Lessons from American Apparel

American Apparel gets it.

Heh. Bet you didn't think you would read that on my blog. But, they get it beyond their very cool store in Second Life, but they get blogs and the new PR in the blogosphere.

Yes, I linked to the Weronikia Cwir's comment on my post on their store in SL.

Which, btw, is the first Google link to her full name (pretty neat).

Why do they get it? Well, just like the first post, I was contacted by Cwir - but this time she emailed me directly to address the issues I brought up in my post about what's wrong with American Apparel.

I wish she had posted her comments on the post, but I understand why she did not. But, here's a lesson for any corporation in working with blogs.

  1. Monitor the blogosphere. Cwir had noted I had written once about American Apparel, and within a couple hours, had come back to check the blog.

  2. Respond in kind. Whether it is a comment on the blog, or an email to the blogger, be proactive. It's like a Blog SWAT team - find and respond immediately, and you can stem any blood loss.

  3. Repair the relationship. If it is possible, fix the relationship. Just by her showing up to email me, she has kept a customer. Think about that on various levels - you work with the public, and you can save that relationship. That's immense, and why some corporate blogs - like GM's Fastlane (full disclosure: GM's a client) - work well. It is a true conversation with the customers, in an honest voice.

  4. You don't need a blog to respond to blogs. That's just as important as others. Even if a company does not have a blog, that does not preclude them from the blogosphere. This is a huge lesson that PR firms need to embrace. It's not all about the blog, it's about the conversation.
So, huge kudos to American Apparel for being smart in blogs. They are - sadly - a rarity right now, but will be the norm in a few years. Photo by gingerbreadandlatte, all rights reserved.

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  1. Good for them. Nice to hear of a large retailer that has employees tracking the online buzz.

    Now, will her employers praise her and giver her a raise? They should.

    Any idea as to whether this is one savvy employee or is it a corporate wide strategy?

  2. I checked out GM's Fastlane last year when GM was in serious financial trouble...

    They didn't mention the money troubles, but they did offer puff on price promotions...

    And puff on product tailoring...

    Not my idea of a 'true conversation... in an honest voice'

  3. "You don't need a blog to respond to blogs. That's just as important as others. Even if a company does not have a blog, that does not preclude them from the blogosphere."

    Brilliant, as always.

  4. but you have to ask yourself...what good is it doing the typical AA customer - who doesn't blog and does not have a high profile - and so what good is it really doing AA (or what good is it doing at all) that AA is smartly trolling for social media opportunities like the one you created for them by posting your experience...so they could swoop in and save this one customer. I don't disagree that it's generally goodness, and made you feel good...but it's a long distance from that one employee's smart leverage (and yes she should be promoted) to affect change with the folks that have the customer touch points, as you discovered. Just an observation...

  5. Drew, the typical AA customer likely has Internet/broadband connection, and is the hipster type to read blogs (likely Gawker, Valleywag, Gothamist, SFist).

    As for high profile, I don't think of myself as high profile.

    But, in the private email Cwir sent to me, she did note that they are out in the stores, fixing the problems. So, while I brought it up online, they realize that in the meat world, there are issues to work on.

  6. Stephen, you have valid points, but look at what GM is doing with its blog and what other companies are not doing. They took that first step, moreso than other companies.

  7. Drew,

    the thing is that I write to bloggers no matter what their profile is. Sometimes this responds in PR, like when I wrote to one blogger and she forwarded my note to Consumerist, but most of the time it does not. I do it every morning, every night, and in the middle of the day. And this is not even so much a part of my job, as just something that I do -- if it does become "part of a job" then I'll probably offload it on someone else. Though I do see fun and outrageous stuff sometimes on blogs, so maybe I won't give up...

  8. What I'd like to know is if they went with the Second Life tactic because it strategically hit their target, or if it was a stepping stone to generating MSM and CGM media?

  9. pikpr,

    Your assumption that this was a tactic that came out of some strategy meeting is making me grin! If only you knew... It seemed like fun, and it was inexpensive, so why not? No one here ever imagined that it would get so much attention, and we are still in disbelief! Now we are scrambling to personalize our avatars, making friends with virtual chickens, thinking that the whole thing is nuttier than a fruit-cake, but super fun.

    What can I say? [deadpan] We are not attuned to the Zeitgeist, we are the Zeitgeist! [deadpan] As American Apparel motto goes: "This is how we do it."

  10. Yeah They responded to me to. I was impressed.

  11. Hi, I came here from a link from the American Apparel story in the Guardian UK. I keep hearing "blogs" and "conversations" mentioned, and am anxious to learn more. :)

    I am really liking going from link to link to see how things connect!

    I just wanted to say thank you for the tips, Jeremy.

    Full disclosure: I work for Linden Lab.

  12. Yay! Hi Torley! Welcome to the conversationsphere!

    One of the things I admire about AA is that their presence in SL is that of participatory. They aren't preaching AT us, they are playing WITH us.

    I really love my gray AA hoodie. If I happen to be near an AA in real life, I might pop in and take a look.

    And I'm not gonna be offended.

  13. Hi Torley. Of course I know who you are, and thank you for visiting the blog.

    If you ever want to talk about online/offline/RL/SL PR, my office is around the corner from your office.

  14. heads up:

    After nearly 6 months of work and hundreds of hours of interviews and research, Knowmore.org is releasing its special report on American Apparel, LLC.

    When Knowmore's American Apparel entry came to the attention of CEO Dov Charney, he called to challenge our representation of his company, and demanded we take a closer look. He also offered us unprecedented access to his factory, workers, and management, which we accepted and engaged.

    The result is this report; which represents the most complete Knowmore.org entry to date, and the most comprehensive look at Charney's controversial company ever published.