biz ladiesLife & Business

biz ladies 09: PR advice from alisa carroll

by Grace Bonney

today’s second post is all about public relations- managing your own business’ and knowing when (and how) to seek help if you want to have someone else manage your PR. i’ve been posting my own little guide to PR for a few years so if you’re interested in that, you can download it right here. stay tuned for more detailed information from the ladies of bakery on making your own media kit, a topic alisa carroll touches on below.

CLICK HERE for alisa’s PR advice after the jump below!

PR Advice from Alisa Carroll

My heart jumped when I saw Aoyama Hina’s paper cutouts on D*S. I imagined the carving of the delicate tendrils, the slivers of paper drifting like snow to the table. That inspired connection is what PR should achieve between the client and the media. Every point of communication – from logo to press release, website to hangtag – should convey the spirit of your work in a compelling and consistent way. This is where branding and public relations come in. Whether you’re working with a publicist or crafting your own campaign, PR can be self-actualizing because it’s an exercise in clarifying, communicating – and creating new opportunities for – your vision.

What’s your story?

The first step in preparing for a PR campaign is putting your story on paper in a way that is compelling to the media. A one-page “lead release” or “backgrounder,” highlighting your company’s most unique and newsworthy elements, is a good place to start. Writers and editors, like other creative folk, are looking for angles that are different and new.

The second step is to make sure that your story is expressed consistently in all of your materials – website, sales and marketing collateral, newsletters, etc. Your goal is to reiterate the main points, or what we in PR call “key messages,” so that your vision rings out clearly.

The Press Kit

The press kit is your introduction to the media. Whether sent via email, flash drive or a physical package, your press kit should contain:

* Beautiful photography of your work – the best investment you can make.
* The one-page backgrounder on the company
* Short bios and on the founder and any principals. If there is a principal artist, a great headshot of her/him should also be included.
* Fact sheet – A one-page guide outlining the basic DNA of your collection that serves as a quick reference sheet for media. It should include a brief description of the company, costs, stockists, materials, etc.
* Any press releases on new products, collections, events, etc.

The Website

The website is the anchor of your brand. It should be a polished, user friendly and up-to-date source of information on your company. The website is often the go-to source for editors. When crafting your site, you should consider the following sections:

* About – Overview of the company, profile of principal artist, etc.
* Collection Gallery – An image-driven online portfolio
* Stockists – For products, list the retailers where they’re available
* News – Keep your news section updated to show you’re in the mix with the latest on product launches, events, trade show appearances, etc.
* Editorial – A section to post your press clips.
* Blog , Twitter, Facebook, MySpace links
* Contact details, of course!

The Pitch

The first rule of reaching out to the media is to know the publication (or show, or blog, or radio program . . .) that you’re pitching. Familiarize yourself with its style and content to make sure your work is a fit. Identify the columns that your products might be appropriate for and know which writer/editor is responsible for each. A few additional tips:

* Reference editorial calendars online – these offer a guide to the overall themes of upcoming issues; look under “Advertising” or “Media Kit” on the website to locate editorial calendars.
* Reference mastheads in publications to identify contacts.
* Introduce your work with a short, polite cover letter to the editor.
* Face-to-face meetings with editors and writers are a wonderful way to cross the digital divide. Whenever possible, set up in-person meetings with media in their offices or, if possible, for a studio visit, where they can experience your work firsthand.
* Make yourself a resource – what are you an expert in? Identify areas in which you can offer expertise – i.e. textiles, pattern, restoration, vintage design, etc. – and incorporate this into your press kit to position yourself as a resource for writers.

Events & Promotions

* Present your own event/product launch/trunk show in partnership with a local retailer and invite a local publication to be your presenting media partner. It lends cachet, and your event will likely get coverage in front of book or on website.
* Speaking Engagements – Is there a design week in your city? In a nearby urban center? Be part of a panel or present your own presentation on a larger trend that incorporates what you do. Initiate a panel on “green design” or “color trends” or “handcrafted design” and invite a local editor to moderate.
* Is there a local showhouse or fundraiser you can contribute product to? If you’re creating tabletop, for example, contact local interior designers to see if there might be interest in using your product.

Working with a publicist

If you do decide to work with a publicist, here are a few guidelines that can make for a successful relationship.

1. Be proactive about ideas for promotion (both you + the publicist)
2. Be well-informed about your industry and niche (again, you + publicist)
3. The publicist should have established relationships with the media you’re trying to reach.
4. Establish an estimated budget at the start of the campaign, one that includes the publicists fees, photography costs, any production and mailing costs, travel costs, etc.
5. Make sure your PR, Sales, and Marketing reps are all communicating regularly about the latest developments in your company.

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