Chicago Blogger Network
By Gina Goodman
Kelly Ryan O’Brien wears many hats. From fashion expert to public relations guru to social media junkie, she has made a name for herself in the world of pop culture and brand awareness. She has served as the director of marketing and public relations for Billion Dollar Babes in Los Angeles, as a national marketing director for Gen Art in Chicago, and has worked as director of PR and marketing for Michigan Avenue magazine. Her experience and love for the industry has even landed her guest judging roles for the show Project Runway. And with the launch of the Chicago Blogger Network, O’Brien is now merging her knowledge into a new venture.
The network, still in its infancy, will strive to educate, showcase and create opportunities for fashion and pop culture bloggers based in the Chicago area. It affords both bloggers and PR and marketing professionals a way to integrate and form creative partnerships.
“While researching the blogger world in Chicago, I immediately noticed a need for a way for brands, organizations [and] PR and ad agencies to interact with the blogger world as a whole, in addition to raising the visibility of the amazing talent we are cultivating in this city,” O’Brien said.
The idea is to help Chicago fashion bloggers gain access to agencies, provide them with unique opportunities by identifying their goals and create social media campaigns based on those goals, she said. Adding to that, the network allows each blogger who joins to have his or her own profile page, which links to their blog as well as Twitter and Facebook. For marketing professionals and ad agencies, the network is a gateway for bloggers looking for more visibility, O’Brien said.
“I have created the first directory of the best bloggers in Chicago,” she said. “[It’s] a way to make brands feel they have a social media team on their side; to get the most of social media.”
Andrew Barber, editor in chief of the Chicago urban music scene blog, Fake Shore Drive, said he joined CBN despite not falling under the fashion-blogger profile.
“Even though most of the sites in the network are fashion-related, I thought it would be a good way to network, share contacts and meet like-minded people who blog in the city,” he said. “Kelly reached out. I thought she had a good energy and it seemed like a cool team to be a part of.”
O’Brien’s background plays a big role in her understanding of both the bloggers and the brands and agencies within the network.
“This requires a lot of knowledge on what works and doesn't work with social media and blogger outreach, and someone who has a relationship of trust with this group,” she said. “Members know that I have their best interests in mind, first and foremost.”
The CBN website is set to be completed by January 2012 but the organization is currently up and running, with nearly 140 bloggers signed up as of late October. O’Brien is throwing a meet and greet – which can be found on Twitter at the hashtag #CBNTRIBUTEPARTY – which will allow members to meet in person. The bloggers will also be emailed with the latest news and trends, and can join in on live weekly informational calls to contribute ideas.
“I am challenged every day with taking the goals of my clients and developing the most compelling, interactive and creative social media campaigns in order to reach their goals,” O’Brien said. “I listen to their ‘big get’ ideas and see how I can make that into a reality in the most fun way possible. After all, isn't that what blogging is all about?”
Chicago Blogger Network
Kelly Ryan O’Brien, founder and principal
Fake Shore Drive
Andrew Barber, editor in chief