Bills Bills Bills: What PR Tools are Worth Paying For?

Media Lists Graphic Design PR Tools PR Software Freelance PR

As new boutique PR agency owner or independent publicist, there are a multitude of startup costs to consider, not the least of which are the tools you use to run the back-end of your business. You may be a solo or small operation, but clients will expect a high-level, agency-type experience when it comes to protocol and deliverables.

Below are the most common software considerations facing a new or freelance business owner operating in a communications field, and my recommendation on whether to choose a free or paid option.

1. Media Contact Lists

A huge part of the value you bring to a client is your established media relationships, so it’s likely that you have cobbled together a media list of your own. If you’re starting from scratch, check out the PR Couture Media List section for an inexpensive way to build your foundation. Our partner, Media Leads, is another inexpensive solution to get small business and consumer friendly editor requests easily.

However, as client’s needs change, pitch angles evolve, and media publications themselves rise and fall, it’s helpful to have a resource that will save you time as you pull say, a list of fitness bloggers in Dallas, or a regional list of wedding publications.

Access to a media database like this, whether you choose Cision, Fashion Monitor, or Celebrity Intelligence comes at a pretty penny for most small businesses. Most run on annual contracts that vary from hundreds to several thousands of dollars a year. One serious downside of these services is that media information can become quickly out of date and doesn’t often follow emerging influencer trends. for example.Your other option is to develop your lists manually through trial,

Your final option is to develop your lists manually through trial, error and Google. Many professionals include their business emails on their LinkedIn profiles. You can also grab a magazine and take a look at the masthead. Search the editor’s name for results that may include their social media profiles, recent stories, personal websites/blogs, and so on.

Verdict: When budgets are slim and you’re short on time, purchase a one-time media list in your more popular vertical. Then develop a manual process to ensure media lists are being continually updated.

2. Graphic Design Software

We’ve all been there:  a media contact asks for hi-res images and your client sends everything but high quality jpgs. Remember: it’s your job to garner media coverage for them, but you also don’t want to provide your media contacts with images they can’t use.

Now you have to crop, lighten, saturate, blur and so on to make the best out of the situation. However, unless you also do some heavy graphic design or branding for your clients, there’s no reason for you to spend $600+ on Adobe’s Creative Cloud Suite. You can use Canva to do some mock-ups and create some fun social media branding items for free. PicMonkey and Pixlr are also free photo editors you can use to crop photos, add filters and effects, and much more. PicMonkey has tutorials on its website so you’re not completely left in the dark when trying to make client images better.

Verdict: If you really need the help of Photoshop for your work, then consider the $9.99 monthly package for Photoshop CS and Lightroom CS. Month-to-month payments work better for your budget when you have an unpredictable income.

3. Docs and Spreadsheets

 

One of the ways you keep costs down for your clients is by keeping your own costs down as well.If you are working remotely or have yet to expand into an office, working days probably consist of moving from the couch to the coffee shop. Freelancers depend on their laptops to be mobile and reliable so that they can work from wherever they are.

Like Adobe, Microsoft offers various affordable packages for monthly or annual access to their Office 365 suite, which also includes cloud storage that lets you share and edit on various different devices. Let’s face it: Word, Power Point, and Excel have ruled our business needs for so long. But here comes Google Docs, Zoho Docs, and Open Office to change the game…for free!

Verdict: It’s nice to have a reliable office suite to depend on — and you definitely have options out there. However, there really is no need to spend a ton to own a license to Microsoft Office when you have equally strong office suites out there at no cost.

4. Accounting and Billing Software

A huge part of running your own PR business is just that, the business. Accounting, invoicing, following up, and filing taxes can be done on a Sunday afternoon if you have the right tools and support in place. If you enjoy playing in the numbers, free accounting software does exist in the form. Wave Apps is great! You can easily link your financial accounts — business and personal — to organize your expenses and incomes. You can also send invoices to your clients with just a few clicks. This is a great program for those who are good at staying on top of their business finances.

However, there are those of us out there who are complete messes when it comes to managing the accounting for our businesses. If you work with many clients and have a hard time deciding what can be expensed, then working with an accountant may be your best bet. An accountant will likely prefer that you use accounting and bookkeeping software like Quickbooks to keep everything in one place. Many software programs also have monthly plans, as well as the option to purchase complete desktop software. Depending on your plan choice, you can pay bills, track inventory, income and expenses for tax prep, and more.

Verdict: Your choice should depend on what you can handle when it comes to bookkeeping for your business. Bookkeeping can take up a lot of your time (and that’s time spent away from getting new clients).

No matter what, free trials and lite versions of tools are a great way to familiarize yourself with certain software before making a big money commitment. Also, before making any kind of commitment be sure your client doesn’t already have their own access or subscription. You’ll definitely save yourself some headaches and cash by asking this important question. If a client does require you to have access to certain programs, don’t be shy to ask them to foot the bill either, or at least split payments on a subscription.

