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Last Updated 24/03/2016
1. Mad about the house
If you are mad about interiors, then you better visit this blog. It’s got ideas that range from mild to wild and visuals that make you want to redecorate. Author and interiors journalist, Kate Watson-Smyth, uses a friendly, conversational tone that puts readers at the heart of every home.
2. Dear Designer’s Blog
Author Carole King started this blog in 2009 as a way to create her ‘own little library of loveliness.’ The library she created helped her to then start up a digital interiors magazine. The Dear Designer blog remains her first love and boasts an extensive blogroll.
3. The Design Sheppard
Author Stacey Sheppard calls the blog her ‘online home’ and you are invited in. This blog stands out from others on the list for the functional yet beautiful ideas it offers – like for real homes.
4. Design Hunter
Launched in 2009, author Helen Powell’s Design Hunter is now an award-winning design and lifestyle blog with a focus on understated luxury and enduring modern design.
5. Love Chic Living
Author Jen Stanbrook has been busy writing a series about loft conversions and at other times, picking up awards including the Cosmopolitan Magazine’s Best Interiors Blog award! Jen shows off her ‘insatiable love of home decor, interior design and home accessories’ through the blog that first started out in 2012.
6. Fresh Design Blog
The name says it all – it’s a fresh take on interiors. This blog offers ideas and inspiration for the modern and contemporary home and does so keeping costs in mind. Palm reading wallpaper, back to school bargains, geometric coffee cup sets…you get the gist?
7. Abigail Ahern
Recognised amongst design aficionados and devotees, Abigail Ahern’s blog is still one of the most influential interior design blogs out there and is a regular in our Top 10!
8. Sophie Robinson
Sophie has worked interior design for over 20 years and has a wealth of knowledge about the industry. Over the years Sophie has made a name for herself and appeared on BBC2’s The Great Interior Design Challenge.
Featuring an array of different writers this blog features the latest decorating looks to the best new home-improvement ideas, plus new products from high-street stores that will help you to create your ideal home.
This is a blog that picks out the best and most interesting properties on the market. The properties featured on the site are very stylish with stunning architecture.
The fundamentals of working with bloggers are the same as with traditional journalists at traditional media outlets: respect their schedules; take time to read their material to learn their interests; and only contact them if/when they want to be contacted.
Vuelio’s blog ranking methodology takes into consideration social sharing, topic-related content and post frequency. Profiles of these interior design blogs and their authors can be found in the Vuelio Media Database.
Other Blog Rankings
Photo Courtesy of mattwalker69 on Flickr
Now that the nominations for the #VuelioBlogAwards have been announced, the difficult task of selecting the winners is upon us. Next week our judging panel will gather together to decide the fate of the nominated bloggers. Giving you inside information, our judges reveal what they’ll be looking for in the winning blogs, what they think about being on the judging panel, and what they are looking forward to on the night of the #VuelioBlogAwards.
Jo Middleton, author of blog Slummy Single Mummy
I’m really excited about being on the Vuelio Blog Awards judging panel. To be totally honest, having won two awards last year, I was a little bit nervous about the anti-climax of not winning again this year. Being a judge instead gives me a brilliant way out of that! On a slightly less selfish note, it’s genuinely a real thrill to have been asked, and I feel very honoured. There are so many fantastic blogs out there now, that to be chosen as a judge is a massive privilege.
Being on the judging panel is going to be really difficult, as there’s such variety in blogging, and so many people have such different areas of expertise. I think it’s easy nowadays to get distracted by a beautiful design or brilliantly edited pictures, but I’ve always been much more of a words person, so I’ll be trying to look a little deeper than the visuals. Don’t get me wrong, I think photography and design are hugely important, but I want to look at the whole package – I want words and stories that speak to me, inspire me and that make me feel something. That something doesn’t have to be hugely high-brow or serious, but I want to be engaged and connect with the writer. I’ll also be looking for writers that aren’t afraid to be themselves and who have a consistent voice whether they’re writing personal posts or more commercial content. I’d like to immediately feel someone’s personality through their writing, rather than feeling like they’re writing to a formula or to please an audience.
On the night of the awards I’m looking forward to the food and drink obviously. I mainly plan my life around meals. What I loved last year about the event was the enthusiasm and excitement – the atmosphere really was buzzing, and that’s always brilliant to be a part of. When I won my awards last year I was so genuinely blown away, that everything ended up as a bit of a blur – I’m looking forward to being there to see other people have that same feeling, but being able to concentrate on what people are saying!
Andrew Smith, Associate Director at Weber Shandwick
I am very excited to be a judge this year. I presented an award last year so it will be great to have the opportunity to take part in the decision making on this year’s winners.
I love blogs that combine being entertaining but also provide me with insight that I can’t get elsewhere. I read a lot of political blogs as part of my work, but I am increasingly turning to blogs as a source of information across everything that I do. The best blogs are the ones that help share some of the personality of the writers as well as their knowledge about the issues they write about.
I had a great time at the dinner last year. The one thing that I enjoyed the most was talking to people from such a wide range of sectors from fashion to travel to politics so I am looking forward to interesting conversations again this year.
Andy Oakes, Managing Director at The Drum
I’m chuffed to be on the Vuelio awards judging panel. This is an important awards show and I’m excited to learn about best practice in this area. Awards do more than pat people on the back; they set standards of excellence for others to aspire to. Look at the awards in the mainstream media: newspapers, broadcasters really want to win them because that demonstrates to their audience that they’re constantly improving, not sitting on their laurels. It’s important that emerging media channels and commentators experience the same scrutiny and when they’re evidently good, enjoy similar recognition.
As a long-time journalist, I’m looking for distinctive voices and opinions. I’m looking for a new point of view on the world; something that is well argued and is obviously demanding its readers’ attention. That said, good bloggers need to do more than rant; they need to bring the same scrutiny, rigour, evidence and good writing that you find in the best mainstream media.
On the night of the actual award show I’m looking forward to receiving the lifetime achievement award, only kidding! For me, the best test of a good awards show is whether participating in it really does propel winners and candidates onto greater things.”
Matthew Rock, Content Development Director at Think Publishing
I’m really looking forward to it and meeting my fellow judges. I follow most of them on twitter so it will be great to meet them. And it’s an amazing mix of people and backgrounds too.
In relation to the selection process, I’m looking for high quality engaging content, a point of difference and a distinctive voice. I really want to see people who go that extra mile for their followers.
I’m looking forward to meeting the winners on the night. Awards nights are always fun but it’s also a great way to meet new people and catch up with some old friends.
Mital Patel, Media Research Team Leader at Vuelio
I feel honoured that I have been chosen to be a judge and looking forward to meeting and talking with Andy, Jo, Andrew & Matthew and learning from the experts themselves. I am also quite nervous and hoping that I represent Vuelio in the best way.
In terms of what I’ll be looking for in the winning blogs, I`ll be looking for bloggers that know their audience, give insightful industry knowledge and have great content. Of course, content is not everything so special points will go to the bloggers who actually engage with their readers through various channels. Design and usability is also very important, as bloggers need to make sure that their blog is easy to navigate and easy for the readers to enjoy the content.
Last year was amazing as it was our first blog awards and to be honest I was a bit star-struck as I was finally meeting all the bloggers in person after having many years of just “e-chatting”. I have made some great connections and am looking forward to meeting some of the new faces on the scene.
