10 Things to Get Ready Before Hiring a PR Agency

10 Things to Get Before Hiring a PR Agency

While any PR agency worth your retainer dollars should be well-equipped at helping guide your brand development, there are several things you can do ahead of time ensure that your PR team is able to quickly mobilize to get the word out about your brand. Once you’ve got these down, the next step is to become your fashion publicist’s favorite client!

1. Have a clear brand identity

Beyond a logo, brands who are successful take the time to develop a clear identity. A PR agency can help you transform your brand pillars into key messages for the media, but you’re the ultimate steward of your brand. Can you answer the following questions: Why are you in this business? What are you trying to say? How are you similar to and yet different from your competitors? What is unique about your approach? Come to your PR team with as much information about what makes you, you. This cuts down on the research phase and increases story opportunities which means more publicity, faster.

2. Know your target customer, deeply

Many brands make the mistake of trying to appeal to everyone, thinking this will help increase their changes of success. The reverse is actually true. If you can come to your PR agency with a very clear picture of who you aim to serve, your PR team will be able to come up with strategies and tactics designed to appeal to that customer, not her 70-year old grandmother.

3. Create style sheets & grammar guides

A style sheet lists your brand colors, fonts and any directions related to how your logo or tagline can and cannot be used. If your brand name needs to always be in all caps, or you never want to be referred to as athleisure, include that in a grammar guide. By sending a style or brand guide and any copy requirements, along with files and fonts, you’ll cut down on back and forth and help keep your press coverage on-brand.

4. Invest in an appealing, social-media friendly website

Your website is the foundation of your online presence and it’s important that it clearly and effectively communicate your brand identity. Images should be able to be pinned on Pinterest, and liked on Facebook. Product images should be named appropriately – ie MarlyRoseFloweredDress.jpg and have alt-image tags “Marly Rose Flowered Dress.”  There should be a clear email sign up in place, as well as social media links and information for press inquiries.

5. Sell directly or have a few online retailers

Many editors and most all bloggers won’t cover a brand unless it’s available online. While it is fine to list retailers, it is best to enable eCommerce on your site. An online shop gives you control over blogger-specific coupon codes, affiliate marketing and of course, the ability to drive direct – not wholesale – sales.

6. Team headshots, traditional and fun-versions

While you might be most eager to see your products or collection in the pages of your favorite magazine, the company itself might turn out to be the subject of a story. you could also be the subject of a story. Have headshots taken of all the key members of your team and provide your PR team with a few different shots of each stakeholder for variety.

7. An active social media presence

Get your Facebook page, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and blog up and thriving. You don’t need to have 100,000 fans, but you do need to be in the habit of consistent and quality posts on a handful of key platforms. If the task of managing so many different platforms feels overwhelming, spend 15-30 minutes a day on 2-3 to start, or outsource this to your PR agency.

8. Flat and Editorial Photography

You’ll need two types of images for PR purposes:  1) images of your line by itself or on a model, shot against a white background with minimal styling and 2) editorial images that communicate your point-of-view. Provide these to your PR team in both hi and low resolution and know that you will likely need to supplement beyond your lookbook or line sheet to keep outreach looking fresh throughout the year.

9. Product Samples

Be prepared to provide your PR agency with several samples of your line or products. While photographs are great, editors may request the actual item and you need to have sample inventory available. It’s important that your publicist is able to show your line during showroom and market appts and to send and present pieces for consideration in order to increase your chances of landing coverage. Depending on your price point, it’s ideal to have a full set of samples available for PR purposes.

10. Keep your expectations realistic

A PR program may take anywhere from 3-6 months to gain momentum, so be patient while your agency is on the ground representing your business. Be sure you are able to make the investment and have the right mind-set to be patient.

By following this list you will make your publicist’s job infinitely more straightforward and have everything in place to help her do her job and increase your results.

 

About This Author

Known as the “fashion publicist’s most powerful accessory,” (San Diego Union-Tribune) and the “West Coast ‘It’ girl of fashion PR,” (YFS Magazine) Crosby Noricks put fashion public relations on the digital map when she launched PR Couture in 2006. She is the author of Ready to Launch: The PR Couture Guide to Breaking into Fashion PR, available on Amazon. Crosby spends her time managing PR Couture and mentoring fashion publicists through PRISM and Instappable, as well as the biannual NYC workshop, Fashion PR Confidential. Occasionally, she opens up limited consulting spots for emerging brands through her signature offering, The Brand Elixir.