Message From a Luxury Blogger to PR Agencies

It might come as a shock to some PR agencies, but bloggers don't really need PR pitches to find great subjects to write about. It's true. Simply ask yourself why a luxury blogger writes on a particular niche market and you might understand why. Could it be that they are experts on the subject with years of experience in the field? Could it be that they started their blog to finally organize all the information that was floating around in their head?

If a PR rep took a little amount of time to do some research on me they would understand why I write about luxury and luxury travel. For starters, I have actually lived aboard a superyacht for over four years working as a deckhand (yes, I am a sailor); I have worked as a personal assistant/private concierge for UHNW individuals for over 4 years; and I have traveled to over 65 countries in the last 10 years. I was also in the Canadian Naval Reserve and was trained in Naval Intelligence so finding what I call "luxury intelligence" is as easy as 1-2-3 for me. Finding out my credentials as a luxury and luxury travel expert is fairly easy. It's all on my LinkedIn profile and page.

Saying this, I love working with PR agencies that truly get the web, but I have to admit, there are few of them who truly make the cut. I have blogged for over two years now and have received thousands of PR pitch about products, brands, events and campaigns related to luxury and luxury travel. You would assume that I would have over a thousand new PR friends by now, but I don't. I can probably name 10 PR reps by name and might recognize another 30-50 when I receive their emails. As for the others, they simply keep sending me generic copy/paste emails thinking that I will OBVIOUSLY run their content on my blog. Nope, not happening. Google hates duplicate content, therefore we will NEVER publish a press release. You might has well stop sending them to us; they go directly in our trash bin.

On a side note, I have to say that small business owners  who don't have the budget to pay a PR firm do a much better job at reaching out to us directly. Why? Because they haven't been trained in old PR and are reaching out to us as a real-life person with a clear and simple message that says "Help Me".

We have a general rule here at LuxeInACity, if you don't personalize your message, make an effort to connect and reach out to us by using our names (Roxanne and Maxine - not Maxime), we simply won't work with you to promote your brand. It's that simple and I can pretty much guarantee you that every other blogger out there feels the same.

So if you want to work with a luxury blogger, follow these simply guidelines:

  • Get to know them personally
  • Do show the value in your message
  • Do keep in touch through social media
  • Do respect them as leaders and experts in their field.
  • and do remember that YOU NEED THEM more than they need you.

So if you want to work with LuxeInACity to promote your luxury or luxury travel brand, start now by becoming our friend on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Google Plus and Facebook. Once we know who you are and what you stand for, we will most likely work with you and help you with your marketing/PR/social media and SEO efforts.

Simple isn't' it so why doesn't everyone do it?


Luxury Spotlight Bryan Peele Founder & President of EMC Cover

Luxury Spotlight: Bryan Peele, Founder & President of EMC

Luxury service should be effortless and flawless. And that is exactly what we can learn from Bryan Peele, the Founder and President of the prestigious Estate Managers Coalition, a non-profit organization for professional estate managers. Apart from working as a professional estate manager himself, he ensures that EMC works to achieve its goals. To achieve its mission, EMC holds professional education events led by experts and monthly mixers with reputed guest speakers.

Let’s take a look into his insight into the world of the rich and the famous.


Luxury Spotlight Bryan Peele Founder & President of EMC 1


Q1: To be successful in an industry, one must be passionate. How and why did you choose to work as an estate manager?

A1: I’m not able to do anything well unless I am passionate about it. Passion seems to be a common denominator in all that I do, and that passion is the most evident in my chosen profession as an estate manager and president of The Estate Managers Coalition. I fell into the world of estate management quite by accident after a challenging period of my life. I was at a crossroads professionally and a friend of a friend suggested an estate manager position. She said “estate manger,” but what I heard was “estate planner” and almost immediately said no, until she clarified exactly what the position entailed. It was entirely unanticipated and yet perfectly serendipitous, because I took the job and it was a perfect fit for me on so many levels. The rest is history.


Q2: Can you tell us a little bit about the mission and goals of the Estate Managers Coalition?

A2: EMC is a non-profit organization that acts as the authority on estate management and was created based on the standards of honesty, integrity and professionalism. We seek to promote higher professional standards, develop improved business models, enhance business conditions and promote the advancement of the industry as a whole. We lead by example and we give back to our community and members through community projects, networking and education. We hold monthly mixers for EMC members and corporate members, and we create Master Classes where our members can learn everything from the art of storing wine to caring for Frette linens.


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Q3: Like personal assistants and super-yacht captains, estate managers are extremely influential when it comes to purchasing decisions. Can you explain to luxury brands why UHNWI tend to listen to their key staff when it comes to making large purchase decisions?

A3: Estate Managers have their finger on the pulse of luxury and culture at all times, and we stay on top of trends so that our principals don’t have to. We wear many hats, and one of those hats is a 24-hour concierge. We know the hottest restaurants, travel destinations and luxury brands, and our principals rely on us to know what’s happening at any given moment. As a result of this responsibility, and once trust is established and maintained, principals will organically rely on their estate managers not only to maintain the lifestyle they live, but to elevate it as well. All estate managers are influencers and connectors and we always know how to find the best of the best.


