009 at 11:32 pm | Permalink

    Your take on comments is encouraging. I get jealous all the time. I try to keep it in check though. As long as my content meets my standards, I’m good. It’s bizarre which blogs get comments and which ones don’t. But 200 comments all stating, nice outfit, shouldn’t mean much.

    Sandra’s last blog post..Vintage Find – 1950s Novelty Zoo Print Skirt

  • Posted June 24, 2009 at 11:32 pm | Permalink

    Your take on comments is encouraging. I get jealous all the time. I try to keep it in check though. As long as my content meets my standards, I’m good. It’s bizarre which blogs get comments and which ones don’t. But 200 comments all stating, nice outfit, shouldn’t mean much.

    Sandra’s last blog post..Vintage Find – 1950s Novelty Zoo Print Skirt

  • Posted June 25, 2009 at 5:37 am | Permalink

    Really insightful post. Thanks so much for a logical discussion of the pros and cons. I am a small designer and have to mostly pass on sending out samples too…it’s purely financial. But I love working with bloggers and have found friendship and mutual support with several. I totally value their advice and wisdom. And I support them when and how I can…especially when it turns into a personal/professional/fun/entrepreneurial relationship.

  • Posted June 25, 2009 at 5:37 am | Permalink

    Really insightful post. Thanks so much for a logical discussion of the pros and cons. I am a small designer and have to mostly pass on sending out samples too…it’s purely financial. But I love working with bloggers and have found friendship and mutual support with several. I totally value their advice and wisdom. And I support them when and how I can…especially when it turns into a personal/professional/fun/entrepreneurial relationship.

  • Posted June 25, 2009 at 5:44 am | Permalink

    OMG, please tell me PR agencies don’t really look at alexa rankings anymore…that is such an inaccurate way to rate sites. actually most ranking “tools” are inaccurate – google page rank is not updated frequently & alexa only measures a percentage of visits. quantcast is the best way to get a good feel for the blog’s reach and demographics, i agree with you crosby, but i really think the best way is to actually be involved with fashion blogs – read ALL of them, keep up to date with them, follow the bloggers on twitter, and start to observe patterns of inter-blog linking. yes, this requires a lot of work, but it’s really the only way to get a good feel for the “power” of the blogger – and that’s what i think PR companies should be looking for – authority – NOT necessarily traffic and/or comments. although, i do admit i look at comment count a lot of times to determine how “successful” some blogs are, but i also take into account the type of blog it is, and if the content lends itself to commenting. and sandra’s totally right – 200 comments saying “nice outfit’ or “oh, i like that” don’t mean anything. it’s the interaction between the blogger and commenter the PR people should be looking for, as well as repeat commenters.

    i could go on and on and on – but overall i believe the secret to PR companies & designers working with fashion bloggers is building relationships. respect each other, talk to each other, learn what each other needs, and work within those bounds.

    grechen’s last blog post..Outfit: KAIN Label Tee + James Perse

  • Posted June 25, 2009 at 5:44 am | Permalink

    OMG, please tell me PR agencies don’t really look at alexa rankings anymore…that is such an inaccurate way to rate sites. actually most ranking “tools” are inaccurate – google page rank is not updated frequently & alexa only measures a percentage of visits. quantcast is the best way to get a good feel for the blog’s reach and demographics, i agree with you crosby, but i really think the best way is to actually be involved with fashion blogs – read ALL of them, keep up to date with them, follow the bloggers on twitter, and start to observe patterns of inter-blog linking. yes, this requires a lot of work, but it’s really the only way to get a good feel for the “power” of the blogger – and that’s what i think PR companies should be looking for – authority – NOT necessarily traffic and/or comments. although, i do admit i look at comment count a lot of times to determine how “successful” some blogs are, but i also take into account the type of blog it is, and if the content lends itself to commenting. and sandra’s totally right – 200 comments saying “nice outfit’ or “oh, i like that” don’t mean anything. it’s the interaction between the blogger and commenter the PR people should be looking for, as well as repeat commenters.

    i could go on and on and on – but overall i believe the secret to PR companies & designers working with fashion bloggers is building relationships. respect each other, talk to each other, learn what each other needs, and work within those bounds.

    grechen’s last blog post..Outfit: KAIN Label Tee + James Perse

  • Posted June 25, 2009 at 7:17 am | Permalink

    Hey Crosby-
    Great post! This was quite enlightening for me as I am not a fashion blogger, but I have toyed with the idea of writing more about fashion based on some of the clients that I work with. At some point, however, I decided that my niche was more on the business and financial aspects of creative entrepreneurship and I should stick to just that. Its always nice to get “free stuff”, but as one of your interviewees said…more bloggers need to understand the business side of the industry.

