3 Brilliant Brainstorming Techniques for Better Ideas

3 Brilliant Brainstorming Techniques for Better Ideas

Coming up with fresh ideas isn’t effortless. Especially when your job requires churning them out on a daily basis. It can be easy to hit a wall – hard. That is why brainstorming sessions can be beyond helpful. The most important thing about a brainstorming session are the action items delegated after to help implement the best ideas. The best way to release the creativity beast is not by shouting out ideas to your team at a conference table, but by creating an atmosphere that breaks people out of their mental comfort zone.

How can you create this atmosphere? We’re thrilled you asked. Here are 3 out of the box ways to help liven up your brainstorming sessions to reinvigorate your team’s mindset to produce more engaging, successful campaigns.

1. Kick Around Some Bad Ideas First

It’s always awkward being the first person to chuck out a few ideas while everyone else tries to gather their thoughts, but someone has to do it! One way to loosen your team up is to start by spending 10 minutes coming up with a bunch of horrible ideas at first. Be sure to lead by example. Throw out an initial idea first to warm up the room. This will help you set a much more open and playful atmosphere. An idea that isn’t so great on its own could end up sparking something really ingenious!

Quick tip:  don’t follow one train of thought for too long. Once you have spent some time sharing throwaway ideas (and a couple laughs), refocus on the task at hand.

2. Play Word Games – Yes, Games

As goofy as it sounds, word games can be an extremely useful tool to help shake up generic ideas. One great word exercise is creating a “word storm.” A word storm is where you come up with one word, and then your team comes up with a ton of other words that they believe associate with the original word. These words will help you build the connotation of the project, visuals, and other creative assets to move forward with the newly cultivated idea. Word storms are great when you need to rebrand a mundane product or knock out a few strong social media headlines.

One way to loosen your team up is to start by spending 10 minutes coming up with a bunch of horrible ideas at first.

3. Go Somewhere Else

Switching up your environment can bring a change of pace to your team, alleviate the typical restrictions, and reduce any limits experienced by teammates that may stifle their confidence to speak out. Pack up your squad and head out the office for your brainstorming sessions. The location can be anywhere: coffee shop, a co-worker’s backyard, or a walk to a local tourist hot spot. Getting up and about will increase brain flow and produce out of the box ideas through utilizing your environment and experiences as a group together.

Good ideas don’t become great ideas on their own. With a safe space for brainstorming and a hefty dose of play, you’ll be able to more quickly refine your ideas into award-winning campaigns.

 

8 Minutes of Career Advice From Fashion PR Pro Travis Paul Martin

Currently Director of Public Relations for Chicago-based SKOOG Productions, Travis Martin is one of the few who has truly conquered the fashion PR world. Formerly Fashion Director at BPCM, Travis graduated from Parsons in Paris and also worked at KCD, where he spent three and a half years working with big name clients like Marc Jacobs and Peter Som and helped run major events like the CFDA Awards and the Met Gala. Travis’ journey is filled with fantastic stories, and when it comes down to the basics of making it in fashion PR, he’s a master. In an industry where time is fleeting, I was able to speak with Travis for a few minutes and gain access to five of his most helpful tips for those just getting started in the industry.

1. Read Everyday

It’s always important to show your curiosity to a current or potential employer. You should be reading everyday to keep yourself informed on clients, designers, competitors, and your own firm. Travis suggests Women’s Wear Daily as one of the most valuable subscriptions. It’s definitely a little pricier than the other alternatives out there, but it keeps you up to date on all the different components of industry news from retail to runway to business. The ability to speak knowledgeably about the industry gives a strong leg to stand on, beyond your passion and dedication.

2. Expect long days

Your first jobs or internships might include 16 hour workdays or working on weekends. If you move to a city like New York, like Travis did, the transition to a full-time PR position can be difficult. Travis says he had to “work retail. At one point I had two jobs. You just sometimes make sacrifices, but understand the priorities and what it takes.” However, once you make those sacrifices, you’re able to be a part of some pretty incredible projects. One that Martin holds particularly dear is the Marc Jacobs fall 2013 show. The show opened onto a circular runway with a giant yellow light suspended from the ceiling that made the models appear in shades of grey. The models were then sent out for the finale with the lights lifted. Martin loves this show so much not only because of its artistry, but also because it is a show he got to experience up close. When you put in the time, you see the rewards.

3. See the bright side in sample trafficking

“For the first three years, so much of my job was what we call sample trafficking,” says Travis. “It’s just handling requests from magazines, stylists, and everyone who wants to shoot or wear the clothes.” Running clothes to and from different offices may not seem like a valuable work skill, but Travis reveals just how important it is. “It’s how I learned everything. It’s how I learned who people were, it’s how I made connections.” Don’t underestimate the value of any job, especially when you’re just starting out. When you’re sample trafficking, you meet the receptionists and the assistants. You’re learning names and learning how things run from the ground up.

4. Don’t Blow Off The Lower Ranks

Don’t underestimate the power of making connections with the people around you, especially interns. Travis explains that “the closet girls at Elle…are now Accessories Directors at other magazines.” Making connections early on can be a huge advantage to you later in your career. You never know who is going to be important as your career continues to evolve.

5. Stand Out When Reaching Out

In an industry with lots of competition, internships and entry-level positions are few.  To Travis, “it says so much more to be able to email someone and say ‘I love what you’re doing with this client’ as opposed to ‘Hi I am so and so and I go to this school and I would really like to come intern for you.”

You have to take the time to understand who you are reaching out to, what they do, and find that connection with them that will make you more valuable or interesting.

By keeping these aspects of the business in mind, you’ll be prepared for a successful career in fashion PR.

Connect with Travis on Instagram @travispaulmartin and Twitter @tpmstyle

About Kendall Thompson

Kendall is a senior pursuing her degree in PR and advertising at DePaul University in Chicago. Having spent the last few years building a career in fashion PR, she is now the PR Assistant at C1 Revolution where her focus is on fashion and lifestyle brands.

Beyonce’s Bump, Teen Vogue’s New Branding, The State of Influencer Marketing

Fashion PR Marketing News

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

…for the week of January 30, 2017

(That was pretty much it. Oh, you want more? Ok, then!)

