Guest Interview with Stevie Wilson: Crafting a Voice of Glamour

March 16, 2009
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A social media marketing whiz, Stevie Wilson describes herself as a brand strategist for companies and events. She is a fashion and lifestyle blogger and podcaster through L.A. Story and has 10+ years of experience as a writer and editor.
After Rachel Kay told me last fall she emulated Stevie, I reached out to her and […]


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A social media marketing whiz, Stevie Wilson describes herself as a brand strategist for companies and events. She is a fashion and lifestyle blogger and podcaster through L.A. Story and has 10+ years of experience as a writer and editor.

After Rachel Kay told me last fall she emulated Stevie, I reached out to her and we chatted on LinkedIn and Twitter. When I asked if she’d share any best practices in social media, Stevie failed to hesitate.

Through her words, podcasts, and imagery, say hi to Stevie…

The opening line in your LinkedIn profile says you’re a “dynamite marketing consultant?”

Meet Stevie WilsonI am not what most people consider to be a traditional marketing person. I tend to be very creative and toss around ideas with people to see how creative we can be with a client and work it out that way. So far it’s worked out quite successfully. Sometimes it’s as simple as explaining what a product is, does, how to use it, and make it accessible and simple.

Chris Abraham, President and Chief Operating Officer of Abraham Harrison called me a “social media bad ass” in a blog after I ran a podcast with him.

For me, social media is about being social in a variety of ways. I used it for several projects with Brickfish–one of which involved my blog. It was a contest; entrants submitted photos of themselves for a prize package of Marc Jacobs accessories valued under $1,000. The goal was to achieve a certain number of engagement activities within 90 days.

I saw an opportunity to work a little “social media” magic to market the contest through posts and activities–by changing the tone of the presentation and sending it, virally, to get people to participate. I knew that it could be much more than that goal and I pushed the envelope on the contest as far as I could, as my blog was fairly new. I placed it on various sites, selected a few bloggers to talk about it, and bingo! The campaign popped! End result was 10 times than we expected for the engagements.

While one would have hoped or thought it would drive traffic to my blog, that wasn’t the reason I did it (nor did it get that huge traffic spike either). I did it as a test to see just how far I could push this campaign.

With that background, what makes me a dynamite social media marketing person?

  • I am open to new ideas, trying things.
  • I listen to the client and other people in the same/similar arena, and get their thoughts and reactions. What I have found is that what works for one company/brand/product/project doesn’t always work for another. Everyone has a different agenda–and both sides need to be clear on the potential outcomes.
  • I ask a lot of questions. I find out what someone/company/brand/project wants to achieve.
  • I am very conscious of expectations and realities and I communicate that as clearly as possible.
  • I find out what the comfort level is of the client and I talk to them about what I can do and what their side of the equation is. I can create the most dynamite campaign that would create a lot of traffic but there is a part of the campaign that requires their participation and follow-through. If they don’t do their part, the strategy works, but it doesn’t stick.
  • I have found the tone I take with various clients varies based on who they are and what they want.
  • I present a strategy that meets their goals and within a certain timeframe. Some are longer term than others. I walk through this strategy and stay on top of the implementation every step of the way. I know it’s always a team effort and I stay in contact with the client a great deal.

Keeping them in the loop gives them the reality check that they are getting something for their money.


(Here’s my interview with Timothy Spall for the PBS production of Oliver Twist.)

I have done some projects where the clients were doing really well through the project and for a period of time after it was over. However, there is that need for the client to keep going with their own participation because it’s their voice/brand/presentation that’s going to capture people. If they drop the ball, the momentum drops. I have seen that happen and get asked why.

I make sure that I give them concrete examples of where there were missed opportunities. If I take the time to tell them about the opportunities (off the clock) and they don’t follow through, then it’s on them–not me. I give my clients a lot of value-added strategy that they can implement without me on board– they just have to keep revving the motor.

How do you define social media and how do you use it?

Social media is many things to me and can be a blog post, an article, podcast, video, even a cartoon–it has to reach out to people.

Social media is the way to reach out to someone through a non-advertising sort of way that is much more of a personal approach. Think casual friends or acquaintances. I tend to equate social media a lot with like party-line conversations where you talk to people about things (products, ideas, dilemmas, etc) and hopefully create a dialogue and/or traffic.