    Everything costs, and as a blogger, folks have to think about these smaller businesses bottom line when they request a whole bunch of stuff for free. Also, if you are requesting stuff, how are you personally providing value to the designer?
    At the end of the day its about the value you bring to the table and the relationships that you cultivate within the industry, and this goes for any industry.

    In terms of the comments, I don’t have a lot of comments on my blog either, but I do get traffic and I do get people forwarding links etc. Now if I just blogged on a more consistent basis, life would be grand :-)

    EvieB’s last blog post..Recession Proof Beauty Tips- Beauty in Food

  • Posted June 25, 2009 at 7:42 am | Permalink

    Excellent post, Crosby! I feel like anything I have to say at this point would just reiterate what Sandra & Grechen have already said, along with what you’ve said (especially regarding ways to evaluate blogs!).

    Despite the boundaries, and how blurred they are, the ways that roles are changing and flipping in these relationships, it’s really an exciting time to be a blogger, and see where this will go (and to be part of that!).

    Ashe Mischief’s last blog post..Things I Love Thursday! [June Edition]

  • Posted June 25, 2009 at 7:42 am | Permalink

    Excellent post, Crosby! I feel like anything I have to say at this point would just reiterate what Sandra & Grechen have already said, along with what you’ve said (especially regarding ways to evaluate blogs!).

    Despite the boundaries, and how blurred they are, the ways that roles are changing and flipping in these relationships, it’s really an exciting time to be a blogger, and see where this will go (and to be part of that!).

    Ashe Mischief’s last blog post..Things I Love Thursday! [June Edition]

  • Posted June 25, 2009 at 7:48 am | Permalink

    Great article BTW! I totally agree with Grechen about PR firms relying on the wrong info (Alexa, comments, etc.)! We do not pander for samples. In fact, I hate feeling we have to review something based on a sample or freebie. Beauty products are another story, because we have to try them to review them. I just wish sometimes we could get an actual sample and not a full sized product (truth be told). If we don’t like something, we don’t review it. We prefer not to trash a product or company because we understand what damage that can do to a brand. However, if a beauty product say, burns your hair (which happened to me) we will warn our readers. It is the PR firm’s job to figure out which bloggers are ethical and those that are just in it for the freebies…I have met many ‘freebie’ seeking bloggers or ones that got into blogging for the free swag and personally, I stay FAR away from them. They give us all a bad rep. Some of us are honest. Honestly.

  • Posted June 25, 2009 at 7:48 am | Permalink

    Great article BTW! I totally agree with Grechen about PR firms relying on the wrong info (Alexa, comments, etc.)! We do not pander for samples. In fact, I hate feeling we have to review something based on a sample or freebie. Beauty products are another story, because we have to try them to review them. I just wish sometimes we could get an actual sample and not a full sized product (truth be told). If we don’t like something, we don’t review it. We prefer not to trash a product or company because we understand what damage that can do to a brand. However, if a beauty product say, burns your hair (which happened to me) we will warn our readers. It is the PR firm’s job to figure out which bloggers are ethical and those that are just in it for the freebies…I have met many ‘freebie’ seeking bloggers or ones that got into blogging for the free swag and personally, I stay FAR away from them. They give us all a bad rep. Some of us are honest. Honestly.

  • Posted June 25, 2009 at 8:13 am | Permalink

    I’ve been looking forward to this piece ever since I saw the listing on HARO–it lends a lot of insight to the blogger/PR agency working relationship. I’d really love to know exactly how samples are handled in regards to traditional media outlets so we can figure out how that can be adapted to blogs.

    Tamia’s last blog post..Shoe Shopping: LaDuca Trunk Show

  • Posted June 25, 2009 at 8:13 am | Permalink

    I’ve been looking forward to this piece ever since I saw the listing on HARO–it lends a lot of insight to the blogger/PR agency working relationship. I’d really love to know exactly how samples are handled in regards to traditional media outlets so we can figure out how that can be adapted to blogs.