Q4: Give us an example of a typical day as an estate manager and why you love your job.

A4: While no two days are typically the same for an estate manager, it’s still important to have an established foundation for each day, including a detailed house manual, trained supportive staff, and a multitude of spreadsheets and checklists that hold each member of the staff accountable for their respective “zones.”

I love this career for many reasons: 1) I am naturally adept at multi-tasking, and this job allows me to shine in that arena, 2) I feel that every day is greeted with a new set of challenges and obstacles, and being naturally resourceful, this allows me to utilize all of my skill sets, talents and connections to make someone’s life easier, and 3) It’s about being of service, and not to sound too cliche (but I will anyway), it was Gandhi who said “to truly learn how to be of service, one must lose oneself in service to others,” and I subscribe to that sentiment.


Q5: As an estate manager you have to know how to throw a great party. Any tips for creating an event that is memorable?

A5: To truly create a memorable event I start with a comprehensive understanding of the purpose and intent of the event. My belief is that less is more and that every great event starts with an event flow that I have created and outlines a distinct narrative with a beginning, middle and end. I develop themes based on my personal knowledge of the hosts, such as Black & Blue or 40s Cuba. From there, it’s all about hiring the best caterer, florist and staff to create a unique and distinctive event that will make people feel at home. Whenever I can create something special, I do, such as hiring a mixologist to create signature drinks for the event, or hiring a luxe valet service that leaves a white rose in each car at the time of departure. I believe that all of the little details add up to make a big impression.


Q6: In your opinion, is social media a great way to reach UHNWI and/or their estate managers? If so, which social network is used most often?

A6: The UHNWI’s I know and have worked with are not as active on social media, however, their estate managers are and they are a direct route to their principal and they are active influencers.


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Q7: It is often said that estate managers guard the door to the fortress pretty tight. For a brand that wants to work with estate managers in the hopes of reaching UHNWI, what is the best way to get noticed?

A7: The best way to get noticed is the same in every industry – access. Obtaining that access to UHNWI’s is where Estate Managers Coalition comes into play. At EMC, we connect estate managers and globally recognized luxury brands that see and understand the value of having direct access to estate managers. EMC holds monthly mixers, which includes corporate members who want to showcase their latest products or services and network with estate managers. Corporate members can apply to become a part of the Estate Managers Coalition and gain access to this exclusive group. As far as I know, there is no other organization or service that can deliver proven results and access like EMC.


Q8: According to your personal experience, in terms of marketing, what is the best way for a luxury brand to reach the UHNWI? Should they spend their money offline or online?

A8: It is my personal experience that the best way to reach the UHNWI is through relationships, so that would most definitely be offline. Good old-fashioned relationships that can be fostered and nurtured directly with the estate managers who wield purchasing power over their estates and principals. EMC is the ideal outlet for making those connections, and providing corporate members with the opportunity to showcase their products and services in front of estate managers at our monthly events. It is a small international community, so if you win over the estate managers first it will happen organically through their social media engagement. EM’s are all about discovering “the next best thing” for families, so once they find it they want to be the first to share with colleagues. It’s competitive, but friendly.


Q9: What does the future hold for you? And The Estate Managers Coalition?

A9: Personally, I love being an extended member of the family I represent at any given time. I give 100% at all times, and as long as they understand that it is a two-way street and take care of me in return, I am fulfilled. As for EMC, we are looking to expand to create a New York chapter in 2015 and a London chapter in 2016.



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Q10: As a last question, what is your personal definition of “luxury service?”

A10: To me, luxury service is service without being obvious that it’s service. It’s when things get executed flawlessly and performed with the synchronicity of a Rolex. That said, everything should be accomplished without the principals really ever knowing what is happening behind the scenes, it should appear seemingly effortless. Granted, the challenge is to always maintain the smile and cheerful disposition, which for me starts with gratitude for the job I currently have. If gratitude is my starting place each day it makes everything easier.

Want to get in touch with Bryan Peele? Connect with him on Facebook or Twitter, or reach out to us for an introduction.




Top 10 Real-World Luxury Influencers

Although a lot of luxury brands put emphasis on targeting digital influencers and HWNI directly, they should not forget the people who interact with HNWI on a regular day-to-day basis, the ones who exert influence on the HNWI's wallet.
With time, the relationship between HNWI and their staff becomes one founded on mutual trust and respect.

Although some luxury brands may think that they can simply "buy" the recommendation from a luxury influencer, from experience, such an advance can put you on an irrevocable black list. Brands must remember that these influencers will never do anything to put their relationship at harm's way. They have worked too hard to get the HNWI's high opinion.

Instead, a luxury brand should focus on establishing a trusting relationship with these influencers, one that is built on honesty and integrity. If you need assistance to approach luxury influencers, reach out to me, and in the meantime, read some of my thoughts on the top 10 real-world luxury influencers.