Last week, I had the honour of chairing the judges’ panel for the inaugural Vuelio Blog Awards. Not just an honour, but a pleasure in fact, as the company – Neil Stinchcombe, co-founder of Eskenzi PR, Siobhan Freegard, founder of Netmums and now Channel Mum, Ben Smith, founder of PR Moment, and our very own Julie Hermans, blog researcher extraordinaire – was as enjoyable as it was insightful.
Now clearly this isn’t the place to reveal details of the deliberations, but i did want to highlight some of the key themes. Not least, that thorny old issue of what the hell is a blog anyway? This question has been asked, repeatedly, since Jorn Barger first started logging his web discoveries in reverse chronological order. Answering it really hasn’t gotten any easier.
For our judges, the increasing variety of blogs was a significant challenge in itself. How do you compare words against pictures against videos? Should shortlisted candidates be penalised for sticking to words? And if so, always, or in which categories?
Professionalism, for want of a better word, was also a bone of contention. What about multi-authored blogs and the natural advantage they have in producing greater volumes of content? How to respond to the increased commercialisation apparent across pretty much all categories, with varying degrees and tones of disclosure?
And then there was the actual content. As a nominal blog, did it need to be opinion-driven? Edgy? To what extent was it possible to remain outside the mainstream but still agenda-setting?
These were the themes that recurred throughout our five-hour session in which the often disparate, sometimes incommensurable merits of the sixty shortlisted blogs were detailed, dissected, and discussed. Arguments were made, won, and lost. Tough decisions were taken. And at the end of it all, we had decided on the winners of 14 different categories.
All will of course be revealed on November 27th at The Brewery in central London. But if you want to try applying some of these criteria for yourself, there’s still time to get involved in the category we opened to a public vote: Newcomer of the Year, for which there are four terrific nominees:
Check them out and get voting (scroll halfway down!).
Cision’s latest Top 10 Mummy Blog ranking will be published next week. But before we get to the experts, let’s look at what it takes for a new mummy blogger such as Lori Taylor Arnold, author of Wild and Grizzly, to make it on the popular yet highly competitive mummy blogosphere.
Why should people read your blog?
When I became a mother I was thrust into a world of babies, where it was easy to lose your identity. So I started this blog, a place where I could write honest posts reflecting on the wilds of motherhood, including the grizzly bits without compromising on my love of style and design. It kept me sane through some of the harder days which I hope in turn has helped other mums.
What makes your blog different?
There are so many mummy blogs out there with blurry pictures of drooling babies, and that’s great, but it’s not me. As a lover of beautiful things, I wanted to create a space where readers don’t need to compromise on design and style just because they have kids. I wanted to create a place to reflect and provoke ideas about motherhood while staying cool. Focusing on beautiful things for your home, looking good, great places to take your kid, right down to the well-designed books you read at night.
What’s your favourite blog and why?
I like to read blogs from different parts of the globe as it gives me a snapshot of a totally different way of life. At the moment I’m loving the balmy desert days from The Littlest Blog and the beautiful simple life from Practising Simplicity and the lovely Diaper & Skinny Jeans.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to start a blog?
Think about what interests you and just write. If you write what you’re passionate about then your voice will stand out from the crowd. Also aesthetics is a key feature for me as a badly designed blog distracts visitors to the site from the words. I would always think about the layout of a blog, what makes it easy to read and navigate, how can people follow you and how can people get in touch with you.
How does a good PR work with you?
I think building a good relationship is key. When a PR person has taken the time to look at your blog and understand your ethos before getting in touch, you’re more likely to work with them again. It’s also nice to hear some kind words about your work and why they think their client would be a good match.
What do PRs do that’s bad?
When PR agencies get in touch with Dear Blogger and suggest you work with their client because it will fit in with the style and aesthetic of your blog without giving you much to go on, and you spend time replying to find it couldn’t be a worse match. It shows that they haven’t taken the time to look at your blog at all, and is probably a generic email that’s been sent out. It’s like giving a Big Mac to a vegetarian. So not cool.
What was your blogging highlight of 2013?
My blog is coming up to its first birthday, so there were many milestones and highlights in 2013. For me though, the biggest highlight was my first personal email from a reader saying thank you for my words and how it had helped them during a bad day. There’s nothing better than knowing you’ve reached out and made an impact on someone. It’s that warm fuzzy feeling right there.
What will be big in your blogosphere in 2014?
I’m looking forward to Blogtacular in May, a conference for new bloggers in London and has some fantastic keynote speakers from the UK and the USA. A perfect chance to meet up with some great blogging friends too as well as receiving tips and ideas at the workshops.
An interview with Jen Stanbrook, author of the interior design blog Love Chic Living. Jen discusses how she convinces her readers to have beautiful homes – even after having children, embracing the social networking community, and offers advice on how PRs can build a mutually beneficial relationship with bloggers.
Why should people read your blog?
Love Chic Living is aimed at anyone who loves a bit of contemporary style and design in their family home, and who also wants a little bit of achievable inspiration. I run regular features on wallpaper, offer tips on interior design and showcase women who run their own small design business in Design Divas. If you want a little encouragement in experimenting with colour, techniques, new trends and accessories why not give it a read.
What makes your blog different?
I think there are lots of wonderful design and interiors blogs out there, some more attainable than others but I hope mine is stylish without scaring people away. Love Chic Living is about creating a beautiful family home, and convincing people you don’t have to give up on your interiors just because you have children.
What’s your favourite blog and why?
Oh there are just too many to pick just one. For their variety and diversity in the interiors blogging world, I love Patchwork Harmony, Bright Bazaar, The Design Sheppard, Tidy Away Today, The Treasure Hunter and of course, Apartment Therapy.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to start a blog?
Do a bit of research, maybe a course if you can so you can understand a little about blogs and blogging before you start. Fundamentally you have to love your topic, or your niche, if you have one. If you don’t, you’ll soon lose interest and it will show in your writing. Embrace the community, network with others, comment on other blogs, go to workshops and conferences, and learn what you can about the technical side. Understanding Google rules, SEO and how to maintain your blog will put you in a great position when you start talking to a PR. Knowledge is power!
How does a good PR work with you?
In a variety of ways really. They know my blog, have read my About page and looked at a variety of posts before getting in touch. The initial email is personal to me, is honest, truthful and appreciates that I get a huge amount of email every day asking me for my time. If they want to collaborate, they have a clear idea on the campaign or project, how they’d like me to be involved and what they are offering in return. They work on building a relationship and always respond to emails. If I’ve pitched an idea to them, they reply quickly even if it’s a no. They don’t reply and offer me a press release instead!
What do PRs do that’s bad?
Expect me to offer my blog as a platform for promoting their client and expect that I’d do this for free. I’m not saying that every PR has to offer money or a product, far from it, but they do have to respect that I’ve worked long and hard to build up a readership, a ranking in search engines and a strong following. If they want a part of that for their client they do need to offer some kind of compensation. I do find good PR’s are becoming much more creative and offering interesting and worthwhile collaborations. These are the relationships that last and hopefully grow stronger over time. Working with brands and PR’s is one of the huge blogging rewards for me and I look for collaborations that will work over a longer period. And offering me constant press releases and high res images in a bid to get their client covered on my blog isn’t the way to build a relationship!
92% of UK journalists are on Twitter, how important is it to bloggers?
I think it depends on what type of blogger you are, but generally Twitter plays a key role in blogging. It’s incredibly important for spreading a message and can be hugely powerful when bloggers come together to talk about a certain topic, cause or brand. The reach can be phenomenal and many more PR’s are tapping into that and want to be part of it.
