Several brands are merging their PR and marketing departments into one giant integrated digital glitterball. One of the most common phrases I heard from brands at the end of last year was ‘we’re working on our digital strategy.’ As it turns out integration has turned into all-encompassing hot mess of conflict that the consumer will never see, but for those of us at the output end is very boring indeed.
One of the biggest, and most obvious mistakes, is bringing on highly talented digital personnel and expecting them to be able to do PR. Not only is that an absolute train-wreck for media outreach, it’s also impossible to achieve any individual working relationship with someone who knows nobody. It’s highly undermining to any PR who has spent all their working life forging working relationships. If you work on the ‘inside’ of beauty the exodus of staff from certain companies will be no surprise and neither will the internal turmoil or the fact that exactly nobody is happy in their job.
As it turns out, “digital strategy” isn’t nearly as fancy as it sounds. It just means spending your digital budget for the year; i.e. paying bloggers and vloggers and deciding who to pay and what to pay them. This is nothing we haven’t seen before – but it’s rather torturous to watch as brands implement several ‘strategies’:
Obviously, it’s going to be much cooler for beauty products be seen on fashion and lifestyle blogs and vlogs rather than the places where consumers flock for news and advice on beauty. This is a format that brands like to use to elevate themselves to something rather more ‘stylish’ – impossible with some brands, no matter how much you want it to be so. A key digital trend to look out for is ‘health’ blogs being targeted for beauty products. Because nothing says healthy living like a good mascara, right?
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Obviously, only young women like beauty. All the older ones are too busy at home dipping their heads in fat in a vain attempt to stave off age. However, the beauty industry just cannot help fooling themselves into believing they have a youth market. They focus in on the person and not the audience and you would think that it would be a very basic matter of assessing the consumer and not the mouthpiece.
Okay, so this is a tricky one. Most of our current ‘big’ bloggers/vloggers are over-used (UK/US). Which is not to say ‘over’, but you do have to look at how long a digital life-span is and the tide will turn. Agencies can and will replace with younger, fresher models – and are doing so now. However, digital strategists tend to go where the number are so until agencies push their new talent though, it will be more of the same. It’s not actually occurring to brands (or very few) that they can discover, develop and nurture talent themselves.
Bloggers like me, not affiliated to any big agencies, not young and not typical, have to look outside their screens for income – I don’t think that any reader begrudges their favourite bloggers/vloggers a living – but the wise will build income sources away from their pages/videos. Personally, I can’t be brand dependent – it’s impossible to write a blog like this and rely on it as a sole income source. I work with brands that I think I can be compatible with, big or small, where I’ve got something to contribute or something to say. I don’t work with any brand ‘just because they’re paying me’. Hence, my beauty boxes, consultancy and on-going projects that are a side-arm give me that freedom.
So, brands can digitally strategise all they like – spend all the money in the world if they want to but it won’t change the fact that consumers get savvier by the day; are not this dumb mass of people who blithely believe anything they’re told. Trusted blogger-consumer relationships are absolutely vital; if integrated digital means that media-PR relationships are damaged or non-existent, brands to us, the people talking to you, become meaningless. And therefore, not worth talking about. Strategies that look impressive on paper don’t necessarily translate in ‘real life’ (there have been some huge brand proven disasters) – if we’re not talking about products, blog readers and vlog watchers (who often these days don’t even look at print) will literally never know they exist. The only people who will know about them are people who were looking for something else in the first place and I don’t think there is a PR in London who couldn’t tell the digital team that.
All products are sent to me as samples from brands and agencies unless otherwise stated. Affiliate links may be used. Posts are not affiliate driven.