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Friday, September 02, 2005

Interview With Piers Fawkes of PSFK

PSFK is a pretty schweet publication [blog] and I've often wanted to point everybody to them from time to time on some interesting stories they've put together... But one thing led to another [lawsuits, discovery, depositions, interrogatories, yada, yada, yada...] and alas I had no time to give them props. But now I have a bit more time and wanted to share a little Q & A I had with Piers Fawkes, co-conspirator of Simon King, regarding their very interesting blog and what makes them tick. Enjoy!

Questions and Answer with Piers Fawkes

Q: When did psfk get started? We already know it was created by you [Piers Fawkes] and your buddy Simon King but how long ago did you guys decide you needed to create a web site to store all of the interesting pieces of information you were sending back and forth?

A: PSFK actually got started a couple of years ago. In it's first iteration, Simon and I created PSFK as a consultancy for luxury brands - but Simon's jeans brand took off and I moved from London to New York so we put it to sleep. Then, about a year later (2004) when we were setting up the blog we realised we could launch the blog under the PSFK banner. And Simon loved the color purple anyway. We just set it up for the love of it. And we still run PSFK for the same reason.

After a year, we realised that some of the content we were writing about wasn't actually about 'trends' - more about advertising and marketing (reflecting my personal interests/job). Simon and I hesitated about putting this content on a new blog because of the time and effort - then we realised if we charge folk a small subscription fee for this content then we'd have a reason to dedicate time to IF. It's working well - and our subscriber base is growing!

Q: The Insight Services and Trend Reports you offer appears to be a paid service that gives your customers insight into their markets & trends they should know about. Where are you pulling your data from and are there markets you specialize this service in or do you provide this service for every known market?

A: We have had a couple of major brand clients that ask for one off trend reports, we also produce a bi-monthly analysis of the young adult market in the UK available as a subscription model(we plan a US version soon). Because we scan hundreds of feeds each morning as we write the blog,we have become hyper-aware (we hope) of the news and events taking place in many markets - writing the blog over time also allows us to stand back and look at the macro trends going on too. We support this with getting off our backsides and actually checking things out and talking to young people. We then support all this by talking to key influencers (magazine editors, fashion designers, club DJs). It comes over with our subjective PSFK point of view but our clients seem to like it.

Q: PSFK provides some interesting content via interviews with folks who are online celebrities like B.L. Ochman and others who are more in-tuned with the offline world like Rasheed Young. Getting interviews like these usually implies a relationship with the interviewee of some sort. Do you have any advice for people running lesser known blogs that would like to start interviewing people they're interested in but just don't know how to get started?

A: The interviews normally fall in two camps - folk I think are doing interesting stuff on the web (the online celebrities as you call them) and companies that are doing interesting stuff on and offline. Some folk I have got to know, others I have been referred to and others I just approached. If you are a new blogger, there's no harm in asking but you have to give a good reason why they should spend time on the interview. I'd like to think I have created a good reputation both through the quality and quantity of content on PSFK and through interacting with other bloggers through email, phone, comments. This helps immensely.

Q: I subscribe to your IF newsletter and have found it to be chocked full of under the radar trend goodness but only recently did I subscribe to your RSS feed. Which do you prefer, email or RSS and why?

A: You gotta give the people the information in any way they want. We have to remember that a tiny percent of the universe actually gets what RSS is and then a tiny percent of that universe monitors their RSS frequently. I recommend email newsletters to any blogger in order to maintain and eventually grow their traffic. Remember, the format is different to: RSS is a headline, a newsletter is a summary of the past week or month. People digest info in different ways. I'm sure there are more ways I could communicate to the audience. To be honest, I'm envious of the reader events that Peter Rojas and the Engadget guys run. I'd love to hold an IF Marketing Ideas event in major citiesone day.

Q: When did you begin serving ads on PSFK? Has serving ads on your blog been met with any resistance from your loyal following?

A: Advertising has been one big experiment on PSFK and IF. On PSFK I pulled Google and Burst eventually because the pennies from the deals was too low versus what I could do with the real estate to relay more/better PSFK info. What I also wanted was the right advertiser for the PSFK audience - we get lots of ad agency folk, so why not get a a freelance design duo to advertise on our site? That said, my policy on advertising is always evolving. My advice to any new blogger is to avoid ruining your real estate for the chance to earn google pennies. Find a sponsor directly who understands your audience and will pay a proper price for the space.

On IF, we have three paid sponsors that support the site - each for a different section. It works better becuase the content is about marketing ideas and the sponsors are folk that make marketing ideas happen.

By Jason Dowdell at 09:32 AM | Comments (0)

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