Discussing the best ways for brands and PRs to work with bloggers, this is a guest post by Vicki Day, author of the blog MrsD-Daily.
I enjoy blogs – both reading them and writing my own. But over the last few years the nature of blogs have changed. Real-life stories on topics both personal and niche have now gone mainstream, curated and created simply for marketing brands.
However, while brands piggybacking on bloggers is understandable, and can even be rewarding for all involved, the approaches used by brand PRs can drive me to despair. Here’s why:
Bloggers are never asked, they’re told
PRs fail to get the intended brand message out when they don’t consult with bloggers on what works for them. Bloggers know what excites or best appeals to their readers, but they are seldom asked, but rather told what to write. We need to stop treating bloggers as mere advertising tools and instead work with them to get the best out of their writing style and perspective.
One size doesn’t fit all
Instead of carpet bombing every known blogger, PRs would do better to select only those blogs that they have read and feel best fit the profile of the brand in question. PRs should discuss the project individually with each blogger they approach and ask them how they would like to get involved. The blogger will know what works best, be it a sponsored post, an advert or, if they are on an affiliate scheme, a sequence of themed posts. The important thing to remember is that no two blogs are the same, even if the topics they cover are. Using a one size fits all approach is not viable.
Bloggers love affiliate schemes for a wide range of reasons and I do feel they are under-used. First, they give the blogger a chance to earn commission through the links for the life of the post, and second, the tracking links give great data to the blogger and valuable information for brands to track purchasing patterns. In my experience, PRs don’t always realise the significance of this data and just want to push the product/service out.
I often interact with PRs wanting to work with bloggers during the pre-launch phase of a brand or product. On many occasions I have explained to PRs that it would be better to cover the launch after using the product in question, using affiliate links to prove the campaign works. However, my suggestion falls on deaf ears.
Cut out the competitions farce
PRs have a tendency to ask bloggers to promote a brand through competitions in which entrants “might win” a prize. Far too often, what these magic words actually mean is that no one actually wins anything at all.
If the PRs’ main objective is to maximise coverage and create brand awareness, then that’s really all they have to communicate. Bloggers are the best judge of what peaks their readers’ interests and gains long-term loyalty, so let them get on with it, and don’t force on them short-term attention-grabbing gimmicks.
Communicating with transparency and honesty – that’s what blogging was all about in the first place, right?
Our guest blogger Vicki Day has been in retail for 30 years ‘from being Santa’s boss to running an Ikea store.’ She has been blogging since 2009 and sees herself as a cyber-sales assistant.
What do you think? Are Vicki’s suggestions practical? Comment below or tweet your response to @CisionUK
Cision’s Top 10 Social Media blogs has been featured in the CorpComms magazine this week. The article names the three leading blogs on the list and explains what helps them make the cut.
The article interviewed Cision’s managing director Tom Ritchie and the company’s research team leader, Mital Patel, to understand the analysis and algorithm involved in determining blog rankings.
Cision’s Social Media Index is a weekly feature on the company’s website that is getting increasingly popular for being one of the most influential and definitive blog ranking lists available in the UK. The blog data is available from CisionPoint’s extensive media database and covers a wide range of topics including fashion, beauty, interior design, mummy blogs, food among other popular subjects.
‘Content marketing is the only marketing left,’ claims Seth Godin, marketing guru and bestselling author. He’s right because if trend analysis are anything to go by, the future of trade lies right here on the Internet. However, having a website and arbitrary presence on social media sites is not enough, because on the Internet it is the quality of content that sets you apart and gives your brand a competitive edge.
The key to successful digital marketing therefore begins with a story well told, and in this respect the humble blog is your winning bet. A blog breathes life back into the salesman and replaces his sales pitch, with a well narrated encounter or experience. The communication however needs to be strategic and structured to be able to get your brand the right kind of visibility – one that converts clicks to actual sales.
And it seems to be working. The 2013 Digital Influence Report, blog ranking site Technorati found that UK retail sales directly via social media are forecast to grow to £290m by 2014 from £210m, a 44% increase in two years. Of the social media platforms, the study indicated that blogs are the biggest online sources of information to influence and generate sales.
The claim is supported by findings from a global study conducted by eBay which also highlighted the vital role social media, particularly blogs, play in influencing and driving retail sales.
So how does a mummy blogger’s rant on the lack of sleep, or a teenager’s shopping wish-list, or an accountant’s blog of his painstaking work day (etc etc) convert to sales? They do, because they are real, or at least meant to be.
One can hardly argue that reading about a personal experience, no matter how mundane it may be, is far more interesting than the cleverest sales pitch, and definitely more persuasive in establishing a perspective.
So, when the mummy blogger drops in the name of the coffee brand that helps her through the day, or the teenager discloses the ‘awesome’ deal she clinched on a pair of jeans, and the accountant mentions, hmmm, maybe also the brand of coffee that gets him through his profession, readers are taking their word for it. And marketers are ready to pay popular bloggers for these words.
In doing so, marketers have turned blogging into a real profession. While there are plenty of success stories of bloggers drawing in over £100,000 a month, an article in Forbes explained how a mere mention of a phone application can make an average blogger £5,000 richer. Holidays, shopping trips and free gadgets are just some of the other perks that often come with writing a blog about the related product or service.
However, as competition tightens in blogosphere, the risk of muddying content with a blatant sales-driven agenda has increased. Google’s updated webmaster guidelines released in June, were aimed at protecting good content, from advertising. It would benefit marketers and individual bloggers to remember that the success of the blog began with a story, and this art of storytelling needs to be kept alive.
How to turn your blog into a story that sells in 5 simple steps:
The Spice Scribe will be featured in this week’s Media Updates. Author Zoe Perrett spoke to Cision about India’s diverse cuisine, working with PR and Chowder Singh’s amazing blog.
Why should people read your blog?
For a fresh perspective on Indian food. I write about India’s vastly diverse cuisine as a thoroughly British girl with a huge hunger for knowledge and understanding of a food culture I have no links to, beyond an endless love for what it brings to the table.
Through ‘Culinary Adventures of The Spice Scribe’, I can share everything I learn with an audience who hopefully are similarly keen to discover the complexities and nuances of such a fascinating cuisine. I mix things up – pondering on ancient food traditions one week; exploring new products from emerging Indian brands the next.
A major part of my mission is to demonstrate that it’s possible to experience the full length and breadth of Indian food culture through seeking out the regional food specialities available right here in the UK. I love using the blog as a platform to showcase the talents of supper club hosts, small producers and chefs – many of whom have become close friends.
The most important issue in your blogosphere is… bearing in mind my audience. Although I now write for many other publications and websites about Indian food, the blog is where I initially earned the loyal support of the many Indian foodies I admire and hold in great esteem.
When writing posts, I am always intent on remaining worthy of their respect. I’d hate to disappoint my readers! It’s a great motivator – there’s nothing like the thrilling feeling of being complimented on a piece. When someone tells me the blog’s inspired them, I am left breathless.
What’s your favourite blog and why?
Chowder Singh’s amazing street food guide. This guy is seriously under-followed and under-rated. I stumbled upon his blog – nay, oracle – when researching Indian foods with protected statuses. After clicking onto his post about jauzi halwa, I lost the best part of a day immersed in the discoveries he shares so well.
I love that Chowder Singh writes with a distinctive, colloquial voice. He claims to merely eat the streets, but has just as much hunger to unearth the story behind each speciality, and an appetite to share it forth. He is a generous fellow, too, always ready to share gyaan (knowledge). In fact, he taught me that Hindi word – along with ‘jugaad’ (Indian ingenuity), which his blog exemplifies!
