Naming no names, there are some clothing retailers out there who have set up their own 'bloggers network' who seem to want people to write review after review of their clothes based solely on photographs. I mean, who wouldn't want to write about some clothes they've never seen or tried on for the chance to possibly win an outfit or interview Davina McCall (err, me for starters!). If you want to do that sort of thing then great, go for it. It's just not for me.
In complete contrast to this, River Island actually recognises the value of engaging properly with bloggers. I have a couple of examples of this so bear with me.
Just before Easter and quite out of the blue, the River Island PR team contacted me to invited my children and I to a chocolate-making workshop. It was billed as a fun-filled afternoon making chocolate and seeing the new spring/summer clothing collection. Now, regular readers here will know that I'm not a fashion blogger, I've never written anything about clothes so this invite came as a surprise. But, I'm not one to turn down a fun activity with my kids if I can help it.
With Dexter at the time only just turning one-year-old, I thought him too young to participate in such a session so I arranged for him to stay at home with my mother-in-law and took my 3-year-old daughter along. We had a fantastic day (not least because I met the very lovely Chrissie from Mediocre Mum) and you can see all the photos below, which I published on this blog's Flickr account and Facebook page
I hadn't heard from River Island since then but, last Friday, a surprise package arrived at my door. Who from? You guessed it, those lovely River Island PR peeps. They thought Sophia would enjoy a few goodies - face masks, bubbles, colouring in book, stickers - to enjoy during the summer holidays and included another fantastic looking, quality item from their summer collection; a fabulous T-shirt (again, you can see it on my relevant Pinterest board). They were also kind enough to include a little treat for me (which you can see in this Silent Sunday post). Once again, no expectation of a blog post or social media activity.
I can understand how and why some companies would choose not to do things this way. It's a risky strategy in that bloggers may take, take, take and not give anything back. But to assume that is to do us bloggers down. We have integrity and appreciate even the smallest gestures that make us feel valued. And it's those gestures that can make us loyal ambassadors for a brand.
River Island has not, at any point, asked me to write about them but through their actions, look at this - an entire blog post dedicated to how wonderful they are. And, you know what? The next time I'm in town, I'll be popping into my local River Island store to have a look at their clothing range. Their clothes are all made to a high quality and feel lovely and soft.
River Island - I think you're blogging brilliant.