 

AYI

AYI-EXPLORE

Beyonce’s Branding Success, Leadership Changes, and Etiquette Tips for Business Meals

Facebook's Algorithm, The Cannes Dress, and The Lookbook How-To, Kate Middleton Style, The Row

Fashion PR Fridays: Top Fashion, Public Relations, Marketing and Social Media News

…for the week of June 20, 2016

  • Queen Bey made branding lemonade out of introspection, video, and choosing the unconventional choice, and you can, too (via Fast Company)
  • ModCloth might support anti-Photoshopping legislation, but its business model is what keeps the customers coming back (via Slate)
  • Dior’s got some leadership changes in the works and they’re set to be announced after an early July fashion show (via Reuters)
  • Macy’s has a CEO change: Its president, Jeff Gennette, assumes the role in the first quarter of 2017 (via WWD)
  • Don’t be that guy, follow these etiquette tips for having successful business lunches (via Corporette)
  • We’ve all heard about Cision’s acquisition of PR Newswire, but here’s all the details you need to know (via Cision)
  • The Curvy Fashionista blogger Marie Denee provides summer style tips and explains why she dislikes the word flattering (via InStyle)
  • Pro Tip: We love The Newsette for delivering trending topics, style news, and lifestyle tips to our inbox every morning (and, of course, for asking our founder Crosby Noricks about her morning routine) (Via The Newsette)

The 5-Question Guide for Personal Branding Greatness

Personal Branding Public Relations Social Media

When we think of branding, we have a tendency to associate the practice with products and services. We think about taglines, and colors and logos. But, as individuals who work in a communications-related field, the idea of personal branding, the ongoing practice of marketing yourself, is an integral part of building a successful career.

When you are thoughtful and strategic about your personal brand, the results can lead to job opportunities, new clients, guest speaking gigs, and a whole slew of other opportunities.

Ready to begin? These five questions will get you on the path toward personal branding greatness:

Personal Branding Q1: What is my niche?

Communications is a broad field and we all have different strengths.  A great way to inform your personal brand is to think about your specific areas of expertise, talents, perspective and experience you want others to associate with your name.  Finding your niche will help you strategically build your audience within your area of expertise and guide your overall content strategy.

Finding your niche will help you strategically build your audience within your area of expertise and guide your overall content strategy and visual brand identity.

Personal Branding Q2: What is my voice?

Think about some of your favorite brands, or the industry professionals you admire and think about how you would classify their voice and tone. Do you wish to be perceived as authoritative instead of humorous? As sarcastic instead of friendly? There is no right or wrong answer, but it’s important for your tone to be authentic to you and for you to stay consistent with your decision across all fronts – from emails to Instagram. Doing so will only help to strengthen the associations others have when they think of you, and a clearly defined voice will support your career goals – attracting more likeminded clients and opportunities your way.

Personal Branding Q3: What is my aesthetic?

Let’s face it, visuals and aesthetic cohesion are a huge part of any successful brand, and your personal brand is no exception! Think about your color scheme and overall vibe. Will your brand contain muted, bohemian colors or minimalist photos with a heavy emphasis on white backgrounds and beach photography? Remember, it’s not about individual images as much as developing a cohesive, branded experience no matter where a person might encounter your work.

Choose your aesthetic based on your gut — what kind of style are you innately attracted to? Rather than trying to adopt what is trending, or what you think other people want to see, you’ll ensure that your aesthetic is authentic and true to who you are. Authenticity is one of the pillars of truly great, long-lasting brands.

Personal Branding Q4: Where will I build my audience?

We’ve all heard the saying, “jack of all trades, master of none,” which is exactly why it’s important to have clear answers the three questions above. It’s also essential to choose a handful of key platforms to build and grow your reputation and audience. If you spread yourself too thin you will risk missing out on engaging with your connections, or putting forth a brand that feels sparse and less than present. So how do you know which platforms are right for you? Choose your key platforms based on the types of content you plan on producing. If you plan on producing videos, opt for YouTube and Facebook. If you focus on gorgeous imagery, opt for Instagram. If your content is focused on providing more information, such as using long-form text, opt for a blog and supplement with LinkedIn and Facebook. Whether you choose to focus on a blog, YouTube channel, LinkedIn, or Snapchat, stick to a few key platforms that will best communicate your overall message.

Primarily, you want to choose your platforms based on the types of content you plan on producing. If you plan on producing videos, opt for YouTube and Facebook. If you focus on gorgeous imagery, opt for Instagram. If your content is focused on providing more information, such as using long-form text, opt for a blog and supplement with LinkedIn and Facebook. If you are primarily interested in providing services to local businesses, explore local networking groups and join the board of a relevant association.Whether you choose to focus on a blog, YouTube channel, LinkedIn, or Snapchat, stick to a few key platforms that will best communicate your overall message.

Whether you choose to focus on a blog, YouTube channel, LinkedIn, or Snapchat, stick to a few key platforms that will best communicate your overall message and use them consistently.

Personal Branding Q5: What are my big picture goals?