  • Professional office attire has changed big time and the workwear space is ripe for disruption. Have you noticed too? (via Edited)
  • PR is oh so glamorous…says pretty much no one who actually works in the industry (via Daily Telegraph)
  • Launchmetrics releases “The State of Influencer Marketing 2017: A Fashion & Retail Focus” featuring insights from your truly. Grab your copy (via Launchmetrics)
  • Teen Vogue now calls itself “Feminist, Rebellious, In Your Face and Outspoken” Might be time for another look, no? (via Teen Vogue)
  • It the latest news of the fashion elite’s comings and goings, Daniella Vitale is now the CEO of Barneys (via BoF)
  • Women in PR USA announces its Advisory Council and official launch event – yup I’m on there! (via Women in PR)

How 2 Plus Size Mega-Brands Are Winning Over Customers

Welcome to February's Self-Love Marketing Series: focusing on Body Positive brands, campaigns and messaging targeting the plus-size market. This is Part 1.

 
For decades, brands clung to myths about plus size women like, “She won’t buy because she’s waiting to lose weight,” and, “this customer doesn’t spend money on herself due to low self esteem.”
 
Shockingly enough (smirk),  it turns out that when you put attractive clothing options (even better if they come with reasonable price points), and market those options well, plus size women will absolutely open their pocketbook.
 
Now that we know 67% of American women are plus size, brands--especially fashion brands--have been trying to figure out how to tap into the buying power of the plus size woman. These days, the value of the plus size market is estimated to exceed $18 billion.
Many brands have attempted to optimize sales to plus size women, but only a few have really distinguished themselves by successfully winning over the plus size customer, building a tribe of loyal followers and repeat buyers.
 
Not surprisingly, two of the leaders in this space are explicitly plus size brands. Any label aiming to extend marketing to include a plus size customer can learn much by studying the marketing strategies of both Torrid and Lane Bryant.
 
As of 2016, Lane Bryant enjoyed a 16% market share and three solid years of sales growth. Torrid also reported significant sales growth in 2016. 
 
If you’re interested in reaching a plus market, it's crucial to understand what makes her tick.  Each of the above brands not only sells clothing to plus size women in a transactional sense, they have each managed to ingratiate themselves to her. Take a page from the playbook of these brands, and watch yourself get to #rideordie status with the plus community in a matter of months. 

The value of the plus size market is estimated to exceed $18 Billion.

 1. adopt an inclusive, insider tone 

As a rule, Torrid talks to Her as though they are both part of the same group message chat.
 With a supremely inclusive tone, the shopping experience for Torrid customer feels much like plotting next weekend's brunch outfit with a friend while she’s scrolling through Instagram.
 
However, like any good friend, Torrid isn't simply playing nice. The brand advocates for their audience. Case in point. In response to a social media comment critiquing the “health” of a woman featured in an Instagram post, the brand back with the perfect response.
 
 
Beyond simply publishing aspirational images of curvy women, Torrid actively monitors their social community to prevent body shaming in a fierce, protective tone that creates a deep sense of connection with the customer.
 
With Torrid, customers participate in a supportive, two-way conversation with someone who “gets” her, and she cares back. Women are loyal to Torrid because of their inclusivity and support; it's a strong emotional connection that the plus-size woman doesn't often experience in the fashion space. 
 

2. Make a statement with bold campaigns

Taking on a body shaming social media troll is one thing, but aiming to making body shaming completely irrelevant is quite another.
 
Lane Bryant continues to take plus size branding to another level through their powerful, attention-grabbing campaigns. The #ImNoAngel campaign in 2015, complete with a rally in Times Square, along with their #PlusIsEqual campaign in 2016 broke new ground in plus size marketing. 
 
Just before the holidays, Lane Bryant released video ads featuring models and prominent plus size actresses who addressed their body shamers head-on, on camera. The result was a powerful, widely-shared video that greatly affirmed Lane Bryant's deep understanding of their customers experiences.
 
For Valentine’s Day 2017, the brand is rolling out a series of fresh, sexy, and empowering images of beautiful, plus size women in fashion-forward, curve-hugging lingerie. While we are starting to see these types of images more often, it remains an incredibly affirming experience to see women who look more like the majority of Americans than lauded for their beauty.  
 
 
Each of these brands serve a very different woman within the plus-size market, you'd hardly expect to see a Torrid look in a Lane Bryant store window, but both brands have sworn their allegiance to the plus size woman.
By continuing to succeed, each is helping to change the conversation and expanding what is possible for the plus size segment. 
 
While some fashion labels believe there is a finite cap on the sales potential for plus, Torrid and Lane Bryant prove that the ceiling is as high as a brand’s level of respect for the customer. Demonstrating this through consistent messaging pays off. BIG.
 
Have you spotted any big hits or misses in plus size fashion branding? Feel free to reach out to pr couture and me on social media - would love to continue the conversation.
 

About Melinda Parrish

 
Melinda Parrish is a Ford model that and body positivity advocate. Melinda is a regular contributor for the Huffington Post, Women's Running, Gaiam's lifestyle blog, and partners with brands like Expedia on creating fitness and wellness-related content.
 
She has her own hashtag, #healthyatanysize, and a weekly Facebook Live series called "Body Love TV." She was recently written up in People Magazine for taking a stand for curvy women. In addition to being a model and an influencer, Melinda is a lifelong athlete and former Naval Officer.

PR Girls We Love: Kate Labat, PR Manager, Be Social

With a self-proclaimed "Can Do"attitude, Kate Labat heads up west coast agency Be Social's PR division, a position she achieved after starting with the company as an entry-level PR assistant. Now she leads the team in navigating media relationships and strategies across print, digital and broadcast mediums. Kate's proficiency in strategic planning, and fresh messaging has contributed to consistent press wins and a competitive edge for Be Social clients.

PR Manager Be Social San Diego PR Agency

Name: Kate Labat
Title: PR Manager
Location: San Diego, CA
Education: San Diego State University, BA in Journalism with an emphasis in Public Relations
Company: Be Social
Instagram:
@besocialpr, @katelabat

 

How did you get started in the industry?

