How to pitch me

Like every blogger, I’m looking for interesting stories. I think many of you would make a good story but few have volunteered -hence this entry. At the same time, I get lots of pitches from very unsuitable parties. Here are some guidelines to promoting yourself, your product line or your service on Fashion-Incubator (policies on other sites will vary). The categories included are:

  • General tips but mostly for PR types who won’t read beyond the first paragraph
  • Policy on gifts and samples
  • A product or service intended for use by manufacturers
  • Your experiences
  • A designer or manufacturer’s sewn product line
  • Traffic to your blog or website
  • Finding a backer or investor for your concept
  • Job postings
  • Competitions, news and events

General tips but mostly for PR types who won’t read beyond the first paragraph
If you’ve just found this site and want to make a pitch, look around and read enough to learn that this is not a consumer fashion site. My audience is designers and related professionals. Second, realize that I take blogging very seriously even though I’m not paid to do it. Respect my genuine commitment to meeting my readers needs. It’s not about me, it’s about them although you do get bonus points for addressing me by name (“Kay” is not my name). If you are a PR person who can help me meet my reader’s needs, I’m going to love you. Always include your contact information including web address and phone number (it’s amazing how many don’t include these three things). In any event, if you are someone promoting your own or another designer’s line, pass on me unless the designer is one of mine. Also, unless you’re one of my designers, Do Not Subscribe Me To Your Notifications List Or Newsletter. I will unsub the first time. If you continue to email to me after that, I’ll hunt you down and file complaints to your web host, email service provider, your boss or anyone else I can think of.

Policy on gifts and samples
A lot of bloggers enjoy free goodies; they consider it to be one of the perks of blogging. I am not attempting to question anyone’s integrity but it is a psychological fact that gratuities increase the likelihood of exposure. For example, it’s well known that free jaunts for doctors affect their prescribing habits, so it is unlikely that others can evade the allure. In other words, don’t send me free products unless the value is limited or low and I have agreed to accept it. If I like your product and it’s something I will use, I’ll pay the full price you charge everyone else. If you think that sending me some free camisoles or whatever from the line you are promoting will make me write about you, I tend to view these disfavorably, akin to bribery attempts and it is possible that your client’s product line will end up being the unanticipated subject of a product review (so it’d better be good). Now, if your product has to be tried to discern its value and I’ve agreed to look it over, I will appreciate a sample, a review copy (if it’s a book), test trial, or sample issues (products will be returned in pristine condition). If you would like continued coverage of your media service and it’s not something I’d use for my own purposes, a subscription would be appropriate. However, do not expect me to buy your product for the purposes of review if it is not something I could use in my own business. It is truly amazing how many companies want me to write about a product or service I will not use but expect me to buy it anyway. If you want to send something for review, email me beforehand because I don’t want to get something I am unlikely to write about.

A product or service intended for use by manufacturers
First, is this something my visitors would like to know about? Be honest. When you pitch me, don’t say you read this site if you don’t because I’ll know. My visitors will hoot with derision if you pitch me on your new-fangled handy-dandy fitting system (after doing a google search on vanity sizing) if you haven’t bothered to read any entries I’ve written on the subject. Not being a regular reader here is not a crime but use the search feature, read some entries and then tailor your pitch according to an expressed need, problem or solution. It doesn’t matter how old the entry is as most of the topics here are not date dependent so feel free to use older entries if that is appropriate. Again, please include all contact information so I can follow up. In fact, suppliers who volunteer to be interviewed is probably the easiest way to get featured on this site so if you have a product or service that designers and manufacturers need and use, we want to hear all about it.

Your experiences
If you’ve had an experience you want to share, please state whether you wish to remain anonymous. I check if you don’t say but it’s fastest if you let me know from the outset. Some tidbits I get via email are too tasty to ignore so if you don’t respond, I may use your input anyway but I will always change sufficient detail (names, companies, locations, product lines) so that no one can tie it to you. If you don’t mind divulging your identity and you have a website, please mention whether I can link to you if it is not obvious from the context (the link should always be in your signature). I can’t do much to thank you so the least I can do is up your page ranking. In any event, include all contact information so I can follow up. As many visitors will attest, I make a lot of unexpected phone calls for fact checking or further details. This is particularly important if you’ve had a negative experience with any product or service ever mentioned on this site! Do not assume that I am so friendly with someone that I won’t do something about it, I must know and I guarantee without reserve, to keep your name out of it. I’m still tracking down one recent incident (AB, I haven’t forgotten you).

