I was recently asked to write a piece on how to ‘Get your name out there’ when you are starting out in a new venture. Unless you shoot to 15 minutes of fame with a huge scandal (read; sex tape), get arrested doing something illegal & outrageous (....if you’re going to that trouble, make sure its SUPER scandalous to get the media coverage!) , or marry Prince Harry (get in line) – then its going to be about consistence, core messaging, quality… and time.
Here are my pointers;
We are in the generation of Slashies… Model slash Actress slash Waitress slash DJ slash Designer. I’ve written about this before – choose one as your title – Even you do them all, listing them all dilutes your offering & make you seem like a jack of all trades, master of none. So pick one, and own it (doesn’t mean you cannot do all of them, but for the purpose of starting out & establishing & creating a core, quality, substantial profile for yourself, choose one. Once you have established as that, you can add more slashes)
In addition to your title, make your message consistent also. This could be something you are steadfast on from affiliating your brand with, it could (and should contain) how you describe your brand aesthetic, and also consistency in your brand story & your elevator pitch.
When you start to say the same thing enough – whether it be in media interviews, on your Instagram posts, in conversation, in press releases – it starts to automatically form as your personal brand & people will start to natural affiliate those qualities & topics with you.
When I first started out making jewellery, I was not in an position to enter awards that I enter now – I didn’t have the experience, or credentials - It probably didn’t stop me trying at the time, but what I did do, that felt more realistic to me at the time, was enter more local awards.
These could be local industry awards (literally awards that are run by your local council, the suburb you live in, awards at your school or training facility).
In the early 2000’s – Gift Fairs were a source for brands to display their collections & sell to retailers. The Gift Fairs where huge & would display everything from furniture, to jewellery, to plants & greeting cards. They also ran an awards process, for small business’ to enter annually.
I gave the application everything I had, and for two years in a row, came away with the award for my entered category. There was a fancy black tie gala, a glass blown trophy & the title of ‘Jewellery Brand of the Year’. Now while the awards really mean absolutely nothing to anyone else, what it did allow me to do was strategically (and legitimately!) add ‘Award Winning Designer’ to my email signature & bio. Admittedtly it would have held more weight if it was the Marie Claire Accessories Designer of The Year – but that would be a few years off.
From then on, all press releases then started with ‘the new collection from Award Winning Jewellery Designer Samantha Wills….’ So it added a level of credibility to the reader.
So look for ways to add industry creditability & acknowledgement to your venture – seek out small awards & start there. Little by little, you will work your way up.
When you are just starting out – you often don’t have the spare funds to employ a PR Agency on your behalf. If you DO have the budget to do this – look for publicists that have personal relationships with the publications you are wanting to target. This is essentially what you are paying for.
If you don’t have the budget (and it can be very expensive!) I suggest running your own PR outreach.
Whether you are a product brand, service or solopreneuer, you are most likely (Well, hopefully!) doing something that is noteworthy (and if you’re not – then look for something to do that is noteworthy!). This is where you craft your latest happenings in to a press release. Now, do not mis-interpret this for ‘update the media with every single thing you are doing’ – it has to be interesting & it has to be news worthy – so find a way to make something interesting happen, pending what publication you are promoting to; It could be a new collection (if you are promoting to a Fashion Magazine), it could be a charity affiliation (if you are notifying a local newspaper), it could be how you started your business in your garage & are in a high growth phase (if you are targeting a small business magazine), it could be affiliating with a charity, dressing a celebrity, launching a new collection inspired by a recent cultural event (take note of Pepsi’ disaster, and don’t go there!)
Writing Your Press Release:
Work out who you want to target for possible feature, and tailor your press release angle to that publication.
When writing your press release, I think it comes across MUCH more professional written in the third person, if you are not a confident writer, it may be helpful to have a friend or family member write it for you. Press releases are a time to talk yourself UP.
1. Get them interested with the headline – Get creative – it still has to be accurate, but think outside the box here.
2. In the first few lines, you need to get to the point. Assume the person reading it has very little time, so don’t waffle on. Get to the point; Who, What, Why. The paragraphs that follow can explain things in more details, but when writing, assume they will only read the first paragraph / few lines.
3. Ensure it is proof read… I am the worst at this! But ensure you have had someone (or a few people!) cast their eye over it to check for spelling & grammar.
4. As your press release will be written in the third person (even if you are the one writing it) include quotes (at least one) from you. Your opinion on a matter, the collection, or what you are hoping to achieve. An example of this, if I was writing my own press release; The collection is mix of Wills’ signature luxury bohemian aesthetic. ‘I was really influenced by 1970’s fashion icons for this collection’ Wills said. ‘Bianca Jagger, Faye Dunaway, Talitha Getty – I channeled a combination of them as this seasons muse’
5. Contact information – you would be surprised how many people forget to include this! I would suggest setting up a PR@YourBrandName.com email address (+ phone number). Preface this with a line that says; For all media enquires, or to arrange an interview with the designer (or CEO… or whatever your title / position is). Include your Instagram handle so they can check out your work further.
6. Less is more – one page MAXIMUM!! If a reporter opens something that is more then a few paragraphs, it is too overwhelming & they will simply discard. Less is more.
Sending Your Press Release;
You can email your press release to the appropriate person at the publication you are targeting – but respect the fact they receive hundreds of these a week.
My advice would be to take a more selected / artesian approach – print out your press release, create a press kit & send it to the reporter(s) you are targeting. You might only have the budget to send out 5, but 5 quality / well thought out press kits are going to go a lot further then 500 mass emailed documents, that likely will end up in the delete box anyway.
I have written about press kits before, and I think it is a great way to showcase what you do in a really thoughtful way.
In Follow-up, Don’t Appear Too Desperate;
Know that everything I write here, I am essentially writing to my younger self. Because it is exactly what I did wrong at the time!
If a reporter/ fashion editor likes what you do – they will contact you.
I would follow up with them only once – any more then that & they will get annoyed with you.
If they don’t reply, don’t be dismayed – and don’t give up. Reach out to them with your next press release in the following months (leave it a few months, and make sure your next one is different news). Just because you don’t hear back from them doesn’t mean they didn’t get it / see / it / like it. Often times they will receive it & when they receive the next one in the coming months, it will resonate with them because they recognize your branding / consistency.
BE INTERACTIVE ON INSTAGRAM
I don’t mean be a creeper – that is weird & off putting. But LIKE influencers photos, comment every 5 photos or so (again, not creepy, and not pushy… ie do not comment ‘We would love to send you some stuff’) you want to establish a mutual relationship with them, and hopefully over time, if your brand is their vibe, they will follow you back / check out your feed.
But never be pushy.
Secondly, if someone posts an image, that might be yours, or it might contain something of your in it, DO NOT under any circumstance shout out to them on the feed or on DM ‘Please tag me!’ ‘this is my image!’ etc. If you feel the need, I would suggest a simple ‘So glad you like our images! We are huge fans of yours, too!x'
I hope this has been helpful, these are just a few points on something’s you can try putting into motion to get your name / brand out there. I cannot stress enough, the importance of consistency in your message. People are comfortable investing time (& money) in something steadfast & trusted. Own your message, and make sure it is true to you – and one more things - everything about your personal brand needs to be authentic, if it is not, your audience will see right through it.
Good luck, and I look forward to reading about you / your brand! - SWx