Oh, Lowly Blogger? Your Seat’s in the Back

Certainly, some publicists are softening. Huilian Ma, senior account executive for Williamson PR, said she screens each blogger’s writing and coverage to make sure it’s of a good “caliber.” “I think obviously bloggers have come a long way,” she said. “PR houses have been wary of them and [of] accommodating them the same as traditional media outlets, but I’d say in the last one or two seasons, they’re seeing them as a source of creditable information.”

Ms. Fredrickson of Coutorture.com said that “this year has been the best yet” for access —besides Ms. Cutrone’s, that is. “I think a blogger is so much more likely to get more coverage about a designer than, like, an assistant accessories editor from Marie Claire who might feature a shoe of theirs on like page 132,” she added.

Still, most Fashion Week publicists seem overwhelmingly concerned with old-media fashion writers. Surely they are more familiar. But the glossies also have a different relationship with the fashion houses, designers and publicists who fund their print publications with advertising and offer access. Blogs are a riskier affair: Writers tend to say what they want about a designer without worrying about access to interviews, and they can attract ads by building their traffic, which seems to increase commensurately with the level of cattiness or attitude.

One major PR firm submitted this statement to The Observer, requesting anonymity, perhaps partially in fear of blogger retaliation. 

“[B]logs give ANYONE the power to publish an opinion, being accredited by the industry or not. Since blogs are usually ‘normal people’ who speak from a ‘love it or leave it’ standpoint they usually do not review with the same things in mind, i.e. past collections changes in trends etc. Rarely are they experts or individuals with professional expertise on the subject, and therefore generally put a very strong opinion out to the world for readers, regardless of its credibility … at the end of the day they still do not compare to the credibility [of] nor have they completely replaced the traditional print media.”

(We always knew normal people didn’t belong at Fashion Week!)

Ms. Cutrone seconded that idea.

“I don’t want to sound completely outdated because I’m in fashion and we’re not the quickest as far as technology goes,” Ms. Cutrone said. “But at this point in time, the blogging world is the Wild West. It’s a new media, and we’re all the rats in the laboratory in what this is going to mean. … Once something has been said, it’s like taking a nail and putting it in a piece of wood. You can take the nail out, but the hole is still there. Once it’s up on the Internet, you can’t get it off; it’s just there forever.”

greagan@observer.com