Now that you’ve defined your niche, tone, and aesthetic as well as identified your target communication channels, you can start creating content and making choices that align with your overall goals. Maybe you want to land a new job or get a side gig as a guest writer on one of your favorite blogs. Use your personal brand to position yourself as an expert in your field through an eye-catching resume and portfolio, submit an article that reinforces your expert niche.

Your personal brand will naturally evolve, as both the industry at large and your own career path progresses, but these baseline questions will consistently guide you toward presenting an authentic representation of who you are among your professional community. Ensure that your personal brand supports your goals and helps you tell your story how you want it to be told.

Beauty PR Boss: Meet Erin Beck, Owner of Beck PR

Beck Public Relations Marketing Agency Lifestyle

Erin Beck started her career with a luxury knitwear brand, but always dreamed of one day opening her own public relations firm. As Founder of New York-based Beck Public Relations, she can mark that particular bucket list item complete. Of course, running a full-service marketing and public relations agency focused primarily on ethical beauty brands never yields a full-stop. Along with her team of five, Beck PR offers branding, media relations, crisis management, and social media services, regularly landing media placements in Vogue, Cosmopolitan, Harper’s Bazaar, and beyond.

Erin Beck Headshot 2Name: Erin Beck
Company: Beck Public Relations
Title: Owner/CEO
Education: Bachelor’s in English
Instagram: @beckprnyc
Twitter: @beckprnyc

How did you get started in PR?

My intro to PR was with a luxury knitwear brand in New York. I became their global brand ambassador a.k.a. in-house PR girl. It’s always been a dream of mine to run my own firm, and after years of hard work in the industry and developing solid editorial contacts, I took the leap and opened BECK PR in 2014.

What are your primary responsibilities as CEO?

Client development, management of staff, development and implementation of client strategy, global firm development and expansion — all responsibilities that come with owning a company. I don’t think there are really specific job duties; every minute of my day changes based on the needs of my clients and staff.

What type of person thrives at Beck PR?

One that is uber creative, multitasking, and a self-starter. Our agency is growing at such a fast pace and we’re still young, so we expect a lot from each other. We hold each other accountable and expect our team members to bring 100++ percent to the table while they are with us.

What is the mood like in the office? What are you working on?

Currently, there are 5 people who work at the firm. We have three account executives and two interns who are responsible for all company social media. Our office is always upbeat, fast-paced, creative, and hustling. Everyone wears a multitude of hats. Currently, we are working on media outreach for fall issues as well as preparing for the next New York Fashion Week.

What are you really good at?

Making and maintaining relationships with future and current clients. I also love strategizing for our clients. The more out of the box, creative thinking you can do, the more success you will have.

What’s been your most memorable moment in your career thus far?

Getting my first placement in Vogue, in-book under my firm’s roof. Having that handwritten note from Vogue editors that accompany the magazine when your clients are featured is something very special.

Most glamorous moment in your career thus far?

Backstage at New York Fashion Week under my firm.

Having that handwritten note from Vogue editors that accompany the magazine when your clients are featured is something very special.

Least glamorous moment in your career thus far?

Sample trafficking in a huge sample closet at J.Crew for 12 hours a day. Sample closets are never glamorous but the job needs to be done, and it allows you to learn about the brand you are working for.

PR can be stressful and full of rejection — how do you deal?

You have to develop a thick skin, be honest with your clients, and keep working creatively to get your clients in the limelight.

How do you stay on top of industry trends?

I constantly read all the publications we are pitching, and I am always meeting with editors to get a finger on their pulse to know exactly what they are working on and what trends they anticipate creating.

What are three must-have tools that are essential to your job?

iPhone, Cision, ALL social media apps, and Texture App.

What do you wish more people understood about your job?

That being a publicist is not a job. It’s a career that is more than just 9-5, it’s more 24-7.

What would you tell someone who wants to be you when they grow up?

Work really hard, be honest, stay true to your dreams, and whatever you want to accomplish, you will.

Thanks, Erin!

Simply Stylist Ad

invite

Campaigns We Love: Nude For All by Naja

Subway Ad Fashion Nude For All Naja Lingerie

Who: Ethical lingerie brand Naja was founded in 2013 by acting CEO and Creative Director Catalina Girald, along with “Jane the Virgin” actress Gina Rodriguez, who became a co-founder in 2015.

 

What: Girald was watching Olympic gold medalist Gabby Douglas compete in the 2012 Olympics and noticed that her “nude” ankle brace didn’t match her skin tone. She then thought back to her own gymnastics days and how there wasn’t really another ankle strap color. Realizing that “nude isn’t nude for everyone,” the company developed the first seamless lingerie collection in seven shades of nude.

To promote the news, Naja was supported PR agency Wunderlich Kaplan Communications and a $1ok PR budget that used media relations, social media and a collection landing page on the website as cornerstones of the campaign. Outreach to consumer, fashion, selected news outlets and blogs resulted in notable placements in major publications including Adweek, WWD, Cosmopolitan, Refinery 29, AdAge, and Racked.  indicated immense support for the collection and raised powerful awareness for Naja. A strong call-to-action invited consumers to find out their personal lingerie color. The campaign was boosted through subway advertising in New York City; platform poles at the Bedford L stop were covered in different nude shades with the campaign hashtag #nudeforall. The campaign was directed by Badger & Winters, whose co-founder and chief creative officer Madonna Badger is fighting sexism in advertising through #WomenNotObjects, an effort to combat ads that objectify women.