    Tamia’s last blog post..Shoe Shopping: LaDuca Trunk Show

  • Posted June 25, 2009 at 8:24 am | Permalink

    Awesome post, Crosby. I feel like there’s so much more to be said regarding the matter. As a blogger and someone in the field of PR, I’m on a both sides of the fence, and my opinion has been asked for regularly (recently, a PR firm hired me for consulting on how to pitch blogs – whether to send .PDF or .DOC press releases, how to say no to bloggers, etc.) My blog occasionally touches on fashion, and I’ve occasionally received a non-returnable sample – sunglasses, a dress, a shirt. None of the items have been valued at over $50, so I don’t feel bad, and I do review the product. But I think it’s just rude to ask for a $800 bag to review it, simply because you want it and can’t afford it. And I feel really strongly that the women (and men!) behind popular fashion blogs really need to take a course in PR, so that THEY don’t look like an idiot in the end. Recently, a blogger emailed back a PR firm I was working with pissed off because the pitch we sent her wasn’t tailored specifically to her and didn’t address her by name. I calmly explained to her that the pitch was sent to a database, to a number of people, and we simply didn’t have the time to send 100 e-mails by name to people. She was so pissed and asked that we not contact her again, so I removed her from the list. Guess what? A month later, she was back, asking to review another product of ours. I had to tell her no – and I think that’s a huge thing fashion bloggers don’t realise. For every fashion blogger that gets pissed off and won’t cover a story for whatever reason, there are 20 more who will GLADLY do it. Unlike Vogue, the next big fashion blog is always just around the corner.

    Bren’s last blog post..Jet Set Thursday: Don’t be an Over-pack Rat

  • Posted June 25, 2009 at 10:47 am | Permalink

    Hi Bren,
    Thanks for commenting! I can appreciate being on both sides of the fence and it is enlightening to hear that agencies are still confused on the logistics of pitching bloggers – PDF or DOC umm neither!!

    I differ with you a bit, however, on the last part. I very rarely recommend or pitch to a database. Maybe I am old-fashioned when it comes to correspondence but I write individual emails to all the bloggers I pitch. Sure, some of the wording gets used over and over but I am looking at building a relationship with the blogger over time, not a one-trick pony attempt at coverage. Finally, while the idea that there will always be another fashion blogger to pitch is perhaps valid, I worry about this perception within the industry causing practitioners to see bloggers as means to an end, and devaluing the contributions of bloggers who do so much for the industry and our clients.

  • Posted June 25, 2009 at 10:47 am | Permalink

    Hi Bren,
    Thanks for commenting! I can appreciate being on both sides of the fence and it is enlightening to hear that agencies are still confused on the logistics of pitching bloggers – PDF or DOC umm neither!!

    I differ with you a bit, however, on the last part. I very rarely recommend or pitch to a database. Maybe I am old-fashioned when it comes to correspondence but I write individual emails to all the bloggers I pitch. Sure, some of the wording gets used over and over but I am looking at building a relationship with the blogger over time, not a one-trick pony attempt at coverage. Finally, while the idea that there will always be another fashion blogger to pitch is perhaps valid, I worry about this perception within the industry causing practitioners to see bloggers as means to an end, and devaluing the contributions of bloggers who do so much for the industry and our clients.

  • Posted June 25, 2009 at 11:07 am | Permalink

    Great article…I really think you need to try and get a major business outlet to co-op this article. Provides a lot of great insight from my contemporaries. Thanks for including me.

  • Posted June 25, 2009 at 11:07 am | Permalink

    Great article…I really think you need to try and get a major business outlet to co-op this article. Provides a lot of great insight from my contemporaries. Thanks for including me.

  • Posted June 25, 2009 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for doing such a masterful job with the story. You were incredibly diplomatic, a challenge when faced with two viewpoints.
    As an ecommerce site carrying licensed goods as well as our own brand of merchandise we know the costs of “…just one sample,” especially when we strive to have almost all of our goods made in the USA. We don’t even accept samples from manufacturers unless we *really* have an interest in carrying the product. That may sound altruistic or naive, but we believe ultimately we all pay for waste.
    And then as a journalist having spent 18 years in print & broadcasting, I know the challenges of dealing with writers that don’t really have some of the basic skills and standards we are used to.
    Again, great job with this, I am going to share it with a few people.
    sek

    The Preppy Princess’s last blog post..Lilly Pulitzer Fall/Holiday 2009 Stationery & Gifts Preview

  • Posted June 25, 2009 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for doing such a masterful job with the story. You were incredibly diplomatic, a challenge when faced with two viewpoints.
    As an ecommerce site carrying licensed goods as well as our own brand of merchandise we know the costs of “…just one sample,” especially when we strive to have almost all of our goods made in the USA. We don’t even accept samples from manufacturers unless we *really* have an interest in carrying the product. That may sound altruistic or naive, but we believe ultimately we all pay for waste.
    And then as a journalist having spent 18 years in print & broadcasting, I know the challenges of dealing with writers that don’t really have some of the basic skills and standards we are used to.
    Again, great job with this, I am going to share it with a few people.
    sek

    The Preppy Princess’s last blog post..Lilly Pulitzer Fall/Holiday 2009 Stationery & Gifts Preview

  • Posted June 25, 2009 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

    Media has definitely changed how businesses of the world market to the mass public. The blogosphere of fashion is somewhat run by amateur fashionistas who take pictures of their daily outfits with comments ranging from, “I love that outfit” to “Where did you get those shoes?” I don’t want to renounce blogging as a negative thing but more care has to be done to weed out those who are only looking for free samples. Whatever happened to intrinsic value?