How often do you aim to post?
Once a week as a rule of thumb – but where a post garners significant interest and remains a relevant talking point (like with my recent bumper guide to an Indian foodie summer in London), I may leave it as the top post for slightly longer.
How do you feel about guest posts?
They need to work within the context of the blog. My friend Sheba Promod provided a wonderfully evocative piece on ‘a Keralan Christmas’ last year, but generally I’d prefer to write a piece myself and present the story of an individual, brand or product as an interview or profile – like with my posts on Ivor Peters and Nilanjani Pai.
How does a good PR work with you?
First of all – know what I’m all about. I’ve created a strong brand identity with The Spice Scribe, with a presence on Twitter and Facebook as well as the blog, so it’s not particularly difficult to gauge what might appeal – and what’s complete anathema to me!
I appreciate carefully tailored communications, where I feel my personal involvement is important to the PR. I like to keep things interesting, so approaching me with products/restaurants/celebrities/books underpinned by stories worthy of a more creative, cerebral post than a simple ‘tried this/went here/met them’ write-up will be well received!
What do PRs do that’s bad?
Sending generic press releases on things that have little or no relevance whatsoever to your blog; pestering you incessantly; not being proactive when you need information or images…
PRs must also remember that their role is to achieve the very best results for their clients – both present and future. When you deal with an ineffectual or rude PR, you’re not inclined to feature any of their clients further down the line.
After writing that James Harding seemed to have an easy first day, the BBC was struck with another Newsnight scandal. Beardgate, as the event has inevitably been dubbed, has caused a storm of comment, opinion and ridiculous comparison pics. That’s right, Jeremy Paxman has a beard.
However, a very real issue has emerged(!) The statement refers to the irrational fear of beards as ‘pognophobic’ rather than the correct ‘pogonophobic’. Yet an outcry that Paxman, or Paxman’s scribe, seemingly can’t spell or fact check is yet to materialise.
Facial media (as it shall hence be known) provided a wealth of comedy gold from @AquilaRift’s:
BY PAXMAN’S BEARD I WILL HAVE MY VENGEANCE, IN THIS LIFE OR THE NEXT
— Alastair Reynolds (@AquilaRift) August 13, 2013
To Cision’s own @KesterF:
— Kester Ford (@KesterF) August 13, 2013
The story seemed to keep developing, leading it to trend on Twitter a number of times. Cision Social Media can give further insight:
The topic hit the news sites, and then newspapers, like they didn’t have anything better to report (though we still await a live blog tracking the beard’s movements):
The Express reported Paxman’s statement, repeating the spelling error in its headline. It also used a member of the public’s description that it looks like a ‘Santa’ beard.
The Guardian published a poll on its Comment is free section, flying in the face of ‘This is a Silly Season story’ theories. A string of further articles have appeared with the Guardian’s coverage somewhere between ‘publications are reporting this’ and a gallery of badly Photoshopped beards on a range of ‘celebrities’. Including Mary Beard.
The BBC, cultivating its own back yard, decided to report that the beard trended on Twitter and highlighted a selection of celebrity tweets on the ‘issue’.
And the Telegraph published… well this.
On the blogs
Over on the blogosphere, the issue is no less pressing.
The Media Blog took its lead from the Mail Online, repurposing the headline and some choice Mail Online reader comments.
Contactmusic.com poured a healthy dose of scorn onto the story being so popular.
PoliticalBetting.com launched its own survey accompanied by the news that Ladbrokes have given 4/5 odds that the beard will last the week and 2/1 that is will last the rest of the year.
And finally, no article about beards and the media would ever be complete without the opinion of Mr Evgeny Lebedev, newspaper proprietor and beard wearer extraordinaire. He has written a column about Paxman’s beard in the Evening Standard.
As Silly Season rolls on, the media looks set to hold on to Paxman’s beard until he shaves. For the sake of 24-hour news coverage, we can only hope that isn’t anytime soon.
Siân To is the founder of Cybher, a UK female blogger event. Also a founder of former mummy blogger event CyberMummy, Siân created Cybher to target all female bloggers rather than just mums. We asked Siân to explain her views on bloggers and their relationships with brands.
In 2010 I was already starting to feel the negativity surrounding mummy bloggers and with the second CyberMummy in 2011 we only made that worse. There were too many brand sponsors and too many bloggers on the take. We’d spawned this whole new generation of mums thinking that they could get all the freebies they could ever want, if they started a blog.
Brands were (and some still are) lacking in knowledge and so they started throwing product around like it was going out of fashion. Blog coverage became a tick box on client reports without anyone being asked to quantify quality, reach or return on investment.
Parent blogger networks and events like CyberMummy simply accelerated what was happening. A blogger didn’t have to be able to create a good blog or even string simple sentences together because, to the brands, they were still the next best thing.
Parent blogs were all about reviews. Even the more established bloggers were getting sucked in. People stopped writing about the passionate stuff that drew them to blogging in the first place and great content was replaced by lame, unoriginal reviews that swept the community.
Traffic stats started to be over-inflated, sponsored posts weren’t being declared, comment rings sprung up in closed Facebook groups and the community shared, over shared and shouted about just how much money they’d been able to screw out of brand and how they only had a couple of blog visitors a week.
So I created Cybher, a conference event for all female bloggers, not just mums.
From the outset, Cybher was the cool event in town. Bloggers didn’t feel it was appropriate to beg for personal brand sponsors to fund their adventure and I didn’t want Cybher to turn into that. I concentrated on creating good content and workshops that were run by inspiring speakers.
The women buying Cybher tickets were established bloggers with loyal readers, reach and influence. They weren’t the new breed of blagger bloggers.
I limited brand sponsor opportunities, banned the crappy swag bag mentality and secured a partnership with The Leather Satchel Company that allowed me to gift every delegate a bespoke Cybher Leather Satchel that could be used forever more.
Post event, sales went through the roof for The Leather Satchel Company and we proved that brands could still benefit from working with the right bloggers.
My biggest disappointment was that Cybher was still being classed as a mummy blogger event. I turned away so many interested brand sponsors because I refused to compromise and allow baby brands in.
In order to further differentiate myself from the parent blogger events, I focused hard on best practice, produced factually accurate content and encouraged bloggers to learn and make informed decisions about the way they conduct themselves. Criticism came (it was only to be expected) after we publicly announced that links in Cybher sidebar badges had all been made no-follow. The reason? Well Cybher is a commercial business and as such our little ‘See you at Cybher’ badges could be seen as ads by Google and we weren’t willing to risk that.
We are confident in the natural growth of our site’s page rank because of the content we post. We aren’t about boosting numbers in order to shout about our huge influence to any brand or agency willing to part with their budget in return for event sponsorship or useless Twitter parties.
Our best practice approach ruffled a fair few feathers and people were shouting from the rooftops about Cybher being the blogging police and that we had interpreted Google’s T&Cs incorrectly. We stuck firm, and slowly (and very quietly) others began to follow our lead.
I want what I do to be different. I don’t see any point in replicating what’s already been done and I certainly don’t try to screw every brand for every possible penny they have and then fail to deliver any tangible results. I want brands to want to work with Cybher again and that mentality works.
Cybher 2014 has been confirmed for Saturday 31 May 2014 at 8 Northumberland Avenue. Sian will also be running a master class called, ‘Effective Blogger Outreach in 10 Easy Steps’ at Social Media Week London on 24 September.
