From Fashion PR to Influencer Marketing: My Journey from Print to Digital
Article written by Whalar's US Fashion and Beauty Associate Director, Blanaid Kenny.
The 90s: A golden age for magazines. I, like many others, was obsessed with getting my teenage mitts on the latest issues of Smash Hits, Seventeen, Sugar, NME and BIG.
There was nothing better than flicking through the pages and embracing relatable features on what lip gloss to buy, learning about the latest band and relying on the problem pages to reassure you that you weren’t alone with your teenage problems.
As time progressed so did my interests.
When discovering i-D magazine at university in Leeds, I found my true escapism through a magazine that really spoke to me; one that had a degree of independence that the other magazines lacked. I was finally able to relate to a fashion title that focused on subcultures, art and music. I was in magazine heaven! It inspired and influenced me so much that it enticed to move to London and work in the world of fashion.
After interning at Harvey Nichols "Edit" magazine in 2007 and then landing a job at Selfridges as PR Assistant, I was quickly immersed in the fashion industry, meeting my favourite magazine editors and stylists.
Everything was ticking along nicely until a new kid on the block joined the fashion elite; the fashion-blogger!
By 2009 a small number of magazines were slowly moving to digital to compliment the print version. However it always seemed to be an afterthought and content wasn’t up to the standard of the printed magazine. It became an means to mollify pushy PRs by featuring their stories and to add value to the magazines media packages.
Bloggers however, were offering something different; they were sharing their own voice. The likes of Susie Lau (Style Bubble) and Tavi Gevinson (Style Rookie), had unique styles I could relate to. I admired their courage for sharing pictures of themselves in their favourite outfits and they introduced me to unknown brands absent from the glossy pages of Vogue. Bloggers had a DIY aesthetic that spoke to younger generation of consumers.
In addition to online, another catalyst that changed consumer shopping habits was the smartphone, specifically Instagram.
Consumers had gone from seeing adverts on TV and magazines to holding their advertising devices in their hands.
Instagram was created as an image sharing app. It was exciting to see an app that was so creative and allowed access the celebrities and emerging online influencer lifestyles. It changed how I made my purchase decisions. So, after ten years in PR, I decided to make the transition into digital and began work at Whalar as Associate Director specialising in Fashion and Beauty.
I had worked with influencers in previous roles, but this was new and exciting.
Whalar was built around a community of creators with influence. These creators are masters at producing high-quality peer-to-peer content that speak to audiences many brands want to reach on a local and global level. Whalar is a platform that’s adaptable to many different facets within companies. To put it simply we are able to build content in a time and cost efficient way at scale. We also build brand awareness through amplifying the content via the creators social channels.
I have been at Whalar for a year. Since joining I’ve felt very much part of something exciting, not only because of the current changes but also something that many brands find new and interesting. Whether they are at the early stages of influencer marketing, or well established, they find a way to best utilise us for marketing campaigns or to build new content that speaks to the smartphone audiences and beyond.
Overall it’s a fresh way of looking at how to tap into new and existing audiences and exploit the changes from print to digital.
Image by @eslee for Sunspel.