    As a PR intern for a small jewelry company, blogging is a great medium to gather buzz about your product because as you said, it reaches an international level. In relation to your article, I suppose I never knew that bloggers asked fashion houses and companies for free loot. It seems a little presumptuous that these amateur bloggers are asking big and small companies to give samples just for the sake of promotion when the 3/4 of the readers won’t even consider buying those items. In the end, as a consumer, you should expect legitimate fashion bloggers to interact with the designer they are promoting and their audience on a regular basis.

    How much of the content is being taken seriously? I would love to know the statistics of who reads fashion blogs regularly and actually buy the product that it promotes.

  • Posted June 25, 2009 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

    Wow, I know I am echoing a lot of others’ thoughts but I have to commend you on this post. I think you managed to accurately grasp concerns on both sides of the playing field, and pulled the curtain back a bit on the bloggers that are really just looking for free stuff. No wonder some companies are left with a bad taste in their mouth! With that being said, I have to agree wholeheartedly with the fact that PR agencies just don’t seem to be doing their due diligence when it comes to pitching products to sites. First, it’s a waste of their client’s money, but secondly it’s simply a waste of time for someone to pitch giving away a random article of clothing or hair products when a site only deals with shoes (this happens more than you would think). It’s like they are throwing spaghetti at a wall and it’s frustrating. On top of that the blogger feels like they might be souring the relationship by turning something down, but there’s no other choice if one’s goal is to uphold the integrity of one’s site. On another note, when brands get it right, it can be magical. I witness on a weekly basis women (and occasionally men) literally gushing over a beauty writer’s posts which I follow. I myself have bought multiple products (at multiple price points) just because of his recommendations. For me it has erased any skepticism when it comes to wondering if bloggers can have an impact on a brand’s bottom line. At the end of the day maybe the lesson is something that hearkens back to days that may not be far behind many new employees at PR agencies – DO YOUR HOMEWORK!

    Morgan’s last blog post..Style Coalition’s Top-Secret Shoot! Before & After

  • Posted June 25, 2009 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

    Wow, I know I am echoing a lot of others’ thoughts but I have to commend you on this post. I think you managed to accurately grasp concerns on both sides of the playing field, and pulled the curtain back a bit on the bloggers that are really just looking for free stuff. No wonder some companies are left with a bad taste in their mouth! With that being said, I have to agree wholeheartedly with the fact that PR agencies just don’t seem to be doing their due diligence when it comes to pitching products to sites. First, it’s a waste of their client’s money, but secondly it’s simply a waste of time for someone to pitch giving away a random article of clothing or hair products when a site only deals with shoes (this happens more than you would think). It’s like they are throwing spaghetti at a wall and it’s frustrating. On top of that the blogger feels like they might be souring the relationship by turning something down, but there’s no other choice if one’s goal is to uphold the integrity of one’s site. On another note, when brands get it right, it can be magical. I witness on a weekly basis women (and occasionally men) literally gushing over a beauty writer’s posts which I follow. I myself have bought multiple products (at multiple price points) just because of his recommendations. For me it has erased any skepticism when it comes to wondering if bloggers can have an impact on a brand’s bottom line. At the end of the day maybe the lesson is something that hearkens back to days that may not be far behind many new employees at PR agencies – DO YOUR HOMEWORK!

    Morgan’s last blog post..Style Coalition’s Top-Secret Shoot! Before & After

  • Posted June 25, 2009 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

    Well said Crosby! I’ve been waiting for this post… ;)

    melissa davis’s last blog post..The Style Saloniste

  • Posted June 25, 2009 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

    Well said Crosby! I’ve been waiting for this post… ;)

    melissa davis’s last blog post..The Style Saloniste

  • Posted June 25, 2009 at 5:34 pm | Permalink

    I agree with the difficulty of handling relationships between PR firms and bloggers. I’ve had a lot of trouble when trying to contact PR firms to work with them on a professional relationship – just getting images and media kits, not even asking for samples. It’s difficult to try to establish a working relationship when you’re the little guy trying to cozy up to the big PR firm. PR companies need to know that even the smallest drop of sand in the huge sandbox of fashion bloggers can make a difference for the image of their company. So even without asking for free samples, the Corporate end of the spectrum needs to come to the blog culture with open arms, and soon. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve tried contacting the agencies to get more information through media kits, but to no avail.

    Thanks for the article – it’s great.