The twelfth hour has struck, proving both the bookies and social media right. Peter Capaldi was announced as the next actor to play Doctor Who during a live programme on BBC One. Cue reaction.
The topic was hugely popular on social media, even though there was a ‘Twitter Silence’ protest. Doctor Who received hundreds of thousands of mentions on social networking sites, peaking to coincide with the BBC One show.
Using Cision Social Media, we can see that the discussion was inextricably linked with the swearing spin-doctor role that made Peter Capaldi famous. Malcolm Tucker’s mentions were joined by the character’s favourite four-letter expletive, which has been blurred in case there are children reading this. ‘Malcolm Tucker’ is trending again this morning, with the YouTube video: ‘Malcolm Tucker IS Dr Who!’ making the rounds [NSFW language, surprisingly].
Cision’s UK Influencer Search tool reveals how widely the topic appeals and how many niche blogs can find an angle to include the story.
Political and social blog, Mars Hill, published a short post saying: ‘A Good Choice as the 12th Doctor!’ The blog included the trailer for Peter Capaldi’s breakout film Local Hero.
No Rock and Roll Fun.com published: ‘How Altered images and Spandau Ballet made the new Doctor Who’. The post reports that Peter Capaldi once supported Spandau Ballet on tour.
Sofeminine went with: ‘Congratulations pour in for new Doctor Who Peter Capaldi – but some think he’s too old’. The article examines the reactions from people connected with the show and the general public.
Contactmusic.com chose to highlight a small segment of the actor’s on-air interview, in a post titled: ‘Peter Capaldi Lied To His Family Over Doctor Who Role’. It sounds more dramatic than it is.
WhatsOnStage highlighted Peter Capaldi’s previous theatre work, with roles in The Ladykillers and Twelfth Night. The article also examines the relationship previous Doctor Who actors have with the stage.
Fat Frocks focused completely on the Doctor Who Experience, an exhibition in Cardiff, with the only tie-in a P.S. stating, ‘CAPALDI!! Are you excited?!’
And finally, Live Like a VIP included the news in its ‘Mega Monday Music And Party Gossip’ alongside Eva Longoria looking ‘angelic’ and Rihanna ‘having fun’ in Barbados. Apparently Peter Capaldi will: ‘Excite the parents (and the mums) more than the kids’.
The news is still gaining coverage and is almost certainly the biggest PR stunt of the Doctor’s career. Have you read an interesting article about Peter Capaldi’s appointment? Let us know in the comments below.
As you may have heard, Kate Middleton and Prince William have a new baby boy that will one day be the King of England. The world’s media has splashed the story across its front pages covering everything from the baby’s weight to the fact it’s a boy (there’s not much to go on).
The blogosphere, not to be left behind, has put its own spin on the new Prince’s arrival:
An American Girl in Chelsea covers the story with a picture of the easel and a line about how exciting the birth was. The post includes predictions for the yet-to-be-announced name, though Cision’s favourite ‘Legoland’ isn’t one of them.
Cornwall SEO joins the topic with ‘Killer Royal Baby Headline Ideas’ discussing both positive and negative linkbait headlines that can be associated with the birth. Of the suggestions, ‘10 Rappers and the cool things they say about the Royal Baby’ has got to work in any context.
Liberal Conspiracy uses the royal birth as a context for discussions about the country’s future. What will the country be like when the boy is king? The post says: ‘He will likely begin his reign in the last decades of the twenty-first century’, a useful marker for discussing the next one hundred years.
BritMums discusses the positivity of the event and how it, ‘enabled many of us to channel our synchronised happiness’. It is also a chance to, ‘live (or relive) our birth experiences vicariously through Kate’s.’ This is not the end of BritMum’s coverage with the promise of more posts to come.
WJ London uses the story to discuss the possibility of a monarchy-free Britain.
And finally, for something slightly different, Anna Chen has written a poem about the new baby titled, ‘Eating Placenta: lines on the royal birth’.
This week, the biggest stories from the web feature three British stars (Rowling, Sugar and Rooney), and one British pastime (talking about the weather).
Using Cision Social Media, we can reveal which story received the most social media attention:
The biggest story of the week is Wayne Rooney being left ‘angered and confused’ by Manchester United. The striker has also been linked with Chelsea and Arsenal, driving his social media mentions above the other big stories of the week. Of the many hashtags that have arisen about Rooney, #ThingsThatAngerAndConfuseWayneRooney was an organic trend that attracted further media attention.
The story made it onto Just Arsenal, in a post discussing the transfer targets of Chelsea and Arsenal. Finishing with the line: ‘I for one would be happy to see him in an Arsenal shirt and would love for us to get our own back for van Persie’, the post has generated a lot of discussion.
CaughtOffside reports the Daily Telegraph story that Petr Cech, Chelsea keeper, would love to see Wayne Rooney at the club.
Paul Stallard’s PR Blog uses the Rooney interest to talk recruitment. Comparing senior staff appointments to star striker transfers, Paul lists five top tips for making an impact at a PR agency.
The second biggest story comes from Lord Sugar’s latest ‘Apprentice’ hire. As 40% of peak time Twitter traffic is also watching TV, The Apprentice’s inclusion should come as no surprise. If you haven’t watched it yet, and want to, look away now.
Unreality TV has published Dr Christian Jessen’s [of Embarrassing Bodies fame] tweets suggesting the winning business from Dr Leah Totton needs more senior guidance. His social media comments include: ‘The apprentice winner in question may well be entirely competent but I do worry about the image projected on the show of these procedures’.
DD’s Diary expresses some disappointment at the winning business idea. The post argues: ‘No longer something that only celebrities resort to as a guilty secret, popping into a Dr Leah for a top-up of fillers will be as easy as getting a latte from Starbucks’.
A rather different take comes from The High Tea Cast. With ‘alternative outcomes’ for those that were disappointed in The Apprentice Final, the blog has Leah and Luisa in ‘The Sugar Games’, ‘The Apprentice and the Tidey Sideys’, and ‘Lord of the Sugar’.
The surprisingly seasonal weather was the next biggest topic of the week, with the heatwave taking people surprise and causing more than a few gripes. It proved to be a burning issue on the web [sorry, couldn’t resist], with a mixture of reports and tips.
The UK Travel Blog published the news that Britain’s heatwave is now at level three (according to the Met Office warnings). The post also reveals that this is the most prolonged heatwave since 2006; there isn’t an official law stopping employees from working in high temperatures; and the only other level available from the Met Office is level 4 – a national emergency.
The Guardian’s Food & Drink section provides tips on what to eat during a heatwave, with dishes that require little cooking time and advice on ‘cooling foods’. This is far more upbeat than the Guardian’s other take on the heatwave, ‘Will the heatwave kill us all?’
Frank Chalk sums up his feelings toward the extreme heat in a short post that starts: ‘I can’t help but think that we’re getting a bit carried away with this “heatwave” stuff’.
And finally, for those pseudonym fans out there, JK Rowling has released a novel under the penname ‘Robert Galbraith’. The story, which many thought was a publicity stunt, has since been revealed to be a leak from a law firm; the BBC reports that Rowling is very angry at the news.
Jack of Kent has chosen to focus on the law firm leak and posed the question: ‘Can J.K. Rowling sue for breach of confidentiality?’ It discusses the case in legal terms and the likelihood of a successful lawsuit.
Girl Lost in the City questions why JK Rowling felt the need to hide behind a male name. Exploring what it means to write as a woman and to write ‘genderless’ the post compares the move to the Bronte sisters.