I use it all the time: blogs, comments, videos, podcasts. It’s how I approach life–from a more casual rather than formal perspective. I do write formal long-form articles and wrote a biography, but I enjoy the lack of being able to communicate the humanity that I think is so essential that it takes more effort for me to write formal pieces.

That’s not to say that crafting a perfectly balanced social media piece is easy–sometimes it takes me a couple of hours (or a lot longer) depending on the topic, particularly when dealing with an interview because it has to jive with the content.

Do you think companies should have social media policies?

I think if the company wants to be visible, gain recognition, traction, and traffic from advertising in any sort of format (tv, radio, print and online), they need to brand themselves by using social media. You can always change your branding strategy over the long term as the company evolves–but the people implementing social media is key.

As a fashionista, where do you hang out? MySpace?

Ahh! Myspace isn’t where we fashionista types tend to hang out. You have two or three different segments here: health/fitness people hang out in several discrete sites and I participate in a few of them (Video Fitness for one) and I helped encourage the participation in the solo off-topic thread to focus a lot on beauty. I wish I was there more because I love it; but I work a lot.

There are other forums and groups that I also participate in, as well as Facebook and Twitter–though I love Twitter, it’s not just about fashionista stuff. That’s where I do “cocktail party” discussions with other people from lots of different arenas. I love YoungPR Pros and Peter Shankman’s Help A Reporter Out because I can work with all sides of the editorial/pr/marketing equation.

I find LinkedIn fascinating because I can participate in lots of topics that most people would not associate with my scope of knowledge (real estate, market economy, supply chain, education). I would like to spend more time there.

Through Facebook and LinkedIn, I have gained the most friends–and people that I always come back to.

Which social network do you trust the most?

It’s not which one I trust the most. I trust the people I have met through various networks. I have met a ton of very helpful, knowledgeable and interesting people on LinkedIn and Facebook. I love Twitter for the fact that I can dig through someone’s friends and find someone I can reach out to and engage in a dialogue.

Let’s switch gears. What is glamour and how do you use it?

Glamour involves Hollywood, celebrities, fashion, jewelry, luxe, and events.

Fortunately (or unfortunately because of where I am based in southern California), glamour is often a key aspect of life–at least when you head out to some events.

Glamour is about luxury, dressing up and looking at the smallest detail to make the look work. It’s about fine fabrics, great tailoring, the perfect accessories and also being careful about your grooming. Glamour can also be about having a great home with a ton of friends sitting round drinking fabulous cocktails with interesting conversation and wonderful
music.

The idea of glamour means that you put effort into your appearance (product/fashion/presentation). It’s diligently worked to create a certain aura. I have done casual glamour but it took me an hour of make-up, hair and then a few round with clothing to create the look–all for a friend’s birthday party. However, that effort got us into Bar Marmont (part of Chateau Marmont) and so it was worth the effort.

I use glamour in ways to reflect about celebrity events–so that readers–average everyday people like you and me can find out what celebrities are like. During the Oscars, I ran into Debra Messing. She was very low-key; no attitude, just friendly. People like to know that, and I like to feature stuff that show people what’s cool, flying below the radar and also the “average person” sort of approachability particularly with interviews.

Women’s Conference Part I

(That’s me in the video, shot by Rohin Katthula at the Governor’s Conference
for Women.)

I try to bring glamour into people’s lives so that they can inject a style or bit of glam into their own lifestyles. Particularly right now, in this sort of economy, it’s important for people to feel like they aren’t totally deprived.

High/low dressing or home furnishings can help you feel that glam because you put effort into creating a look, an event or even something as simple as an invitation. It’s a way I think about things: how to approach a certain piece/post/article or interview.


(Also at the Governor’s Conference for Women, here’s a video I shot of Leeza Gibbons. Should I add she liked my shoes and tights?)

Your blog is one of the ways to bring glamour into people’s lives. How did that start?

I previously wrote for a larger website when the editor-in-chief and managing editor started a blog. They asked me to write about beauty on a regular basis in a blog-type format; and when the Golden Globes came around, I started including all of that content as well. They were very helpful and encouraging–giving me tips, ideas and things to think about. I took them and ran. Sometimes my learning curve was a lot longer than I thought it would be, but it is what it is.