The Personal Assistant: As some of you may know from looking at my LinkedIn profile, I was once the personal assistant to several HNWI; therefore, I understand first-hand how influential a personal assistant can truly be - a lot. When I first started, I would go to my employer before making any decision. Then one day, he told me this: "Roxanne, I make about $100 every minute so make every minute between us count. If it's under $10,000, I don't want to hear about it, you make the call because that is why I need you. I simply don't have time to worry about the small stuff." This statement changed the way I have interacted with HNWI. They value time above money; they have plenty of money, but little time to enjoy it.

The Estate Manager/Butler/Majordomo: A good friend of mine is the estate manager to one of the wealthiest American businessmen, an older gentleman who relies on him for everything related to his day-to-day life. Rest assured that when this HNWI wants anything, whether it's a new superyacht or a gift for his wife, the first person he calls for a reference is indeed his estate manager.

The Private Concierge: The private concierge is the connector, the one with all the contacts in his little black book. Even though some HNWI have both a personal assistant and an estate manager, they often rely on a private concierge when looking to book VIP experiences. Personal assistants also count on private concierges to get the inside scoop when you need a quick connection. Getting on the first page of this little black book can mean getting in front of the customers you covet the most.

The Executive Assistant: Tasked with managing the calendar of an HNWI, the executive assistant is also often called upon for recommendations and trip planning especially if there is no personal assistant on staff. Having your contact details on their speed dial can be lucrative for any luxury brand.

The Superyacht Captain/ Superyacht Purser: Once a superyacht lead deckhand aboard yachts ranging from 150' to 220', I learned firsthand how HNWI rely on the expertise of their captain, purser and crew for recommendations. On a superyacht, it's a team effort, but it is usually the Captain who books on-shore activities such as restaurants, spa treatments, private transportation and even hotel or villa stays.

The Private Jet Flight Attendant: When high up in the air, a private jet flight attendant is often summoned for recommendations as to where to go eat, shop or play at the upcoming destination. HNWI understand that their knowledge of luxury experiences goes far beyond serving a fine cognac on the rocks.

The Personal Shopper: When it comes to fashion, not everyone can create that stylist look. HNWI individuals often rely on personal shoppers/stylist when it's time to revamp their wardrobe. Therefore, if you represent an up-and-coming fashion brand, you may want to keep on your radar the personal shoppers/stylists in your city.

The Personal Trainer: In between pumps and squats, personal trainers are a great source of information when it comes to getting the right advice on health products, active gear, food related items or restaurant recommendations. If this is your market, think of working closely with personal trainers.

The Private Chef: When it comes to food, the private chef often makes all the dietary calls. They typically stock the fridge and cupboards with all the goodies needed, therefore getting them to taste your high-end product can get your brand in the HNWI's household.

The Interior Decorator: Once again, when an HNWI plans to remodel their villas, superyacht or even private jet, the interior decorator is often the one who spends all the money.

When thinking of your next influencer campaign, concentrate your efforts on building relationship with both digital and real-world luxury influencers. Together, they can put your brand in front of your targeted audience.

Los Angeles ILHA networking open house and Hospitality Launch Cover

Luxury Spotlight: Barak Hirschowitz, President of International Luxury Hotel Association

Meet Barak Hirschowitz, the President of International Luxury Hotel Association, and a leading influencer in the hospitality industry. Beginning his career as a chef, and becoming the best in this field, he went on to establish the International Luxury Hotel Association (ILHA).

This global non-profit organization has one goal – to improve the standard of service in the luxury hotel industry. And it works to achieve this goal by providing resources for education, training and networking to its members.

He is also the co-founder of Hospitality Recruitment that started in 2004. With a focus on international hospitality recruitment, it assists the world’s best hotels, resorts and cruise line companies source talent.

Here is what he has to say about the luxury hospitality industry.

1. To be successful in an industry, one must be passionate.  How and why did you choose to work within the luxury hotel industry?

I was always attracted to the luxury hotel industry which allowed me to travel and work in the places where people vacation. My hospitality career started in the early 90’s as a chef in restaurants in New York. When I was offered the opportunity to join the team of a new luxury hotel in South Africa, I jumped at it. South African hotels have won best hotel in the world more times than any other country over the past 10 years.  There is something special about the combination of great hospitality, design, food, wine and scenery that sets it apart. I was lucky to be able to spend 15 years in the industry there.


Los Angeles ILHA networking open house and Hospitality Launch

2. In 2003, you were voted as one of the Top 5 Chef in South Africa. In your opinion, what makes a Chef stand out from the rest?

The ability to inspire their team, never compromise on ingredients and find their own style.

3. With other key players in the industry, you helped co-found the ILHA. Can you tell us a little about the mission and goals of the association?

The ILHA brings together hotel and travel companies, industry professionals, governments and educators with the common goal of improving standards and promoting innovation in service and design in the luxury segment of the hotel industry. We achieve these goals through education, training and communication in three key areas that differentiate the luxury segment from the rest of the hotel industry: service, design and technology.

4. The ILHA is now considered the largest influencer in the hospitality industry with 185,000 members on LinkedIn. Can you give us a tip on how to grow such a strong community?

