My agency works with both fashion and beauty brands. While there can be quite a bit of overlap, and in some cases editors cover both beats and you can pitch them multiple clients directly, beauty PR has some slight but noticeable differences from fashion PR.
1. Beauty Publicists Get to Use the Products
One of the perks of being a beauty publicist is that you (usually) get to test out the products yourself! A great on-the-job benefit to be sure, but it’s actually more of a necessity. If you’re going to be pitching the products you should be able to enthusiastically speak their results, whether it’s a styling lotion that tamed your frizzy hair, or a peach lip gloss that looked good on everyone in your office.
While you might get to play with an entire collection of full-size products, everyone working on the account should try some sample sizes or testers in order to truly experience the product. Adding a personal endorsement to pitching can often heighten editor interest, plus it is always more enjoyable to pitch a product you know delivers on its promise.
2. Working with beauty brands almost always means non-returnable samples
When working with fashion and accessories brands, it is common practice to get returnable samples from editors and stylists (unless you are specifically gifting the items).
With beauty products, however, editors need to test out the products to ensure efficacy, texture, and scent. Once a lipstick has been used, for example, it doesn’t make a ton of sense to request it back! You can try and specify that the sample is a comp for photography use only, but the editor may or may not agree to these terms, after all, trying the product personally is what will help her make an accurate recommendation to her readers, which maintains her credibility.
You may have more leeway if it’s a beauty tool rather than a consumable product (you might be able to a hairdryer returned but a moisturizer is unlikely). Luckily beauty brands are able to create test samples which will hopefully open up your ability to comfortable offer samples to everyone on your media list. But for certain big-ticket items or custom products, it’s important to address product sample seeding with your clients and ensure the cost of product is factored into a separate budget from your retainer.
3. Beauty Brands Require Ingredient Expertise
Do you know what anti-oxidants, humectants, and alpha-hydroxy acids are?
Pitching clothing requires that you know materials involved (is it 100% organic cotton? A poly viscose blend?) but it’s generally not the most important facet for editors. From a fashion editor perspective it’s more about colors, prints, silhouettes – the visual elements of a piece). When working in beauty, however, particularly with skincare or haircare, you’ll need to be able to speak intelligently and eloquently about the ingredient make-up. When it comes to say, an anti-aging serum, how the product looks is important, but what it actually does (and how) is even more so. No one is expecting you to be a chemist but you should have a fluent understanding of the ingredients and their functions to be able to explain how the product works and what makes it unique.
4. Expect more one-on-one editor demonstrations
Fashion brands tend to hold seasonal press previews, as it’s not usually feasible to bring a full collection for a deskside meeting (the exception being smaller collections or pieces that are easy to carry, such as accessories or swimwear). While an event strategy for a beauty brand is certainly appropriate, (particularly for new launches) more often than not you’ll find yourself going to the editors’ offices to demonstrate the products in person. This means more face time with editors, which can be a nice bonus relationship builder when it comes time to pitch other products.
Landing press for beauty brands is similar to any product in terms of the value of a compelling pitch, but is very product-sample focused and requires an in-depth knowledge of the latest in beauty, skin and hair trends and ingredients.