Delia Timms and Jeff Bonnes, founders of findababysitter.com.au, have started a new business. Delia gives us insight into her diy PR efforts and much more:
WhatShouldIWear.com.au is a website and App where the community, professional stylists and bloggers can get or give advice on fashion photos, showcase their own style and join the Q&A.
How long did it take to decide on this business and why choose fashion?
Research began mid last year and building in February 2011 with a ‘soft launch’ in May and the App in August.
We felt that there was a gap in the Australian market for style advice online. I had stumbled across the idea when I was looking for advice, wanting feedback on a dress for a semi-formal event. Some American sites were not right for me (different fashion sense, opposite season, USA labels) and there were limitations with magazines (not always relevant to my style), stylists (expensive) and sites (not personalised). I wanted advice that was relevant and timely and tapped in to our Australian brands, seasons and style.
How has the response been so far?
We have had a very positive response from both the audience and from potential partners/sponsors.
In a recent survey our members stated that they used our site/App because they wanted to join a fun community, gain ideas and inspiration and get answers to their questions from a friendly, helpful group.
Our site is really taking off with genuine user-generated content from an engaged and passionate community.
What is its point of difference in the market?
There is no other fashion site in Australia with a matching App that has a social platform showcasing user-generated content.
In the future we plan to add a ‘Geo-located Deals’ feature to the App. So our audience will get a ‘push notification’ of special deals when they walk past a store.
What is the benefit for brands or retailers?
We think it is important for brands and retailers to get in to this space to engage their customer in a more meaningful and timely way – to be literally in the customer’s pocket when she is asking for help and ready to make decisions. Our site can help drive valuable traffic both online and in to stores.
How have you kept your media contacts fresh when it has been 2-3 years since you’ve been talking to the media as findababysitter.com.au?
There were a few journalists, who I built a working relationship with during my ‘Find A Babysitter’ years and it has been quite easy to touch base with them again despite the time passing.
You targeted parenting magazines previously, how long does it take to build up contacts in another area?
I have had to build up my knowledge and contacts in fashion. This has taken several months and many magazine purchases! It has been a challenge! On reflection I wish I had bought a media list from PRGuru!!! That said, I always like to read current articles by the relevant journos, then contact them in relation to that article, then pitch my story. So it has been valuable for me to invest some time and money conducting research in to the media outlets and journalists.
Are you still a DIY PR convert, or will you outsource to an agency?
I believe in a) starting on a shoestring b) playing to your strengths and c) outsourcing when needed! So in a start-up I think DIY PR is a good approach if you have the resources and skills. However if you don’t, then it makes sense to outsource to professionals, particularly if you know you’ll get a good ROI.
How much time will you devote to PR?
I probably spend a few hours per week doing PR related tasks. I anticipate this will continue for the foreseeable future!
What’s different about doing PR this time around?
The main difference is that fashion is a whole new area, with different publications, journalists and types of newsworthy stories. So I have been learning to adapt my marketing and PR accordingly. It is also a competitive market, so it is harder to be noticed. There has been a huge rise in fashion blogging – from well-known international photographers like The Sartorialist to smaller local bloggers like ‘Michelle’s File Style’ http://michellesstylefile.blogspot.com/ Bloggers have become important conduits of information, sharing ideas and making recommendations.
What are the hot topics in fashion?
For women (& men too!) it is about how to get style advice in a timely and personal way, using the technology that we have (literally) at our fingertips! We can now get ideas, inspiration and answers about wardrobe decisions. It is as easy as clicking a website or App and getting help on the spot.
For retailers it is about how to drive traffic online and offline (how to stay in business!!). There is a lot of talk about multi-channel retailing, using online and mobile platforms. Retailers are also figuring out how to use social media to engage their customers in meaningful ways.