As a skin care professional, you are likely getting most of your business through word-of-mouth advertising. Many of you are already using social media to promote your spa. But remember traditional public relations (PR)? Are you using newspapers, magazines, television and radio to your advantage?
PR is not advertising—instead of paying for an ad, with PR, you can achieve the credibility that only editorial coverage delivers. An advertisement is self-promotion and is perceived as such. A mention in an article or on-air is a third party raving about your business. This type of exposure carries name recognition, improves your reputation and can attract new clients.
Attaining publicity entails either hiring a PR professional or a PR firm, or performing PR tasks internally, which requires knowledge, time and energy. An independent PR professional can often be hired for as low as $2,000 per month, while PR firms can run up to $10,000 per month. For a PR firm to promote a skin care facility, it may cost around $4,000–5,000 a month. When signing with a PR firm, you will be expected to commit to at least six months, if not one year, because results won’t be experienced overnight, and consumer magazines usually work on a four-month lead time.
If your facility is a small operation and you can’t afford to spend such amounts, consider doing the PR yourself. The most important thing is to create relationships with the media. Familiarize yourself with local magazines, newspapers, and television and radio stations in your area, and get to know the journalists who cover spas, beauty and health topics. You can do that by looking up the mastheads of the printed publications or looking up the websites of the stations. It would be wise to invite these reporters for a complimentary treatment at your facility.
But before you do all that, you have to understand the nature of media in general—your local media outlets specifically—as well as tailor your communication to each magazine, newspaper or station.
When speaking with media representatives, put yourself in their shoes. A journalist’s mission is to deliver news, not to promote your spa. Your message to the media has to contain something exciting and beneficial to consumers; that’s what will peak a reporter’s interest. What differentiates your business from the competition? Are you offering a groundbreaking new treatment no one has ever done? Are you offering a new product, or does your product contain an innovative ingredient? Is your spa involved with the community in an interesting way? Can you offer an exclusive promotion for the readers of one particular publication?
Think of trends, seasons, holiday promotions and anything else that may be of interest to a journalist. Your goal is to achieve exposure—being positioned as an expert is not a bad thing.
Be sure to have photos of your facility on hand to be e-mailed; they must be 300 dpi, and large enough to be printed. If you don’t have the means to print a professional press kit, be sure to have all the required information about what it is you’re promoting, as well as general information about your spa, including address, general phone number, website and a way for the journalist to reach you directly.
Remember that reporters and editors may be on tight deadlines and can come across as impatient or hurried. Don’t take it personally. If you don’t hear back, be persistent, but always polite. When in doubt, use e-mail. Write in a concise and clear way, and get to the point quickly. Be certain to speak about what you know, to be truthful and persistent.
When you do achieve editorial coverage, be sure to capitalize on it: Frame it and display it at the spa, and scan it and add it to your website’s press section. Remember to thank the journalist; the least you can do is mail a handwritten card. Consider taking them out to lunch or sending flowers, because creating long-lasting relationships with the media will be the key to your PR success.
Ido Kadman is a brand strategy and marketing communications specialist with more than 15 years of experience. He has promoted day spas as well as skin care, hair care, makeup and fitness facilities. He consults companies on how to grow their businesses and focuses on the spa, beauty, travel, hospitality, luxury goods and entertainment industries.