The ILHA started in 2008 as Luxury Hoteliers, a small group of around 50 luxury hotel professionals who got together online to share best practices.  At the time, people were still nervous about sharing ideas online with their competitors.  It’s all about transparency and keeping pace with the changing needs of your guests.  Early on our members figured out it was better to work together.  It’s what helped us grow and keeps us growing.  Today, our LI group has over 1000 new members joining each week.

5. For someone new to LinkedIn, what is the best way to get involved within the ILHA community?  

Join the discussions. It will help you stay on top of the industry’s hot topics.  


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6. The ILHA will be hosting the Fast Forward 2020 Conference in Washington DC this September. Tell us about it.

We have invited the luxury hotel industry’s thought leaders to DC to answer some of the greatest challenges facing hoteliers today and over the next five years.  

7. An impressive group of speakers will be giving advice at Fast Forward 2020, what should attendees expect to learn?

This is a must-attend event for anyone working with or in the luxury hotel industry.  We worked with leaders from the world’s top hotel groups to find out what are the greatest challenges they are facing right now.   What type of online and social media marketing is working? What new in-house technology is out there? How are the leading hotels managing their online reputation?  How to attract and prepare for business from new travel markets like China, Brazil and the multi-billion dollar wellness/medical travel? Can hotels benefit from partnering with luxury retail brands? The ILHA Fast Forward 2020 will bring together the smartest minds in the business to share their insights on how best to face these challenges now and over the next five years. Our experts are the leadership of hotel groups, universities, and major travel companies. They represent some of the biggest names in the industry including Ritz-Carlton, Hyatt, Trump, Michelin, STR, TripAdvisor, LuxuryLink, Cornell University, Georgetown University, Axess Worldwide and more.  

8. Apart from listening to industry leaders, what else can attendees expect at the conference?

In addition to networking opportunities, the ILHA attendees will have access to the Medical Tourism Association’s Congress being held in partnership with our event. This expo will have over 3,000 attendees and will introduce hoteliers to the fastest growing segment of the hospitality industry.

9. What does the future hold for the ILHA?

We are currently developing service training that can be taken regardless of location. It will help hotels located in remote locations train their staff and can help level the playing field for hospitality professionals wanting to move into the luxury segment. Another focus for us is to introduce chapters and local networking events outside the US.

10. As a last question, what is your personal definition of "luxury service"?  

True luxury service needs to be personalized. It’s what sets the best hotels in the world apart from the rest. When the guest leaves the hotel at the end of their stay, they should feel rested yet a little sad as if they are leaving their family behind.


Want to connect with Barak Hirschowitz? Do it on LinkedIn and Twitter. Or, reach out to us for an introduction.


How to Compensate Luxury Influencers

A luxury influencer writes a great review about your product, rakes in a lot of support for your marketing campaign, alters the buying decision of his audience towards your luxury product while maintaining integrity and authenticity. The message is not "crafted" or controlled by your marketing team; therefore it resonates within the community as an opinion that is valued. As a general rule, a blog post from an influential blogger or social media leader is more trusted than a marketing campaign promoted with banners, commercials and gimmicks. Why? Because the influencer is trusted as a valuable source of information while the marketing campaign is simply seen as what it is - a way to lure consumers to spend money on your products.

Although not everyone will agree, if a luxury influencer generates a lot of awareness for your brand or products, you should let them know that their services are appreciated by finding the best way to compensate them. Saying this, you should not attempt to "buy" the love of an influencer, but simply compensate for the valuable work done. Influencers, most of the anyway, want to be noticed, appreciated and rewarded for writing influential posts.

The best way to reward influencers is by first thinking about what motivates them, finding more about their interests and making sure that the relationship is not all about money. Offering a reward that is both commercial and non-commercial will help you create friendships rather than just pure commercial relationships.

So what are the best ways to compensate luxury influencers?

Financially: Although most influencers will ask for some kind of appreciation and recognition, some of them might be a little offended if you offer them money through your initial conversation. The best way to decide on whether to pay or not an influencer is to first ask them about their editorial and marketing solutions for luxury brands. If the influencer sends you a price list, then you should understand that blogging/social media is a business - it's about the money. However, if you get a request to experience your product first hand, then don't offend with money - it's about the experience.

Shout-Outs: Since your influencers write about your brand and products in their blogs or profiles, you can reciprocate their efforts by sharing their posts about you in your social media outlets. When you share their posts on your wall, it will make them feel important and recognized. A short tweet or a comment about their influential post will do wonders for their site’s traffic. Once the campaign is over, continue to engage with them socially to strengthen the relationship.

Product Rewards: Giving away your luxury products is another great way of rewarding the work done by your influencers. Remember to give the influencer the choice to select amongst a few products, making feel like part of your team.

Giveaways - Contests: Giveaways and contests are also a time-tested way to appreciate the audience of your influencers. Partner up with them for a social media campaign that will beneficial to both influencer and brand.

Unique Experience: Offer your influencers unique experiences such as inviting them for a complimentary hotel stay, a dinner experience or to an exclusive event. Become offline friends then take the relationship back to digital.