I started at Be Social over three years ago as an entry-level PR assistant. It was my second job out of college. Being at a boutique agency, you quickly learn how to wear a lot of hats to accomplish all that needs to get done and how to take on a "just do it" attitude. At the time, we were a much smaller team so I was helping with everything from crafting social media posts for clients to pitching media in San Diego and national contacts.

How did you get the job you have now?

As time went on at Be Social, I took on more responsibility within the company and my role with clients, strategy, pitching, and managing other team members. I am now the PR Manager and oversee the entire PR branch of the company and all of our PR clients. It's pretty crazy to look back at where I started and see where the company is now. I feel very honored that I have been a part of Be Social's success - I've grown right alongside the company! 

What are your primary responsibilities?

My responsibility first and foremost is to ensure all of our clients are getting placed in top media outlets for continued buzz and exposure. Other responsibilities include crafting quarterly strategy guides for our clients, drafting pitches, building media lists, securing coverage for our clients, and overseeing the PR team as a whole. Managing the PR team entails coming up with methods/strategies to work together smarter not harder, brainstorming new ideas, events or pitch concepts, and ensuring everyone on the team feels they are equipped for success.

How is Be Social structured?

Be Social is structured in four different departments: PR, Social Media, Influencer Relations and Be Social Talent. Each department has a lead team member to be the driving force behind each division to keep things streamlined and successful.

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

There is always SO much going on! It's always very high-energy and positive - at the end of the day we all went to help each other achieve our best! Right now, I am especially excited for our client Foot Cardigan as they are getting ready to launch a new line of socks that are so fetch *hint hint*. We're prepping really cute mailers to send to media, celebs and influencers to promote the launch so I'm really excited to see those come together.
 

 

Being at a boutique agency, you quickly learn how to wear a lot of hats to accomplish all that needs to get done and how to take on a "just do it" attitude.

 

What is a recent job success story that makes you especially proud?

It always feels great when you get kudos from clients for the work you've done. Recently, our client Bzees told us they saw a significant spike in sales as a result from the recent placements we secured and were super excited for the coverage -- that's the goal!

Most meaningful moment in your career thus far?

I think the most meaningful moment would have to be receiving recognition and validation from Ali Grant (Be Social Founder) for my contribution and work. Be Social is her creation so it means a lot that she trusts my judgement to be a leading member of the team.

Most glamorous moment in your career thus far?

Most glamorous would probably be getting to travel to New York a few times a year. Any chance I get to visit that amazing city -- sign me up. The energy is at a whole other level out there. I always love getting to meet with editors face to face on their turf.

Least glamorous moment in your career thus far?

Easy: showing up for early morning news segments. 6am call times are not pretty.

What do you wish more people understood about your job 

PR is not cut and dry. Every day is different and the media landscape is constantly changing. There are so many factors that come into play when coming up with a successful strategy for clients. You have to take into account timely happenings, competitors, marketing budgets, branding, etc. There isn't one black and white solution for everyone. It takes time, creativity and experience to understand what works and what just doesn't.

What are you excited about right now in terms of industry trends?

I'm excited to see the convergence of influencers and media. Influencers have earned a lot more respect (remember when "blogger" was almost a bad word?) and are being utilized as resources. At Be Social, we work with influencers and media on a regular basis so I love being able to learn both sides of the spectrum.

Relax! Student loans will get paid in time, you will find a job in your field. Everything always works out when you work for it.

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

Never be too proud or afraid to ask for help. If I am feeling overwhelmed or stressed out, I tell my co-workers! The point of having a team is to be able to lean on one another. I always feel better after I talk it out, and bounce ideas off each other to come up with a solution. Also, you must always keep your sense of humor. Sometimes when things are extra crazy or seem out of control, it always cuts the tension to have a laugh, then get back to it.

What are three on the job essentials for you?

  1. Boomerang! How did I survive without this before? You can schedule emails to send out at any date/time you want (amazing for pitching East Coast editors) and even return back to your inbox as a reminder if your contact didn't get back to you. Considering how many emails I send a day, Boomerang helps me make sure nothing slips through the cracks.

2. Google Calendar organizes my life (work and personal). I put everything in my calendar - even down to time blocking out tasks I need to get done.

3. Our client EyeBuyDirect's digital protection glasses. I am at my computer or on my phone constantly. These glasses have a protective lens to protect your eyes from the harsh effects of blue light that come off screens. I can honestly say, my eyes are not killing me at the end of the day anymore with these guys (plus, they look really cute on my desk - bonus).

What's the biggest challenge facing fashion/lifestyle communicators right now?

The media landscape is undergoing major changes lately. Publishing houses are trying to figure out how to cut budgets and still produce engaging content. Editors are BUSY and are expected to produce a lot of content quickly, so being able to cut through the noise and grab their attention is getting more difficult. Not to mention video content and podcasts are on the rise, so understanding and staying on top of all areas of multimedia platforms is very important.

What advice do you have for your younger self?

Relax! Student loans will get paid in time, you will find a job in your field of study and everything always works out when you work for it. I spent way too many nights freaking out over money and wondering where I was going to end up.

Anything else we should know?

Our office in San Diego is always looking for interns! If you're a college student wanting to dive in, email terra@besocialpr.com.

Thanks, Kate!

PR Industry News: Agency Updates from Style House, Press Kitchen, Michele Marie PR

PR Industry PR Agency Top PR Agency

PR AGENCY AND INDUSTRY NEWS

Style House PR is proud to announce their representation of Evolis, the first ever clinically proven topical hair loss/prevention breakthrough to hit the US market in over 30 years, as well as Koolaburra by Ugg, the free-spirited little sister of the Ugg brand.

The International Women’s Media Foundation has welcomed Stephanie Kauffman, Jennifer Reingold, Andrea B. Smith and Marisa Thalberg to their board of directors. 

Citizen Relations has announced that they have officially acquired Black Chalk Marketing, an experiential and event agency with clients like Spotify, Warner Bros Entertainment and Microsoft.

PR Firm 4Elements Media welcomes digital advertising company Hubble as a new client.

