Written by Liz Anthony, President, Mariposa Communications
When your business operations and PR strategy are running in lock-step, sales and growth will follow. Ensure a productive, successful experience working with a PR agency by following these five guiding principles.
Research agencies and ask questions
When choosing an agency, keep several factors in mind: Is your brand well-established? Do you have an e-commerce website? Do you release new designs on a regular basis? These factors (among others) make it difficult for an agency to predict the volume and quality of press hits you will get. However, the agency should have enough experience to look at your brand and set realistic expectations. Don’t accept excuses. Also, remember not all agencies are created equal, so beyond asking for their opinion, you should also ask for samples of their work. Use the agency’s previous results as an indicator of what to expect. Set these expectations up front, and on a periodic basis, revisit them and hold the agency accountable to their predictions. After all, you should get what you are paying for.
Set the groundwork for successful PR
While press credits tend to increase sales, you still need the right tools in place to capitalize on the growing buzz and increased brand recognition. The goal is to make interested parties turn into real, long-term customers. First, make sure that you have a quality e-commerce website that makes it easy for potential customers to navigate and purchase your products. If they have a certain feeling of what your brand offers before getting to your website, you don’t want to detract from that opinion – if anything you want to build on it! Next, make sure that your sales function is aligned with your PR initiatives, and that you are adequately prepared to capitalize on positive press. Your sales personnel should pitch to potential buyers utilizing press credits to demonstrate your brand’s credibility. This is one of the reasons that it is vitally important to align sales with PR.
Allow your representative to be the sole PR contact
When you hire a PR agency, let those professionals be the single point of contact for all things media related – try not to interfere. If you attempt to conduct your own PR while you have representation, you may inadvertently get fewer results due to media confusion (they won’t know who to reach out to – you or the agency). To make sure the process is clear, create a media inquiries contact on your website that refers people to your PR agency, and if anyone does reach out to you, forward the request on rather than try to fill it. This is not to say that you should ignore what your PR agency is doing - quite the contrary. Spend your time ensuring that business operations and PR initiatives are consistently aligned.
Seek out editor feedback
If you have hired a highly regarded agency, your PR representative will have many deeply rooted relationships with media contacts and editors. As a result, the agency can obtain uninhibited feedback regarding your product and designs. Although at times it will be harsh, this feedback is invaluable since it comes directly from the people who shape the trends and decide what consumers are going to buy. You should seek out this information by requesting that your representative conduct desk-side appointments and host periodic press events. Gifting editors is always helpful because they will keep the products in mind for future shoots.
Ask your agency to explain analytics and progress
On a monthly basis, your PR representative should send reports detailing the brand’s placement in publications. Ask your agency to explain the information and to evaluate the success of various products and designs, as reflected in their placement in publications. Also, you should discuss any upcoming collections, important dates, or new sources of press. Always be thinking of new approaches for gaining publicity.
About Liz Anthony
A native of Canada, Liz moved to New York City to pursue a career in fashion public relations. She got her start in the corporate public relations department of a major American fashion brand, where she oversaw regional press and events. In time, Liz segued into the agency world, moving to a boutique firm and specializing in luxury accessories. In 2009, Liz founded Mariposa Communications to provide unparalleled PR services to a range of clients and designers, whether established or on the rise. Follow Mariposa Communications on Twitter & Facebook.