Content: Everyone wants insider information about top brands, and your influencers are no different. Offer your influencers some information about forthcoming products, VIP events, and more. Make your influencers feel important.

Product Discounts: Offering product discounts is a really old method of garnering public interest, and its charm hasn’t waned even in the social media days. Offer your influencers a discount on their favorite luxury item, but remember to make the offer really alluring - 5-10% probably won't cut it.

Remember this: if you want luxury influencers to promote your brand and products, play by their rules and offer something irresistible. Stand out from the mass by getting to know them and listening to their needs.


To Pay or Not To Pay an Influencer

To pay or not to pay an influencer – this is one of the most difficult questions to answer as the start of an influencer outreach campaign. Most luxury brands have trouble understanding whether or not it is acceptable to pay an influencer. These are two sides to the coin; and as a luxury brand it is important that you understand the importance of the work done by influencers. Gaining digital popularity is not as easy as 1-2-3. Influencers often spend years building their own brand as a digital influencer in their marketplace. Obviously the decision depends on your marketing strategy and budget, but to help you make the choice whether to pay or not to pay an influencer, read on.

Say Yes
Studies show that nearly half of all influencers expect money, and less than a quarter of them expect product discounts and freebies. Surprise? You shouldn't be. If you accept the fact that purchasing ad space in a luxury magazine, on a highway billboard or even on a bus is acceptable, then so should paying a digital influencer. The main difference will be the costs. A luxury magazine will likely request a payment of tens of thousands of dollars for an ad on the cover, while a luxury blogger will request a few hundred dollars.
Although many influencers anticipate to be rewarded for their efforts, most of the time, it is not just about the money. There are different ways to reward your influencers – compensate their efforts with money, spend time on their social media outlets, offer them free products and discounts.

Say No
Influencer’s opinions should be unbiased and original therefore buying influence might not always work for your luxury brand. Giving away your luxury products to your influencers as a token of appreciation for their work and effort seems like a blatant effort at buying their word. Giving product discounts and freebies might seem like influencing their comments and opinions about your brand.

Make the Decision
While some influencers have come to expect to be paid for their services, there are many others who might look down on you and might even get a little offended if you offered them rewards for something they do voluntarily. To pay or not to pay an influencer is a tough decision every luxury brand has to make sooner than later. Need help deciding if you should pay or not pay an influencer? Reach out to us for a complimentary consultation.

Andra Oprea Stylezza Interview Cover

Luxury Spotlight: Andra Oprea, Editor-in-Chief & Project Manager of Stylezza

With years of experience in the field of journalism and editing, Andra Oprea offers an insight into the world of luxury with her digital magazine – Stylezza. As the Editor-in-Chief & Project Manager of this famed magazine, she has come across the best in class experiences when it comes to fashion, beauty, art, photography and myriad other subjects.

Her experiences have led her to believe in quality over quantity – something reflected in the selection of which events and news feature in her magazine. And with her flair for the artistic expressions of life, it isn’t a surprise that Stylezza has become one of the beacons in the French Riviera/Monaco fashion and art circuit.

Let’s get a glimpse at what she has to say about her contributions to the luxury niche.


Andra Oprea Stylezza Interview 1

1. Every editor has a different story on how they got started writing. What is yours?

My story with writing starts when I was little or maybe from another life. I have always been connected with written words, poetry. I remember I used to invent and compose poetry in my mind holding a hand upside down when I was about four years old. With time, the passion has grown. When I first discovered love, I got so inspired that I started writing my first essay at 17 years old. The essay was awarded at an international competition in Tokyo. I continued writing children books, essays, never got the time to start a book although the idea has always haunted me. But, I started Journalism and it got me going ever since. I can use writing in a modern way now, especially on the digital format. It is my way of expressing, of choosing what to do in order to leave something behind me that is made by me and not an echo.

2. Like most successful fashion magazine, you probably received hundreds of emails per month from luxury brands who want you to share their story. What makes you decide to work with a brand over the other?

I daily receive a great amount of emails from different brands around the globe. What makes me choose one brand over the other is the inspiration and the idea behind the concept. I do not like very much the commercial type, the mass quantity information. I prefer the quality and the information that inspires the reader and makes him widen his vision. I like the mix between art and fashion, the stir of ideas and the things that have value, originality. There are so many brilliant minds and brands that are in the dark because they do not have the marketing behind them, and so many futile brands that have the money but not the worth. So, I prefer choosing the value. Not everything that has created a name during the years because it was supported financially has to be chosen just to make clicks. No, I prefer to make value. And that is why I appreciate my readers!


Andra Oprea Stylezza Interview 2

3. What is the best pitch you have received from a luxury brand? What is the worst?

There are so many that I can`t classify them. I don`t have a best pitch in mind, but the worst are those who are poor in information and quality and try to hook you no matter what.

4. What is your take on press releases? Do you like receiving them or do you simply discard them?

I like receiving press releases; it is a great source of information. Still, it depends on the message it wants to convey or the way it is done. I like to see good content that has all the ingredients for a good article. What makes me click and read the press release is a good title or idea worth spreading.