Creative public relations agency Press kitchen has expanded to the East Coast with an office opening in NYC.

michele marie pr  celebrates 10 Years in Business this February. Jill Cooper and Sara Andréasson resigned from JOE’s Jeans on the same sheet of paper 10 years ago and built a nationally ranked multi-million dollar bi-coastal fashion pr agency.

 


Do you have agency or industry news to share?
We would love to feature employee news, new client announcements, awards, partnerships and more!

Contact us at hello@prcouture.com

This Video Creation Tool is a Must for PR Professionals

Public Relations PR Tool Animoto

The world of public relations is always evolving and it is important to have a surplus of resources and tools to help us navigate it all. With so much going on, any resource that makes life easier, while making us look good, is solid gold.

It has become apparent that video is one of the best ways to share news to the masses. From Facebook Live to Instagram Stories, more brands than ever are experimenting with the medium. And rightly so, Buffer released findings in mid-2016 that video, by far, gets the most engagement on Facebook.

However, video isn’t just a tool for brands. Our collective attention spans have shortened tremendously. Video is an appealing way to showcase anything from news to statistics in a fast, fun and creative way, making it an excellent format for professional communicators to utilize for consumers, clients and media.

At Social Sidekick, we rely on Animoto, a cloud-based video creation service (if you can use Powerpoint, you can use this!) to uplevel our video game. Basically the service allows you to upload photos and video clips to create a slideshow.

Below are some we’ve found video to be a powerful agency tool:

Use Video to Create PR Proposals & Presentations

If you’ve been in the PR game for awhile, you’ve probably worked on a number of proposals and presentations when seeking out new business. You’re well aware of how much work really goes into these presentations and how important they are in demonstrating your team’s expertise, approach and creative thinking.  However, the traditional bound proposal or presentation deck can become tedious and some what monotonous – for both the agency team and the prospective client!

During your next pitch presentation, use Animoto to showcase your press placements, achievements and accolades with a flashy, fun and vibrate video. Here’s an example:

 

Go Behind-the-Scenes with Brand Videos

With video and content marketing on the rise, agencies can also utilize Animoto as a value add for client work. Let’s say you have a jewelry client with a beautiful showroom filed with hand-crafted pieces. A video exploring how these one-of-a-kind beauties come to life provides a valuable asset to further express the label’s process, appealing to both media and potential customer alike.

Video is an appealing way to showcase anything from news to statistics in a fast, fun and creative way, making it an excellent format for professional communicators to utilize for consumers, clients and media.

We did something just like the above with a jeweler in New Jersey.

A great benefit with Animoto for client videos is that you can easily adjust your videos at any time to align with a current promotion, holiday or theme. For example, create a new intro to celebrate Valentine’s Day or insert a time-sensitive call to action at the end.

Upgrade Client Reporting with Results via Video

Some clients might prefer excel reports of your monthly activities, but for those who are open to change, send over your reports in the form of a video. Think of how much more exciting it would be to see that New York Times placement or TODAY Show segment you secured in a video where your clients can relive the moment with you again?

For events, a video montage video of celebrity and VIP interviews, plus a few testimonials from event attendees offers a means to qualitatively demonstrate the value of the effort.

In our opinion, Animoto is a must-have for PR professionals. The tool saves our agency money both in terms of outright costs as well as resources (i.e. time spent at the computer). We’ve found that the ability to make videos easily and inexpensively has opened up our capabilities, not only in the pitch process but through to capturing editor attention and social media engagement.

About Cassie Galasetti

Cassie is the co-founder of Social Sidekick Media, Branding & PR. She has over fifteen years of experience in the entertainment, PR and media fields in New York, New Jersey and Los Angeles. Cassie has secured media coverage for her clients on TODAY Show, Good Morning America, New York Times, On-Air with Ryan Seacrest, USA Today, The Weather Channel, Yahoo! Beauty, Prevention, Fox News, Bustle and more. Connect @socialsidekick2 @cass822s

 


This post is part of our PR Toolbox series. Have a tool, resource or app changing your workday for the better? We’d love to share it! Send an email to hello@prcouture.com with “PR Toolbox” in the subject line.

The world of Instagram bots, Resume Tips & Nashville on the Rise

Fashion PR Marketing News

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

…for the week of January 23, 2017

  • Ever wonder how to use automated bots on Instagram and still be authentic?  Stephanie Gilbert puts forth her opinion (via Small Talk Social)
  • You can now book Uber and Lyft rides in Google Maps! Here are other app updates you might have missed this month (via Business Insider)

5 Things I Learned From 5 Years Running a PR Firm

What I Learned From Owning a PR Firm For 5 Years

When I first started dabbling in public relations, all I knew about it was what I learned previously as a full-time newspaper journalist, i.e. very little. To learn the ins and outs of PR, I picked up any client that came my way, be it a Texan real estate company, a fine jewelry brand, or an eco product line for kids. I didn’t have a trainer or any friends in PR, so I used those early clients to learn the job on the job.

Eventually, I got enough experience and launched my own agency, I Do PR, with a focus on weddings. Now, looking back on the last 5 years of running my agency full-time, here’s what I’ve learned, and what I wish someone told me when I was starting out.

1. Choose a Niche within a Niche

In the beginning, I didn’t want to pick a niche in PR because I was afraid of limiting myself. What I’ve learned since is that picking a specialty actually has the opposite effect. A niche differentiates you from thousands of other firms and professionals doing general PR, positions you as an expert in your field, and keeps you top of mind of businesses in your chosen industry. For me, deciding to switch from general PR to wedding PR turned out to be the smartest business decision I’ve ever made. Instead of spending a ton of time on hunting for clients, by virtue of specializing, I’ve become one of the go-to people for wedding brands seeking a publicist.

Are you a fashion publicist? Great, that’s a niche. But if you’re still struggling to find clients (or have them find you), I suggest you find a niche within that niche. There are a gazillion fashion publicists out there, so what differentiates you from all of them? Perhaps you can focus only on accessories or on men’s athletic wear or Italian luxury brands. Whatever it is, stick to it and you will see how clients start to seek you out. Just make sure to pick a niche that you truly enjoy because you’ll be reading, writing and thinking a lot about it every single day of your PR life.