Why: The multi-faceted campaign generated 700 million global impressions worldwide in four days. Photography associated with the campaign used real women of different ethnicities and professional backgrounds, including a Silicon Valley engineer and a ballet dancer. Campaign extension is particularly thoughtful, matching MAC, L’Oreal and Bobbi Brown foundation to underwear shades. What’s not to love?

6 Things You’re Doing To Sabotage Your PR Results

PR tips Brand PR Public Relations Sabotage

Every brand has dreams of being the next golden child, the “it” brand every editor is clamoring to cover. While it often seems like certain brands come out of nowhere and become media darlings instantly, this is rarely the case. Instead, the magic occurs with brands who understand the value of public relations, how the editorial process works and who have a strong brand foundation.

If you’re a brand struggling to achieve the media coverage of your dreams, check out the following red flags. It just might be your approach that is ultimately sabotaging your success.

1. You’re Micromanaging Your Agency

Sure, having faith that your PR agency is actively pitching and planning on your behalf can be a scary thing, particularly in the first few months of a relationship.

If you are doing any of the following: changing priorities because of a lack of movement, asking your agency to act as a marketing or sales team, demanding highly specific reporting requirements or sending numerous emails throughout the week asking for status checks on various priorities, you are hindering the process. The more you insert new expectations and demand communication with your agency beyond the processes already put into place, the less time your agency is able to do outreach on your behalf. The result? Your retainer dollars are going toward managing the relationship, rather than reaching out to editors.

2. You’re stingy with samples

For fashion, beauty and consumer brands, physical product samples are essential. When you are planning out your production schedule, it is important to account for all possible sample opportunities and ensure you are stocked up (and that your budget has accommodated for this expense as its own thing – not part of your PR budget). If you are targeting stores with a sales team as well as media opportunities you will likely need at least two sets of samples.

If you are hoping to secure celebrity and influencer placements, you will need to produce enough gifting samples to meet those objectives as well. Unless you are offering high-end red carpet pieces, you need to be prepared to gift samples to celebrities and influencers, and you need to recognize that not every gifting opportunity will lead to a placement opportunity (and that not every editor sample will be returned quickly, or at all).

3. You Have Limited or Poor Product Photography

Images anchor all communications to media these days and your product photography will absolutely affect your chances of securing media coverage. If you are sending over manufacturer images, low-res or small images, or even editorial-style photography that reads low-budget, you won’t be taken seriously in the eyes of the media. Your PR agency needs a variety of product images, using professional models, taken by an experienced photographer.

4. You don’t have any product stills

We’ve established that photography is a huge asset to your PR team, but you need to do more than share photos on models. If you don’t also have images of all your products, shot on a plain white background, you are severely limiting your press opportunities. Many media outlets rely on these type of product images from brands to create layouts and quickly move on a digital slideshow. Product stills allow editors to work with your products any way that they need – even placing your product among others in a way that looks like it was shot in a studio.

5. You’re not willing to evolve

We get it – you are working hard to grow your brand from multiple angles, perhaps you’ve helped to build it from scratch, and you are heavily invested in its mission. However, you hired your agency for their expertise; publicists know the messaging, styles and trends impacting your category, and their advice on everything from your collection itself to packaging, is invaluable. In particular, discounting any editor feedback is a huge mistake.

We recently had an editor who loved a brand’s products at a deskside, but when we followed up, the editor indicated that the brand’s social media presence, in particular, the imagery was not strong enough for them to consider covering the brand in their outlet. This was not the first time we had shared similar feedback, yet the brand took a defensive stance.

If your publicist is lucky enough elicit direct feedback about your brand, that information can be invaluable to the brand that listens, and adjusts accordingly.

6. You only see print media as successful media coverage

There is something amazing about holding a physical piece of media in your hands and seeing your product included in a photo shoot, your CEO interviewed, your company listed as one to watch. But putting an over-emphasis on print media indicates not only an outdated understanding of media but also how consumer shop for and discover new products and brands. Media is changing at a fast and furious pace, and brands that try to manage their PR strategy with methods used even five years ago will find their efforts are falling flat. Online outlets are looking to cover brands that have affiliate programs in place or sell to stores that do, and media outlets are increasingly dedicating more editorial space to brands that generate revenue for the outlet or offer readers deals and discounts along with countless other changes. It is important to keep up with the latest media movements and trends and pay attention to the tactics that do and don’t work.

There are new digital marketing strategies that can integrate with digital PR outreach. In particular, Media is changing at a fast and furious pace, and brands that try to manage their PR strategy with methods used even five years ago will find their efforts are falling flat. Online outlets are looking to cover brands that have affiliate programs in place or who sell to stores that do. These media outlets are increasingly dedicating more editorial space to brands that can generate revenue or offer readers deals and discounts along with countless other changes. It is important to keep up with the latest media movements and trends and pay attention to the tactics that do and don’t work.

