I’m going to admit, I’m a slow learner when it comes to some things and any smarts that I may have about actually running our business and generating profits have been hard learned through mistakes or live in the better half of our business brain. But, what is simply gut instincts is self-promotion. I attribute part of it to being a Native-New Yorker and growing up reading Page Six on the daily. The other reasons why will stay in my shrinks’ office. What I can say is that from Day 1, we may not have known how to charge, we may have invented new ways to lose money, BUT we were always working on some basic PR to varying degrees of success. Today I thought I would offer up a diagnostic exam for you to take to help you refine/ build a strategy and figure out your brand message.
First things first, I want to start by reminding everyone that PR stands for Public Relations.. meaning Relationships, and like any RELATIONSHIP these things take time. No one meets someone and gets married the next week (unless they are a Kardashian) and neither do most business launch and suddenly become the Cat’s Meow: none of these recommendations is a silver bullet, they all need to be thought of part and parcel. Secondly, the RELATIONSHIPS word is important because effective PR doesn’t just mean getting your name in a magazine or on a blog. So, on to the diagnostics.
1. Who are you and what makes you interesting? The truth is, over time, who you are (and by YOU, I mean your business) will likely be evolving. But, it’s really critical that at any moment when you are effectively “pitching” yourself (be it to a media outlet or a colleague or perspective client). When we first started out doing weddings, we were very young and were trying to go out against colleagues who we knew seemed more mature and perhaps experienced than we did. So, we made the most of that and really messaged ourselves as offering the peer perspective that was youthful and interested in doing things “against the grain”. That message was very fresh at the time and interesting to bridal media. Of course, over the years, as we grew older and a LOT more experienced, how we saw ourselves has evolved and we’ve had to re-visit and re-message (and in our case, re-brand when it was appropriate).
2. Do you know who your audience is? One of the biggest obstacles in effectively building relationships is the lack of ability to own and acknowledge that everything thing (especially everything really great) is not for everyone. If you look at your portfolio or product or offering and think that it’s appropriate for every bride or every blog or magazine to be interested in, then you have a problem. Either it really IS something that might be that vanilla (a problem, because vanilla isn’t interesting), OR you are wasting time and energy pitching, submitting and inundating people who won’t ever see your value because they simply aren’t your audience. This is especially true in the world of Real Wedding submissions: take an honest look at your portfolio or your real weddings and identify targets where your style fits the audience.
3. Why would you benefit from media? Again, this is an ever-changing question whose answer will evolve in different stages of your career, but having a sense of why you might benefit from a media placement will help you identify a strategy for seeking out media. For instance, let’s say that you are a new baker: all “press” is good press because your goal is to get your brand’s name out there. So, digital media, participating in a bridal event that will get some media coverage, pitching to blogs for tips on how to design a cake, etc… those area all great starter strategies. Now, let’s say you are a baker who has been in business for a bit and wants to raise your price points: now you need to focus on getting your WORK featured. Perhaps you participate in photoshoots for blog submission or you submit your most outrageous cake designs to magazine editors for cake stories. In this sense you are essentially seeking press to buttress your argument that your talent is worth a certain price. Other times you may be seeking press as launchpad for a new idea.
4. Have you been doing something news-worthy? First, what makes “news” is different today than it was 5 years ago. “News” can be a buzz in the industry via twitter and facebook or it can be a feature on 100 Layer Cake or a profile in Bride’s. The net for “news” is wider making it easier and harder to be “newsworthy.
We are living in a very “take the bulls by the horns” kind of time where the question has to be what, besides doing your job and hopefully getting some of your real-weddings published, have you been doing that is News-worthy? Sometimes the answer is nothing and you therefore should do something. I always love that Elan Artists has a number of parties/showcases for the year that enable them to get their brand and artists in front of people and get people buzzing about them. Digital Media offers us up a TON of ways to make ourselves newsworthy- you can produce great content and get people talking like (Ceci has done with her Ceci Style newslettter), you can (as Vane at Brooklyn Bride has done) become a Pinterest phenomenon and showcase your amazing taste. But, the truth is, simply existing and offering your services just isn’t that newsworthy in and of itself.
5. Have you been doing good work? When we used to work at the Clio Awards (a competition for creativity in advertising) every year we’d get calls saying “I entered so many ads and didn’t win anything. What can I do to win a Clio Award? ” and the official answer was “Do better work.” Take an honest assessment of your work.
If you’re a photographer finding that your photos of your real weddings aren’t getting accepted anywhere, have an objective conversation with a florist or planner or designer you trust. Maybe you aren’t getting the right detail shots? Maybe you ARE getting the right shots but you aren’t SUBMITTING the right shots (I find a lot of photographers aren’t the best editors of their own work- too close!) or maybe you need to spend some time examining some of the shots that make a great submission. Similarly, if you are an event designer or planner or florist starting out perhaps you need to make an investment in designing some fabulous photo shoots OR investing a bit more than the client paid for to make the weddings you already have booked a little bit more special. Consider it a growth strategy.
So, I’ll give you a week to take these questions in, analyze and assess and next week we’ll look at 5 Modern Tips on how to generate more buzz for your business. In the meantime, feel free to leave any questions, or offer any tips of your own!