2. Charge for your worth, not for your time

When I first started out in PR, I didn’t know how to charge clients. I explored hourly billing, a monthly retainer, a commission structure based on performance (i.e. when clients pay a low retainer plus a commission for every placement), but I didn’t know what was best.

Through trial and error, I determined that a retainer works best and then arrived at this super simple formula to determine how much it should be: the total sum of how much you want to make per month divided by how many clients you can/want to handle. (Try not to go over 5 clients if you want to stay sane!)

Most importantly, do not charge by the hour. Why? Because you’re a publicist, not a plumber. In our job, sometimes one 30-second pitch email can nab a major story. Other times, you’re pitching and pitching for a week and you get nowhere. What you’re charging for isn’t the hours you’re putting in, but the sum of your experience, your finesse, your understanding of the media, your research and, of course, your contacts. So charge for your total value, not your time.

3. Develop a tiered pricing structure

I’ve heard lots of publicists complain that the biggest time suck of running a PR agency is creating proposals for clients that don’t end up signing on. Don’t worry, I did it too. Then, I figured out an easier way: creating a tiered price structure for our services. For example, my firm offers 3 tiers at different price ranges that include different services. They can of course be customized, but that initial 3-tier structure gives clients an immediate idea of what they’re getting and for how much. Once they’re in, I can create a detailed proposal, knowing that they’re already committed.

The tiered structure also gives you a way to work with different sized clients and spreads out your workload. You can tweak the price or the services it includes until you determine what most of your typical clients want and can afford. The general rule of thumb is that if you’re getting a ton of clients, your prices may be too low. If it’s a struggle to sign on any, they may be too high. The good thing about a tier structure is that most clients will find something that works for their budget.

4. Only sign what you can secure

If you want to build a lasting business and not spend your time working with clients that drive you crazy, then you have to establish a positive and mutually trusting rapport with your client from day one. I think we publicists often forget what we ask of our clients – hand over their business’ reputation, pay decent sums of money, and in return not get any guarantee of results. Just think about how much trust that takes from their end.

So how to make sure you and your client enter into a relationship as trusting partners? Here is the system I’ve developed. Before I sign on a new client, I research them to determine if I’m the best person to help them, then I talk to them over the phone (or meet them in person if possible) to see if we like each other, and then I have them fill out a detailed questionnaire. The questionnaire asks about their team, marketing efforts and past experience with press. But most importantly, it asks about their goals and expectations of PR and of their business overall. Their answers help both of us get on the same page.

What you’re charging for isn’t the hours you’re putting in, but the sum of your experience, your finesse, your understanding of the media, your research and, of course, your contacts.

And then, before we sign any contracts, I tell them exactly what is realistic. If a client expects to be on the cover of Vogue tomorrow, in Forbes the next week and hanging out with Oprah the week after that, and I know for a fact that I won’t be able to make that happen, I tell them that upfront. It’s not just because I want to be honest, but because it saves me from dealing with the biggest source of stress in our profession – the guilt and the self-loathing that come with not being able to deliver. While a bit of a challenge is good, overpromising and underdelivering will cause more struggle than it’s worth.

4. Automate business operations

It’s easy to simply say yes to a new client, jump in and start pitching. But I’ve learned that a proper client onboarding procedure helps prevent many disruptions and misunderstandings. So now, when I bring on a new client, I send them an information sheet on how we work, which includes practical information on press requests, timing, procedures, invoices and basically, everything that previous clients have asked me about. This helps me spend less time on client admin work and more on actual work they pay me to do.

In fact, I’ve learned that especially in service business like ours, automating processes is a huge time saver that will help preserve your sanity and keep you in PR for the long haul.

The simplest way start is by creating templates for everything that you find yourself doing over and over. That can include:

  • Pricing information sheet to send to potential clients.
  • Invoice template, where you can quickly plug in client name, date and amount.
  • Email responder text to potential clients, so you don’t have to type it over and over. Make two versions – for clients you’d like to sign and for clients you don’t.
  • Bookkeeping template to help keep track of your expenses and have something to hand to your accountant at the end of the year.
  • Inbound contact form on your website. Switching from having our email on our website to having a short web form was a huge time-saver. It cut down on spam and helped me get the information I needed on potential clients before we engage further.
  • Mailing list and newsletter, which you can easily do with a tool like Mailchimp.

5. Partner Up with like-minded experts

PR is one of those fields that remain a mystery to many clients, so you’ll be often asked to do things that are beyond the scope of what you actually do: branding, social media, newsletter writing, content marketing. The list grows every year. Instead of taking all of it on yourself, find people to outsource these requests, either as contractors or through a simple business referral network. In my own business, finding a content strategist, writer, social media expert, branding, web developer and analytics expert has been essential.

Also, find and befriend other publicists. When I started out, I avoided other publicists, terrified they might steal my ideas or my clients. As a result, I was completely alone. I had no one to ask for advice and no one to talk to about my successes or struggles. Then, one day I joined a local group of independent PR professionals, and now, I wish I did it five years earlier.

It not only gave me a community of people who understood me, but also gave me potential collaborators. When I got a client who needed placement in tech publications, I was able to hire one of the women from the group to help me out. I also started referring business that wasn’t a fit for me and they did the same. And whenever I had a question to ask or wanted to vent about our PR world a little, I felt no longer alone.

About Sasha

Sasha Vasilyuk is the founder and CEO of I DO PR, a public relations agency for wedding and lifestyle brands. She is also an award-winning journalist published in USA Today, Harper’s Bazaar, Newsweek, Huffington Post, Los Angeles Times, and San Francisco Chronicle as well as the author of Marry the Media: How to Gain Publicity for Your Wedding Business.

 

PR Girls We Love: Meghan Donovan, mmd communications

Founder of NYC-based mmd communications, Meghan Donovan has worked on some of the world's most well-known brands in consumer product goods, beauty & travel including P&G, Virgin America, Clarisonic, Farmacy Beauty, BeautyRx, PayPal and Ford Motors. Meghan's focus on elevating beauty and lifestyle brands through thoughtful and dynamic ideas in PR and influencer marketing has gained the attention of the industry at large.
 
