When you find yourself at the point where Public Relations is a topic in your business, it’s important you understand the methods of getting the best out of PR.
If you do research on finding the perfect PR Firm for your brand you will come across many articles telling you what you should ask before hiring a firm. What you do not find are articles telling you what you should have together before reaching out to a PR firm or individual who does solo PR.
Emerging Designers & brand owners walk into a meeting nowhere near prepared and as a publicist you find yourself going crazy over being interviewed by designers with no budget, samples or simple idea of how PR works. I have personally found myself on a call or coffee meetup wanting to run out when designers start saying they want this and that with nothing to hand you.
As a small company working with designers I can tell you these 12 things are so important in the start of a business PR relationship. Today I will finally share what you need before stepping up to a PR Firm for services.
Understand what PR is + needs of your brand
There is nothing like dealing with a client who has NO idea what the heck PR is what it does for their brand and how the process operates. Even after explaining PR some brand owners still overlook the job to demand things that’s just not in the description. There are also many emerging designers who do not conduct research on PR so they do not know what they are looking for out of the firm. Most of the time this leads to a problem because you don’t get what you ask for because you not really asking for anything that brand offers.
I find Publicist believe it’s their duty to tell brand owners what PR is but I feel as the owner of a brand it is your responsibility to make sure you have an understanding of what Public Relations is and what it does for your brand, how it works and what are the best ways to meet your needs. Do some research (What is fashion public relations?) Start there and get your questions prepared before meeting with a publicist.
Have samples for your brand
Oh how this is such an important part of PR. I cannot remember how many times I hear, “I don’t have samples.” Samples are the most important part of your PR effort, without samples the PR firm you hired is working off prayers and pictures and that usually don’t end well. You need samples to send out to editors and bloggers; you need samples for promotions and sponsorships. Imagine someone walking into an editor’s office to tell them about a product but all they have is a sheet of paper & pictures. The editor’s don’t know how your product works at all, x!!! You’re out!
Have a budget
I’ve learned the hard way the frustration of dealing with a client with no or limited budget, even limited budget can be worked out if strategized right, but no budget means you just not really looking for much right now. With PR there is always something to pay for and clients believe advertisement, blogger placement, participating in events, etc. comes free. It doesn’t and a lack of having a budget can really leave you left far behind your competitor.
Another thing about a budget to consider, if the PR Firm you hire if they do not do photo’s, video’s, campaign shoots, etc. for you than that is something your brand needs to budget in. If you do hire a firm or individual that does it for you, remember those cost will be included. Do NOT in any way believe that what you are paying the individual includes your budget for shoots and advertising, etc. unless you are told so. Remember you are not just paying someone for the services but their time.
Do your brand research
We typically find ourselves face-to-face with brand owners that are so ready for publicist to promote their brand but have yet to know who their target market is. It’s not everyone & your customer doesn’t like everything, you must be able to answer this question. I believe in test & trial but I also believe the “test & trial” has stopped many brands from actually developing a customer; they just start sell hoping someone will want to buy with no real target. Heading into a PR firm understand your shoppers, some publicists can help you even sharpen your customer profile even more but if you have a product but has not done your brand research, we don’t know who you are selling to. I am not sure about other publicist but I don’t like the guessing game! You need to know your brand + target audience.
Have a complete product & be market ready
Work out all your product issues before heading out for PR requests. If you get PR and ready to market it, you must be completely ready for request coming in. There is no I need 3 weeks, we ran out of products, we don’t have new product pictures, the product is not coming out correctly etc. Make sure on your end your brand is 100% ready to make the moves that comes along. Will there be PR disasters? Yes, but having a complete product to market should not be one of them.
Know your measure of success
The most important question a publicist can ask a brand owner is what is success to you? You must be able to answer that question before walking into a meeting and a PR Firm must have an understanding of what the brand is looking to get out of this relationship. How are we measuring the success of the brand and/or campaign?
Have time to work on your end
This is a very complicated one for emerging brands, they hand over PR duties and think ok they have nothing to do on their end and they are SO WRONG! You must be available for interviews, quotes, photo’s, to talk about your brand. Depending on what all the services the PR Firm you hired do there are things you will have to do on your own and you must be willing to work. I find this issue being big among emerging brands and Solo Publicist. It’s a round of tug-of-war to get brand owners to work on their end & can cause a very bad end to business partnership. If you don’t work, we don’t work! You as the brand owner must have an understanding of what your publicist need from you on your end. (Examples: Blogs, Photoshoots, Website Updates, Marketing Material---If not included in services, social media updates, the latest information about products and new collection).
Define Your Brand Identity
How do people feel about your brand? & describe it! You should answer this before hiring a PR firm. In this digital age where everyone is a designer, a cohesive brand that understands their customer’s personality & brands toward that can help you stand out. When you understand your target, have a great selling point and expand on that with amazing brand experience you can really see great results.
Have Style Sheet + Logo’s + Packaging
Let’s not work backwards, why a publicist should pitch you when you are not ready to be sent out today! I find this a lot where emerging designers say, “Well, I don’t have packaging yet, I am still confirming our logo, I haven’t put together a style sheet.” It’s a simple response, you are not ready for PR. Dot all your I’s, cross all your ts. No publicist want a client that cannot meet the demands.
(PR Friendly) Photo's- Social-Packaging-Website
It’s important that you help make your publicist job easy. Between writing, pitching, emailing, calling, meetings, prepping campaigns, research & keeping up with the market no one wants a have to over explain websites, packaging and social media. I know it sounds crazy but when you send an editor or blogger to a website you want them to get it instantly (You know that brand identity). Don’t make us have to go through your social media just to pull out your best pictures, keep it cohesive & brand focused & make our job a little bit easier. Make sure you have product photo's so we can put together a press kit, no one wants to write long emails explaining a brand.
Have a working & quality e-commerce
There are a lot of amazing platforms out now that you can use to build a great e-commerce website. As the brand owner it is your responsibility to make sure your website is PR Friendly, links work, quality pictures and great copywriting. Keep your shop page clear & easy to navigate around. You should be about ready to launch or already launched.
I’m sorry no I-Phone pictures for PR. When you are ready to release a PR Campaign or any PR Outreach it’s imperative to have quality, professional brand pictures. You must have correct sizes for digital + print media of product shots and headshots of the owner. I know headshots are the last thing you think about but no one wants to send in a picture of a cute cropped, shot from the designer at an event. Before working with photography please note if they have an understanding of print or digital requirements for product shots, also make sure you get a photographer that you can afford the time to take the shots in many different ways.