Kicking off Aura’s blogger interview series, we speak to Wendy Gilmour, AKA Thankfifi, and ask her some questions about being a blogger, her style and being ‘PR friendly’.
Our blogger interview series aims to give insight into some of Scotland’s top bloggers and how PR practitioners and brands can work more effectively with them.
Aura engages with bloggers on behalf of clients as part of wider public relations strategy and we’ve learned a lot along the way. In particular, as we work more in influencer relations, we now have to consider budgets to reach an ‘audience’ which we a) wouldn’t normally be able to reach and b) have to be authentic.
The idea of using influencers to reach our audiences, put simply, comes from the way in which our audiences consume information and indeed trust the authenticity of bloggers, vloggers and of course via social media.
Blogger interview #1 by Aura’s Laura Sutherland
Wendy: I reckon they’d have to – if you weren’t a dog lover then you probably wouldn’t be smart to follow me. I’m a huge dog nerd so like to feature them as much as possible. Truth be told usually a photo of them gets a far better reaction than one of me!
Laura: Well, I’ve always loved your dogs being a part of your posts. It adds real character and tells a part of your own life story.
#2 What’s your favourite part of blogging?
Wendy: Having been able to build a career out of something I love is the best part, I feel very lucky. I love conceptualising shoots and working with brands I love and respect. And then there’s the travel… lots of favourites.
#3 The blogging scene is vibrant in Scotland but bloggers up here are only just starting to be more like in London, with media packs and stating they are ‘PR friendly’. When we first met a few years ago you were streaks ahead. What would you say has helped you to stand out?
Wendy: Perhaps professionalism? I am lucky in that I work a couple of days a week in PR/Marketing so perhaps I see it from both sides and know what PR’s are looking for. I also never set up the blog and put in 30+ hours a week with the intention of it being a hobby… I knew for it to be viable long term I needed to take it seriously for others to do the same.
Laura: I know from doing the Aura blog and my own personal one, the time commitment to doing them is demanding. It’s great when people love the posts though! Maybe I should do a blogger interview with someone who writes a PR blog?
#4 Do you think images and video are important for bloggers?
Wendy: Hugely. For me images are everything. Images are what draws me in and sells me on products. I know video is almost even more important but honestly it’s not something I’ve mastered and if I can’t put out content I’m happy with then I’d rather not share it at all – so photos for me at the moment.
Laura: I hope you like how I’ve laid this one out?! Your Snaps and Insta stories are great though. That’s a form of video and you’re always straight to the point, so people must appreciate that.
I don’t sleep much. Seriously though, I set my alarm for 7am each morning and I work really hard. I optimise my time and always travel with my laptop – editing images and writing posts on flights is amazing because nobody can interrupt with you emails or social media…
Laura: I’m always happy to accompany! lol
#6 Who is your favourite blogger and why?
Wendy: I have so many bloggers I really admire and they all have very different style. I think what Nicole Warne has built in Gary Pepper Girl is incredible, her images are top of the top, something to aspire to. Her style is simple yet beautiful and original. My only gripe is that she’s so successful now she barely blogs…
Laura: I love your blogs. I can picture myself where you are, eating what you’re eating and buying what you wear. That’s why you’re kicking off my blogger interview series!
#7 As blogging and vlogging has developed, what do you think bloggers will do to keep pushing forward with new ways of engaging the world?
Wendy: I have no idea! When I started Thankfifi five years ago Instagram wasn’t even a thing… it’s such a fast-paced industry that’s a bit like asking what travel will look like in ten years time… hoverboards? Who knows! But it’ll be fun to find out, on both counts.
Laura: Vine was fairly well used for a while and now it’s gone. It shows that even the platforms have to keep innovating to keep up.
#8 When you work with brands, is there a process you go through?
Wendy: I usually send off my media pack and look to find out what the brand are hoping to achieve. After setting rough budgets I’ll come up with a proposal that hopefully fulfills their brief and get signed off. Then I go about coming up with the concept of the shoot from the visual point of view, especially if there’s a story to be told – I like to do that through images so there’s some planning to be done…
Laura: As with anything in PR, it’s important to set objectives and goals. Otherwise, how can it be measured and what’s the point?
Like our new blogger interview series? Watch out next week for interview #2 with a well known food blogger!
#9 I know you’re ‘PR friendly’! Is there any advice or tips you’d give to PR practitioners about working with bloggers?
Wendy: It’s just really great when a PR takes you seriously. Bloggers pour out hours and hours of work every day and every week of the year to be where they are and it’s great when there’s a mutual respect for that. I prefer when a PR is up front if there’s no budget, then we can talk about what the options might be, more openly. The worst thing is wasting one another’s time talking around the houses!
Laura: It’s a business now and before anyone approaches a blogger they need to have considered budgets as well as objectives.
#10 Do you place a lot of value in trust between you and your audience?
Wendy: Yes I think that’s everything. I honestly turn down at least as many campaigns as I go forward with as I need to be true to my style and values. I can’t work on something or share something that doesn’t feel genuine. I once started working with a phone brand but the image quality was so terrible I cancelled the post and returned the phone (in the loveliest way possible!).
Laura: You’ve hit the nail on the head. It has to be genuine. I’m glad to hear you don’t just take on anything. That’s really the beginning of the end for those who do. The whole purpose of the blogger interview series is so people can learn from the very people who are influencing.
Wendy: Yes there are a few brands I have built great relationships with and I think that’s so nice, not only for me, but for my readers. It’s feels much better to share brands not only when it’s a sponsored post, but on an ongoing basis, just because I love them. From the brand point of view, usually that means they’ll come back to me for another sponsored post when the time is right, they know I have a genuine love for the brand, too. And so a long term relationship begins… I try to stay true to that as well. If I’m working with a brand on an ongoing basis, like Sassoon for example (my hair heros!) it’s unlikely I’m going to showcase another hair salon any time soon as I just feel it’s a bit of a conflict and also a confusing message for readers.
Laura: That’s great to hear too. It’s something PRs and brands need to take into consideration and a question they should ask prior to agreeing any activity.
#12 The blogging community tends to be close knit. Do you think there is sharing and helping across the Scottish community?
Wendy: Absolutely. We’re very lucky in that the community is relatively small compared to the likes of London and also quite diverse. Perhaps there’s not that same sense of competition. It’s nice to be nice so I like to think we all try to help each other out, sharing contacts and making recommendations.
Laura: That’s the best attitude. It’s a new community too, something that will continue for many years, so it’s good to set the standard from the off!
Well that concludes our first blogger interview of the new series. Thanks to Wendy for her responses!
Aura has recently worked with Wendy for a new client which wants to raise awareness of its presence in Scotland. The best way for us to do this is for an influencer like Wendy, to tell the story from her point of view. In this instance, we’ve commissioned Wendy to do a blogger journey of her experience of our client and the service they provide, through a series of ‘beauty’ treatments. This will be done through blogs, Snaps, Insta stories, Insta pics and to comply with best practice, it will labelled as sponsored content.
If you found this interview interesting or helpful, please share across your networks, as other people might be interested too. If you’d like to receive more blogger interviews directly to your inbox, sign up to ‘Aura Talk’ here.