5. What would make you choose to work with a brand on a giveaway campaign on your site?

A giveaway campaign is always a challenge for my readers and the main focus is on them. We organize this type of campaigns when the prize fits our target and the magazine`s profile. It has to be interactive, to involve the readers and most of the time they do get involved by commenting on the article, on the social networks.

6. If a brand wants to reach you, what channel should they use? Do you prefer email, social media or another means of communication?

I prefer having the information by email. It is more complex, it can have more accurate and precise information, all we need just in front of our eyes. Of course, if we want to develop even more the partnership, we can meet or discuss over the phone. The email, I think, it is now the most important form of reaching and connecting, spreading the ideas, creating partnerships and collaborations.


Andra Oprea Stylezza Interview 4

7. Of all the social media channels you engage on, which one do you prefer and why?

Every social network has its own particularities. But, for spreading the news over social media, I prefer Facebook: it has an easier way of connecting and reaching, sharing the info in a complex way (text, photo), it can be interactive and you can control the views and reactions. Then, I prefer Instagram for another side of the story – the message through an image, simple as that!

8. Which social media channels does your audience interact with the most?

Our readers interact differently on our social channels. It depends very much of the geolocalisation. If they are from US, they interact a lot on Twitter, while the Europeans like Facebook more. Also, it depends a lot on the time of posting, on the same criteria as above.

9. In your opinion, what does it take to become successful on social media?

On social media, just like on every other digital platform, you have to inspire but also you have to reach your target. Many prefer posting frequently once every hour, others prefer less quantity. It depends very much to whom you address to, which social category, status etc. It is known that young people will tend to be more active on social networks and want as much information as possible, while other categories like top managers will be interested in quality information over quantity, to have the best news of interest to them even if they enter late at night, so to say. So, for me, is having the right information delivered to the right category of readers at the right time.

10. Do you monitor your Klout score on a daily/weekly basis? Do you think this social ranking is of any real value to luxury brands?

I do not use Klout very often. I think, though, that being on platforms that help you reach your readers can be a great step towards a wider audience.

11. Do you sometime receive compensation from luxury brands, whether it's in the form of cash or incentives, to write about them?

Yes, it happens often to receive products in order to write about them. Sometimes, it is a great thing because you can test the product yourself and write about it. Of course, you have to maintain your neutrality. This is one of the factors that differentiate blogs from digital magazines. Blogs can express their opinions towards products, brands in a personal way while digital magazines publish the news following deontological codes, and objectivity is one of them.

12. Apart from promoting brands through your magazine, do you offer additional services to luxury brands who choose to work with you?

Stylezza is a digital magazine that focuses also on branding on the French Riviera / Monaco and on high class events. We have contacts with important people in the area who are always interested in partnering with us to create events (and here, we have some secret ingredients that can assure the uniqueness and originality of the event). Also, there are international brands that are interested in having visibility on the French Riviera / Monaco and here we can help them. There is a mix of editorial, photography, events, all focused on the partners that we collaborate with.

13. Do you manage more than one magazine/blog? If so, which ones?

I manage Stylezza magazine. It is a digital platform located in a very beautiful area of the French Riviera. We cover the most important news and events in the region, especially Monaco, Cannes, St Tropez. It is both in English and in French as it reaches an international audience with worldwide news.

14. What would you say is the best thing about being a fashion editor?

The best thing about being a fashion editor is that I write, and this is my passion. Second, is that I get to know amazing people and places, exchanging ideas and traveling.

15. Have you rub shoulders with the rich and famous through your work as a fashion editor?

Yes, I have shaken hands and discussed with very important names, with top managers, celebrity and royalty. A real honor to meet so many important people, to share ideas, to interview or to collaborate.


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16. If you had to mentor a new writer, what is your go-to advice to become successful?

My best advice that I can give to a new writer it is to write with passion, to give his time to develop this passion. To read and write a lot! I remember one of my Journalism University Professor who used to tell us at his class that we should write everyday about every tiny thing that we see around us...but just write!

You can reach Andra Oprea with the contact form on the site, or get in touch on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or Google+. If you need an introduction, just reach out to us.


Five Minutes With James Cusumano

James Cusumano is a successful author, entertainer, scientist and entrepreneur. His wide range of business interests includes scientific research, pharmaceuticals and sustainable energy. James has published a number of books on technology and business, including his latest, Balance: The Business-Life Connection.

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After successful careers that have ranged from popular recording artist and filmmaker to co-founder, president, CEO and then chairman of a publicly-traded pharmaceutical company, James moved from the U.S. to the Czech Republic, where he and his wife Inez bought, renovated and now operate Chateau Mcely, a five-star castle retreat and spa.

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1. Your career has spanned four very different fields. Which area of work have you found the most inspiring and why?