Eventually I moved up the ladder to executive editor. When the editor started talking about revamping the site, I knew it was time to go out on my own. It was 2007. I knew I was starting at zero. I learned a lot in the process and the people who helped me have my undying gratitude and are people I really respect.

Stevie Wilson is the LA GirlMy blog has grown fast in 20 months; and more visitors are arriving every month. I employ several analytics programs, and some of my advertisers have better metrics on my traffic than Google Analytics or Technorati.

The most interesting thing is that my posts seem to remain eternal; they pop up a lot, revived by someone hunting down a specific topic or person. It’s not hard for me to pull in search engine traffic. I have readership that spans the Globe from South Africa to Israel, Vietnam to China and Japan, a slew of Latin American countries, and Europe–including deep into eastern European nations and the Middle East.

My blog is about my perspective and voice in Los Angeles and southern California. I craft a certain voice that creates an unusual blend of topics based on several turns with different websites and publications. With that sort of knowledge, I like to think of it as allowing the reader to be a friend or person sitting next to me and sharing or overhearing a conversation I am having, particularly when it’s videos or podcasts. It’s something I want people to engage with and in–because it’s about allowing the people who I am interviewing to share the information about themselves that they might not talk about otherwise.

Some of my favorite blogging and podcasting examples include:

In retrospect, I should have taken more chances early on. I should have used the people that I had contacts for (read musicians, writers, directors, designers) as well as other bloggers–used, meaning, engaged them in discussions that would be posts, podcasts, and videos. I do it now; I have met a great range of people and they are really great.

Who do you respect online?

I always read my friends’ blogs (personal friends, you know who you are). I have fashionista friends and I have some other non-fashion people who I read.

I am a fan of Chris Abraham–when we talk, we don’t shut up–even if it’s just instant messaging. I like reading Greg Brooks, Jonathan Trenn, Fete a fete and Debutante Clothing, among others.

I also read blogs of people I interviewed if we connected and found a common ground. Keaton Simons, Jay Nash, The Kin, Mike Vitale, Will Dailey and Erik DiNardo are some of the musicians whose music I follow and dig.

I wish my fashion and beauty friends would do blogs but they typically don’t (though Hayden Harnett replies to my tweets).

Facebook and I have a huge love affair!! Many of my friends are there, including authors Lauren Lipton, Jodi Wing, and Grace Willetts; and tons of PR and social media folks (Sally Hughes is one; Serene Cicore is another).

Lucretia Pruitt is fabulous on Twitter; she’s GeekMommy. I love the Darlings (Trish Darling and Julie Darling), and my yet-to-be-met friends who I connected with via Twitter and into Facebook.

I read on your blog about a new hairstyle?

I am loving it!! Although, it did take a bit of doing to get the right tools and products.

Some people were astonished–at the change, and the drama of the hair color. Though, that wasn’t changed; it’s just brighter because it’s not curly. A couple people would prefer me curly; and I do go curly, still, but this new style has brought out another aspect of my personality and made me a lot more visible.

How do you manage personal and career interests online?

I mix them up a lot. I try to network by phone and in person when possible. It’s a juggle and sometimes a struggle (like I have spent a couple of hours giving you serious answers).

I try to share what I do with my friends and my friends do the same. We understand the game we are playing. Many of my friends are on the other coast–or not near me, others are but are equally busy and we have trouble jiving the schedules so we stay in touch via facebook, twitter and IM.

Anything else you’d like to share?

I am in the midst of a couple of projects. One is a personal project that will be a blend of many things I have learned, used, worked with and know can be stretched to create more buzz, traction and viral engagements. It’s in early alpha stages but my tech guy and I have a good time talking about it and are about to start the map of the functions and applications.

It’s going to be ground-breaking and innovative because it’s approaching sites, blogs, social media, web 2.0 and 3.0 in an entirely different way.

I love what I do and it’s a lot like a multi-level game of chess with a far-reaching strategy. Whether I’m writing (from a more unusual angle or product) or creating a marketing project, that is smokin’ hot!


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