The Beauty Professional| by Fred Jones
How we promote ourselves is a function of public relations – and it can make all the difference between having a good or great career.
Since this month's issue is on Media Exposure, I have asked industry publicist and fellow PBFC Board Member Sharon Esche to share some insights about public relations. As the co-owner of Esche & Alexander Public Relations (www.beauty-pr.com), Sharon interacts daily with salons, schools, stylists and students; she is an expert at helping beauty professionals build their image, showcasing their work and simply becoming newsworthy.
Question (me): Sharon, before we jump into specific questions about PR mechanics, can you share a couple of big picture suggestions for beauty professionals getting started with self-promotion?
Answer (Sharon): There are two important concepts to remember:
1.) Think of yourself as your best brand and start building your image. Many of us make the mistake of defining ourselves by a product brand; you hear it all the time. Your real brand is you; your professional image or identity is not the manufacturer or their products you use.
2.) Don't think the press will find you. Let them know you exist. I have heard many beauty professionals ask why everyone else gets mentioned in the media and not them. My response to them is, What have you done lately to let them know you exist?
What should the beauty professional know about press releases?
A. Limit releases to no longer than one page. Be sure that the real news of the release is right up top – in the headline and the first sentence or two of the body (many editors don't read past that point).
Tip: If writing is not one of your stronger skills, ask a writer-talented friend, family member or even client to help you. Don't be too proud to barter… get writing help in exchange for complimentary cut, facial, manicure, etc.
What is considered newsworthy?
Whether you're sending to local media or your national salon industry trade media, editors like recognition awards, how you support a relevant cause, and fashion trend statements.
Tip: Research your local print/online salon industry publications and blogs to see what is being picked up. Know who their audience is.
What don't editors like?
Bad quality photos (blurry, not high-resolution); photos with unprofessional models (like clients); bad hair; harsh makeup; releases with misspellings; too many press releases; pestering follow-up phone calls.
Tip: Editors prefer emails over phone calls. They will respond to questions via email. When something is published, email a thank you note.
How does the beauty professional develop a portfolio?
Be different. A beautiful leather presentation folio (usually black) is different in today's computerized world. This presentation of your work should stay at your station to show interested clients. This showcase of your best work (hair fashion collections, publicity clippings, bio, etc) is a great discussion piece of your best brand – you.
Tip: Think about two portfolios … the one at the salon and an iPad version to carry around with you. Like a business card, you really shouldn't be caught without one.
Is promoting one's brand expensive?
There is a lot of self-promotion you can do without spending a lot. Work with a photographer willing to negotiate to build his/her own portfolio and models willing to negotiate to get good photos for their portfolio.
Tip: Often, the most talented people to help us with branding are right there at our fingertips – we just don't see them.
How does one find a good hair photographer?
The best people to talk to about photography are photographers…interview some. Ask your clients and other contacts which photographers have a great reputation in your area. They may not be hair fashion photographers but they may have some good leads.
Let people know on Facebook that you're looking for a hair fashion photographer to do a shoot with you. Ask for recommendations.
Tip: Product manufacturer reps often know photographers – around the country and in your area.
How long does it take for the PR process to get results?
A rule-of thumb: Give your PR efforts at least six months to start seeing signs of news exposure, media inquiries, and other fresh activity. Important initial step: Make a month by month PR Plan for at least the next six months … and then start!
Tip: Be patient. Be consistent. Don't rush or be unrealistic about expectations. Keep up the good work.