PR Tips for Lingerie Brands Part 2
My name is Treacle and I’m the founder of The Lingerie Addict, a haven for lingerie lovers of every nation and persuasion. As a blogger, I interact constantly with the people your business needs most—customers. My column here is all about bringing you, the lingerie store owner, the perspective of us, the lingerie consumers.
We all know that PR stands for public relations, but just what does that mean? Should you hire a PR firm? Do it on your own? And what exactly can PR do for your business anyway?
In this month’s second installment of PR for Lingerie Brands, I’m getting those answers from Lauren Rich, founder of RICHPR, and a specialist in PR for lingerie businesses. With offices in New York and London, Lauren has a presence in two of lingerie’s most important cities.
RICHPR’s clients have been featured in the New York Times, WWD, Marie Claire, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, Oprah Magazine, Instyle, and The Today Show, just to name a few. She’s also the resident PR expert for Young, Fabulous, & Self-employed, and a featured PR agency on PR Couture.
As always, we’d love to hear your thoughts on the topic so please feel free to leave a comment below.
Treacle: How long have you been doing PR, and what attracted you to that part of the industry in particular?
I started my career in PR through internships while attending FIT for Advertising & Marketing, so counting those, I would say I’ve been in the industry for about 6 years. I launched my agency, RICHPR, upon graduating in Dec 2006, and am very happy to say I’ve just hit my four year mark.
I actually went into school thinking I’d come out a fashion editor, but after taking numerous PR internships, realized this is the area I wanted to be in. I felt it merged a lot of the things I wanted to pursue – writing, media, event planning, the fast pace, and of course working within the fashion industry.
I began niching into intimates in particular about two years ago when I had four intimate apparel brands sign in the span of a month. I always say that intimates just keeps coming back to me – I worked at a department store in the intimate apparel department when I was high school, interned for an intimate apparel e-retailer while at FIT, and managed PR for a lingerie runway show as one of my first clients upon graduating. It seems I am just destined to be in lingerie!
Treacle: There are a lot of misconceptions about just what PR actually is. Could you give us a quick definition here? Why PR?
The quickest answer – PR offers brands credibility. The longer answer –public relations is all about promoting your brand to gain exposure. A successful PR campaign will not only increase your brand’s awareness amongst both consumers and industry, but ultimately increase your bottom line as well.
PR professionals work to gain a company or brand exposure through generating third party endorsements within mediums such as: magazine, newspaper, online, broadcast, radio and celebrity. These endorsements, or placements, come as the result of getting your brand into the hands of key editors, writers, reporters, producers, stylists, and more who may choose to endorse or feature your brand. Unlike advertising where you pay money to guarantee your spot, PR placements are not paid for and as such when you get them, they offer your brand 3rd party credibility.
However, PR is a gamble. While you may be paying a PR professional or agency to get you those coveted media placements, they are not guaranteed.
It is the publicist’s job to get your brand into the hands of key decision-makers – but once there, it’s out of our hands. We can’t make said editor run a feature on your brand, just like we can’t make them shoot your bra in their “Best Bras for Spring” roundup.
What we can do is maximize opportunities – keep your brand top of mind so when these stories do arise, you’re the brand editors turn to. All said, so long as you have a good PR professional or agency, and above all a good product or service, editors and media members will take note and your brand will receive those placements. And to a consumer seeing your chemise in Lucky’s “Editor’s Picks” is much more credible than seeing the same chemise in a paid-for advertisement.
Treacle: What exactly does a PR firm like your own do to promote its lingerie clients? And more importantly, what are some things a PR firm “can’t” do?
As mentioned above, it is our job to get your brand into the hands of top editors, reporters, writers, stylists, etc. We do this through consistent pitching, managing Look Book/sample/image requests, holding editor one-on-ones, and, most of all, seeking out, staying on top of, and maximizing opportunities.