AbeBooks’ Reading Copy
can possibly claim the best headline with: ‘Breaking News: JK Rowling Actually a Man Named Robert Galbraith’. The post goes on to suggest the whole thing is a clever piece of marketing and applauds JK Rowling for her excellent work.
What do you think of the biggest stories of the week? Was there anything that happened that we should have included? Let us know in the comments below.
Kate and Wills are expecting the future king or queen any day now, and speculation of what they’ll name it is at fever pitch. What are the most likely options from Twitter?
The bookies currently list Charlotte as favourite, closely followed by Alexandra, Elizabeth, Victoria, Diana, George, Eleanor, Alice, Mary and James. It is likely that the royal baby will have multiple names, like father-to-be ‘William Arthur Philip Louis’ or uncle-to-be ‘Henry Charles Albert David’. It is also presumed the baby will be female, as Kate apparently ‘let it slip’ (though St James’ Palace deny that the couple know the sex of the baby).
Using Vuelio Social Media, we can see which names from the bookies’ top ten have been predicted for the #royalbaby:
Diana, possibly unsurprisingly, comes out on top with many people predicting it will be included at least as a middle name, if not the first name. Bookies’ favourite Charlotte isn’t a popular choice at all, placing behind the Queen’s (and Kate’s Middle) name, and top boy’s name George.
These names are more traditional suggestions but there are other choices open to the royal couple. The Metro has suggested Khaleesi, from the über popular Game of Thrones, is in the mix, and Kate’s own mother’s name – Carole – should surely be considered? Then there’s the baby’s uncle Harry, who is popular among the masses.
Across the blogosphere, the topic is also a popular post with theories about the naming process being discussed intently:
Political and social blog, Mars Hill, discusses the difficulties of choosing a non-royal baby name and the extra challenges Kate and Wills are facing. It suggests name such as Richard, John, Matilda and Jane may be controversial as they have negative connotations with monarchs past. Mars Hill suggests the will be original – so Khaleesi it is then.
PopSugar UK include Princess Diana’s maiden name Spencer as a possibility, though highlights the fact royal babies tend to have classic, historical family names.
The Gingerbread House reports that Baby TV launched a royal baby-naming competition, with Philip and Diana the most popular choices for each gender. The blog also reveals that 60% of British mums choose their child’s name with dads having just 21% influence (is Kate a Game of Thrones fan?).
So we have our new list of possible names: Khaleesi, Carole, Harry, Spencer and Philip. There is, of course, the possibility that any name will be chosen; Ladbrokes has given ‘Psy’ and ‘North’ odds of 5000/1. Instead of copying Kim and Kanye exactly, the royals could make their own humorous first and last name combination:
Best suggestion I’ve heard so far for the royal baby’s name: Legoland (as in ‘Legoland Windsor’).
— John Stratford (@johnstratford) December 4, 2012
Using Cision Social Media once again, we can create the top ‘Alternative Royal Baby Names’:
Unsurprisingly, considering Twitter’s sense of humour, Legoland has come out on top and is therefore the favourite alternative name. Carole, while untraditional, probably has a fair chance of making into the future monarch’s name. Vuelio’s hopes still rest with Khaleesi, not a popular choice but a name clearly fit for the future queen of England.
Vuelio has already experienced royal baby fever and published the top 10 UK baby blogs.The graphs were made with data from Vuelio Social Media. All of the blogs mentioned feature in the Vuelio Media Database.
As bloggers have become an increasingly popular target for PRs, it can sometimes be difficult to distinguish adverts from content. In the UK, critics accuse bloggers of failing to disclose the true nature of sponsored posts. Is it possible to maintain the character of a reliable blog and turn it into a successful business?
A survey conducted by Cosmopolitan magazine last year found that 57% of women in the UK turn to fashion blogs for inspiration. The most popular blogs attract many young readers, making them appealing to advertisers and PR professionals. SE Smith, writing in the Guardian, said: ‘When bloggers review items, readers are forced to ask themselves whether the blogger is doing so independently or if compensation is being offered’, highlighting that influential bloggers often means influenced bloggers.
According to the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008, it must be clearly stated if content is sponsored and paid for by PR or advertising companies. Nik Thakkar, a fashion creative and the writer behind pop couture blog KARL IS MY UNKLE, is one of many bloggers approached by PR professionals every day. As Thakkar works very closely with brands, there are occasions when he has partnered on branded content.
He said: ‘Transparency is key and forms the basis of the story for the post. It is clear what is partner content or something that I have involvement in on a creative level. In the body of the text, I would specify the relationship that I have with the brand so that it is fully transparent as to how each party is being rewarded.’
A Norwegian marketing experiment illustrated how influential bloggers can be when used in promotional campaigns. Fruit brand Chiquita wanted to introduce its new smoothie to the Norwegian market but was faced with limited availability of space in Norwegian grocery stores and a small marketing budget. Four so-called rosabloggere (pink bloggers) were chosen to head the campaign, using the slogan ‘Choose Fruit’.
The rosabloggere, namely girls aged between 13 and 25 blogging about their daily lives and wardrobes, are dominating the Norwegian blogosphere and generating huge incomes from PR and advertising.
In order to take ownership of Chiquita’s campaign, the bloggers were trained to become healthy role models and taught how to answer their readers’ dieting questions. They were also supplied with pictures, videos and a smoothie-related quiz. Despite heavy competition, the national distribution of Chiquita’s smoothie increased by 70%.
Mainstream Norwegian media regularly reports on how the pink bloggers can make up to £70,000 a year from sponsored posts and adverts. Although the exposure of personal income is frowned upon in many countries, it is accepted in Norway, where you can discover how much your neighbour makes and pays in tax every year via a simple Google search. Norway might be a unique example, but it could prove that greater openness helps blog readers understand the proportion of advertisement and PR material that are used in blogs.
UK blogger Ian Brown has never included a paid advertorial on his blog Diary of a Fashion Mister. ‘I think that a lot more goes on behind the scenes than consumers are necessarily aware of. Even if money doesn’t exchange hands, bloggers are courted and gifted generously in exchange for favourable coverage,’ he said.
Although readers are relying on bloggers to provide them with trustworthy information, Smith underlines that bloggers are also people trying to make a living rather than ‘institutions from whom readers expect means of self-support’. So where do you draw the ethical line?
‘I think PR is valid and a great resource for bloggers. Information about the latest launches is essential to keep one’s finger on the pulse of what’s happening,’ Brown said. ‘There is no shame in receiving remuneration for one’s efforts, providing one creates authentic and engaging content that resonates with people.’
The Norwegian Consumer Ombudsman, an independent administrative body appointed by the government, published an online guide for ethical blogging as an attempt to protect readers from being misguided by sponsored content. The Ombudsman has also set an ambitious goal of removing all unmarked sponsored content from newspapers and blogs by the end of 2013.
An official framework guiding UK bloggers on advertising and the use of sponsored content is not currently in place. The Advertising Standards Authority, an official body to which consumers can complain about inappropriate advertising, does not have the legislative power to implement change. As the business of blogging grows, there’s an increasing focus on full disclosure. After all, people deserve to know what they are reading.
This is a guest post by Ingvild Vetrhus. Ingvild is a researcher who works with CisionPoint‘s Danish and Norwegian journalist information.
mother.wife.me is a blog featured in this week’s Media Updates. Author Luci McQuitty Hindmarsh is passionate about charitable causes and has clear views on PRs offering to ‘help out’.