A designer or manufacturer’s sewn product line
If you want to pitch your product line to consumers, the fashion product blogs are your best bet. Coutorture is a good resource for that. If you want to pitch your line to buyers, I don’t think F-I is efficacious because I think buyer traffic is really limited here. Consumer related press releases don’t work here because here are your peers and colleagues. Other than a few exceptions, designers don’t want to land on their site to see product reviews of their competitors. The exceptions are that you have to have a very unusual angle or unusual cutting techniques, manufacturing methods or have extended an invitation for me to do a product review for educational purposes (one such example was Dada Dress). I am unlikely to do reviews of product lines unless the designer has read my book and is a frequent visitor to this site because the experiences they impart are distinctly different. Their stories usually contain teaching components with worthwhile information guided by their motivation to share and help the community. We love these kinds of stories, don’t we? I would love to do more reviews like these but I need volunteers. The exposure can’t hurt, not that buyers shop here but it’ll up your rankings quite a bit in the search engines. Everyone wants to know how you’re grown and evolved as well as lessons learned. Lastly, if you’re one of my designers who puts out a newsletter or emails to customers, I don’t mind if you add me to your notifications list because I want to hear all of the news about you.

Traffic to your blog or website
If you email me to announce a new blog or website, don’t be offended if I don’t link to it. However, if you have reason to believe it’s the kind of site I do link to (review the left sidebar please), email me again if you don’t get a response because I get buried. One reason I don’t link to otherwise appropriate sites is if they are new. I will prefer to wait until you have a history of posting with some regularity because some people don’t stick with it. Do contact me again if you’ve been posting and think you may have fallen off my radar. I do not link to DE sites (producers) unless it is an educational site or blog. I do not link to sites with finished goods. If I linked to one DE, I’d have to link to them all. Down the road I may create a scrolling blog roll for that purpose but in any event, I will only link to regular visitors, book owners and forum members. However, even if your site meets guidelines in all other respects, I won’t link to sites that are written in text message-ese, auditorily ambush visitors, have poor quality or offensive outlinks or sites that hurt my eyes. I also avoid flash and myspace sites. Please do not ask me to exchange links with you saying it will increase my site traffic because usually, the only person who benefits is you. The best way to get me to link to you is to link to me first. The best way to get traffic from here is to post an appropriate comment on an entry that is applicable. Still, email me again if you think your site is a benefit to the readership because I do get buried.

Finding a backer or investor for your concept
If you’re looking for a backer or investor for your concept, pitching me won’t do much good because I won’t post on it. I do like to get these though, the funnier ones I stick in my “dumb or delusional” file for personal entertainment purposes. Usually, I’ll just send you off to read some entries on the blog or suggest that you buy my book (none of them follow my advice). I do not give referrals or advice to anyone who hasn’t read it. The book is a low entry fee for advice, most consultants charge $150-$250 an hour so if you can’t scrape up a one time fee of $60 for the book, I’m not going to take you seriously and neither will investors. Investors are more willing to back people who believe in their concept enough to invest in it themselves. If your concept isn’t good enough for you to see the value in investing in your own idea, why would anyone else? Most of the people in this category are tee producers. As it is, over two-thirds of start ups are self financing. While I do know people who may decide to front you some production or give you easier terms, those are by referral only. You have to know what you’re doing and a templated business plan full of branding and marketing terms isn’t going to convince anyone. You need a project plan with demonstrables.

Job postings
Other than opportunities offered by regular visitors, I’m on the fence about these. On one hand it’s a valuable service to some of my visitors. On the other hand, I don’t want to become a job listing site. I can say what I don’t like. Most of the job offerings I get are from fishers who post questionable opportunities with the intention of charging fees to applicants. I also don’t like services who get hefty finder’s fees. Often, it is difficult to discern which services are legitimate. Then, part of me resents being used as a job bulletin board because I think I’m entitled to a advertising fee. You have to pay elsewhere, why should I do it for nothing if you’re making money off of it? You’re not doing anything for me in return. It’d be one thing if you linked to me or promoted my site but none do that. It’s all dive bombing or hit and run. However, if you are one of our regulars and have an opportunity, by all means post it to the forum or let me know. I will be happy to try and help you find someone.

Competitions, news and events
I try to post as many of the legitimate and non-lame events as I can. However, I won’t announce trunk shows, sample sales or any sales events geared for consumers. To assist my attempts at organizing my inbox, please use a good subject line. In any event (PR people) do not subscribe me to your notifications list without my consent or I will tell your boss all about it (aside from the aforementioned penalties). I am most interested in legitimate design competitions with low barriers to entry, industry trade shows and marketing opportunities appropriate for design entrepreneurs and manufacturers. If you have an interesting news story that others would enjoy, please email me and include the link(!) to it.

Lastly, I know this is a long post basically about nothing but now I have a one-shot link I can shoot off to people in response to emails I get. Thanks for your patience and do consider volunteering for a product review, an interview or writing a guest entry.

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One comment

  1. Bente Nilssen says:

    Hi Kathleen,
    I was just introduced to your blog.
    Amazing I must say. I can’t leave it.
    I am new to US, I am staring a childrens clothing line. I am from Scandinavia, had my own high end Woman wear for ten years. I also have experience with textile-design. I graduated from a Paris Fashion school.
    And I have a lot to learn about my new counrty..(new termonologies etc.) and I have a lot of experience to share, good and bad! I am ordering your book today.

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