You Mean Press Placement Isn’t Like the Movies?
Wouldn’t it be a magical feat, if you could call a public relations agency and ask to be interviewed immediately by a major newspaper or fashion glossy? How about instantly landing your new handbag collection in the pages of VOGUE or a well-respected style site? What about your new face serum landing in the hands of major influencers without spending a dime for expensive sponsored posts? (Btw, many of those #spon Insta posts you see in your feed cost well into five and six digits.) There would be no PR hustle if receiving coveted press was this easy. As an industry, public relations wouldn’t be sculpted into its current iteration if scoring stellar press mentions and interviews happened with the tap of a glittery fairy wand.
Yet, some prospective clients believe public relations is similar to the movies: “Hey, can you get me in the New York Times next week?” After all, we are publicists, right? And it’s true, we do secure placement on behalf of our clients, but it doesn’t happen overnight. Of course there a time when the universe is lined up, brimming with pots full of luck, that you land a considerable press score on the first email pitch. We wish it happened all of the time; unfortunately, it doesn’t.
Press coverage is one of the more challenging aspects of fashion and beauty public relations; more so as the media landscape changes. Glossy print titles are folding, and new websites launch and close on a daily basis. The media landscape may change, but press coverage is still the number one goal for your brand. Media placement in print and online is immensely essential – that will never change. No matter the medium, press coverage thrusts your brand in front of consumers. At Edith Press, we consider influencers a form of press coverage. Many consumers utilize their digital feeds for inspiration – similar to a magazine. In fact for some, their feeds have replaced reading a fashion glossy in print. When an influencer posts a picture of your product, it’s a form of media placement.
Media placement takes time and doesn’t happen overnight. A publicist can’t control who reads or responds to email pitches. Of course, we hope an editor reads and responds to pitches, but we are also realistic and understand that’s not always the case. Every day, editors and writers are flooded with hundreds of pitches making it impossible and respond to each one. That’s why follow-ups are important and keeping in touch, within reason, with editors, writers, and influencers.
Press coverage is a marathon, not a sprint. Yes, many PR firms and publicists are good friends with editors, but it’s impossible to be besties with every beauty or fashion writer. PR is about fostering good relationships, but the truth is some of those friendships are clearly via email. You are in for a rude awakening if you believe every publicist wines and dines every influential beauty, fashion and lifestyle editor or influencer. Much of securing media placement revolves around email pitching- most editors don’t like to be cold called. Remember, it takes time for some of these emails to be answered.
As for working with influencers, most of the well-known ones require a hefty placement fee. Edith Press does not pay for your products to be featured on Instagram by an influencer, you do. We are up-front and blunt with clients: Influencer marketing doesn’t always result in ROI. Unless your product(s) completely aligns with the influencer, we often discourage press placement via Instagram posts. There are examples where stars align, payment is exchanged, a post is uploaded, and the product goes viral. We could only wish one Instagram post snowballs into the must-have skincare product, and it’s on every beauty guru’s radar; ROI delivered resulting in positive influencer digital press coverage. This example is rare and as a beauty public relations firm, we are more than transparent in telling our clients influencer ROI does not always deliver. Having been on the client side, we know how small business budgets are, and we discourage going into debt paying an influencer to peddle your wares.
Culture of Immediacy
Perhaps it’s our current culture of immediacy that leads people to believe everything and anything happens ultra-fast. A prospective client craves prime press placement, and they want it now. There is a misconception that public relations is the equivalent of buying the service today, seeing product placement tomorrow, and that isn’t the case; however, we live in a world of immediacy. We have learned to expect instant delivery of products and services.
Too tired to shop for groceries? If you live in a large metro area, you can buy from home and expect delivery at your doorstep. Too tired and lazy to cook? (We have all been there.) Then order pre-cut and chopped recipes with step-by-step instructions; all you have to do is essentially heat the contents. No leaving the house, no interaction with any human. Let’s face it, we all have times where we want to be alone without stepping foot into a grocery store with screaming kids after school or sneezing shoppers during flu season. There is efficiency when lunch is delivered directly to your desk without having to step outside in sweltering, humid July or slushing through a snowy sidewalk on a cold February day. Immediacy is useful and productive – it serves us well at times.
Yet this culture of immediacy fosters false hope in other areas of life and work. Immediacy also influences our collective work ethic. Public relations is very much an industry where you put your head down and work. Sometimes, it’s long, tedious work without instant gratification and clients must be realistic about these time frames. You don’t just email a few pitches and receive immediate placement in the New York Times. Many public relations firms state that it can take anywhere from 6-12 months to land clients’ product placement and we agree.
Media placement doesn’t happen overnight, and the trajectory of immediacy in our society isn’t applicable to public relations. (Sometimes a fast placement happens, but that’s not the norm.) It’s important to understand that public relations takes time. Who wants a critical email to go unanswered? No one and certainly not us. Unfortunately, it does happen, and delays are frequent in this industry.
Often, designers or small business owners have no idea what they are getting themselves into when working with public relations. They watch Holiday Gift Guides on morning shows, open magazines chock-full of products and thinks these placements happened overnight. We wish they did, too.
Movies feature characters whose publicists are on speed-dial and land client interviews on CNN or instant press conferences. Sometimes PR agencies are able to garner such great press immediately, but that’s not the norm. Fashion and beauty public relations aren’t plucked from Hollywood narratives.
We understand. After all, the brand side is not knee-deep concerning the ins and outs of public relations. But the client side should at least have an elementary understanding of public relations and realize securing great press is not immediate as we see often see in the movies.
With the knowledge that public relations takes time, the brand side knows what to look for when researching PR firms. Honest firms let prospective clients know public relations requires a realistic timeframe.
