“I need press but I have no idea how to get it.
“No one is returning my email.
“I think I need to hire a PR agency.
All of these phrases are among the most popular I hear when chatting with designers about what they need for their businesses. Press coverage is one of those things that has a leg in both the vanity metrics of our businesses and the actual metrics of our businesses. But it’s a tough area to master. Because it takes time, consistency, and thoughtful strategy. Three things that we, as often impatient business owners, aren’t all that good at accepting.
Understanding the fundamentals of getting press coverage is at the heart of being successful at it. This month the members of the StartUp FASHION Community were given access to the expertise of Lorraine Sanders, the founder of Spirit of 608 and PressDope. She has also been a journalist for WWD, HarpersBazaar.com, and The San Francisco Chronicle, among others. She shared so much with our members that I wanted to share a little bit of it with you, our blog readers.
What I loved about my chat with Lorraine was that it became quite clear that you can do this without the expense of hiring PR, but that it requires work; and like anything else in business, you have to be willing to put in the work and the time, if you’re not going to put out the money.
Lorraine talked about the importance of visual branding, what the actual deal is with crafting your “story”, and how to put together a strategy that works.
Review Your Visual Branding
If you truly want press coverage, you have to take a cold, hard look at your visual branding. I know this can be brutal but a huge part of whether or not a journalist will cover your brand is whether or not your digital branding is professional, well-designed, and thoughtful.
You have to be willing to look at your branding with some subjectivity and ask yourself the following questions:
- How does my branding appear to other people?
- What parts of my branding need to be improved, honestly?
- Is my photography professional and well done?
- Is my website homepage appealing, exciting, and intriguing?
- Does my blog layout appear thoughtful and consistent with my brand?
- Do my social media channels (aka Instagram) have an obnoxious amount of selfies?
Until you have addressed these aspects of your visual branding and improved them, journalists will not take you seriously.
Understand + Communicate Your Story
There’s a lot of discussion around what your “story” will really do for your business. While it’s tough to definitively say that having a strong story will directly lead to more sales, I will say that having a strong story is what piques interests, gets people to pay attention, and ultimately helps them to fall in love with your brand.
And that, the love affair they have with your brand, does lead to more sales. So yes, it’s important to know your story.
Your story will take some time, it’s something you’re always polishing as your brand grows and evolves and the sooner you get into the habit of telling your story, the better off you’ll be with securing that press coverage that you’re after.
Ask yourself these questions as a way of improving your brand story:
- What do I do?
- Why am I doing it?
- Who is the person that is talking to the world about my brand (i.e. who are the people interacting with)
- What is it that’s different about me?
Once you’ve answered these questions and worked them into a short story, share that story with friends and colleagues, and ask them for their impressions and feedback. Then re-write your stroy incorporating what you learned.
Create a Strategy
When it comes to creating an actual strategy around your press outreach, it’s important to start with your business goals. And the easiest way to do that is to organize your business by quarter. If you know what your business focus is on a quarterly basis, you can better plan what kind of press you’re going to go after for those goals.
Remember, different business goals mean different press goals. If you’re launching a collection, hosting an event, working on a collaboration, or looking for SEO benefits, these goals require a different plan and strategy for press; the kind of coverage you want to get is different for each of these goals.
So when you sit down to create a strategy, the most important thing you can do is reflect on your business goals.
Ask yourself these questions in order to get your head around what you need to do:
- What is my biggest business goal right now?
- Why do I want press coverage?
- What do I hope it will do to help with my biggest business goal right now?
Once you’ve done that, your strategy moves onto: researching the right media outlets and journalists, crafting a great pitch, building relationships, and creating a calendar for consistency.
So there you have it. Three very important aspects of landing that press coverage that you’re after!