Meghan has been a featured speaker at a variety of industry events including The General Assembly's June 2016 Social Influence panel, TapInfluence's State of Influence and the 2011 IFB Conference.
 
And if that weren't enough. her name may be ringing bells for you because she's also the brains behind wit & whimsy, a lifestyle site established in 2006 that reaches thousands of engaged readers per month interested in style, beauty, travel and home.
 
Meghan Donovan I PR & Marketing Consultant

Name: Meghan Donovan
Title: Founder
Location: New York, NY
Education: BA in Communications, Santa Clara University
Company: mmd communications
Instagram:
@meghandono
Twitter:
@meghandono

How did you get started in PR?

I had two PR internships in college - the first in tech and the second in consumer. They primed me to land my first entry-level job right out of college working on consumer tech brands in San Francisco at Ogilvy Public Relations.

How did you get the job you have now?

After ten years in PR, I found myself yearning to work for smaller brands that I could help grow in industries I was truly passionate about. I stepped back to look at everything I liked and didn't like about agency life and decided I would work for myself and seek further career fulfillment. Starting my own company has been the most challenging yet wonderful thing I've done!

What are your primary responsibilities?

As Founder I oversee all aspects of account management and client service, new business and operations. I do everything from strategic planning and counsel to media relations and reporting.
 

Starting mmd communications has been the highlight of my career to date. Everyday I wake up excited to work with truly awesome clients

 

How is your agency structured?

Party of one at the moment!

What are you working on right now?

Currently I represent Sweat Cosmetics an awesome line of beauty products for active women, Memebox, a fast growing online destination for Korean beauty and Esselle SF that offers chic housewares for hostessing. I'm also always actively looking for new clients whose missions and values align with my own!

What is a recent job success story of which you are proud of?

I contracted with the farm-to-face skincare brand Farmacy over the summer and was able to secure a feature story in WWD that highlighted the company's success to date and share their story with an important audience. I love the brand's products and founder and was so happy to get them a series of meaningful press while we worked together.

 

 

Most memorable/meaningful job moment thus far?

Starting mmd communications has been the highlight of my career to date. Everyday I wake up excited to work with truly awesome clients and I’m grateful that I have the ability to create and continually curate my dream job. 

Most glamorous moment in your career?

They were some of the craziest days I've ever worked but I'd have to say the market launches for Virgin America were the most glamorous. I would handle celebrities for the launches and orchestrate the press as we departed LAX to the newest market in which the airline was launching. Working with such a fun brand, meeting Richard Branson and securing press on the airline's growth were all moments I'll never forget.

Least glamorous moment in your career?

There have been plenty as it comes with the territory in PR no doubt but even the least glamorous moments have led to good learning moments in my career! If I had to pick one it would probably be an event outdoors in New York one summer in 100 degree weather where we were handling celebrities, models, chefs and a full-scale production for a day of media and consumer activation!

PR can be stressful & full of rejection - how do you deal?

I rely on two things when the going gets tough: working out and utilizing my network to pick the brains of other professionals when I need guidance! I love the network of other consultants, freelancers and #girlbosses I've developed in New York and beyond. Everyone is always looking to lift one another up and help where needed. It's inspiring and comforting to know you always have others there for you who understand the industry stressors.

Three current favorite apps or tools?

I love Texture for the ability to have the full newsstand on my phone at all times, Google Drive for easy access to materials and I couldn't live without Dropbox!

NYC Beauty Consumer Goods

What do you wish more people understood about your job?

That the hustle never stops. Sometimes it's hard to turn your mind off from constantly thinking of the next idea, the next pitch, the next client. And when you work for yourself, even if you take a vacation, you're never truly unplugged. Your business is always on so you must be, too.

What's the biggest challenge facing fashion/lifestyle communicators right now?

I think breaking through the clutter and having original ideas remains the hardest. With all the channels now that involve "coverage" it can be difficult to break through with an idea that is truly heard in the industry. Something I'm trying to do more of for my clients to help on this front is coming up with strategic partnerships between brands that have similar audiences to truly leverage the power of many vs. the power of one.

What are you excited about right now?

I'm loving the continued growth of the green beauty category and seeing brands like Credo celebrate it and make it more accessible to people.

How do you stay on top of industry trends?

Every morning when I wake up I read my WWD Morning Report. I also follow a lot of brands and editors on Instagram to stay up to date on what competitors to my clients are doing. I believe staying informed is one of the most powerful things a PR pro can do.

I rely on two things when the going gets tough: working out and utilizing my network to pick the brains of other professionals when I need guidance!

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

Work hard, get as many internships as you can and never underestimate the power of networking! Remember that the thing about careers is that while having the right title is great, your career shouldn’t just be about taking jobs to build your resume. I think it should be more about doing the work that makes you feel fulfilled and alive. The work you will wake up excited to do. It exists out there but sometimes it can be A) hard to identify B) harder to choose. Remember to trust your gut and follow your dreams.

Thanks, Meghan!

Millennials in PR Think They Are Doing A Great Job (Their Managers Disagree)

Public Relations Millenial Study Research Data

Millennials represent the largest generation in the workforce (35%) but continue to wrestle with a bit of a reputation problem; mainly that we are lazy, entitled and self-centered. Is the disconnect rooted in a simply age divide, or are there other factors contributing to the challenges faced by entry-level PR professionals and those higher up the professional food chain?

A new study by The Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations and the Institute for Public Relations has uncovered just how alarmingly large the communication gap between generations has become in our industry.

An online survey asked 420 millennial communication professionals and the 420 professionals who manage them questions on workplace values and attributes, engagement with their jobs and organizations, leadership capabilities and development opportunities, and recruiting and retention drivers.

Overall, the study enforces the idea that perception is everything. Both millennials and managers will be well served by reviewing the findings and ideally, setting aside some time to any points that appear to be directly impacting the employee-manager relationship.

In particular, the study found that millennials believe they take their jobs seriously while their managers are overwhelmingly skeptical. Here are 4 other key findings.