All have been self-inspiring in their own way. If I had to choose one, I would say co-founding and leading the growth of Catalytica pharmaceuticals. Our motivating vision was to create practical means to manufacture drugs using low-cost, ecologically-safe technologies. Growing in less than 5 years from 4 employees to a public company with 2,000 people and annual sales of $500 million provided us with opportunities to positively impact all six of our STAKEHOLDERS: Employees, Customers, Investors, Suppliers, Community, and the World.

2. Was it a culture shock moving from the U.S. to the Czech Republic?

Yes, it was a culture shock moving there from Southern California, primarily because of the challenge of navigating a difficult Slavic language. However, the positive side is that I developed a much deeper understanding of human nature and culture, being smack dab in the middle of Europe and having easy travel access to the entire European continent. It has been an invaluable education. Also, the Czech Republic, which is only recently out of Communism, is a new frontier with many talented people and many opportunities. An explorer at heart, I love living here.

3. Which room in Chateau Mcely is your favorite and why?

They are all unique, but I would say Mark Twain—we use names instead of numbers. It is roomy, filled with natural light from the large English park that surrounds the castle, and it has a special history. It is dedicated to the great American author, who stayed at the castle in the late 19th century when Prince and Princess Thurn Taxis owned the castle and when Mark Twain was visiting Prague to promote the release of his books in the Czech language. In the public spaces, my favorite room is our library, located in the very top of the tower. It contains more than 2500 volumes covering a vast array of disciplines, and opens to our roof-top observatory.

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4. Clearly you like to keep busy. What are your plans for the future of Chateau Mcely?

Our vision for Chateau Mcely from the very start has been to go beyond hospitality by enriching the lives of all of our six STAKEHOLDERS, mentioned above. For example, we created and produce at the castle Mcely Bouquet, our own line of physically and spiritually healing natural cosmetics; the Princess Nely Project which encourages young girls to grow into talented, well-rounded women; and Chateau Mcely Forum™ where we provide courses and lectures on leadership and how to find and live your Life Purpose. We will continue to expand upon these programs and also have ideas about expanding our physical infrastructure to meet the needs of our growing customer base.  

5. What do you do to relax? Please describe your perfect day off.

I study Consciousness and Quantum Physics and the links between them. My perfect day is the one I try to live everyday: Up at 5:00 am—40 minutes of meditation; prepare a healthy breakfast for Inez, 7-year-old Julia and me; 7:30 am—drive Julia to the International School in Prague, home by 8:30 am—write until 12:00 noon; 12:15 – 1:30 pm—exercise at the gym; 2:00 – 2:30 pm—light lunch; 2:30 – 5:30 pm—administrative work in my office; 6:30 pm—dinner with my family; 7:30 – 8:30 pm—family play with Julia & Inez until Julia goes to bed. 8:30 – 10:00—read; 10:00 – 11:00 pm—time with Inez; 11:00 – 11:30 meditation before retiring. Weekends are spent with the family and friends relaxing at the castle; bicycle rides in the forest, and enjoying the castle amenities—massage, swimming, tennis, and other physical activities. Lest there be any doubt, the privilege of living this way has come with very hard work, all of which I have thoroughly enjoyed.

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6. Having experienced castle living in the Czech Republic, would you ever be tempted to move back to the US?

I love the U.S. and visit there several times per year to be with family and friends. I have 9 brothers and sisters, a mom who is 92 years old, two older daughters and five grandchildren. This summer we will spend six weeks in the U.S., but I have no plans to move back. I am a U.S. citizen and a permanent resident of the Czech Republic, which will be my base for all my future activities.

7. You have written a number of well-received publications. Do you have any plans for another book at this stage in your life?

I am in the early creative stage of thinking about my next book. I am intrigued with the concept of writing my first novel, and basing it on the fundamental tenets that I have written about over the years on the Cosmic Consciousness—Quantum Physics connection, Inspired Leadership, Life Purpose, Passion and Balance. It will be a challenge to weave these concepts through the fabric of the novel in a subtle, yet clear manner, and maintain an interesting story line. We shall see!

8. What are the three most important values by which you live your life?

1. Family—Support my wife, children and myself in our efforts towards long-term health and personal fulfillment.
2. Professional—Counsel and inspire the Chateau Mcely Team so that they succeed in their personal and professional goals and share in the rewards of our success.
3. Spiritual—Share my life-long knowledge on finding and living your Life Purpose, as well as those elements which when practiced diligently are a clear and sure-fire basis for long-term success in business.

9. How would you inspire those just starting out in life to reach their goals and fulfill their dreams?

A. As described in detail in my book BALANCE, don’t try to live someone else’s life, it can’t be done. Look inside and develop and write down your true basic Values and live by them.
B. There is something inside you that you are really good at. I call it your Essence. Connect it to a Need in the world that makes it a better place. You will have found your Life Purpose. Pursue it, no matter where you are in your life. It is never too late, or too difficult to do!
C. Don’t be concerned about “getting there” quickly. Just enjoy the journey, which will be easy to do with the passion generated in steps A & B.
D. Don’t design your life around making money. If you follow your Life Purpose and do well, the money will follow.
E.Always be considerate of all your Stakeholders.

I have never known this approach to be unsuccessful.