Anyone in PR – a freelancer, small agency or large firm, cannot make promises. Unless your publicist is moonlighting as an editor, it’s just not possible. We’re also not magicians. We can’t wave a magic wand and poof! Your bra is in the next issue of Oprah Magazine. We can, however, consistently pitch the editors at Oprah Magazine and develop a relationship so the next time they are working on a bra story, they’ll think “Oh, I should get in touch from Lauren at RICHPR about that new lingerie brand.”
What we are? Savvy, persistent, consistent, and results-driven. What we’re not? Super-powered publicists with the ability to make any editor do anything…although that would be awfully nice.
Treacle: How long does it take to see results when working with a PR agency? What’s the minimum investment of time a brand should be willing to make?
Six months is the general rule of thumb in PR to see an effective result in generating valuable press hits and thus, increasing brand awareness and ultimately sales. Keep in mind magazines work 3-6 months in advance and broadcast, newspaper and online media generally about 1 week – 1 month in advance. PR is a strategy of patience. Unless you want to set yourself up for disappointment, you must go into a PR relationship with realistic expectations. Placements will come – but they won’t happen overnight and some will take longer than others.
Treacle: How should a brand select a PR agency to represent them? What are some key questions to ask?
What you want is an agency with a proven track record in generating numerous press hits for each client – not numerous clients with a handful of good hits each. Ask to see portfolios and client-specific case studies.
Also ask about client turnaround. An agency with a long roster of clients may sound impressive, but not if the clients are jumping ship elsewhere as soon as their contract is over. Look for a PR person/agency with long-term clients that are consistently resigning. Any agency can get a brand to sign – a good agency will produce enough results to get their clients to resign. Remember to look for quality vs. quantity.
Also feel free to ask for client references. An agency with happy clients won’t mind putting you in touch with one for a reference. If they can’t put you in touch with even one current or former client, that’s definitely not a good sign. Also ask about client vs. staff volume. If a large firm, ask how many and which people will be working on your account and know that the owner/CEO you’re meeting with probably isn’t the one handling your brand day-to–day. It’s absolutely your right to know who exactly is handling your account and their experience/track record, so don’t hesitate to ask.
If a one–man shop, you want to know how many clients they currently have and if they have enough time to handle another. Basically, you want someone – whether that’s a freelancer, agency or firm – with a stellar track-record and enough team members to handle your account. And I can’t stress enough to be extremely wary of someone who over-promises. PR is a no-guarantees industry. Go with the person who promises an honest effort with a great portfolio to back it up over the person making promises left and right – with only a handful of good hits to show.
Treacle: How can a brand help their PR agency produce the best results?
Be accessible. PR isn’t something you just hand off to an agency and your part is done. It’s a collaborative process the whole way through. Before investing your budget into PR, make sure you can be available on a moment’s notice to approve a press release, take a media interview , overnight samples to a shoot, get us a high–res image, etc.
Media requests are always urgent and usually require action day-of, overnight or even within minutes. Most requests your PR team can handle, but there will be requests when we need you – and you must be available. Saying “no” or “I can’t” to an editor is like flushing your PR budget down the toilet. And it puts a dent into your publicist’s hard-working little heart.
Also important – you have to be willing to let go. You hired us for a reason, so let us do our job. It is absolutely your right to ask as many questions as you need to understand what we’re doing and why we’re doing it, but there’s a fine line between collaborating (see above) and micromanaging.
And, listen to us. We’re experts on shedding your brand in the best light possible, so if we suggest your website needs a revamp, you may want to look into revamping it. If we say you need product shots to maximize your press exposure, you should probably get us the product shots. ASAP. Trust us, it’s for your own good.
Treacle: Any final tips and advice you’d like to share about working with PR?
PR is a rollercoaster. Be prepared to be elated one day, disappointed the next, then elated the following day. And trust us – we’re just as excited as you when we get those top hits, and just as disappointed (read: infuriated) when we’ve lined up something amazing and it falls through at the last minute. But such is the way of PR. It’s an industry of all effort and unfortunately no guarantees. But so long as you’re working with a great PR team (and have a good product of course), the press will come. Just remember – patience, is a virtue.
For more on Treacle, please visit her site at: www.thelingerieaddict.com