1. MILLENNIALS ARE READY TO WORK

More than 80% of millennial communication professionals surveyed said they are ambitious and passionate about work, but only half their managers agreed.

2. MILLENNIALS ARE READY TO LEAD

More than 70% of millennial communication professionals said they are ready to be excellent leaders in communication and demonstrate strong ethical orientation and professional values.

Fewer than half their managers agreed.

The study found that millennials believe they take their jobs seriously while their managers are overwhelmingly skeptical.

3. MILLENNIALS ARE ENGAGED

More than 72% of millennials said they were engaged in their job and 59% said they were engaged in their organization. However, 83% of managers reported being engaged in their job and more than 74% reported being engaged in their organization.

4. MILLENNIALS Care about culture

Two-thirds of millennial communication professionals said job decisions were driven most by reputation (68.1%), culture (67.2%), and location (67.4%).

While millennials are not always on the same page as those managing them, this study did demonstrate that our strong digital skills, passion for leadership and strong values for diversity, transparency, social responsibility and community are certainly in alignment with best agency practices.

Though PR runs at a non-stop sprint, it would be beneficial for agencies to elevate these issues, and mentors and managers to keep these common misperceptions top of mind when considering the performance and loyalty of their millennial team members.

 

China Offers Untapped Potential for Emerging Designers

Chinese Fashion Market Emerging Designers Shop Sales

In an increasingly saturated independent designer world, it can seem impossible to distinguish oneself as an emerging designer.  The reality is that in order to remain economically viable, emerging labels have to look outside of their local markets to find new territory abroad. Thinking globally is the key to surviving in the harsh wilds of the independent fashion market – but where is this virgin terrain?

It happens to be in the one country that is traditionally seen as a threat to the independent artisan, where dirt-cheap prices trump quality and quantity is the name of the game: China.

There has been a fascinating sea change in Chinese shopper and retailer preferences over the last few years – they’ve moved from coveting luxury megabrands like LV and Gucci to snatching up small independent designs that cannot be found anywhere else – and made outside of China.

The landscape of luxury in China has changed irrevocably; the profile of the middle to upper class Chinese shopper is now young, sophisticated, highly educated and well-traveled.  Chinese consumers account for close to half of all global luxury retail purchases, and they no longer lust for logos, but for rarity and exclusivity.

Louis Vuitton closed three of its stores in China last year, including its flagship store in Guangzhou, and Prada and Burberry among others have experienced a significant slump in sales, the first downturn in the country once considered to be a cash cow for luxury brands.

Chinese consumers account for close to half of all global luxury retail purchases, and they no longer lust for logos, but for rarity and exclusivity.

There are 220 million Chinese consumers buying fashion online every day, and they are willing to spend on average 179% more on designs from abroad than their counterparts elsewhere in the world.  The emerging designer market is estimated at $3 billion. But the prospect of breaking into a market like China is daunting in the extreme for emerging brands – tariffs and customs fees, the language barrier, the cultural barrier – where would one start?

3 Tips for Fashion Designers Looking to enter the chinese market

Aileen Hsu, Head of China Operations for Out of X, a company that introduces emerging labels to Chinese retailers and customers, has a few tips for designers looking to break into the market: First, materials matter. “Traditional, high quality materials always win. The market will always choose gold and sterling silver over brass or gold plating. Stick to the good stuff.”

Second, sustainability is not yet a priority. “…leave the recycled materials and the vegan leather for another market. While sustainability in fashion is beginning to catch on slowly, these types of materials have not yet made their way into the hearts of Chinese consumers en masse the way they have in Europe and North America.”

Next, make sure that wearability is your first consideration when looking at the pieces you want to market in China. “Ask yourself if the Chinese consumer can wear the piece to the office, and then out to dinner with friends; and after that, whether they will put it back on for brunch on the weekend,” says Hsu. “Would 9 out of 10 shoppers wear this on all three occasions? It shouldn’t be so artsy that it wouldn’t be seen on the street.”

And finally, for PR firms working to get media coverage in China for their designers: Be prepared to shell out the dough for the influencers. Key Opinion Leaders, or KOLs as they are called, are major and minor fashion celebrities whose social media following can be huge, and who get paid to wear and talk up designer products. “While you can pitch the fashion media and send out free products – and that’s important too – it’s vital to tap into the KOL community in order to gain brand awareness for your clients.”

Hsu says working with companies like Out of X, which help designers navigate the delicate process of raising brand awareness in China without tarnishing their brand, can be instrumental to designers’ success in the market. “My relationships with luxury retailers as well as with KOLs in the close-knit fashion community in Shanghai and Beijing allow new designers from all over the world to start selling in a gigantic new market,” says Hsu.

About Yael

Yael Hartmann is the Director of North American Operations for Out of X, a B2B marketplace that introduces independent designers from around the world to the Chinese market.

Instagram Stories Inspiration, Secrets to Die-Hard Brand Loyalists & Lean Startup Tips

Fashion PR Marketing News

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

…for the week of January 16, 2017

  • Searches for “feminism t-shirt are up” and retailers are taking note in prep for Saturday’s Women’s March (via Yahoo News)
  • It is no secret that SoulCycle, Casper, and Drybar all have diehard fans, but how did they build such fanatical brand loyalty? Company founders tell all (via Fast Company)
  • Snapchat just created new ad targeting using third-party data from Oracle Data Cloud, joining other social media sites using similar data-targeting like Facebook, Google, and Twitter (via Wall Street Journal)

Campaigns We Love: Disney’s Minnie Mouse X Photographer Gray Malin

Just in time for National Polka Dot Day on January 22 (yes that is a thing and yes you will be participating!) and the red carpet award season comes a collaboration between Disney’s most fashionable muse, Minnie Mouse, and fine art photographer Gray Malin. This timely joint effort hits all the right points; nostalgia, art, entertainment and fashion.

What: Gray Malin shot the series in is signature aerial style, taking inspiration from Minnie’s Hollywood and fashion presence to stage a photograph embracing these core tenets through a classically styled black tie affair atop a spectacular red carpet. Malin utilized white parasols to illustrate Minnie’s trademark polka dotted dress and give a nod to Hollywood glamour. The series is a limited run release along with a piece of video art – a first-ever production for Malin.