If a prospective client gets in touch with us and wants media attention right away, we are honest and tell them that usually doesn’t happen in such a short timeframe. It can, but to say immediate press mentions are a daily occurrence is a vast overstatement. Edith Press know what it’s like to be on the brand side view of public relations. One of our co-founders started a label from the ground up and knows what it’s like for a publicist to over promise press placement. Eventually, it’s a massive letdown.
“Before I signed a contract with one particular fashion PR firm, I was promised placement within the first month. I was realistic and knew that wouldn’t happen, and of course, it didn’t.” – Jill Talbott co-founder, Edith Press.
Edith Press takes a different approach. We never make promises – there are too many variables that can happen even when an editor requests (pulls) your products for a story or layout they are working on.
It’s a fantastic feeling when an editor pulls a product for a photo shoot or high res image for a layout. However, upcoming issues and stories are often changed last minute. Changes in editorial, online and offline, happen all of the time and products are cut. It’s normal although a letdown. Perhaps they went with black winter coats instead of black and camel. Maybe an editor-in-chief completely nixed a story. As a client, please understand last minute changes happen regularly even after your products are requested by an editor or writer.
Often, we are incredibly honest with potential clients seeking immediate placement. We let them know up front that PR isn’t like the movies. Sometimes we do get immediate product placement, but usually, it’s not that easy. A lot of people don’t want to hear our blunt honesty, and we never hear from them again. That’s fine. We refuse to take payment unless we are completely transparent and honest about landing media placement. We want you to know it doesn’t happen immediately. Don’t you like it when businesses are completely honest with you? I know I do.
We could easily take your money and exchange emails full of sunny, fake promises, but we don’t.
One might opine that a person’s expectations and how they communicate say a lot about their personality. There are vast and disparate elements involving human character: One’s expectations vs. another. Our wish is that you (client/brand) understand public relations doesn’t mirror the movies. If you still insist on next day placement and don’t take the time to research how PR works, you are doing yourself a great disservice. Research how beauty public relations and fashion PR works – even if it’s reading a few blog posts. PR agencies will gladly take your monthly retainer and promise the world, Edith Press is the opposite.
Be wary of any PR agency promising quick press.
At Edith Press, we are champions of our clients. We want to see your products and brand succeed. It’s our primary goal. It’s why we set up a boutique fashion and beauty public relations firm. We are your biggest cheerleaders.
We know what it’s like to be on the brand side searching for honest public relations. Many PR firms are happy to take your monthly retainer without being upfront and honest with clients.
What we ask from new clients is that they maintain realistic expectations.
Understand that sometimes email pitches go unanswered; communication is a two-way street. If you are launching a beauty brand and want to work with Instagram influencers, we will reach out to anyone on your list. (You pay the influencer fee.) Makeup and beauty do well on Instagram – specifically, small, niche brands. However, keep in mind that a large chunk of sponsored posts does not always convert to positive ROI and a landslide of orders via your brand’s website. It’s disappointing to spend several thousand dollars (often more) for one Instagram post only for it to be viewed by a lukewarm audience. It happens.
As mentioned in our previous post, some of our favorite fashion glossy’s are ceasing print editions and going digital-only. A well-versed publicist keeps up with the revolving editorial door keeping notes of what magazines are closing up shop, which editors are leaving specific posts, and every new digital-scribe launching. It’s our job to know which editor, writer, or influencer to contact and their correct email. At Edith Press, we create every email pitch exclusively for the recipient. We never send mass, generic emails nor do we inundate in-boxes. It’s a nuisance and rude when you continuously bombard someone’s email.
One month a beauty tome is in print and the next it disappears from newsstands. We are at a time when media is rapidly fluctuating. Publishing companies look to online as the new horizon (gold mine) and in many cases this is true, but nothing will replace an incredible September fashion glossy. Digital is important, but it’s also an ever-changing landscape. Instagram has the stronghold for now as the most popular fashion and beauty social platform, but that can quickly change. We don’t know what will roll out in the App Store in the next six months.
What if hackers brought down Instagram tomorrow and all posts disappeared? Think of the meltdown that would ensue. Influencers who built their “brand” would be gone in an instant. And what about sponsored posts? They would also be obliterated. Brands that paid large sums to celebrities and influencers to peddle their wares would have nothing to show for their advertising efforts.
Media, whether it’s print, video, or digital, changes and evolves. As a brand, you don’t want to put all of your efforts into one form of media – such as digital. Suffice to say we are in the midst of a tremendous digital awakening and have been for several years. The fashion and beauty world can’t get enough of Instagram. In many ways, we live in an Instagram world, but we also see a shift in the horizon. Many consumers are disillusioned with sponsored posts and tired of influencers clogging their feeds. Already, Instagram is evolving. Who knows what new social platform in waiting in the wings. Here’s to evolution.
Product or brand placement doesn’t happen overnight. Public relations is impactful when you or a PR expert put a long-term plan into place. This includes creating your brand’s story.
We firmly believe in storytelling – it’s central to PR. Part of your public relations strategy is weaving a compelling, concise brand story. Along with line sheets, and press release (if needed) we also create your brand’s story. We begin this the day we start working with a new client. It takes a few days of writing and asking you questions before your branding information is completed. Once it’s complete, then we start pitching media outlets.
We’d love to wave our glittery fairy wand and land clients media placement at lightning speed – just like the movies. It can happen within a few days or weeks- especially online. However, a massive New York Times mention the day after we begin working together is a magical Hollywood unicorn.
At Edith Press we value honesty, and our goal is to be as transparent as possible to prospective and new clients. We have no problem being blunt and telling brand owners we probably can’t get them press placement right away. Any fashion or beauty public relations firm which is honest with prospective clients is gold in our book.
Would you like honest help concerning your brand’s public relations needs? We are happy to answer any questions.