Working in fashion and beauty PR is a passion of mine. I love mingling with the media, my entrepreneurial-minded clients and of course, all those necklaces and nail polish colors. I love helping start up businesses get their name on the map and make people aware of something new, something colorful, something clever, something fabulous.
But if there’s one thing that drives me crazy more than anything else, it’s having to explain to clients that strategically targeted press hits in glossy magazine pages, on heavy-traffic websites and even on national television programs, may not guarantee immediate financial reward. Media coverage WILL give your products credibility, brand exposure and legitimacy. And yes, you will most likely receive sales. But will a placement in Vogue’s September magazine take your business from a pop up shop to a full-fledged chain store? No one can ever predict that. And if any publicist ever does, they’re not being truthful.
Strategically targeted press hits in glossy magazine pages, on heavy-traffic websites and even on national television programs, may not guarantee financial success.
Publicists are not sales people. They are not marketing people or advertising people. Publicists “publicize.” They get the word out about a brand. They introduce products, people, and stories to media professionals and a targeted demographic of potential customers through various communication strategies tailored to the product or service they’re pitching. Publicists also work on appropriate cross-promotional collaborations for additional brand exposure and (depending on your client relationship) and can serve as a silent business partner by coming up with new ideas and strategies for receiving additional exposure and media attention. While that sounds a bit like marketing, it is and today, more than ever, there is increasing crossover in the domains of marketing and PR. Social media outreach and SEO efforts all play a vital role in the ultimate success of a business as well, but to rely solely on PR for a ROI is naïve.
When I first decided to tackle this topic for PR Couture, I posted a query on HARO (Help a Reporter Out) to see if any other publicists wanted to weigh in. Within 24 hours, I received more than 60 responses from everyone from wine PR pros to book publicists to lots of fashion and beauty publicists. Aside from the redundant “You must be receiving a lot of replies to this query!” the overwhelming response was NO! PR outreach does not equal sales. One of my favorite answers was from Tasha Mayberry, President & Co-Founder of Social Media 22, who shared this: “We once represented an app company. They thought that after the first press release went out, they would see a huge spike in downloads. When they did not, they were ‘very disappointed.’ We had to educate the client that sending a press release is not like magic to get sales.”
Tasha goes on to say that it takes “an incredible amount of work to get great PR results. “When a press release is sent, we then have a team to do all the legwork of reaching out to our current media contacts, individually pitching via email and by phone. Every media feature, big or small, helps the brand in more ways than just sales. Although [sales] are most important for most companies.” Bam, Tasha! Well played.
As someone who has actually been on the other side of this game as an entrepreneur hoping to land financial domination from a few press leads, I learned this lesson all too well. Ten years ago, I created a hair accessories company called Wrap Star. My biggest press grab was actually Instyle magazine. That one hit alone brought 600 sales to my online store. So, when my products were scheduled to appear in Glamour magazine a couple months later, I stocked up! Unfortunately, I sold 12. Yep. 10+2.
Other magazine features kept coming in and while some brought more traffic than others, press coverage never made me rich. What all this press did do for my brand was bring it credibility. Because of all the press I had obtained. I was able to garner five sales reps around the country who helped sell my products to more than 200 boutiques nationwide, including Henri Bendel and Fred Segal.
PR is all about:
- Building credibility
- Becoming a go-to expert for the media
- Building an online presence
- Gaining brand exposure
- Reaching your target audience
- Offering the media tips/advice/etc. and indirectly promoting your brand
That is the power of PR. Back then, social media was non-existent, but had it been a contender, I believe that along with strategic SEO tools put in place and some sleek marketing and adverting campaigns, well who knows…Wrap Star could have been the next big thang.