Written by Deidre Palode, Founder and Senior Publicist of MayLee Media
For many publicists, the instinct upon starting a firm is to generalize in order to appeal to as many potential clients as possible. However, this approach risks the marketing cliche “speak to everyone, and sell to no one.” Instead, concentrate your efforts on becoming the best possible communications expert for a particular industry niche, or even better, a niche within a niche. Instead of fashion, focus your efforts on sustainable brands, or minimalist brands. Instead of hospitality, focus on female chefs.
Where to begin? Finding your niche can be as simple as going back to your roots of how you grew up. You liked going to the movies growing up? Become a film/tv publicist, also known as unit publicist. Do you keep your image together and are you always getting compliments on your outfits? Your best bet would be to dive into fashion PR. Find your niche and do not quit! Ha that rhymed! Finding your niche is not as hard as some make it seem and can make it easy for great brands to hire you over other firms, something I explore in-depth in my latest ebook,“It’s Just PR: Mini Guide to Becoming a Great Publicist.”
1. Choose a niche you understand personally
One way to choose a niche is to think about your own interests and pick something where you will have the advantage of being the target customer. This means you’ll be easily able to connect with brand audiences because you likely share a similar point of view and interests. Better yet, choose an audience or industry that inspires you. In Chris Ducker’s book, “Rise of the Youpreneur” he talks suggests working backwards to define your target audience (think; client) by choosing a niche that piques your interest. It’s true that PR is much easier to do when you are naturally excited about what you are pitching, just be sure to make sure the brands you want to work with are well-suited for PR services and can pay your rates!
2. Examine the local market
While it is true that you can certainly have clients from all over the world, many firms look to their immediate location for first clients. My firm was founded in Atlanta, GA where the entertainment business continues to rise. Not surprisingly, I started out in entertainment PR; actors, tv personalities, artists, reality stars, are all in Hotlanta and need representation to boost their fame. Choosing a niche with a large local population of businesses is a smart business move because you increase the pool of potential clients.
3. Consider how your natural gifts can support a specific industry
I’ve never considered myself to be a beauty guru. However, I have always told I have pretty skin, a great smile and that I’m bubbly! This was enough to draw the attention of a beauty brand for women of color. Initially Black owned and operated with little to no competition in the Atlanta area, together we exploded an under-served market. This natural alignment between my role as the brand publicist and the makeup itself helped my business tremendously. The product was semi-innovative, my firm created a large buzz and I started to receive inquiries and eventually become to be a sought after beauty publicist. Sometimes, all it takes is one client to prove your worth to the rest of an industry.
4. You have deep existing experience from a previous job
If you’re struggling to figure out how a high school hobby fits into your specialization now, not a problem. You don’t always need to choose something you a personally passionate about, if you have deep expertise because of a previous job, or simply life experience. If you know how to solve the problems that often occur on a particular industry, then you may be well-suited for a communications role in that space. For example, if you are a frequent traveler you likely know the major issues facing both travelers and hotels, airlines, etc. Bit of advice, people pay for what they don’t know. If a brand or company has a problem, they are willing to pay for an expert solution. Their Problem + Your Solution = New Client. Hence why crisis communications professionals get paid the big bucks!
Sometimes, all it takes is one client to prove your worth to the rest of an industry.
5. Identify a gap in the market
For this one, you’re looking for an emerging category currently underserved by other firms in your area. This isn’t a hard task, right? After all that’s a part of our job as a publicist. Research your competitors, research your market, find a need and build a firm that caters to that particular segment of the industry. Find the competitors weaknesses and fill in the lack. From there you can determine if there is an opportunity for you to stand out!
You would never suggest to a client that they try to appeal to everyone in the world, and the same goes for your PR business. Niche down and make it easier for your ideal clients to find you, editors to come to you, and find a more focused approach actually improves the financial health of your business.
For more support building an agency that works for YOU, while getting a ton of peer support and perks, check out the PR Couture Council.
Known to some as an athlete, known to most as one of the best up and coming publicists in the city, Deidre Palode is a sought-after media professional. She is the Founder and Senior Publicist of MayLee Media, creator of “It’s Just PR”, and journalist for 1340 Fox Sports AM and Everything Girls Love Magazine. Holding 3 degrees; Associate of Arts in Communication, and two Bachelors of Arts degrees of Public Relations and Film and Video, Deidre Palode can be described as a Media Mogul in the making. From working with networks such as BET, TVone, WEtv, and brands such as HP, Keurig and a host of celebrities and influential brands, Deidre Palode is a leader, curator and most importantly a humbled servant leading by example. For more support on becoming a standout publicist, download her most recent e-book only on Amazon and follow her on Instagram @deidrepalode @mayleemedia @itsjustpr.