As a business owner or independent contractor, you’re likely accustomed to making fast decisions and moving quickly. With public relations (PR), you need patience; it is a lengthy, strategic process that includes bumps and pitfalls along with high-fives and dollar signs.
Stellar PR programs include four ingredients: relationships, pitches, perseverance and patience.
Relationships. The second word in PR, as you know, is “relations”—as in relationships. Skin care facilities should employ the following PR tactics year-round; not just when events and launches take place.
- Be personable; say “please” and “thank you.”
- Be timely and pertinent when pitching a story.
- When your spa is not a fit for a media outlet’s story, be able to make introductions to an appropriate expert.
- When you can meet a journalist personally, do it. Desk-side meetings in media-centric cities, such as New York and Los Angeles, are a must for any company that is serious about national exposure.
- Become a trusted resource, not just a one-shot deal.
- Become friends with journalists on Facebook, follow them on Twitter, connect on LinkedIn, subscribe to their blogs and read their articles. Journalists love to know that people enjoy their work.
Pitches. Provide quick, catchy snippets for each pitch in order to hold journalists’ attention. When writing and delivering your pitches:
- Think of what entertains you, and draft pitches that tell a story you would read or watch;
- Offer expert commentary and Q&As for your areas of expertise;
- Tell annual stories, such as holidays, back-to-school events and anniversaries;
- Provide lists—for example: 7 ways to de-stress this holiday season with tips from your spokesperson;
- Point out fads and trends by reading celebrity-driven websites to tie their habits into your pitches;
- Host local events, such as girl’s night out and wellness Wednesdays; and
- Be passionate in delivering your pitches—if you don’t believe in it, a journalist definitely won’t.
Perseverance. Any good relationship requires work. Sending a pitch with no follow-up won’t get you anywhere.
- Stay on journalists’ radar. Monthly e-mails with new angles are appropriate, as well as larger quarterly updates.
- Most journalists prefer to be contacted by e-mail; however, in your message, you may ask if a call or face-to-face meeting is possible.
- It’s OK to send the same e-mail pitch up to three times over a few weeks. After three times, and no more than two phone messages, be patient and know that right now may not be your time.
Patience. A sense of patience must accompany relationship-building, crafting creative pitches and being politely persistent.
- Local and regional newspaper opportunities can happen as quickly as three months after the development of pitches and contact lists.
- Have a library of local coverage before you start pitching nationally. Often, editors and producers will want to see that you have received coverage. Be sure to place PDF files of all coverage in a press room on your website.
- Do you believe your spa has what it takes to be listed on Condé Nast Traveler’s and Travel + Leisure’s hot lists? That often takes years.
- Monthly magazines have very long lead times. That interview you do in July likely won’t be in print until November or December.
A solid PR program doesn’t end; it grows with the skin care facility. The results are increased business, increased bottom line, respect among your peers, separating your company from the competition, happy employees—the list goes on and on. PR is a strategic process that is best developed thoughtfully.
Debra Locker is an award-winning communications professional. For more than 18 years, she has successfully held positions in public relations and journalism. In 2008, she launched Locker Public Relations, a boutique firm with a niche in the lifestyle, skin care and fashion industries. She can be reached at email@example.com.