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Getting Close to Consumers

By: Imogen Matthews
Posted: January 20, 2011, from the January 2011 issue of GCI Magazine.

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Further, he notes that there may be an inclination to avoid taking risks. “Global companies tend to be risk averse, but social media is about doing a hundred things and seeing what works. It’s an alien strategy.”

Gradually, beauty companies are waking up to the benefits of a social media strategy, and more PR pros are using bloggers to communicate brand awareness and product launches. Estée Lauder was one of the first companies to realize that it could not afford to ignore the power of the bloggers. Early adopters under the company’s brand umbrella included Clinique, which led the way with an online press office, and MAC. Singleton reckons that MAC is still the best brand in terms of digital marketing and particularly, social media.

The Blogosphere

The blog site Beauty and the Dirt, led by Krista Madden, started up 11 years ago, when blogging was still in its infancy. In 2009, Madden used her experience to found Handpicked Media, a service that helps beauty, fashion and lifestyle brands select which blogs to target. On its site, Handpicked states that it champions blogs that are creative and unique with high quality content. “We do the legwork for PR [pros] who want to work with reputable writers,” says Madden. “Handpicked now has about 200 blogs in beauty and fashion. We also put on blogger events for brands to meet the bloggers. Not all bloggers are trained journalists, so meeting the brands can be intimidating.”

Laura Bacharach is a beauty editor turned blogger who observes that brand involvement with the bloggers varies enormously, with many PR companies sending regular e-mail bulletins and providing samples on request. “Some brands like to do mass events with many bloggers attending; others target a top 10 of blogs and some contact bloggers via a network, such as Handpicked Media,” she says. “I think brands have become a lot more proactive about keeping bloggers in the loop recently, perhaps only in the last six months.”

She adds: “I don’t think any brand would deny the impact of bloggers, although the answer might have been different just a year ago. Blogs give brands a whole new channel of communication, which can be especially valuable to them when they have short lead times, regional events or last minute stories that magazines can’t feature because of their lead times or because they are too niche.”