Why should people read your blog?
Because it isn’t so much a parenting blog as a life and lifestyle blog written by a parent.
In my blogosphere everyone is talking about Comic Relief’s 25th Anniversary Red Nose Day and Save The Children’s ‘The Power Of The First Hour’ campaign because many of us bloggers care deeply about using our blogs to support charitable causes.
What’s your favourite blog and why?
The Bloggess because of her irreverent comic genius – what looks like mindless babble is rarely ever just that. Oh that I could manage this, I am far more likely to just produce mindless babble.
How often do you aim to post?
I aim to post two to three times per week. Sometimes it goes up and sometimes it goes down, dependent on how inspired I am feeling and how much time I can devote to blogging around being a parent and freelance work projects.
How do you feel about guest posts?
Paid for guest posts? Yip, I run these, but I always write them myself because I want to ensure the content is in keeping with my blog and enjoyable for my readers.
PRs offering to write guest posts to ‘help me out’? Nah, I don’t like this. I’ve been approached a few times recently to do this and it isn’t a concept that sits well with me. To me it seems like a bit of a sneaky way to get space for free. If you want space for your client on my blog and you don’t have a story that I can use editorially, then you need to pay me to write a sponsored post.
How does a good PR work with you?
The best PRs have a real understanding of blogging and social media.
They take the time to at least have a basic knowledge of a blogger’s blog before approaching them.
They treat bloggers the same way as they treat journalists, they take the time to build a relationship and keep in touch with relevant media information.
PR companies that do this really well include Slam PR, Cohn & Wolfe, Frank PR and Bright Star Digital.
What do PRs do that’s bad?
It’s really unimpressive when someone approaches as if they are doing you a favour, when actually they are after something from you.
Randomly sending through press releases without any kind of an introduction.
Assume that all bloggers will happily write reams of words in return for the privilege of being given a ‘free’ product. Product samples are product samples, not freebies. Reviews take time and effort, a great review from an established blogger is something of value.
Kash Bhattacharya, a travel blogger specialising in budget travel, launched his first blog EuropeBudgetGuide.com in 2009. Kash, who was out of work at the time, says blogging was a way to feel a sense of purpose and at the same time acted as an outlet for reliving his holiday memories. “My previous experience in the publishing industry meant I witnessed the shift from print to online. I saw blogging as a great way to discover what this new medium could offer. The blog was a hobby and a passion of mine but at the back of my mind I always dreamt of a day I could make a living from it. The problem was that in order to make money from a blog I needed exposure to stand out from the crowd of travel bloggers.”
Kash therefore began using other social media channels. “I discoveredsocial networks like Twitter with a thriving community of travellers sharing their holiday inspiration. For my Twitter and Facebook profiles I picked the name ‘BudgetTraveller’ that summed up my niche. This made me stand out from the crowd and was when my ‘brand’ was born and my blog started getting noticed.” The big break came a year after the blog was launched when easyJet selected Kash to be in their 15 hour blogger challenge. “They filmed me and interviewed me in their in-flight magazine which really raised my profile among ordinary travellers.”
Since then Kash has been working with various companies and on a variety of projects. “Earlier this year I was invited on the blogtrip of a lifetime by the Costa Brava Tourism Board. Together with 15 of the world’s best travel bloggers I was given access to the best travel experiences that this region could offer. We created a great impact with 17 million impressions on social networks which made it a big breakthrough in terms of demonstrating the impact travel bloggers can offer to Destination Marketing Organisations (DMO). Since that trip the Polish, Dutch and French Tourism Boards have invited me on their first ever blogtrips. easyJet Holidays, bmibaby and Hostelbookers are now my blog partners. My blogging career is definitely on an upward curve and I have started to make a living from the blogs.”
Kash launched his second blog BudgetTraveller this summer. “BudgetTraveller is a bigger, more ambitious blog that is focusing on budget travel from a more global perspective. While EuropeBudgetGuide.com has been very successful in terms of building a loyal audience, it limits my scope and ability to work with brands and DMOs beyond Europe so it was natural progression. As I’m known as the BudgetTraveller on social networks that name was a given.”
So how has the blogosphere changed in the two years since Kash launched his first blog? “I think, like myself, many travel bloggers set out to blog about their travel experiences. Then, thanks to the popularity of other social media networks, we now have access to a range of powerful outlets to help promote our blogs and discover a bigger readership. Social media also gives great feedback from readers and travel brands about what kind of content they are looking for. I think with their defined niches and very loyal readerships some travel blogs have developed a unique brand. This is something very attractive to travel companies looking for new ways to expand their brand. What we’re seeing currently are some very exciting partnerships between travel bloggers and travel companies. I’ve received a fantastic response from various companies about partnership opportunities. Things are looking very exciting for me and the travel blogging industry.”
Making the Pitch: Tips and Advice for Pitching to Kash Bhattacharya
“It helps when PR professionals take the time to read my blog and understand the style and focus of my blog content. I get a surprisingly high number of random pitches from PR professionals asking me to review products that have no relevance to my niche so my key advice is to do your research. A personal touch, even if it’s an introduction by email, always helps before sending us a press release. Feel free to say hello to us on Twitter and introduce yourself to establish the relationship. Contrary to popular perception we do welcome press releases even if bloggers don’t tend to publish news stories on their blogs. The press releases offer valuable insights into the client and trigger ideas for future travel projects.”
Editorial information on BudgetTraveller, EuropeBudgetGuide.com and Kash Bhattacharya, along with thousands of other media contacts and websites, can be found in our CisionPoint media database.
Blogger and Freelancer Karen Bryan launched her first website Europe a la Carte in 2002. Karen says “Europe a la Carte was intended to be a resource for independent travellers putting together their own holiday online and targeted at travellers who can read English and are looking for tips on the best places to visit in Europe.” In October 2006, Karen launched her travel blog, a sub domain of the original site, followed by a personal finance blog called Help Me To Save in August 2011. “It’s not wise to only depend on a single income stream if you’re self employed. I also felt I’d build up a lot of knowledge through Europe a la Carte, which I could use right from the start on another, new web site. I’ve had a lot of personal experience in stretching our family budget, as I’ve been a freelancer for decades and my husband was a contract worker. I thought I could illustrate that you can achieve a balance between saving money, planning for the future and enjoying life in through another blog, Help Me To Save. I believe that there’s a niche for Help Me To Save as a combined personal finance and lifestyle blog. The aim is to help readers set and achieve their own life and financial goals, so they can live the life they want now and in the future.”
Karen increased her social media presence in 2009 when she became a full time blogger. “Twitter has been very useful in making contacts within the online travel community, but I don’t think it reaches the travelling person in the street. I also try to be interactive and promote other people’s interesting material on Twitter and not just constantly showcase my own content. I use Twitter in conjunction with Stumble upon. If a post gets lot of likes on Stumble upon; it can bring a fair amount of traffic to your site. As my Twitter profile is @karenbryan, I can also use that Twitter stream to promote Help Me To Save posts, although I do have a separate @HelpMeToSave Twitter account.” However, Karen is not a great fan of Facebook, “I don’t find it very user friendly. However, I think Facebook is a better channel to reach outside the travel community. I have a personal profile, as well as a Europe a la Carte and Help Me To Save pages. I post several links to a random selection of posts from both my web sites to their respective Facebook pages most days and this brings some additional traffic to my blogs.”