  • Posted June 25, 2009 at 5:34 pm | Permalink

    I agree with the difficulty of handling relationships between PR firms and bloggers. I’ve had a lot of trouble when trying to contact PR firms to work with them on a professional relationship – just getting images and media kits, not even asking for samples. It’s difficult to try to establish a working relationship when you’re the little guy trying to cozy up to the big PR firm. PR companies need to know that even the smallest drop of sand in the huge sandbox of fashion bloggers can make a difference for the image of their company. So even without asking for free samples, the Corporate end of the spectrum needs to come to the blog culture with open arms, and soon. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve tried contacting the agencies to get more information through media kits, but to no avail.

    Thanks for the article – it’s great.

  • Posted June 26, 2009 at 4:35 am | Permalink

    This is a great article. It’s good to hear about how PR companies and designers feel about their relationships with bloggers. As a new fashion blogger, I’ve wondered how to approach companies without appearing as though I’m just in it for the samples or the swag. I’ve also wondered how to convince designers/companies that it is worth their time to work with me and my blog. I’m trained as a journalist, but it’s not easy to make that initial contact without the legitimacy of a media organization behind your name. For the most part, we’ve decided to start small and focus on local designer/shops, contacting them to let them know that we want to use photos of their work.

    L-A’s last blog post..The Pretty Princess Birthday Post

  • Posted June 26, 2009 at 4:35 am | Permalink

    This is a great article. It’s good to hear about how PR companies and designers feel about their relationships with bloggers. As a new fashion blogger, I’ve wondered how to approach companies without appearing as though I’m just in it for the samples or the swag. I’ve also wondered how to convince designers/companies that it is worth their time to work with me and my blog. I’m trained as a journalist, but it’s not easy to make that initial contact without the legitimacy of a media organization behind your name. For the most part, we’ve decided to start small and focus on local designer/shops, contacting them to let them know that we want to use photos of their work.

    L-A’s last blog post..The Pretty Princess Birthday Post

  • Posted June 26, 2009 at 9:19 am | Permalink

    Hi there,

    Thank you for doing this insightful piece – I thought it was great that you got comments and thoughts from PR companies, fashion bloggers and even the clients (i.e. the designers).

    I’m the publicist for fashion brand, and we have recently started out reaching out to fashion bloggers as we felt that what we had was relevant to their audience. We did do our research properly and even met up with the bloggers individually to discuss how we could work with them.

    While most of them were great (i.e. wrote reviews about the products, took care of the samples), I encountered one black sheep out of the lot who demanded that a) we pay for every word they wrote, even though it was editorial (i.e. no contest or giveaway tagged on it) and b) that besides picking what they wanted for their ‘photo shoot’ (which was understandable), they wanted to keep their chosen samples in their sizes and WOULD NOT CREDIT the clothes to the brand at all.

    Needless to say, even though they were one of the ‘bigger guys’ in the local fashion blogging scene, we felt that this was rather irresponsible, and also felt like they were taking advantage of this opportunity.

    We have gotten great write-ups, and I’ve built relationships with some of the bloggers I work with. Unfortunately for everyone, PR people AND bloggers alike, there are some out there who end up spoiling the market, eh?

  • Posted June 26, 2009 at 9:41 am | Permalink

    this is a very interesting topic, and i see a lot of this going on. i can certainly see some bloggers getting carried away with the free stuff mentality… and pr companies getting pissed off about it. but isn’t there some way to work out a middle ground. on one hand yeah, it would be nice to write from the press images, but a lot of times the press images i get are generic and useless on my blog. also if i have never heard of the label, and it’s not something with extraordinary design… say like tee shirts and jeans, i can’t say on my blog that something is amazing and i want it unless i see it for myself. (ie. tank tops from inhabitny.com look generic, but amazing in real life) especially if the press images are 46k and pixelated.

    though, i’ll post about clothing i’ve not seen, if it fits this criteria:
    1. If I like it, AND i think my readers will get something from me sharing it.
    2. if the images are beautiful
    3. if there is some kind of confirmation that the product is good. your word is not enough.. i want reviews from a third party.
    4. if i haven’t posted about it before
    5. if it hasn’t already been posted on 5 other blogs or more….

    also one has to note, that bloggers also want to create original content. having original photos speaks so much more than press photos. many times when i get a sample, it not only goes on my blog, but it’s also submitted to other social networks, like flickr, lookbook.nu, chictopia… so the reach is more than my own blog.

    i also want to point out the possibility of creating viral content by sending out samples. you don’t have to send out samples to just one blogger. modepass.com did a wonderful series called the ‘traveling jacket’ where they sent the same jacket to a bunch of bloggers around the globe.

