Breaking out in the world of Public Relations is not easy. Breaking out in the world of fashion is a tall feat. Breaking out of both worlds considering how vicious and cut-throat these two industries could be, is, well quite giant undertaking. It would then be an understatement to say that one that succeeds in these incredibly challenging milieus is remarkable as it requires more than sheer passion to actually break out of the mold. For anyone to succeed, one needs:
- A clear vision to see and plan what’s ahead
- A versatile adaptability to observe things and change gears accordingly
- A iron clad tenacity – the strength in both will and ambition to thrive and not just survive
Some has one or the other but it’s not always the case that a person has all three but I do know one that has all these – in spades.
A well-known fashion, beauty and lifestyle blogger and highly respected social media influencer, Valerie is all that and more. She is one that speaks her mind and not just conform with the rest even if that means having her blog under fire. The list of places and people she has charmed is limitless and a quick look at her side bar will prove successful collaborations and features with Ford, Ottawa Citizen, Huffington Post, most if not all of Canada’s top fashion magazines: Elle, Fashion, Flare and many more.
She has taken not steps but leaps and somersaults to pursue her career. A career that is of her own choosing and design – the President of CHARMING MEDIA PR. Built from the ground up, CHARMING MEDIA PR is a brainchild of Valerie who moved from Ottawa to Toronto (a move well documented in her blog I’M CHARMING YOU), to eventually establish this boutique public relations, social media and marketing consultant agency.
Valerie Stachurski and Melisa Grosser of Charming Media PR, Toronto.
Although they have not been in business for that long, Valerie and her partner Melissa Grosser along with their staff, have amassed quite an impressive list of clients and massively successful campaigns like the brilliant social media mega success Turkish Airline success.
If Jeanne Beker says this about her, “Valerie’s personal attention to detail, brilliant recommendations, and tireless work on this extraordinary project was a godsend, enabling us to open up an exciting new world to our students, and ultimately giving them the experience of a lifetime,” she must be someone more than remarkable, non?
With success comes a tempered maturity and wiser business acumen for Valerie that I would be hard pressed to find anyone to start of this new exciting series – the EXPERT’s CORNER, a new addition to our BUILD BETTER BLOGS series, which has been a gold mine of information for bloggers, entrepreneurs and anyone who wishes to improve their blog, website or social media performance. As our very first featured Expert in our new series EXPERT’s CORNER, we couldn’t be more thrilled to present to you Ms. Valerie Stachurski’s (soon to be Mrs.) interview on what many would consider a much talked about topic: IMPROVING BLOGGER – PR RELATIONS. Grab your pen and paper kids as this is one interview that you definitely want to bookmark as I promise you will keep coming back to it again and again for reference.
As I have been following Valerie (follow too in Twitter @valcharminggal) for a long time (her ballsy and take no prisoner attitude, I must admit, is the qualities that drew me to her blog and body of work), I could possibly write pages and pages of great things about Val BUT I must get into what you came here to see so without further ado, here’s our interview:
“PR need to understand that bloggers aren’t there to keep them in business…
If you are going to approach a blogger, make sure you are open to hearing about how they work… it is about respect for everyone involved, just like any other industry.”
You come from both side of the equation, PR and Blogger, so you have insights from both. What can you share as a very important tip that is universal to both worlds?
I would say that it is always important to try to look at any situation from the other side of the table. As a blogger, I have been sent requests that I found offensive and amateurish from PR professionals and it used to upset me. Now, after working in PR for a while, I can start to sympathize with some of these PR people. Most of them are being asked to send these types of requests to bloggers from their bosses, superiors or clients. While they may not necessarily agree with the tactics themselves, they have a job to do and it’s earning them a living. If anything, providing constructive feedback as to why their pitch is not right for you is a great way for them to show their higher-ups that the process may not be working.
On the other side of the coin, PR people need to understand that bloggers aren’t there to keep them in business and their outlets should be respected as any other. If you are going to approach a blogger, make sure you are open to hearing about how they work. At the end of the day, it is about respect for everyone involved, just like any other industry.
“Find a way to stand out while keeping true to why you started blogging in the first place.”
Advice to Bloggers: what can bloggers do to make themselves and their blogs appealing to PR firms and brands?
This is a tricky one. I like that each of the bloggers we choose to work with has their own individual writing and posting style. While it is important to see what other people are doing in the blogging world that is making them successful, it is equally important to create a voice and brand that is completely your own. I would say, don’t be a clone. Find a way to stand out while keeping true to why you started blogging in the first place.
What are PR firms looking for exactly when they assess blogs and bloggers? How do they decide whom to work with?
I can’t speak for every firm but I know that it has a lot to do with the quality of the content that is produced. People and PR firms will be drawn to personalities, people who look like they are easy to work with and not difficult. I like to see content styles that are positive and enthusiastic. I look for vibrancy, be it in the photos or the copy. These are the types of bloggers that I am happy to have represent or review my clients. Also consistency and frequency is important. I look for how often people post as well as the length. I also look at their social media activity, what platforms they are using and how large their audiences are there.
Valerie Stachurski of Charming Media PR with Minling Pan. Photo Credit: Anthony Cheung.
Are numbers really that of a big deal to PR/Brands? What if the blog is is new and just gaining traction, what are other ways a blogger can do to stand out?
Numbers are important but I am always interested in building relationships with newcomers, as well. Dedication is noticeable whether you’ve been blogging for 4 years or 4 months. People who want to succeed tend to do so rapidly by networking and finding innovative and creative ways getting themselves out there. Go to all the events, include company handles in your Tweets, participate, volunteer. Be where you need to be. People will notice.
“PR companies can’t expect people to write about product they haven’t sampled, events they are not invited to, food they haven’t eaten and experiences that happened to someone else.”
What are some of the faux-pas that you have seen committed by some professionals in your industry?
There are so many and I am certain I have committed some as well. I think PR companies that are only committed to working with a select group of bloggers can find themselves in a hole, as the situations of bloggers tend to change over time. Some decide not to blog anymore, and others may get so big that the clients you represent are no longer a good fit. I think that PR companies need to keep their eyes and ears to the ground to ensure they are nourishing relationships with large groups of bloggers that specialize in various industries and have various levels of success. Being kind to newcomers who reach out to you is always important.
What’s the best way for PR Professionals to engage bloggers in SM campaigns?
It depends on the campaign and the client. I am a fan of having solid blog posts on sites but for this, PR professionals need to ensure that product is available for bloggers to test and try. PR companies can’t expect people to write about product they haven’t sampled, events they are not invited to, food they haven’t eaten and experiences that happened to someone else.
What’s the best way to turn down Blogger requests?
Bonus Question: What has been the most bizarre behaviour that you have witnessed in your years in the industry, either/both from PR and Bloggers?
I would need a whole other page just to write about that! I think it has to do when the diva card gets overplayed. I have seen some bloggers be extremely rude to publicists and vice versa. You catch more bees with honey!
Fun Q’s: Fast and Furious
Fill in the blanks…
The best way to reach out to a PR firm is__email___.
If I have to choose between all social media accounts, I would pick __Twitter_.
Bloggers should really __stop taking macaroon pictures _.
PR Professionals should really _ be ready to talk dollars and cents with bloggers for certain campaigns __.
Start talking money if and when _ people start asking to “pick your brain” _.