Karen feels that she needs to be more proactive in approaching advertisers for her blogs. “In my opinion, blogs offer very effective advertising for brands. For example, readers who come to Europe a la Carte are specifically looking for information about particular European destinations and there’s still a lot of traffic to some posts which are a few years old. I’m building up Europe a la Carte so it’s one of the first ports of call for people planning a European trip. It’s going to take some time and a lot of effort to establish Help Me To Save, but my aim is for it be in the top 5 UK personal finance blogs.”
Making the Pitch: Tips and Advice for Pitching to Karen Bryan:
“Sending me press releases is a waste of time. I receive so many emails in which I’m asked to give exposure to the PRs clients for the supposed benefit of my readers! I don’t publish rehashes of press releases; I want to have original, unique content on my blog. Ideally, I’d like to receive pitches that are personal to me versus just a general email. That would demonstrate that the PR contacting me has done a bit of research into Europe a la Carte and/or Help me to Save and has thought through how we can work together. I’m not a fan of group press trips; I’d rather go on an individual trip where I can have input into my itinerary. I actually have to turn down a lot of press trips because I can’t afford the time to go plus do the write ups afterward, as I’ve a lot of other tasks such as search engine optimisation, general admin, selling advertising and also writing for another company’s travel blog (sunshine.co.uk).”
See Cision’s Travel and Tourism Module for social media rankings covering topics such as luxury travel & budget travel as well as a downloadable sample of Cision’s Travel and Tourism Premium Media Profiles.
September saw the return of Gemma Cartwright as Editor-in-Chief of Catwalk Queen, a blog she started as a student ten years ago when studying Fashion Journalism at University. Following her graduation, Gemma worked as a freelance writer, mostly for blog publishers Shiny Media. This led to a full time job, and their eventual acquisition of Catwalk Queen.
In 2009, Gemma she took the big decision to leave Catwalk Queen and Shiny Media. “I felt I needed to get out of the ‘bubble’ and try something new.” She decided to return when Aigua Media, who now own Catwalk Queen and other former Shiny Media titles, offered her the Editor-in-Chief role. “The industry has moved on so much since I started Catwalk Queen that it doesn’t feel like coming back to an old job.”
When Gemma started blogging, she says “nobody knew what a blog was and most people thought that what I did was nothing more than messing about on the computer. At the time I never thought that my blog would become a full-time job. I also think that early fashion blogs were often less personal. Now there are bloggers who are celebrities in their own right. They’re style icons, sitting front row at fashion week. Having a blog is seen as a legitimate career, not just a pastime for geeks.”
Gemma is a huge social media advocate, using Twitter and Facebook in particular. ”I use Twitter to ask questions, get opinions and talk to other bloggers, journalists, PRs etc. Facebook is used for engaging with readers. But Twitter is not a replacement for research, and equally research doesn’t just mean going on Wikipedia. Blogs are updated quickly and frequently, so mistakes do get made – but each time you make one of those mistakes it’s a reminder not to get lazy!”
With so many fashion blogs available, Gemma is of the opinion that you have to be one step ahead at all times to keep those visitors coming back. She reads hundreds of fashion blogs, from big, high profile blogs down to tiny, really personal blogs. “I’ve made some great friends through fashion blogging who are now my support network. People to bounce ideas off, to share successes with and to call upon when something goes wrong is invaluable.”
Making the Pitch: Tips and Advice for Pitching to Gemma Cartwright
“No paper! Obviously if a product is being sent it’s useful to get supporting info with it, but why anyone would just send a paper press release in an envelope to a blogger is beyond me! It’s 2011, I spend all day online.
In most cases I prefer short and sweet, with low-res images and the press release pasted into the email. I know a lot of people send things as .doc or .pdf attachments so they look pretty, but to me it’s just one more unnecessary download! Tweets are fine too, anything that gets the point across quickly. I’m not a fan of phone calls, especially those asking me if I got a press release!
My general rule is that I would rather receive too much info / too many press releases than none at all, so I don’t really care how it’s sent so long as I receive it. However, the amount of badly-targeted, irrelevant stuff I’ve been sent over the years is staggering. If you’re going to pitch to a blogger, please look at their site first. I know everyone is busy, but even a cursory glance is better than nothing.”
September saw the launch of travel blogging and media news site Travelllll.com. Co-founder Alastair McKenzie, Vice-Chairman of the British Guild of Travel Writers, believes the travel blogging community has begun to transform itself into a travel blogging industry, organising itself with online networks and forums, social meet-ups and self-improving multi-day conferences. Alastair says “we recognised that, as for any start-up industry, there was a real need for a ‘trade paper’… only without the paper.”
Travelllll.com has two audiences; the one they write for and the one who they know reads them. “We write about travel blogging for an audience of travel bloggers. They range from very capable journalists (joggers) who use blogging to market themselves as ‘centres of authority’ in their subject area and professional bloggers who run ‘monetized’ sites with big statistics, to experienced smaller niche bloggers and new bloggers, finding their way”. However, Alastair acknowledges the wider interest in social media and blogging. He predicts a large number of travel industry professionals will read Travelllll.com too, PRs with travel clients, tourism organisations, and transport and travel providers.
Alastair believes that a great social media presence is important for any start-up company. Travelllll.com is focusing on building a strong presence on Facebook, Twitter and stumbleupon but also has accounts, not yet active, on YouTube, Google+, Audioboo, Gowalla and other networks. While Travelllll.com’s Twitter account looks set to exceed the number of followers of its staff members, each also have their own respectable followings on individual accounts. Alastair said that “for the most part, we will use our social media accounts to carry on the conversations from our post comments and start new ones on smaller issues and side topics”.
As a start up, Travelllll.com’s services and products in the medium to long-term future depend on building their authority and brand in the short term. “We think we’ve launched a very sophisticated platform that’s had a great deal of our own custom development work. With it, we need to concentrate on producing content that our audience really want to consume.” Travelllll.com looks to innovate through technology and also work with consumer brands that are relevant to the people they’re talking to on a daily basis.
Alastair says “For now, our number one goal is to have every travel blogger, PR, tourist board representative & travel provider to load up Travelllll.com each morning with their cup of coffee to see what’s new. That would make us very happy.”
Making the Pitch: Tips and Advice for Pitching to Travelllll.com
I’ve already passed the word around most specialist travel PRs in the UK about Travelllll.com and what we are looking for. I’ve been dealing with them as a travel journalist and editor for over twenty years and each year for the last 9 years I’ve compiled the 2,700 travel industry listings in the British Guild of Travel Writers yearbook, so I know most of them.
For Travelllll.com I don’t want ordinary product and destination press releases or story-idea pitches – we don’t cover consumer travel or trade travel stories. I’m only interested in travel blogger-specific news. I want to know what social media marketing initiatives they are working on that bloggers might be interested in, about blog trips, about research they are doing into social media marketing & ROI, etc. If they are planning a blogtrip or a mixed fam trip of traditional journalists and bloggers, I want to know about it.
Our focus is on bloggers blogging in English, so I also welcome news from international PRs, DMOs, etc about initiatives involving American, Canadian, South African, NZ & Australian bloggers. If you are running a blogger conference in Auckland, or you are inviting Canadian bloggers on a trip to Argentina, that is of interest to us too.
The one area I am weak in is the non-travel sectors, for example Gear and Tech. We want to know about new comms gadgets, software and techniques that travel bloggers can use – mobile wifi routers, tablets, solar-charging, mobile apps, new international roaming charge offers.
For all of this, email is the best way to get in touch. I’m not keen on being interrupted by the phone.
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