Date Posted: Tuesday 13th March 2018
DIARY directory recently caught up with Lauren Stevenson and Virginia Norris, Co-founders of fashion, beauty and lifestyle PR agency Aisle 8. Lauren, former Head of PR at Harrods, and Virginia, former Head of Global PR at Whistles, decided to launch their own agency in 2014 after seeing a gap in the market for an agency which bridged traditional PR and digital marketing. Four years later, Aisle 8 is now a thriving boutique agency which has expanded its team from 6 to 13 and offers digital consultancy, 360 degree PR and communications expertise to a select number of brands. We caught up with the duo to learn how they see the agency evolving, how they track a brand's success through influencer marketing and what they think about working with influencers who have bought their followers.
What have been the biggest changes within the industry since you started your agency?
Lauren: The industry has continued to evolve and the digital landscape has completely blurred the lines between digital marketing and what traditional PR used to be. Understanding social media, the role it plays and how to work authentically with influencers has never been more important. We are able to place our brands on a global stage and communicate directly with the customer, tracking their journey and their spend like never before.
Virginia: When we launched there was still a very hierarchical aspect to the fashion industry, this has really shifted and changed in recent years.
What information do you want access to for influencers you might suggest to your clients / how do you use it?
Lauren: It's really valuable for us to have access to Google Analytics and digital value tools to be able to understand the value of target influencers' audiences, the demographic and engagement level of the followers.
Virginia: Understanding results driven fee structures
Which do you mainly work with – micro influencers or bigger more established influencers? What are the main differences in working with each?
Lauren: We work with a blend of global fashion and beauty influencers, specialist influences such as mummy, food, wellness and travel influencers. Our clients come to us for our network of editors, writers, stylists, PRs, directors and CEOs who we introduce our brands to in an authentic and creative way.
Virginia: We work with a bespoke plan for each of our clients dependent on what their goals and deliverables are. Ideally, a blend of both works well, we believe word of mouth still remains at the heart of a campaign. It's great to work with new talent coming up and support them as they grow.
How do you track a brand’s success through influencer marketing?
Lauren: The beauty of today's industry is being able to track and fully evaluate our activity. We can track the traffic, click-throughs, engagement, sales and social media community growth.
Virginia: Sales, traffic to site, engagement levels.
What do you think about working with influencers whose stats may suggest they have bought followers in the past, but who now have a decent sized genuine following?
Lauren: Follower purchasing is much more common than most people think and we have worked with many global influencers who have at one point bought followers. We select the influencers that we work with based on their style, tone of their blog or Instagram channel and the way they will incorporate our brand and our product. We see equally successful commercial results for our brands with influencers with small, highly engaged followers against those with hundreds of thousands.
Virginia: It all depends on whether they are the right fit for our brands, and to understand what buying followers has done for them. We do know that engagement is higher when influencers really develop their own unique sense of brand and are open and honest with their followers
Biggest lesson learnt since launching the business?
Lauren: The world will not fall apart if I switch off for the evening. For the first three years, I worked around the clock rarely switching off from my emails and phone feeling that I had to respond to every email that second. Having a mobile phone and laptop has allowed me to work from anywhere in the world, but meant I am always online and at work. I still do reply to every email promptly, but I have learnt to have a work-life balance.
Virginia: Trust your gut instinct, it is never wrong. Do it for the vision, not money