    and lastly… i think it was bren. i don’t really agree with that approach, i know i get it all the time, every time i get a generic email, unless it’s EXTRAORDINARY, i will not consider it. if it’s addressed to me, i will at least review the content and make my editorial decisions from there. personal pitches to make a difference.

    anyway, thanks crosby for this post, it’s fantastic!

    jennine’s last blog post..Field of Dreams

  • Posted June 26, 2009 at 9:41 am | Permalink

    this is a very interesting topic, and i see a lot of this going on. i can certainly see some bloggers getting carried away with the free stuff mentality… and pr companies getting pissed off about it. but isn’t there some way to work out a middle ground. on one hand yeah, it would be nice to write from the press images, but a lot of times the press images i get are generic and useless on my blog. also if i have never heard of the label, and it’s not something with extraordinary design… say like tee shirts and jeans, i can’t say on my blog that something is amazing and i want it unless i see it for myself. (ie. tank tops from inhabitny.com look generic, but amazing in real life) especially if the press images are 46k and pixelated.

    though, i’ll post about clothing i’ve not seen, if it fits this criteria:
    1. If I like it, AND i think my readers will get something from me sharing it.
    2. if the images are beautiful
    3. if there is some kind of confirmation that the product is good. your word is not enough.. i want reviews from a third party.
    4. if i haven’t posted about it before
    5. if it hasn’t already been posted on 5 other blogs or more….

    also one has to note, that bloggers also want to create original content. having original photos speaks so much more than press photos. many times when i get a sample, it not only goes on my blog, but it’s also submitted to other social networks, like flickr, lookbook.nu, chictopia… so the reach is more than my own blog.

    i also want to point out the possibility of creating viral content by sending out samples. you don’t have to send out samples to just one blogger. modepass.com did a wonderful series called the ‘traveling jacket’ where they sent the same jacket to a bunch of bloggers around the globe.

    and lastly… i think it was bren. i don’t really agree with that approach, i know i get it all the time, every time i get a generic email, unless it’s EXTRAORDINARY, i will not consider it. if it’s addressed to me, i will at least review the content and make my editorial decisions from there. personal pitches to make a difference.

    anyway, thanks crosby for this post, it’s fantastic!

    jennine’s last blog post..Field of Dreams

  • Posted June 26, 2009 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

    First let me say, I’m very new to all this. However, I’ve had the opportunity in the past few weeks to see how different bloggers work. For the most part, everyone has been professional and more than helpful. I think for many of us “newer” people, bloggers can be intimidating because we understand the potential power they wield. Maybe it’s a DIY-mindset, but even the smaller blogs get read by someone and the someone may recommend your product or site to a lot more people. And yes sending samples can be a difficulty, but I’ve found that if you explain your situation and the blogger really likes your stuff, they’ll understand and try to work something else out with you.

  • Posted June 26, 2009 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

    First let me say, I’m very new to all this. However, I’ve had the opportunity in the past few weeks to see how different bloggers work. For the most part, everyone has been professional and more than helpful. I think for many of us “newer” people, bloggers can be intimidating because we understand the potential power they wield. Maybe it’s a DIY-mindset, but even the smaller blogs get read by someone and the someone may recommend your product or site to a lot more people. And yes sending samples can be a difficulty, but I’ve found that if you explain your situation and the blogger really likes your stuff, they’ll understand and try to work something else out with you.

  • Posted June 28, 2009 at 6:47 pm | Permalink

    Very well articulated. I’m surprised that viewers comments are taken into consideration by PR firms. It’s never been brought up to me. However, I don’t allow comments on my blog since the purpose is to spread the word on great new products, as opposed to offering a networking site for readers to discuss them. My goal has always been for the reader to digest the goodies and make a purchase!

  • Posted June 28, 2009 at 6:47 pm | Permalink

    Very well articulated. I’m surprised that viewers comments are taken into consideration by PR firms. It’s never been brought up to me. However, I don’t allow comments on my blog since the purpose is to spread the word on great new products, as opposed to offering a networking site for readers to discuss them. My goal has always been for the reader to digest the goodies and make a purchase!

  • Posted June 30, 2009 at 12:45 am | Permalink

    This is such an amazing, timely post. Where to begin…as a PR pro, I’m embarrassed by those live in the past (per the example you referenced about a famous style blogger we all love). As a blogger, I’m beyond humiliated by bloggers willing to sell their souls for a free top.

    This topic could be a week long conference. I feel like there needs to be a group therapy session for both PR who see the value in bloggers and for bloggers who care more about quality content through an authentic voice than mooching off whoever they can for whatever they can get.

    Thanks for being awesome, always. :)

    Jordana’s last blog post..Sneak Peek: IHNW for Shrimpton Couture!

