An Interview with publicist Alyson Roy and fashion & beauty writer Kristin Booker, written by Alyson Roy
These days, a well-placed blog post can be just as valuable to your Fashion PR client as a print placement, and sometimes, even more effective, especially for brands with an e-commerce presence. But as the blogger space evolves, so do the rules.
I recently sat down with Kristin Booker, fashion and beauty writer (whose blog Fashion Style Beauty is a must-read) to discuss the new playing field.
Read on as Kristin gives us several nuggets of wisdom, including all the major do’s & don’ts of pitching a fashion or beauty blogger…
AR: Is there a day and time you like to receive pitches, and how far in advance do you work on your editorials and posts?
KB: I read pitch emails three times a day, usually: mid-morning (around 10 am), early afternoon (around 3-4) and once more at night around 6. Timing of when they’re sent doesn’t matter as much as what’s in them. I file them as I go through them three times a day.
AR: Do you have any ‘pet peeves’ in terms of dealing with publicists and the way they pitch you?
KB: I’m glad you asked that question. Here’s what I’d love to impart to the lovely men and women of the PR industry:
- Please never address me as “Dear Blogger”
- Please, please get the spelling of my first name right. It shows attention to detail, which means a lot to me. Particularly since I also freelance for five major online media outlets, I need to know that you’ll have the same care and attention for my requests as I will have for yours.
- Please have read the blog and have some idea of what I cover and don’t cover.
- Please understand that posting Facebook contests and other social media pushes on my site doesn’t constitute as editorial content. I know that, you know that, so let’s not fool ourselves. If you’re asking me to push your promotion, that’s an ad, and I charge for those, like every other media publication would.
- Please don’t request barter for things we both know should be paid opportunities. None of us can pay our bills in lipstick.
- Please be careful when sending emails to large distribution lists. Any email where I can see the “To” list of addressees is instantly deleted, for my safety and for everyone else whose email address is now public.
- Please do be clear and up front with pitches. Pleasantries are awesome, but what’s new, exciting and amazing about this product? Is this a sneak preview? Am I getting in on something before anyone else is? Let me know about that, because that’s exciting and it will get me to read your email.
- Please leave Internet abbreviations and colloquial language out of your emails. “LOL” and “ROFLMAO” aren’t going to make us any closer than a professional pitch would.
- If something is time sensitive, that’s awesome to know up front.
- If you need me to send you a rate card or a media kit, absolutely happy to do that. Asking for rates and figures in multiple emails makes both of us messy.
- If a sample needs to be returned, please make sure you state that from the beginning. I assume everything has to be returned unless it’s beauty, in which case it’s not safe or sanitary to do so.
- If it does need to be returned, it would be awesome of you to address a UPS/FedEx slip for me to walk down the street and return it to you. Everyone who has done that has received the sample about a week after I’ve gotten and photographed it.
AR: What is a guarantee a publicist will never hear back from you? What are the huge no-nos?
KB: Addressing me as “Dear Blogger,” following up multiple times on a pitch or a product sample when I’ve explained there might be a delay, and any lack of respect toward what I do. I think respect goes both ways: I value my business relationships and the fact that we’re both trying to accomplish something, so as long as we both have that patient, professional tone, we’ll enjoy a long partnership.
AR: On the flip side, what makes a great pitch?
KB: A professional tone, a breaking news angle, something that shows they know my audience and what I write about. Short, sweet, get to the point very quickly. Attach your facts as a PDF if you can; your pitch will be shorter and it will help me get more details if I need them without emailing you to death. None of us will die with an empty inbox but we can help each other not feel like every night we’re going to die under the weight of one.
Also, something that makes for a good pitch for me: visiuals. Embedded images are awesome. Dropbox, Box or OneSpace links are great for big, beautiful hi-res images without crashing an inbox.
AR: How can publicists do a better job of pitching or making your job easier? Is there anything we can do to earn brownie points?
KB: Just follow the examples above and then get to know me as a person. Let’s grab some coffee, let’s take a walk, etc. The relationships that have grown with me as a writer and a blogger have invested a good deal of time with me, and it shows.
AR: Can you sum up what you are looking for in a pitch?
- Good data
- Facts that would captivate a reader
- Products that solve a problem or create an opportunity
- A knowledge of my site and what I write
- A professional, respectful tone that’s engaging and friendly
- Patience. I get about 200-350 emails a day, so please know that I’ll get back to you eventually. If I don’t, it’s not that I don’t love you; it’s just that the pitch didn’t make the cut.
AR: Do you have any other final tips you’d like to impart with me and my fellow publicists?
KB: Please, please, PLEASE don’t keep throwing free products at us as an enticement to build some kind of connection. Let me explain what that means. I know that there are some people who are in this industry for the free stuff. I know it’s a fact, and I hate it. But let’s also be honest that the people who are in it for the free items aren’t really the quality page views you want on your product. So, the mention of product samples as “FREE PRODUCT SAMPLES” in bold type and huge letters in a pitch automatically makes me feel pretty cheap and that you think we’re all in it for the free stuff. Just speaking for me personally, I have a 60-day backlog of products I have to get written up and none of them were requested. That’s not bragging, that’s simply to say that in the editorial policy of my site, it says that if I’m writing about it, I’ve had experience with the product, which means a press sample was received or I went out and bought it. Please don’t reduce all of us to freebie-hungry product mongers. Some of us really want to work with you to create good editorial, not to be the one on the block with the most shampoo.
AR: Thanks so much for sharing these helpful tips with us. There is a lot to learn, and I think your notes on how a blog is monetized and what is considered organic editorial versus a blatant promotion or ad is a really important piece for publicists to understand as blogs grow and change.
KB: Happy to help build the bridge to understanding. :)
About Alyson Roy:
Alyson Roy is a Guest Contributing Editor for The PR Closet, and the Co-Founder of AMP3 Public Relations, a boutique publicity agency that specializes in Lifestyle & Fashion PR campaigns.
Follow her at @AlyAMP3 and www.AMP3pr.com.
About Kristin Booker:
Kristin Booker is a fashion and beauty writer (who has written for outlets like XOJane, xoVain, Refinery 29, MarieClaire.com, StyleCaster and ELLE.com) and full-time fashion & beauty writer on her own blog: Fashion Style Beauty.
Follow her at @fashionstbeauty.