You hired a publicist and now you are sitting back waiting on the press to roll on in.
“Sorry, if your name is not Rihanna, Beyoncé or Selena Gomez then press can be far and in-between”
This is sadly the truth and a conversation I have with a lot of publicists and brand owners regarding the difficulties of getting press for non-celebrities. I am a firm believer of hiring publicists or firms that are diverse and continue to keep a brand in the forefront, whether that’s through videos, events, social media and blogging. We are living in the time of the “Celebrity” and magazines want nothing but celebrity stories. The issue with this is that many brand owners, including majority of our readers, “recent college graduates, middle-class Americans” just cannot afford to hand over thousands of dollars to get these celebrities in their clothing for a press opportunity.
In the meantime focusing on independent publications is a great start all while learning the playing field for major publications alongside your freelance publicist.
When you hire a freelance publicist, you are still apart of the big picture. Brand owners must stop dumping everything in your publicists lap and think you will win.
“IF YOU THINK YOUR WORK IS DONE ONCE YOU HIRED A PUBLICIST, YOU HAVE ALREADY LOST AND DAMAGED A BUSINESS RELATIONSHIP.”
Brand owners who are not available for their publicists cause a problem in the pitching process. When you are in the process of hiring a freelance publicist, you must first understand your needs and what success looks like for you. That is the only way you will find someone that has the skill level you need to help you meet end-results.
Two questions to help navigate the relationship you will have with YOUR publicist.
1. Ask your publicist what will be your role in this process?
2. Go in detail regarding their services and what all it includes.
Do not assume because your friend told you their publicist does something that all publicists also do the same thing. The great thing about freelance PR, these publicists get a chance to do the type of services they love. If their services do not come with photography, photo shoots, web services, showroom, branding services then you must understand you will need to be in charge of making sure these things get done in order for them to do their job.
Here are a few things designers forget publicists cannot work without.
2. Marketing Materials
5. Working Website
6. Business calendar (highlighting sales, holiday plans, etc.).
Depending on your publicist this list can be longer. It’s your responsibility to gather all the necessary information about what is needed.
While your publicists are looking for great and creative ways to market your brand, you must help them out by keeping your brand features updated, in-season and visually appealing.
Freelance publicists usually have the same issues with brand owners. Lack of efficient and updated bio, no professional headshots, outdated website, brand owner confusion of target market & the “My home girl” will be perfect for this syndrome.
5 Ways to make sure you are helping your publicist
1. UPDATE ABOUT + HEADSHOT should be simple and updated at all times.
As a freelancer nothing is more frustrating than having to wait on a “better photo” or an updated bio for press, especially if it’s a speaking engagement or designer profile. It’s your job to make sure your information is updated. We don't mean your brand bio, which I am assuming you already know you need but a brand owner bio.
A winning bio can simply, connect the designer with the readers.
Who are you?
Why you are here?
What inspired your brand to come alive?
What is your back story?
What makes you special?
2. HAVE QUALITY PICTURES ON HAND
Publicists are always in need of the latest products for style stories, trends, features and more. You should keep your product shots updated and if you are running your website the pictures should be fresh and reflect the latest trends and seasons on the website. Many brand owners who hire “Freelance Publicists” believe it’s the publicist’s job to have new pictures, if it’s not in your contract that the publicists will be handling that part of your brand, it is your responsibility and if you are still sending over outdated pictures the freelancer has the right to assume you are not looking for new press.
Do your pictures tell your brand story?
Are you using your ideal customer?
Are your pictures clear?
3. KEEP WEBSITE FUNCTIONING
When your publicists shoot off emails with your web link they should feel confident that you have a working site. Clean, clear messaging and working links.
How functional is your website?
Are your product pages updated?
Does your website reflect the latest trends and season?
Are you a human brand?
4. ACTUALLY HAVE A PRODUCT
If you say you have a product, have it! Make sure your product pictures are great quality photos. If you have a product that can be used year round, try shooting in different lifestyle settings. Don’t use your fall pictures for summer pitches!
Samples: I discuss samples a lot because I don’t think people realize the importance of having samples for your brand.
Website: If your sold out, remove the products or put them under pre-order, if you will be receiving more of that product and send an IMMEDIATE notice to your publicist to remove from pitches (if the item will not be returning).
Make sure you keep a spreadsheet or use an inventory management program to update your publicist on what is in stock. Some pitches are 3-6 months out, you want the product to be available by the time it hit the news.
If web services and maintenance is not included in your contract, you must make sure it is always functioning.
5. UNDERSTAND YOUR TARGET MARKET AND PR GOAL
Know your customer; it’s not your publicist job to keep having to remind you. Sending all the press stuff someone else told you when your brand is clearly different will not help.
With new brands we understand the whole feeling of needing to revamp but don’t keep changing your prices or branding, it’s important we stay consist for what and who we pitch to.
REMEMBER: Your price point must match the reader’s pockets! It’s that simple.
Do NOT confirm plans that weren’t considered with your Freelance Publicist and assume they will handle those plans. A lot of times those plans are not the ones to move your brand forward.
Your home girl, sister, cousin, college roommate who attends a lot of parties, so you think people know her is not the people we are interested in sending PR samples to!
Marketing Materials you should have to help your publicist: Press Kit, Look Book, Campaigns, Business Cards, Postcards, Flyers, Visuals for (Social Media) if these are not included in your freelance publicist’s package remember this may be additional costs. You must compensate them for their time and WORK!
Be patience, present and available in your PR journey with your freelance publicist
Handle your brand business on your end
Know your target market and who you NEED to promote to
Have a headshot
Have an updated About Me
Keep marketing materials with the latest information at all times