26 Jul Instinct Insider: Erica Davies
Welcome to instinct insider our regular interview spot with the industry’s biggest and brightest influencers, sharing what makes good PR.
From Birkenhead to the bright lights of Fleet Street, and now she’s taking over the blogosphere… Erica Davies is one journalist who has moved seamlessly from traditional print to the world wide web.
Starting as a fashion assistant at The Mirror, Erica, now 40, then spent her formative years in media working as Fashion Editor at The Sun (at the time the biggest newspaper in the world) where she started blogging on the side whilst pregnant with her second child, Lilah.
After leaving The Sun a glamorous stint at Look magazine followed before she took the leap and decided to – in her words – ‘try and make a go of this blogging thing’.
And she has never looked back. Five years later her beautiful blog, theedited.com [http://the-edited.com/] has become an online brand to be reckoned with, Erica has an army of 55,000 (and counting) devoted Instagram fans, and she is seen as one of the UK’s foremost influencers on social media when it comes to fashion and interiors.
Now living in the country and renovating the house of her dreams Erica is indeed living the dream, designing a life that works for her as a mother, journalist and interiors nut.
But it’s not all hipster coffee shops and posing by nice walls. It takes a LOT of work to connect with an audience in the way that Erica has, and anybody wanting to work with her should know that maintaining an authentic voice is one of her main priorities when it comes to looking at new projects and working with PRs…
HOW/WHY DID YOU MAKE THE SWITCH FROM OFFLINE TO ONLINE?
“While working at Look magazine I started getting offered some really interesting things for the blog that I was having to turn down because of the day job.
“At the time my salary was paying for a nanny, my husband was working ridiculous hours and there wasn’t much family time so I decided to leave the job and try with the blog. And even if it meant that I only earned a couple of hundred pounds every six months at least I would be able to be at home with the kids.
“There were no guarantees, I didn’t have anything lined up. But I took a leap of faith, and then it just grew and grew.
“And it has really flown since I left London. I think that’s because I’ve felt more free to just do what I want. I haven’t got the ‘cool vibe’ of the city anymore. I can’t just walk into a cool coffee shop – there aren’t any! – and so now it’s about making my content work for me.
“It still think it’s all a bit weird though. I’m a 40-yr-old mum of two and I suddenly have this whole new work chapter. And I thought my previous chapter was pretty cool.”
- HOW HAS YOUR CONTENT CHANGED SINCE YOU STARTED?
“Social media has become my priority now and my blog has almost taken second place to Instagram, as Instagram is the channel that is growing the most and I can see that more and more people are being driven by it.
“I use the blog for bigger pieces – maybe before and afters on the house or sponsored posts – and then my Instagram is almost a mini blog because I do quite long captions and like to create a story or conversation.
“I find that you get a lot more engagement when you are creating a story and giving something about yourself. People get to know you and it works really well for me.
“I will always love the writing side of things, but I also love creating pictures now, I think it goes back to my time on the paper where we were always expected to do both.”
- INFLUENCER vs BLOGGER – which are you?
“Both are such new terms and to be honest I feel like a bit of a wanker when I say that I am in influencer – you couldn’t explain an ‘influencer‘ to your gran, could you? – although I am aware that I do influence people, I can tell by my analytics as well as by being tagged in so many pictures of outfits or interiors, which I find so lovely and also still so bizarre.
“What I DO think is brilliant about Instagram and influencers and blogs in general is that it gives a voice to people who are really talented but might not necessarily have been recognised before. It’s a great opportunity to showcase amazing photography, or wit, or a brilliant eye for something.”
- WHAT’S THE BEST THING ABOUT WORKING FOR YOURSELF?
“Now that I write for myself I don’t have any agenda, I feature things because I like them, or think they speak to the people following me or it’s a nice thing to promote.
“It’s really free-ing, and, even better, I can do it in the confines of my kids being at school and then go and pick them up, and that has been the most liberating thing. Some days I can sit at my computer all day and get loads done, other days I can head out for coffee and take some pictures. I’m actually quite structured which I think again goes back to working for newspapers and having to multitask.
“This job gives me a real freedom and I am so grateful for it, but I definitely put my time in. I never stop. If I’m not online responding to comments and DMs I’m constantly writing notes. So many notes!
I could stay on my phone all day because I try and reply to everyone personally, which is almost a full time job in itself, and I genuinely love it, but I also have a husband and two children who I like talking to sometimes.”
- ANY ‘PINCH ME’ MOMENTS YET?
“I got stopped on the street in Copenhagen which was pretty mental. But mostly the ‘wow’ moments are the things that I hope I never took for granted when I was working for the big titles, like getting to go on some amazing trips.
“And the best thing now is that people are approaching me because they like my voice and/or the way I take pictures and it’s such a lovely feeling because they genuinely like what I’m putting out there and that’s really, really rewarding.”
- HOW DO YOU SEE PR CHANGING?
“The whole industry has had to change and I think that now it’s about how brands work with influencers AND traditional media, and strategize according to different channels.
“The great thing about online media for PRs is that they can really gauge the success of activity thanks to analytics and can see instantly if something works,
“There are of course some print titles that are still relevant but with magazines I think it’s more about the prestige e.g. of being in Vogue. I think online and offline media each have their place but they work best side by side, and PRs need to really realise the value of successful bloggers and influencers.”
- HOW CAN PRs WORK BEST WITH YOU?
“I get hundreds of emails each day and plenty from people who have clearly never read my blog or looked at my Instagram account. My advice is to READ MY BLOG and then pitch something that’s relevant.
“Having an idea that we can then discuss further, rather than a vague ‘we’d love to do something with you’ is a good start.
“My best PR relationships are often with brands who I work with across a longer time period and who will have a strategy according to the messages they want to deliver each month, so we can work out the content together.
“Finally, be flexible, and trust that I know what will work on my channels. A lot more brands seem to be getting on board with this now, accepting that each influencer understands what will work for them e.g. that we don’t wear head-to-toe outfits from just one brand anymore.”
- ANY PR NO-NOs YOU CARE TO SHARE?
“There have been lots of occasions when I’ve been offered gifts in return for a blog and/or social media post, people say: ‘We can’t pay you, but we’d love you to post for us,’ and I think well actually this is my job now and I know that I can sell product, so therefore I expect to be treated as you would any other business. “
- AND FINALLY… WHERE’S YOUR GO-TO PR BREAKFAST/LUNCH/DINNER PLACE?
“I generally come into London once a week so will fit in fit three square meals when I can.
“I still really like Berner’s Tavern for breakfast, the place is beautiful and I always see people I know.
“I love The Ivy in Soho for lunch because it’s a bit more casual, and Dalloway Terrace in the evening is so pretty – and full of Instagram opportunities!”