If you are pushing your PR agency to focus solely on traditional tactics, you’re risking being passed over for brands who have a better understanding of the current media landscape.

From empowering your agency to try something new, trusting in their expertise and providing the assets necessary for them to be successful, you increase your chances of landing coverage that truly impacts your brand. Sometimes, we all need to take a step back and understand that we ourselves might be the biggest bottleneck to progress. If you are willing to honestly assess your own role in helping or hindering your PR efforts, you’ll find that a few pivots here and there can make all the difference.

 

 

FTC 101 for Fashion PR, Reaching Women 45+ & What to Wear to Work

Fashion, FTC, State of News Media, Twitter, Emojis and Advertisers

Fashion PR Fridays: Top Fashion, Public Relations, Marketing and Social Media News

…for the week of June 13, 2016

  • Your pizza emoji usage just got a lot more interesting … Twitter’s letting advertisers target users who tweet specific emojis (via Ad Week)
  • The Beverly Center’s getting renovated, and it’s becoming a hangout destination (via Yahoo! News)
  • Insight into fashion publicists, press trips, and how the federal trade commission is involved (via The Fashion Law)
  • Style gurus and founders of the e-commerce and editorial site Apprécier.com Cindy Weber-Cleary and Stephanie Stahl on why women over 45 are important to the fashion industry (via Exposed Zippers)
  • Stylist Kate Young talks fashion, from working at a PR firm to Vogue to styling celebs, including Selena Gomez and Dakota Johnson (via Fashionista)
PS: Deadline extended! It’s the last day to enter our BAMMIESXPRCOUTURE social media giveaway! Enter now!

A Quick Guide on Navigating Career Transitions

Career Transition, Changing Jobs, Public Relations

Switching careers is never an easy choice to make, whether you’re giving up the stability of a current job or finding yourself unfulfilled and looking for a new challenge. Initially, I started out in the travel industry, but soon became enamored with beauty and fashion PR. I particularly loved the natural, eco-friendly beauty lines, and found myself more and more excited about the prospect of getting the word out to consumer media about beautiful, luxurious, and most importantly, safe beauty brands. After working with a few freelance clients in the green beauty space, I realized this was I wanted to do full time and knew I had to take a huge step by switching into a new field.

While there is no one size fits all approach to a career switch, there are some things that can help make the transition smoother and improve your chance of success in your new field!

Seek out success stories

There’s no need to start out blindly cobbling together a career plan with limited insight. Instead, make a list of those in your new field who are already successful and start to build relationships and request their expertise.

When I was looking to take a detour on my intended career path, I reached out to some amazing women who had already done what I was seeking to accomplish; to build a successful lifestyle and fashion PR firm without having a ton of background in public relations. Hearing how these women were able to create their dream jobs with persistence and hard work, as well as learning how they secured their first clients and press hits gave me the encouragement to test out a new career. Their advice continues to inform how I pitch new clients and work with editors, stylists and influencers – I am forever grateful!

Study your field from multiple perspectives

In addition to speaking with successful people in your new space, consider yourself to be a student and give yourself a crash course in your new career. Act as though you are already a part of the industry and soak up all the information you can. Get up to date on the hottest players in the industry (in fashion or lifestyle PR this means knowing who all of the top fashion bloggers, beauty YouTubers, and trendsetting celebs are) while making sure to read books, magazines, and digital media relevant to your new field.

When I was looking to take a detour on my intended career path, I reached out to some amazing women who had already done what I was seeking to accomplish; to build a successful lifestyle and fashion PR firm without having a ton of background in public relations.

When I first decided to transition into beauty/fashion PR, I read everything I could get my hands on. From consumer media, like the latest issue of Us Weekly to fashion trade mainstay Women’s Wear Daily’s headlines, I made sure I learned how different outlets reported on different topics and the top trends.

Subscribing to my favorite blogs and websites in a newsreader (favorite: Inoreader) makes it easy to browse through new content (something I still do to this day!). Sign up for email newsletters for your target clients and other resources to ensure you never miss a beat in your new field.

Gain relevant experience

Before simply quitting your job and frantically trying to find one in your new industry, take the time to simply explore what is out there and do what you can to start developing vertical-specific experience.

It might feel not unlike the days of internships, but one of the best ways to break into a new career is the most daunting – getting experience. But you’re probably thinking, “How can I find work without already having the experience in the field?” And thus begins the catch 22. If you’re truly passionate about breaking into a new industry, you may have to accept the fact that you will need to work for less money than you’re used to making (at least in the beginning). Whether you take on an unpaid internship or do some pro bono freelance work for a client, getting experience under your belt to show prospective employers and clients is vital.

Start thinking about what accomplishments and skills are going to be required in your new industry and use that knowledge to inform your choices.

