Date Posted: Friday 3rd July 2020
Last week The Spa PR Company interviewed Holly Buckley, editor and Director at DIARY directory, about the importance of a database and how to use it properly. We have decided to share the interview so that you can see how our members benefit from the service, and the features that they have access to.
How long has DIARY directory (Dd) been in operation and have you been involved from the very beginning?
DIARY directory has been around for over 30 years. Gail Raymonde (my mum!) launched the business you see today and this was long before the days of the internet, so we had a monthly book of news and dates and a printed A5 quarterly directory which was known as the ‘Bible’ across the industry. We’ve come a long way since then! Gail is still a part of the business but Sarah, the MD, and I run the day-to-day now. Sarah’s been with the company for over 20 years and I’m coming up to 15!
What do you like about working at Dd?
I love our business. I’m very lucky that in my role I get to spend every day speaking to people about the industry and listening to how they’re working, how the industry is changing, and what they need from us to help. People frequently tell us how much they love using our site and how lost they’d be without us. That drives me. Having close relationships and providing a good customer experience is at our core.
Being a small business, we can make changes and adapt quite quickly. I think our experience and the relationships we’ve built over the years have helped us really understand what our members want and need from a service. It’s amazing that we’re still here after all these years doing what we love and helping make press, PR & Marketing professionals’ day-to-day working life easier.
How many contacts do you have on Dd?
When I am asked that question by a prospective client I always point out that it is the quality and relevance of the contacts we provide, rather than just a numbers game – and I can’t break that habit now! We are focused on the fashion, beauty and lifestyle sectors, and believe that we provide the best database available for those core areas.
Dd includes contacts for approximately 20,000 brands’ press office/marketing teams, 12,000 media title contacts across 4,500 media titles (including consumer, online, national, regional, trade, blogs and more recently podcasts), and 10,000 freelancers (including digital influencers, makeup artists, stylists, photographers).
But we never ‘health check’ ourselves by the number of contacts, but instead by how relevant to our core, and by how up to date they are.
How regularly do you update the contacts?
Our database is constantly being updated by the whole team. We send out a free DIARY daily email of the industry news on site from that day to 12,000+, largely industry, recipients – this is a great reminder for people to keep in touch with news of their own. But we have also, over the years, tried and tested various ways of reaching out to our included contacts to make sure they know the details we have for them, and to encourage them to keep in touch. We now have a long list of the different outreach methods that work well, and strictly adhered-to targets for implementing them which allows us to maintain a good monthly checking tally across the database.
What are the most searched/popular pages on Dd?
Of the 4 million+ page views last year, the industry news section (particularly editorial requests), followed by industry vacancies, can be viewed by all site visitors and are generally our most viewed pages.
The number of brand searches performed is increasing as brand collaborations are on the rise, and industryINFLUENCERS, which is the newest section of the site, is also now a popular section.
Media title team listings are always popular - we published the most viewed of 2019 here.
What advice would you give to someone using Dd for the first time? / What are the benefits to using DIARY directory?
The aim of DIARY directory is to provide a relevant, up to date database to allow industry professionals to find the contacts they need quickly and efficiently; to provide relevant industry news, and to help promote industry events and prevent clashes. We consider our team to be an extension of our members’ teams in these areas – so if we are missing a relevant contact you need, or need help compiling a specific list, we are here to help. And through encouraging our members to let us know if they find anything that needs updating or adding – we become a community, and we all benefit.
Many of our members, like The Spa PR Company, have been with us for a very long time – and I hope that is a testament to the benefits we offer.
With the rise of the influencer industry have you seen your role as a directory change? And how have you adapted?
The database has expanded to include, first bloggers, then digital influencers within our core, and the agencies representing them. Our members now include quite a few of the influencers themselves as well as their agencies, and they use the database for purposes such as research, industry relationships, sample requests, and to source potential brand collaborations.
We added social APIs a few years ago, of course, Instagram then withdrew theirs which caused a few issues! But we have a good workaround in place now. This allows members another layer of targeting when doing initial brand collaboration research – for example skincare brands with a certain level of Instagram following.
We also added the industryINFLUENCERS section, which currently focuses on content creators with active Instagram accounts over a certain following. The section can be filtered by the influencers’ location (country and additional regions for the UK), gender, following, and includes a sortable engagement score, and recent images feed to get a visual feel for ‘fit’.
The social APIs have had other benefits for the database, for example enabling us to flag up when accounts go dormant and then check/update those details. And we find people often keep their Instagram bio more up to date than their LinkedIn profile when it comes to their current work positions.
With lockdown in mind and the new post COVID-19 world insight, have you seen any changes to the types of editorial requests you have coming in and the way that PRs are searching for journalists?
In terms of editorial requests, we have not noticed much change in the type received. We did a big outreach to media title and brand contacts earlier in lockdown to see if people would like to change the details we provided for them – but it was a reminder if we needed one, of how dependent people are on communication by email and most people preferred to remain contactable via email first and foremost.
For the ‘new normal’, we were already aware of a trend towards the rise of freelance PRs and press - we expect the current climate to push this further and are planning some changes to our current database to cater to this shift.
Is it more important now than ever that PR’s have a strong database?
Yes! (…Says the woman who owns a database company!) We all know print circulation is declining, but arguable engagement is increasing; services such as Readly (we have an interview with them coming up on-site soon!) are encouraging an online readership of traditional print magazines; online is continuing to grow – and is so potentially vast that a strongly curated database as a starting point is an essential time-saver; brand collaborations are becoming an increasingly important part of the marketing mix; and with the rise of the freelancer, relevant contacts will become harder to find ‘from scratch’. So I believe that, with everything that is changing, providing PRs with a database that is ‘clean’, comprehensive (within our core), and up to date, is more essential than ever.
Do you have any new tools or features planned?
We are doing a lot of back end work at the moment, which our users may not see but which will make their experience better overall and will provide us with a solid base for future development. We regularly ‘tweak’ the site as a result of member feedback – for example, the recent addition of new media title contact categories for culture, social media, and eco. (Previously the regional tags levels were improved in response to some excellent feedback from The Spa PR Company!)
Our plans to streamline the way we include and update freelancers are underway, and we are also looking at what more we can do with the social data, including TikTok. But otherwise, our future plans will be guided by our members’ changing needs.
The DIARY directory platform provides fashion, beauty and lifestyle industry news, interviews, dates, vacancies and contacts. Our huge database of contacts includes thousands of digital influencers, media titles (UK and overseas) and their editorial teams, freelance journalists and creatives, PRs and brands and representative agencies. Live and sortable social media stats for entries allow comparative analysis and insight within filtered sections, plus additional engagement metrics for industryINFLUENCERS.
Get in touch to discover how DIARY directory membership would benefit you.