  • D
    Posted July 7, 2009 at 8:58 am | Permalink

    Bren, what you are doing to bloggers is spamming and I imagine there are several of them who don’t appreciate your mass-email approach, flag you as spam and as a result your clients suffer. Every single blogger I’ve ever heard comment on this subject (including high profile bloggers with giant audiences like Design Sponge) say they hate mass pitching and do not respond to it. If you find bloggers who will put up with it, fine, but you are probably pissing off a lot of important bloggers. Some won’t tell you they are annoyed by your behavior, they’ll simply ignore you. They are too busy to send you a lecture on etiquette. If you really want to serve your clients well build a list of bloggers with a large audience and build actual relationships with those bloggers. Your clients will benefit from quality media attention, not a glut of press hits from low-traffic blogs clamoring for free swag.

  • D
    Posted July 7, 2009 at 8:58 am | Permalink

    Bren, what you are doing to bloggers is spamming and I imagine there are several of them who don’t appreciate your mass-email approach, flag you as spam and as a result your clients suffer. Every single blogger I’ve ever heard comment on this subject (including high profile bloggers with giant audiences like Design Sponge) say they hate mass pitching and do not respond to it. If you find bloggers who will put up with it, fine, but you are probably pissing off a lot of important bloggers. Some won’t tell you they are annoyed by your behavior, they’ll simply ignore you. They are too busy to send you a lecture on etiquette. If you really want to serve your clients well build a list of bloggers with a large audience and build actual relationships with those bloggers. Your clients will benefit from quality media attention, not a glut of press hits from low-traffic blogs clamoring for free swag.

  • Posted July 20, 2009 at 11:23 am | Permalink

    my blog is VERY new; and I’ve been noticing that bloggers do in fact abuse their privileges; as in getting a sample even to return it is a privilege.. I’m glad this article is here because when I initially came across the idea of requesting samples materials such as these weren’t available.. it gives bloggers retrospective as to the receiving end of all the sample requesting lol…

    As for one of the last comments where a measure of a blog’s success is in it’s comments as a fellow blogger stated I disagree with that. My blog is not myspace or facebook I’m here to provide information as I see fit. If readers want to comment that’s cool too..

    roni’s last blog post..Burberry Bathing Suits On Sale

  • Posted July 20, 2009 at 11:23 am | Permalink

    my blog is VERY new; and I’ve been noticing that bloggers do in fact abuse their privileges; as in getting a sample even to return it is a privilege.. I’m glad this article is here because when I initially came across the idea of requesting samples materials such as these weren’t available.. it gives bloggers retrospective as to the receiving end of all the sample requesting lol…

    As for one of the last comments where a measure of a blog’s success is in it’s comments as a fellow blogger stated I disagree with that. My blog is not myspace or facebook I’m here to provide information as I see fit. If readers want to comment that’s cool too..

    roni’s last blog post..Burberry Bathing Suits On Sale

  • EB
    Posted March 6, 2010 at 11:14 am | Permalink

    As an emerging jewelry designer, I found this article wonderfully helpful! I’ve been approached by a number of “mom blogs” asking to review my jewelry, and each have asked for a non-returnable sample. Similar to “K” in the article above, one blogger even specified the exact necklace that she wanted to review (an $88 piece), and it clearly came across as “I’d like a free necklace”. I always kindly reply and ask for their readership demographics, number of readers, etc., even though some of that can be found online, but I do it to see if they’re serious enough to reply. Most don’t. I also check out their blogs before replying, and there was a point last year after the Blog Her conference that many of them were endlessly going on about all the free swag they got and their strategy for getting to certain tables earlier than others to get free stuff, and bragging about the handbags, and major brand items they got for free. Even crazier was that other bloggers replied detailing their list of swag. Are they someone I want writing about my business? Do they really care about introducing me to others? No. They just want free stuff. Maybe their readers love it–but it certainly gave a negative perception to me, as someone who had been contacted by them wanting to review a product of mine.
    Lauren Rich-Thank you, thank you, thank you…for your words above…this completely expresses the position I’m in as an emerging designer….it is so nice to know that *someone* understands. You have a new fan, and I just may be contacting you! I’m pasting your words here…because I think they are *SO* worth repeating:
    As Lauren Rich, owner of RICHPR explains, ”[I wish fashion bloggers had a better] understanding of startup vs. established brands. Bloggers must understand that asking large, established brands for samples is completely different than asking a startup brand for samples. From my experience, I feel a lot of bloggers don’t understand why small, newer brands won’t give samples when they’ve received samples from/reviewed numerous larger, established brands. While having those big names is certainly impressive, it’s not that the brand doesn’t want to give a sample, it’s that they can’t. Smaller brands typically only have the budget to produce limited quantities of samples, so not only are excess samples scare to begin with, but sending one out is literally money out of their pocket. It’s a shame because it’s these new brands that really need the coverage, and many times they don’t receive it because of “nonreturnable” sample policies which they can’t meet.”