Commit to the change

Realize that there are days when you’ll feel defeated and wonder why you ever thought it would be a good idea to leave the comfort of what you know for a new career or an industry switch. Whether you are not getting interviews your dream company or feeling overwhelmed by everything you don’t know about your new field, things can get tough. Instead of squirming against it, or drowning in Rose, just realize that this challenging experience right here, is evidence that you are following your dream and progress is being made.

If you feel in your gut that it’s time to plan for a new career, develop a new specialization within your industry, or change up how you work, you deserve to honor that impulse and follow that feeling. We all go through moments of self-doubt, but if you keep your eye on the end goal (a successful career in an industry you love) you’ll make it through.

Fashion Brand Q&A: Meet Sudara’s Marketing Manager Lindsey Thomas

Social Good, Benefit Company, Sex Trafficking, Sudara, Loungewear, Punjammies, India

Sudara is primarily a loungewear company known for their comfortable and chic PUNJAMMIES, tees and robes for men, women and children; every product made helps a woman remain free from the sex trafficking industry.

In 2005, Sudara founder Shannon Keith took a trip to India that opened her eyes to a tragedy occurring daily to women and girls throughout the country — modern day slavery. Since its inception, Sudara has has employed more than 300 women through sewing center partnerships throughout India. All efforts support the the brand’s mantra that “No human being should be owned by anyone, anywhere, for any reason- ever. It really is that simple.”

Having been lucky enough to work with Sudara, I connected with Lindsey Thomas, Sales and Marketing Manager at Sudara.org to find out the latest.

Brand Dossier
Sudara-IndiaCompany: Sudara
About: Sudara goods are made from hope, and made for comfort.
Facebook: Sudara
Twitter: @sudaragoods
Instagram: @sudaragoods
Pinterest: Sudara Goods

How did you get started in the industry?

My start in the industry happened after I left fashion school to finish a degree in business. Soon after starting my degree I ended up landing a job in the fashion industry working with an Italian shoe brand opening its first flagship store in Portland, Oregon. The decision to take this position and work with a company that puts heart and souls into its brand was my first glimpse into how a successful fashion business can operate. Transparency and honesty are two things I seek out and celebrate in this industry. It’s possible to be up front and open with customers, and at Sudara we celebrate and live this value!

What are your big communication goals right now?

Our communication goals for 2016 align directly with our cause for freedom. We are striving to create more awareness and gain more support for the women in India. To do this we continuously evaluate the way we communicate and provide information or resources on the company to our followers. Ensuring accessibility of information and backing up what we say with what we do is a key factor in the success of our communications. One more important goal is to show that social good organizations like us are capable and needed to resolve issues and create a better world.

What are a few of your key marketing messages?

We are a benefit corporation, which means we are a mission-driven business and use the power of business to do social good. For us, this means we work with local partners in India to create jobs for women to provide them with a pathway out of sex slavery and provide benefits such as safe housing, wellness care, access to education for their children, and job placement services.  We love to share our story on social media as well as our blog, but we are even more passionate about sharing the stories of hope and freedom of the women who are now employed at the sewing centers.

Brand Storytelling, Benefit Company, India, Loungewear
How is your communication/marketing department organized?

We wish we had a department! We are currently a small team with an all hands on deck mentality. One person is dedicated to sales and marketing full time, and then we have a mix of experts in communications and social media who work part time and on a volunteer basis to fill those needs for us.

Looking over the past year, what are you most proud of?

Sudara has seen incredible growth on social media, sales and website views. The company has launched new product offerings, like men’s and children’s products, and gorgeous robes which are now one of our bestsellers. New prints have captured the attention of editors at some of the most fashionable outlets like WhoWhatWear, Vogue and Elle Magazine.

What role did PR play, if any, in these achievements?

The primary purpose of PR/Marketing for the Sudara Brand is to spread the right kind awareness and share the stories of all the women in India who have found and continue to find their freedom by learning job skills, gaining empowerment, and reinvesting in their economy.

PR helps immensely by increasing awareness and gaining support for the cause of freedom. As a former buyer, I discovered Sudara by reading about the brand.

What has been the most powerful piece of media coverage received recently? What made it so remarkable?

Having our founder and CEO, Shannon Keith, share our story, talk about like-minded brands working to fight human trafficking, or discuss ways for people to get involved has always been very powerful. Through these pieces, we hear from people who are excited about the cause and how they can help. These articles drive traffic to the website and to our social sites, but we’ve also found that it helps spread our message via word of mouth and conversations between friends (e.g., “I read this article and you should, too…”)

How else do you reach your target audiences?

We are able to reach our target audience through various social channels as well as conferences and word of mouth. However, one of our biggest challenges is the balance between showing the beauty of our products through images, our website and wholesale purchases, and telling the story of why we exist and the cause behind every purchase.

