PR for interior designers can be petrifying when you first dive into it. So many options, so much advice, and not to mention how much it has changed over recent years.
To cut right down to it and give you the essentials for running your own PR, knowing what you need to do and how to maximise your return – I’ve enlisted the help of Cara Ward, co-founder of Pure PR and head of their interiors and lifestyle division.
Over to Cara…
“If I was down to my last dollar I would spend it on PR” is the famous quote from Bill Gates. Although he wasn’t an interior designer he was the master class of PR.
The interior design world is a highly competitive one and being recognised and respected is increasingly more difficult to achieve. So the key is to remember that good PR needs to be planned, strategically timed, proactive and focused.
And how do you triumph at this task? First of all ask why do you need PR? There are numerous ways to position your brand with the rise of digital opportunities, events, stunts, and traditional print media. This means that you need to have clear objectives in order to choose the best and most consistent campaign tailored precisely for you and your business. Some PR gains credibility and kudos whilst others directly drive business/footfall/revenue/sales.
One very important question to ask is, are you ready for PR? Is your business set up to receive a high number of new business enquiries or orders for large audiences created by PR? Do you have enough retail distribution to warrant the PR? There is no value in paying for a PR campaign if you can’t make the return on investment or by disappointing large volumes of new customers. You might have a story or project now but what about the next story and the one after that? A good PR campaign needs consistency and if you only have one thing to say you’ll be forgotten.
Secondly, positioning. Who are you? Who is your audience and what do you want PR to do for you? We often challenge new clients to identify their brand in 10, 50 and 100 words – essentially what do you say when someone asks about you or your brand. This is often harder than it sounds. Many brands think they know who or what they are and where they excel but until asked to sell you their brand in one sentence.
When you have your key messaging and unique selling points keep this communicated in everything you do from videos, blogs, newsletters, marketing material and across all forms of media. Don’t forget what you want for your brand in the future and incorporate this mission in your message. Do you need to change your messaging to reach new emerging audiences?
Journalists are REALLY BUSY. Not only are publication houses demanding more from their writers, editors and production teams with the rise of social media platforms and need for content, but they are bombarded by PRs every minute of the working day. They literally don’t have time to sift through endless adjectives (that are precariously similar in a number of brands). Make your point clear with facts, relevance, imagery and try and tell the journalist something they don’t already know. If the journalist can remember 3 things from your press release you are winning.
So how do you get attention?
Do your research.
Make a list of aspiration titles you’d like to appear in, that is on brand and position your company perfectly with your brand message. Then actually read them from cover to cover. Look at the style of writing, the type of features, shopping pages, profiles, the names of the photographers – everything.
Then pitch relevant elements of your company directly to the journalist who writes them. Understand the seasonality of the media – key dates, design weeks, bathroom supplements, flooring specials, international design shows as you don’t want to pitch your brand directly after they’ve just written about similar companies. Reference previous features and articles to show you understand their publication, audience and specialism.
And remember, not everything you do is newsworthy.
Be an expert.
Profiling principal people in your company is a great way to own an area of expertise. Interior design is a highly emotive business and the people behind the brands can be very influential. Illustrating passion, purpose, knowledge, skill and personality can often only come from a human voice of a brand. Our living spaces are very personal so selecting an interior designer or design brand is an emotional investment and often dictated by the brand story, passion and an affinity with the person behind the brand. If your company has a voice then you can create valuable content and comment.
Make yourself newsworthy.
Identify what you really excel at and why you’re important to the marketplace today. With this in mind, you can offer yourself on radio, TV, design talk panels and make your brand lead the field. Look at trends, and remember the rule is 3’s a trend, 2 is a coincidence, and think where you fit in or don’t want to.
PR has progressed in the 25 years that I’ve been working in it and whilst its more competitive there are also now many new opportunities. With social media, blogs, Instagram and in-store events you can align yourself with likeminded brands to extend your reach to a receptive and relevant audience. Panel talks and podcasts work very well as do Instagram takeovers and guest blogs so be creative and informative.
Content is king. If you can provide valid, useful advice and expertise on your business, it’s a great way to get your audience to stand up and notice you.
And who coined that phrase? Bill Gates in 1996 when he wrote an essay about it – well that’s what most people think – in fact, it was Sumner Redstone of Viacom; but what did I say about Bill Gates being a PR master?
At Pure PR all our campaigns are Client Focused, Commercially Driven for Best in Class brands. Client Focused – meaning we look at what the client needs and wants to achieve, Commercially Driven – looking at the business of a brand and making it commercially successful through new avenues, and for Best in Class brands – brands that are leaders in their marketplace. If not now, we position and change perception for them or we don’t take them on!
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