Why: The release coincides with #RockTheDots, an annual celebration of fashion muse Minnie Mouse and her signature polka dot style, tied to National Polka Dot Day and fittingly falls in the midst Hollywood’s award season.

Of course, no tinsel-town effort would be worth it’s dots (!) without a launch party. Last night 50 fashion guests gathered at the Andaz to celebrate. Guests included Minnie herself, wearing a custom Olympia Le Tan dress, as well as E! News host, Catt Saddler and digital influencers Little Black Boots, Devon Rachel, Dylana and Natalie Suarez, Pursuit of Shoes and Rocky Barnes, to name a few.

Guests enjoyed a four course dinner via a dreamy tablescape that overlooked Hollywood.

Divine.

Want more? Prints are for sale at and the video can be viewed via Gray Malin’s Instagram. Follow @MinnieStyle on Instagram and rock your dots in celebration of Minnie Mouse and National Polka Dot Day using #RockTheDots and #MinnieStyle.

Embrace These 8 New Realities to Stay Competitive in Public Relations

PR Trends Public Relations Professional

Wake up, the PR industry has changed.

Smart brands are looking past the traditional agency model, where product placement is priority, press releases are serviced daily, and each client is served the same generic press plan.

They want to work with forward-thinking publicists who stay on top of the ever-evolving media landscape, find new ways to connect with consumers, and tell meaningful brand stories. And trust me, you don’t need 50 people, a large office full of cubicles, or a cookie-cutter PR plan to do that

This is what strategic PR looks like today

It’s not just about print vs digital

First off, it’s no longer just a traditional print vs digital conversation. Each of these platforms will always be incredibly important from both a branding and conversion standpoint. One does not cancel out the other.

You can’t just focus on digital outlets or blogs and you can’t just pitch traditional press. A good press plan will include a healthy balance of each medium. Any press plan that ignores one is ignoring an entire side of the conversation.

You can’t just focus on digital outlets or blogs and you can’t just pitch traditional press.

Product placement takes a backseat to storytelling

Today’s consumer is much more aware of how and where products are made. It’s not just about a pretty sweater or a cute pair of pants. They want to know: Who made the product? Is it sustainable? What is the sales model? Am I getting the best price possible? Thus product placement, while important, is no longer a top priority for JBC. We are in the business of storytelling for our brands and this has translated to stronger customer loyalty and increased conversion for clients.

Mobile is a priority

Today’s consumer is mobile, and gathers the majority of information on his/her mobile device. Reach out to social media editors to share news or content from your brands.

Along with social media content comes new opportunities to partner with media sites.  Racked and Refinery29 both do fantastic Facebook LIVE conversations with brand founders and leaders.

Additionally many brands we work with have found success through social channels like Snap (formerly Snapchat) both from an education and sales perspective

5 Ways stay ahead of the evolving PR Industry

1.

get your whole story in a Headline

The NYTimes reported that our attention spans have dropped to 8 seconds before becoming distracted (down from 12 seconds in 2000), which is less than a goldfish. Studies now show that 62% of Americans now get their news from social media, making this the battle ground for "The true scarce commodity” of the near future..."human attention.”

Headlines matter more than ever and PR professionals must adjust accordingly to ensure headlines, subject lines and social copy captures attention, quickly,

We are in the business of storytelling for our brands and this has translated to stronger customer loyalty and increased conversion for clients.

2.

Look for the cross-over opportunity

Embrace a multi-dimensional approach. 

Don’t pigeon-hole yourself as one specific type of publicist. The most successful brands aren’t pure technology brands or pure fashion brands. The most engaging, influential brands today play in the grey area - a fashion brand with a new take on tech, or a home brand with an interesting data team or sales model. Get creative with outreach, i.e. don’t just pitch fashion editors about a fashion brand. Find ways to target travel books, lifestyle magazines, or business outlets.

3.

build relationships with emerging publications

As we all know by now, media is constantly evolving and expanding. In the past year alone, we have found incredible conversion from two brand new platforms- CheddarTV, coined as the CNBC for Millennials, and Glossy, a daily online publication exploring the intersection of fashion and luxury through the lens of digital and tech.

Make sure you are setting aside time to research and stay on top of emerging sites and media outlets.

4.

grow your own reputation

It's easy to keep the focus on our clients, but more than ever, communication professionals must keep an eye on their own personal brands, as well as agency awareness.  

Whether through contributed content, serving on industry panels or entering award programs like the PR Couture Bespoke Communication Awards, take advantage of all the different ways you can showcase your expertise. 

Don't forget to collect client testimonials, save copies of press hits and compile your professional wins into case studies. Having these assets ready to go will come in handy when opportunities arise.

5.

only say yes to clients you love

Work with brands that have impactful narratives and are more than just product; brands with passionate, inspirational leaders who can explain their mission. And dig in deep to find the most interesting, thought provoking, eye-opening stories to share with editors.

I am constantly inspired by the entrepreneurs we represent. From Matt Scanlan of Naadam and Ariel Kaye of Parachute to Denise Lee of ALALA and Josh Udashkin of Raden, these leaders are pushing the boundaries in their own industries and in turn challenging us to find new ways to tell their stories.

At JBC, we are lucky enough to have a business where our clients embrace this new way of thinking, our rather unorthodox approach towards PR. Our staff is comprised of publicists who constantly push themselves to find the newest outlet, the most engaging story, and best way to tell it. And this crucial combination is truly what drives success.

About Jennifer Bett Meyer

For over 16 years, Jennifer Bett Meyer has been a success-driven professional working in public relations and marketing for today’s most dynamic global brands. In January 2013, Jennifer launched Jennifer Bett Communications to offer uniquely competitive brands and startups a new, creative, and multi-dimensional approach to overall consumer awareness. 

In 2014 Jennifer was joined by Partner and Managing Director, Melissa Duren Conner, to effectively address the evolving consumer market and the intersection of the digital marketplace and traditional retail. With their team of experienced PR talent, JBC executes strategies that are thoughtful, dynamic and results-driven while providing clients a high-touch level of service and senior expertise.