We try to balance this the most on the blog/website and through social. You can see beautiful images of our products that celebrate freedom on our Instagram account, and you can read stories of the women who make the products and learn more about the cause on our Instagram and blog. Here is one story of a woman, Soyamma, that we always find especially powerful because of how she chose to come back to the center and donate a percentage of her first paycheck to it; she wanted to be able to help even more women live in free from sex slavery. Being able to share these stories and get customers to realize that, yes, these are beautiful loungewear and products AND there is a story behind every print is a challenge, but one that we gladly take on each day.

Being able to share these stories and get customers to realize that, yes, these are beautiful loungewear and products AND there is a story behind every print is a challenge, but one that we gladly take on each day.

What social media platforms do you invest in and why?

The Sudara brand participates in most forms of social media. We choose to use the social media platforms that best fit our customers interfacing and purchasing our products. We have found that Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram are the best platforms for our audience, however we choose to spend 98% of our online budget with Facebook.  We were recently featured in a Facebook business article discussing our success on their platform, in which we saw a 10% increase in sales and a 44% decrease in ad spend.

 Sudara-Public-Relations

What are you excited about lately?

Lately we’ve been very excited to see the expansion of socially conscious companies and the success they’re finding in the market. Consumers today have become more aware of the impact their purchases have on the world. There are so many people out there that deserve more opportunity and accessibility to obtain the knowledge and skills many of us take for granted.

Here at Sudara we are standing up as a company that cares about our impact in every aspect of our business. We have found success from the heart of a belief that slavery should never happen, bottom line! To see other companies combating this type of social injustice and consumers taking a stand in support of these beliefs and causes has been one of the most exciting developments we’ve seen in the fashion industry, period.

About Kristen Conahan

Kristen is a style blogger at Style Wax Poetic and freelance publicist working with various fashion and social impact accounts clients.As a blogger, Kristen has been asked to host events at Bloomingdales and Neiman Marcus and has been featured on numerous publications and brand’s websites including Banana Republic, Racked.com, PopSugar.com, Boohoo.com, Lack of Colours, Beauty Collection, StyleSpotters and more and has collaborated on various brand campaigns including Target, DSW, Banana Republic, HP, Mary Kay Cosmetics, Starbucks and Jockey to name a few. When working as a publicist, Kristen enjoys helping companies thrive and specializes in smaller accounts that are working to gain attention and brand awareness through PR.

Boost Your PR Career with these 3 Personal Branding Tips

Social Media Personal Branding Freelance PR Public Relations

In an industry like PR, where perception is often everything, it’s surprising how many of us put all our energy into perfecting our client’s social media accounts, while severely neglecting our own. Talk about a missed opportunity! Your online presence is your cover letter to the world, stating who you are as a business professional and why someone should hire or work with you.

If you’ve been lagging on getting your digital brand in order, it’s time to set aside some time to kick things into gear – who knows how many employment, client and partner opportunities are passing you by simply because your social media presence looks more like laundry day than the biggest presentation of your career (which it kind of is, every single day).

Here’s how you can give your personal brand a boost through social media and achieve your career goals.

1. Choose Your Colors

It’s basic branding and advice you would provide to any client, but having a cohesive, branded social media presence starts with some branding basics, colors, fonts, tone – it’s all important.

To get into the groove, assign three colors as your signature brand colors. As fashion & lifestyle communicators, choosing a color palette can feel limiting, but a great way to help you decide is to learn a bit about color theory. Color theory will explain the meaning, mood, and even industries that certain colors evoke. Another way to see which colors are great for your brand is by researching your favorite brands, PR companies and influencers to see the color schemes they have chosen.

It’s important to choose colors that fit you, so that your image is consistent, clear, on-trend and not like everyone else. In fashion PR this means stepping away from black and pink. Pinterest has great inspiration for color themes, just search a favorite color + palette or scheme to get started.

2.  Create Consistent Graphics

For pretty much every social media platform, you need a profile and header image, and then you need to incorporate visuals for post content. You know how important design skills are becoming for publicists, but even if you don’t have time for a crash course in Adobe, you should be able to put together a series of design templates (or have a designer create some for you) that you can use to promote recurring types of content.

As a bonus, the days of using an expensive program like Photoshop to put some text on an image are over.  I recommend using Canva, which allows you to create your own images based on social media sizing, from scratch or by using a handy template as a guide. There are a tons of fonts, designs and colors to choose from that are simple, yet sleek and professional. No one will know you didn’t create your designs from scratch!

3. Commit to a Content Strategy

Once you have your basic branding in place, you’ll need to set aside time each day to develop and publish content that will engage your audience and reinforce your industry expertise. To make it easy, focus on daily themes and use social media management tools so that you can batch content and schedule in advance.

With a clear visual brand identity and a strong, consistent content strategy, your professionalism and personality will shine through, ensuring that anyone who interfaces with your online presence will experience your message as you intend it to be received.

Do These 5 Things to Grow Your Freelance PR Business

Freelance PR, New PR Clients

So you went freelance…now what? If you thought the hardest part would be quitting your day job or trying to balance freelance clients as well as a full-time job then you’ve got another thing coming.

