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How to stand out in a crowded retail space: engage bloggers


In some ways, Thirty-One Gifts is not your typical retail company. Started by Cindy Monroe in her basement in 2003, the direct selling company offers purses, wallets, totes, home organization solutions, and more. But Thirty-One Gifts is much more than its products – embedded in its core is its mission to help empower women by giving them the opportunity to own their own business.

The company has grown to include 1,000 employees and 67,000 independent sales consultants. Putting its money where its heart is through a philanthropic initiative, Thirty-One Gives, it partners with nonprofit organizations that serve and support girls, women, and families. To date, Thirty-One has donated more than $100 million in product and cash to nonprofit organizations.

But, like any other retail organization, Thirty-One Gifts is looking to stand out in a crowded space that requires particular savvy from its communicators. The right influencers, whose content has direct appeal to target audiences, can be just the boost a brand needs for its campaigns.

“We found working with bloggers in addition to working with traditional media is a great way to reach our targeted audience. Bloggers can augment our retail sales strategies and reach our demographic perfectly. It’s important to maintain a presence in digital media to keep top of mind awareness of our products,” says Sara West, senior manager, public relations at Thirty-One Gifts.

“Finding the right bloggers requires a lot of in-depth research and time. I’m responsible for working with media and influencers to pitch and place articles and product reviews, as well as coordinate media appearances for our entire sales field of more than 72,000 in the U.S. and Canada. I need to be as efficient as possible in all aspects of my job,” she adds.

Consolidating tasks within a single platform

Thirty-One Gifts turned to Cision Communications Cloud, an all-in-one comms workflow platform, to get more done with limited time and resources. They used the platform to manage myriad tasks, such as monitoring news coverage, discovering and targeting reporters and bloggers, and reporting on campaign results. The company uses the platform’s monitoring function to collect its own media coverage, but also uses it to glean useful insights from coverage generated by competitors and the industry at large.


We found working with bloggers in addition to working with traditional media is a great way to reach our targeted audience. Bloggers can augment our retail sales strategies and reach our demographic perfectly

Sara West, Thirty-One Gifts


“In addition to getting twice-daily reports of our news coverage, I also monitor competitors and watch our social media,” says West. “We use the competitor’s coverage to compile databases of bloggers who work with our competitors in order to pitch them, as well. The reports also keep me apprised of what’s happening with their businesses and the direct selling industry. I often share news I see in those reports with executives at our company.”

Targeting the right influencers

Reaching out to the right influencers, especially the right bloggers, is key to Thirty-One Gifts’ comms strategy. With a diverse product line, the company needs to be able to target a wide variety of influencers to match each product’s particular audience.

“It is important for me to have access to specific media outlets, since I often reach out to various genres of bloggers and change distribution in response to the products and personalization we’re offering each season,” explains West. “Recently, I’ve created mailing lists from Cision and reached out to baby, fashion, police and fire, military, and emergency medicine bloggers.”

“Cision offers a blogger database superior to anyone else’s. It’s one of the main reasons I left another provider a few years ago and have stayed with them ever since,” she adds.



Thirty-One Gifts uses Cision’s contact search function often. “The large database of bloggers is one of the key reasons Thirty-One Gifts partners with Cision year after year,” she affirms.

The company also uses Cision’s HARO (Help a Reporter Out) to offer themselves as a source, and have had great success with it. Once a successful connection with a blogger is created, it’s important to cultivate the relationship and keep a line of communication open. “Building relationships with bloggers is like working with friends – very unlike working with traditional media,” notes West. “I develop relationships with bloggers who match our demographic, brand, and values. I build relationships by being responsive and easy to work with, and by assisting them with their work.”

Using Cision, Thirty-One Gifts creates monthly and quarterly media placement reports directly from the platform. The reports can be easily shared with the executive director of marketing and showcase the number of placements, circulation, and type of media outlet.

PR team brings greater value to organization

Thirty-One Gifts’ efforts to promote a new hero personalization, celebrating military and public service people on its products, recently received great results. Using Cision Comms Cloud, its wire release reached nearly 232 million people. Several military bloggers and media specifically targeted using Cision included product reviews and placements on their blogs.

“I may get as many as 705 placements from a pitch to bloggers from the database, and sometimes the outreach to bloggers is viral,” says West. “I may pitch one blogger from the database and then see her blog post repeated on several other bloggers’ sites with whom she has a relationship. I’ve seen this with many campaigns, including the Hero outreach.”

“I like the ease of use of the platform. The simple four-tab design intuitively tells me where to look for information or functions I need,” continues West. “I most often use the contacts function to create media lists, the search function to easily find anything I need, the ‘my coverage’ function, and the wire release and tracking function to see where my wire releases have placed and provide factual, statistical reports to leadership.”


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