Online Influencers—The New Experts

by Sharp | November 17, 2011

About a month ago, I was sitting on the couch when a particular commercial for the deal-friendly department store, TJ Maxx caught my eye. Perhaps it was because the timing was fresh off the coattails of Fashion Week, but what I think really resonated was the fact that fashion bloggers were starting to get prime-time advertising spots.

If you’re not familiar with the spot (below), it features Lindsey Calla, founder of popular style blog, Saucy Glossie, who has transitioned her expertise to editorial segments on FOX, NBC and CW among other stations. According to the NY Times, Calla has even signed on with an agent to extend her influence to other avenues. As of recent, several online influencers have managed to captivate audiences beyond their initial endeavors — their blogs.

A few women specifically come to mind when I think of successful bloggers who’ve managed the “Media 360” if you will — moving from online to print to broadcast, back to online and in doing so have not only expanded their following by the thousands, but also propelled themselves to becoming true tastemakers within their respective industries.

  • Ree Drummond, owner and founderPioneer Woman is another now-famous example of a blogger turned mass-influencer, within the cooking & living category. Drummond’s blog started as a personal chronology of her transition from city life to life on a farm as a cattle rancher’s wife and has now transformed into a TV show on the Food Network. Drummond was initially hesitant herself about the evolution to television, saying to The Huffington Post, “I’m a writer and a photographer — I’m totally aware that doesn’t always translate to TV.” It’s quite clear however, given the recent success of her Food Network show that her popularity as a personality and authority certainly converts onto TV screens.
  • Jeannine Morris, owner and founder of Beauty Sweet Spot has taken her passion and knowledge for all things beauty and created a brand for herself, that’s extended well beyond her blog. Credentialed by Glamour as one of the “top beauty and style bloggers in the world,” Morris contributes to the magazine’s online content on a weekly basis, in addition to updating her own blog. Her status as an authority within the beauty industry has allowed her to participate in multiple partnerships with major brands such as Elizabeth Arden and American Express Fashion, as well as contribute to major entertainment programs such as E! News and The Today Show.

As PR professionals there are a couple of things to consider to ensure we’re also capitalizing on this shifting trend:

1)     It is important to be aware of all the channels our consumer is looking to for her news and ask ourselves first, if we’re following all the important conversations and second, if we’re working to tell our stories in a cohesive way across all channels? Vehicles like Twitter allow us to do this much more regularly and within real-time.

2)     We have the chance to educate our clients on the value of social media for research and the opportunity to look at these online platforms first for opportunities such as selecting a spokesperson, leveraging a cause or activating on a trend. Bloggers maintain impressive followings and offer “real person” appeal, which Hollywood regulars often lack. These online personalities could be our next — and most powerful — brand ambassadors.

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