Meet Katrina James A Photographer with an Artistic Flair Cover

Meet Katrina James: A Photographer with an Artistic Flair

Meet Katrina James, an expert par excellence with 12 years of experience in the field she loves – photography. A wish to change the world led her to take up environmental science but soon she understood that it was through the lens that she can really initiate a change – a change in the way people perceive the world. Be it product photography or portraits, nature or events, her works stand apart due to the sheer happiness they exude. Having worked with the big names in the luxury world, she shares her insight into what she loves the most – photography!

As a woman who grew up in Australia, where should our readers make sure to visit?

Australia is full of stunning scenery, the most memorable holiday till this day is when my parents took me out of school for a month and we took a trip through the outback, it was life changing to me and I think that’s where my curiosity for travel started, the landscape was breath taking. I would highly recommend a visit.

You are currently shooting events and music festivals around the world.  Where are you off to next?

Next stop is Bali to photograph (and participate in) a yoga and meditation retreat in Ubud.

There are stunning portraits on your webpage.  What do you do to help your subjects relax?

Thank you. I treat my portrait sessions as if I was going to meet a friend for coffee sometimes it can be 30 minutes before I even bring out my camera, I love people and hearing their stories is such a treat for me so I try and create a feeling where my subjects feel like they matter to me, which they very much do.


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What photo shoot have you been most nervous for?  What did you do to relax?

I was pretty nervous to photograph the Australian foreign minister Bob Carr when he visited Berlin, I got to spend the day following him around Berlin as he met with German politicians, it was a really fascinating experience for me as politics is very far away from my world and there was a lot of protocol I didn’t know anything about.  To be honest I don’t think I relaxed until the day was over.


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What is the most important question to ask a photographer that you are thinking of hiring?

I can’t think of one specific question, however I do think it is important to really brief your photographer and give them as much information as possible about what you are expecting of their photography.

What things should the photographer you hired be doing?

Before the event they should be talking to you, asking questions about what is important to you, is there a particular detail that means something to you? How do you plan to use the photographs?

At the event they should be enjoying themselves, they should be making sure they get all the required shots as well as shooting some creative or interesting shots.


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What is the best way for a client to help you understand their brand?

It’s really important to talk to your photographer about where you have come from and your future goals, how you see the photos being used and who your audience are.

What makes marketing photography different from other photography that you have done?

Marketing photography is a little different because you need to capture a product or service in its best light. You need to use images to tell a clients story and to make a viewer want to be part of that story.


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Can you give an example of how you can use photography to tell a story?

My imagery is all about stories and I hope that each image creates its own story. I recently shot a job for a jewellery designer where I captured images that told the story of her work day, from meeting with her team to spending the afternoon cruising on her boat, the images really help people to connect to you and your brand.

Since we love travel here, can you tell us about your favorite place to take pictures?

For the pure beauty of it Cape Town is a wonderful place to take photos, the light there is incredible it’s the kind of light that moves me to tears, the landscapes are such a contrast from beautiful beaches to dry sand plains and the people are just wonderful.  




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Get in touch with Katrina James via email at or connect with her on Facebook or Twitter. Or, we could introduce you, just reach out to us!



Finding Your Ideal Influencers

The word, ‘influence’ means having the ability to alter the manner in which others act or even think. In a digital world, although the social graph and the number of followers a person has goes on to show their popularity, it does not necessarily mean that they can wield the kind of influence that is useful to promote your luxury brand. Rather than focusing on the sheer number of social media fans or even the average monthly visitors to a website, focus instead on the quality of the audience.

For a luxury brand wishing to gain exposure in the affluent community, the ideal influencer would be someone who has the ability to drive action through their words, change the behavior and opinions of others through their action. The right influencers for your luxury brand are those whose word resonates among their followers, who have a relevance to both the products and the audience and are able to reach crowds easily.

It is possible to best amplify the brand’s content by identifying the right influencer on the basis of several factors such as demography, size, and engagement of audience and the quality of the content produced by the influencer.

When finding your ideal influencer, you process should include the following steps:

• Social Listening: Listen to the social interactions on myriad social media channels. You might notice that some influencers are influent not only within the affluent community but within the influencer community as well. Once you have identified a small group of influencers that seem to target your coveted audience, start engaging their communities.

• Google Alerts: Keeping tab on Google Alerts is another way to finding your ideal influencer for your luxury brand. Look at the people who are actively participating in discussions about your product. You should set keyword alerts on Google; make sure that you use various keyword combinations that are related to your product.

• Use Hashtags: Hashtags are another great tool to identify the right influencers to suit your luxury brand’s target audience. Keep an eye out for those used most by your target audiences; then identify the most active in the conversations. Add these influencers is a Twitter list or Google + group to easily connect with them on a regular basis.

• Rank them: Finally, rank these influencers based on their social media Klout, their reach, and their relevance to your luxury brand.

To find the ideal influencer, it is important to understand that influence comes in various shapes and sizes and varies from product to product and campaign to campaign. The ideal influencers should be able to convert some of their loyal fans into potential customers for your luxury brand.