    • Posted March 8, 2010 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

      EB – thank you so much for sharing your thoughts here. You echo the experience of many others I am sure and yes! please get in contact with Lauren – she’s great. Best, Crosby

  • EB
    Posted March 6, 2010 at 11:14 am | Permalink

    As an emerging jewelry designer, I found this article wonderfully helpful! I’ve been approached by a number of “mom blogs” asking to review my jewelry, and each have asked for a non-returnable sample. Similar to “K” in the article above, one blogger even specified the exact necklace that she wanted to review (an $88 piece), and it clearly came across as “I’d like a free necklace”. I always kindly reply and ask for their readership demographics, number of readers, etc., even though some of that can be found online, but I do it to see if they’re serious enough to reply. Most don’t. I also check out their blogs before replying, and there was a point last year after the Blog Her conference that many of them were endlessly going on about all the free swag they got and their strategy for getting to certain tables earlier than others to get free stuff, and bragging about the handbags, and major brand items they got for free. Even crazier was that other bloggers replied detailing their list of swag. Are they someone I want writing about my business? Do they really care about introducing me to others? No. They just want free stuff. Maybe their readers love it–but it certainly gave a negative perception to me, as someone who had been contacted by them wanting to review a product of mine.
    Lauren Rich-Thank you, thank you, thank you…for your words above…this completely expresses the position I’m in as an emerging designer….it is so nice to know that *someone* understands. You have a new fan, and I just may be contacting you! I’m pasting your words here…because I think they are *SO* worth repeating:
    As Lauren Rich, owner of RICHPR explains, ”[I wish fashion bloggers had a better] understanding of startup vs. established brands. Bloggers must understand that asking large, established brands for samples is completely different than asking a startup brand for samples. From my experience, I feel a lot of bloggers don’t understand why small, newer brands won’t give samples when they’ve received samples from/reviewed numerous larger, established brands. While having those big names is certainly impressive, it’s not that the brand doesn’t want to give a sample, it’s that they can’t. Smaller brands typically only have the budget to produce limited quantities of samples, so not only are excess samples scare to begin with, but sending one out is literally money out of their pocket. It’s a shame because it’s these new brands that really need the coverage, and many times they don’t receive it because of “nonreturnable” sample policies which they can’t meet.”

  • Posted May 11, 2010 at 11:32 am | Permalink

    I’m glad I had the opportunity to read your post! I promote a fashion Jewelry online club and get bombarded with blogger requests. This is a great way to learn how to differentiate between the ones that are just looking for freebies and the ones that can help out companies!
    Thanx a bunch!

  • Posted May 11, 2010 at 11:32 am | Permalink

    I’m glad I had the opportunity to read your post! I promote a fashion Jewelry online club and get bombarded with blogger requests. This is a great way to learn how to differentiate between the ones that are just looking for freebies and the ones that can help out companies!
    Thanx a bunch!

  • Anonymous
    Posted November 3, 2011 at 2:58 am | Permalink

    elle pourrait se Venger figlio sur séducteur et le boutiquier et tous ceux qui l’avaient blessé.Une des choses que tentation sa, et fut la causa de sa decisione, était la femme Lui disant qu’elle pourrait vesti comandante ses – velluto, soie, raso, abiti de bal décolleté, ce qu’elle voudrait.Une immagine mentale d’elle-même dans une soie jaune vif bordée de velours noir avec col bas et manches courtes conquis,   moncler  et elle un figlio abandonné passaporto.Le soir même, la maquerelle uno eu une isvostchik et la conduisit àla maison notoire tenus par Caroline Albertovna Kitaeva.Depuis ce jour, une vie de pêche chroniques contre les lois et humaines teologi Katusha Maslova inizio pour une vie qui est Dirige par des centaines de milliers de femmes, et qui n’est pas seulement toléré, mais sanctionné par le gouvernement,

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Meet Crosby Noricks

Hi. I'm Crosby, the founder of PR Couture and a fashion brand strategist. I care about supporting and celebrating fashion publicists as well as helping rad companies connect with their audiences in more meaningful ways. Recently, iMedia included me in their annual list of 25 Internet Marketing Leaders and Innovators, along with people from Starbucks, Twitter and Volkswagon, which I think is pretty neat. Like Elle Woods, I am a Gemini-vegetarian (that's about where the similarities end). Let's connect: Check out my full bio, Brand Elixer sessions or shoot me an electronic communiqué.