Sensing a gap in the market, David Evans created Grey Fox, a blog that caters to the more mature man interested in fashion, style and menswear. Providing an alternative to fashion’s obsession with youth, David uses his blog to show that men over forty can be stylish too. In this spotlight David speaks to us about the representation of older men in fashion, brand collaborations, and how he thinks PRs can improve their blogger outreach.
What’s new on Grey Fox Blog? Photoshoots! Brands overlook the older man in their marketing, despite the increasing size and affluence of this demographic. How often do you see older men in advertising for menswear? This is why I decided to show my readers how an older man can wear clothes which are normally marketed to younger men. Working with a photographer and personal stylist, we’ve styled and shot a number of brands in the last few months. At present I’m the model, but I hope to involve other older men in the project as it expands. It’s had a great response from blog followers who are seeing classic clothes on a man of their own age rather than on young men in their twenties.
Give us an example of successful brand collaboration. What did you learn from it? Jigsaw Menswear were one of the first to recognise the commercial value of these photo shoots. They also see the value of marketing to older men. We’ve done two shoots so far for them, with more planned. What have I learned? The best and most creative brands have the most imaginative marketing and PR teams – and they are fun to work with. I’ve also learned that a blogger doesn’t have to work for nothing. Until a few months ago the blog was costing me more than I earned from it. I was effectively paying for brands to use the blog to market themselves. I’m gradually putting a stop to that, insisting on either financial or some other tangible benefit, such as social media support, in return for the work I do.
How do you use social media to promote/share content? What are the challenges? Blogging is no longer just about writing a blog. To grow it’s best to get into Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, and YouTube to catch the widest audience. Invaluable statistics can be gained from Google and Twitter Analytics to give PR and marketing departments information they look for when selecting bloggers to work with. The challenge for me is that my readership (being mainly men over 40) has been slower to adopt social media than the younger generation or women, but this is changing rapidly as men look to the web for inspiration and to buy menswear and accessories. A further challenge is finding the time to keep on top of both my blog and social media.
What advice would you give to a someone who wants to start a blog? Be prepared for lots of hard work. It is an unpaid job, but whether you do it full or part time you have to be professional and committed. There are many blogs out there, so you need to differentiate. Decide on your theme and follow it. I was lucky, there were no blogs for older men when I started and there are still very few. If you want to make a living, understand that the chances of doing so are very slim, and you will not make much for several years. Build up contacts and make it clear what you offer. But be wary of being too commercial. Followers come to you for honesty, objectivity and for you being you. It’s easy to undermine this loyalty by being paid for all you do. Work hard on networking, get to know other bloggers, brands and their PRs and marketing people.
Go to London Collections: Men or London Fashion Week (if you’re a fashion blogger – or go to similar events relevant to your blog) and be bold in talking to people and asking questions. I knew nothing about fashion or menswear when I started and had to learn all I know (which still isn’t much). Finally, keep a sense of proportion. You’re doing this because you enjoy it. If you find you become addicted to social media, upset by adverse comments or worried by fluctuating blog and follower statistics, give up at once – life is too short and a blog is not worth the stress.
How do you work with PRs? Personal contact is best, but I find time just doesn’t allow this – I wish I had the time to work more closely with PR and marketing professionals. I try to be friendly and helpful in emails, attend press days, and meet over coffee. I like to find out what their clients want and do what I can to offer that and more. I’ve learned to say no. I try not to ignore requests I’m not interested in, but explain why so that the PRs begin to understand where I’m coming from. I try to explain to PRs that I have plenty of other things on in my life and that the blog is just part of it, so my response times may be slow and I may overlook emails from time to time! Be honest, reliable and be yourself.
Do you feel bloggers need to be compensated for the work they do? Yes, but a new blogger will have little to offer in the way of a following so has to recognise that their work may be of little commercial value. Start by showing willing and you will gather a group of PRs who are friends and colleagues. Eventually you can start to ask for favours in return – gifted clothing, social media support. In due course, with patience, you may also be offered some paid work.
I think some PRs don’t understand that there is a difference between fashion journalists, who can usually recover expenses, and bloggers, who have to bear expenses such travel costs themselves. Bloggers should not have to bear such costs themselves and should ask for such expenses if asked to go to a shop, show, trade fair or factory.
What do you feel about sponsorship disclosure? This is essential. I always make it clear if I’ve been sponsored. I usually also highlight blog posts for which I have not been sponsored.
List three best practices PRs need to follow for better blogger outreach? 1. Understand that most bloggers have to bear the costs of their work themselves. Be prepared to offer something in return for work done by the blogger. It doesn’t always need to be financial: it might be social media support (retweeting blog posts) to help them grow a following, product gifting or payment. I’ve recently done work on behalf of two major menswear brands who would not even retweet my blog posts – one as “a matter of policy”. They are also looking for something for nothing and I no longer accept work from them.
2. Be patient – bloggers often work around a full-time job. Be prepared to chase them, but do so gently and appreciate their passion and interest in your brand.
3. Don’t make empty promises – tell bloggers exactly where they stand and what you can offer them in return for their work. Help them develop their blogs and give them the benefit of your advice as they grow.
What will be big in your blogosphere in the coming months? I am building focus on brands that want to work together in a constructive way and have more photo shoots and collaborations in the pipeline. I’m also gradually expanding into lifestyle products such as watches and working to promote British manufacture and the use of older models to sell menswear. It will be a busy and exciting year.
Featured image courtesy of Jonathan Daniel Pryce