I was able to chat quickly with Catherine Levene - ironically, she has no blog - while she was at Web 2.0. Levene has cut her chops on the digital world for more than a decade, with Firefly, Viacom and NYT Digital.
Notes from the conversation:
By setting up both a blog network and hiring in-house bloggers for Glam, we are able to present as many topics that we think our readers will be interested in. [The blogs in the Glam Network are: BagCrazy, Coquette, SheFinds, PopGadget, InMyBag, FashionTribes and Tia Williams.]
Why not just set-up our own bloggers? We believe that there are talented bloggers on fashion already, and it's becoming quite a popular topic for blogs, so we wanted to give the current existing bloggers a larger distribution platform, as well as give our audience content that is out there with those blogs.And, the last line was probably the most interesting: the more companies that embrace that, the better off they will be. It's an interesting departure from other companies that are embracing bloggers, where instead of just pitching the launch of the company, Glam went out and invited the category bloggers to become part of the network, in essence to join in the launch of the company but actually get something out of it.
With the Glam Blog network, we are giving these bloggers a larger distribution. All the blogs in the partner network will get promotion and distribution through the Glam Network, that will point to their original posts and blogs.
Plus, we are representing the network in a way that no individual blogger could do by themselves. Beyond content, there will be a Glam advertising network to reach the partner blogs as well as the Glam blogs with a revenue share.
It's a network of fashion bloggers, tying talented bloggers in the network that then offers cross-promotional opportunities, product review opportunites, plus more. But, each blogger has his/her own voice, and make their own decisions about what to cover in their own blogs. Glam has its own editorial guidelines, but we are not going to dictate to the bloggers what they write about.
For now, we started with US-based bloggers, but there are a number of talented writers out there writing on fashion in the EU, and we are familiar with them. We will want to work with them in the near future, but there is no current timeline.
But, we are open to people submitting their blog to the network. There is a vetting process to get into the network – it’s more of an art, than science. We select blogs that are in categories that are important to us and our readers, and have a certain tone and editorial voice that fits the Glam network.
Plus, we are looking at vlogging and podcasting. We want to grow the network by incorporating more and more blogs. That includes podcasting as well. Beyond that, we are not going to divulge too much of our future plans. If someone is vlogging and podcasting on fashion, that is definitely one that we would be interested in looking at.
For example, Fashiontribes Daily is already podcasting.
Blogging is here to stay, giving people a platform to express themselves. The more companies that embrace that, the better off they will be.
Of course, this is the real Web 2.0 - inviting participants to be part of the community, real participants not self-appointed participants. And this is where PR is going to have to change. No longer can PR hope to control, but it has to participate in the conversation, instead of being a gatekeeper.