When someone talks to me about blogs, my mind does not immediately think of The Guardian or the BBC or even The Times. No, my mind thinks “Perez Hilton” (which frankly says quite a lot about me, and I’m not sure it’s that positive) – a man who has become a brand and has done so frighteningly successfully (the blog is currently rated the sixth most popular blog on the web, only just behind the Huffington Post). And when you consider Adam Tinworth‘s “hierarchy of interesting” , which puts a link at the bottom, followed by a photo, a video, content, discussion and opinion at its pinacle, it’s not hard to see why.
I was an avid reader of gossip magazines until, about three years ago, I discovered the gossip website The Superficial.com (currently the fourth most popular celeb blog). It was free, so I could laugh at the stars without makeup/with cellulite/with bad hair/with bad clothes as much as I wanted without paying a pound or thereabouts for the privilege, making me one of the many who abandoned print media for the Internet. Perhaps a questionable move for someone who wants to be a journalist working in print, but hey, I was a student at the time with very little disposable income. Fact of the matter was, I was already paying for the Internet.
In time, I grew bored of this website – it simply did not have enough content to keep me interested (ah yes, I was the picky audience all newspapers hate…). It was around the time the buzz about PerezHilton.com started, so I tired it out. Perez, real name Mario Lavandeira, seemed to have insider knowledge The Superficial did not have and broke stories more regularly – a key factor to keep a web audience happy.
So, I started reading PerezHilton, presuming, rather like with The Superficial, I would lose interest when the next big thing came along.
But it hasn’t happened, because, in my opinion, Perez is something of a master of new media.
In 2005, Perez was essentially a pretty simple blog: pictures (many drawn on with willies and such like) with a story below. You could comment. For the record, I never have.
And then something new happened, almost without my noticing. More and more videos (usually taken from YouTube) popped up in place of pictures. I liked this, so I stayed (it would eventually lead to a slight obsession with The View. Trust me when I say it was high drama). Later, he would go further and create PerezTV after a rather large falling out with YouTube.I suppose around the same time he began promoting artists he liked through posting their songs and saying ‘listen’. It’s a good deal for all sides: the singer gets a nice bit of publicity, Perez potentially gets an interview and the reader gets to hear the song, possibly before it has gone on general release.
And I’m not sure when this happened, but links began appearing more frequently to stories on other sites, meaning he was almost working as an aggregator.
Perez’s most recent use of new media are his blog casts, enabling him to chat directly to his readers and giving the reader exclusive celebrity interviews (through PerezTV). And we all know how important an exclusive is…
And these are only the basics found on the website: he makes regular television appearances, has columns in magazines, was a host for the MTV Europe Video Awards and even has parties across the States where he is the star attraction. All this has given him with considerable influence not just over over the celeb-o-sphere but increasingly over other matters (just look at all the posts discussing the recent Prop 8 vote in California). God only knows what’s next. Just like the online revolution, he shows no sign of stopping.
Perez is the best example of what can be done through blogs and why (and how!) they need to be embraced by old print outlets. He has taken a niche market and has captured an audience by keeping his blog constantly fresh by being the first – both in terms of the information he is putting out there and the platforms he is using to do it. And, as advertisers can pay as much as $40,000 for one days advertising on the site, he’s making a lot of money doing it .