Think about it: agencies usually have a business development department — or at least an individual — whose job it is to identify, connect with and nurture prospective clients. As a freelance PR specialist, you are your own sales team. But there’s no need to freak out. You’ve got this.

The best route to success is preparation; Louis Pasteur said it best, “chance favors a prepared mind.”

Define a Clear List of Services

What do you enjoy most about working in PR? This is one of the first questions you should ask yourself before even going freelance — answering this in the beginning will save you from many future headaches.

As a freelancer, it’s simply impossibly for you to offer the breadth of agency specializations. But this is actually a good thing. Before you start to reach out to prospects, define what type of work you want to be doing within the communications wheelhouse, and build out materials, case studies and pricing that support your new focus.

If you want to use your PR experience to guide digital communication strategy, focusing on tactics that grow a brand’s online presence – like social media management, then position yourself as an expert in that area. If you love training clients to stay on message and totally rock broadcast interviews and segments, you’re a media training coach.

You are always welcome to take the fun odd job here or there (this will actually keep you fresh and inspired), but choosing projects you’re truly passionate about will not only feed your bank account, but also your soul. It’s also a useful way to begin a pointed exchange with a potential client about the very specific ways you see yourself supporting their efforts.

Stay on top of industry changes

Thanks to the trusty Internet, it’s never been easier to see what’s going on with your favorite brands. One PR rep may have cut ties with a long-time client, and another snagged an account you were gunning for. Stay on top of industry news so you don’t waste your time pitching a brand that just secured new representation.

Look to go-to publications like PR Couture, Daily Front Row, and Fashion Monitor to stay in the know.

Develop (and work) a dream client list

Everyone has a dream brand they’d like to work with (or five!). It’s time for you to develop a dream client list and start prioritizing your efforts toward the brands you love. As you start to evaluate your list, consider what it is that you love about them. Look beyond the products or services the company offers and look into their core values and culture. Do you love their involvement in charities? Is it their consistently youthful take on a legendary brand name? The outspoken boss lady running the brand? Really figure out what you adore and respect about each business on your list. This insight will come in handy when you start to do outreach.

It’s important to not only think about your outside perspective of the brand but to also understand the people behind the scenes, the business model and financial health of the organization.

Don’t Be Limited By Location

The great thing about freelancing is that you can do it from just about anywhere. Most freelancers think they have to stick to jobs in their cities and states, and this is just not true, plus totally limiting. Some tasks may require you to be present at a client’s location, however, many tasks also can be done remotely. Writing, cold calling, pitching, emailing, and so on can all be done from the comfort of your own home.

As long as you have a track record of success, strong contacts and your own clear process for running your own business, you can take what you learned from your previous agency or in-house experience and put it to use from anywhere. Companies are often open to remote worker positions as long as you are able to put them at ease and to feel confident that you will be available, committed and consistently updating them on the latest news.

While giving an afar client a sales pitch, be sure to point this out and let them know that you also are willing to travel if need be for certain situations like a launch event or an important partnership meeting. Be willing to put on some frequent flyer miles to meet in person during the proposal process to ensure a positive rapport and to get a lay of the land before you both commit to a project or retainer.

Do a virtual background check

Most freelancers have at least one horror story of a client who turned out to be a real challenge. Sometimes, business owners see PR as a last resort before closing down shop, other times they are waiting on a collection sell-out in order to be able to pay their vendors.

They always say that if it’s too good to be true, it probably is. Be optimistic but also smart, you have to protect your own business interests as well; there is no top notch legal team on call like at large agencies.

Google reviews on the company to catch a glimpse of what you’re getting yourself into. Also look at sites like Glassdoor, which provides anonymous employee feedback and salary reports. Even if no one from their previous PR agency has reviewed the company, it’s important to get a well-rounded review of a business you think you want to work with. Looking at reviews from other employees can be useful in predicting how you will be treated as a freelancer as well.

As a freelance PR professional, it’s important to have a defined new business outreach process and to dedicate yourself weekly to growing potential new relationships while exceeding expectations among your existing roster. It’s a balancing act for sure, but you’re totally up for the challenge!

Universal PR Truths, Social Media Tips from Kim K & The PR Wage Gap

Fashion, FTC, State of News Media, Twitter, Emojis and Advertisers

Fashion PR Fridays: Top Fashion, Public Relations, Marketing and Social Media News

…for the week of June 6, 2016

  • To brand or debrand? How companies should focus their next campaign (via Fast Co.Design)
  • You read them and you love them, but did you know men are running your favorite feminist sites? Now you get to meet them (via Bust)
  • Thoughts on women’s empowerment and Bravo’s reality shows from Noreen Heron, President of Chicago-based lifestyle PR firm Heron Agency (via Heron Agency)
  • Brand strategy and full-service public relations agency MEPR is celebrating 10 years, and Founder Kia Jarmon is sharing her journey and strategies for making it in the business world (via MEPR Agency)
  • The analytics and measurement company Air PR drops some universal industry truths all PR pros can relate to (via Air PR)

Managing Director

Position:  Managing Director
Company: Style House PR
Location: New York, NY
Learn more