HIRING A PUBLICIST? READ THIS FIRST…

by  This post can be originally found here

So, you’re the next incredible brand on deck and you’re ready to hire a publicist? Read this first:

Know exactly what a publicist does.

A publicist/PR pro is a public relations practitioner. And, public relations is the art of influencing public perception using strategic communication. “PR” is commonly used to describe the practice in general, not the practitioner. If your potential publicist refers to herself/himself as a “PR”, run.  It’s the equivalent of Metta World Peace saying he is a basketball. He didn’t say that, by the way.

Side note: Publicists don’t like to be called publishers either, unless in the rare instance he or she actually publishes books too.

A breakdown of a publicist’s tasks include:

Creating exposure: Your publicist should craft or oversee your Electronic Press Kit (EPK). Draft press releases to announce news worthy happenings. Pitch you to media and schedule interviews. Scan the media for new mentions of your brand, negative or positive.  Oversee your image and have a good relationship with a fashion stylist. Manage, plan or review your social media activity. Coordinate photo shoots and video shoots. Assist you on the red carpet, but not actually pose for photos with you. Assist with speeches. Plan events and press junkets. Make sure your branding is cohesive.

Brand protection: He or she should conduct media training for your print/radio/TV interviews. Manage a crisis, if one arises. Think Olivia Pope. Or, Judy Smith. Although most PR pros don’t soley specialize in crisis management, they should have a working knowledge to craft an effective plan in case you ever need it.

What’s your budget? 

Now, that you understand publicists aren’t hired to put your name on a list at a party, pick up your laundry or babysit your kids… know your BUDGET. Before you go to a car dealership, you have an idea of the amount you want to spend. Do your research before meeting with a publicist to avoid wasting your time, and theirs. If you want to hire a big time agency– who may actually assign a first year account executive to your account– expect to pay at least $10,000 per month as as minimum rate. Some big name publicists with boutique size firms and huge clients are also in this range.

Boutique firms and reputable freelance publicists charge around $5,000 per month on average, although more demanding clients may spend up to $10,000 per month. They may also take on a few smaller budget projects here and there if they believe in the particular brand, especially if the brand is a start-up, rookie, new artist, etc. On the flip side, corporate brands are hiring more and more boutique and freelance pros to ensure account attention and around the clock accessibility.

If a publicist is charging under $900 per month, what are the surrounding factors? Smaller geographical market? Seasonal or start up special? Scaled down services? Inexperience? Ask.

Oh, it’s not uncommon for publicists to ask professional athletes and entertainers to provide game/event tickets. It makes sense for them to observe you in your element. However, being in your element should not be a payment substitution.

Does the publicist have a passion for your field? 

Once upon a time a publicist with NFL clients asked me what a first and tenth was. That wasn’t a typo. Someone representing professional football players really asked what a first and tenth was. That’s like a book publicist asking what a book outline is. Or book hotline, to keep it consistent. Anyway, passion breeds research. Financial services & technology publicist, Samantha Savory, studies trends in the financial and tech world with the same intensity level she studies PR trends. Kristen Hopkins, who specializes in non-profit, knows her niche’s trends like the back of her hand.

It’s not unfair to ask for a fashion publicist’s thoughts on Isabel Marant’s spring collection to test their engagement level. Or, ask a sports publicist to pick Ovechkin or Crosby. If I were a musician, I would want my publicist to have a favorable opinion in my genre. Or, understand the complexity of current political issues before running my political campaign. A film publicist shouldn’t be required to have Roeper level movie knowledge, but a Varietysubscription shouldn’t sound far fetched. Regardless of the niche, it doesn’t hurt to check out your potential publicist’s tweets. If it’s truly a passion, they can’t help but talk about the subject.

Goals.

During the first meeting with your potential publicist, 80% of the conversation should be about your brand and its goals. If a publicist gives you a million ideas prior to hearing the brand’s goals, run. If you believe your brand is unique and trendsetting, PR ideas should be tailored. The publicist may have a few initial ideas, but the exciting ideas should be in the proposal you receive after the consultation. Even if the publicist knows all about your brand through research, hearing your goals is the main objective in the first meeting.

Side note: Speaking of the consultation, some publicists charge an hourly fee similar to attorneys, some do not.

Ask to see his or her portfolio. 

Don’t be afraid to ask to see their work. Even a newbie should have a portfolio with entries from internships.

Look at the types of brands included, the level of media exposure, writing skills, and the quality of the presentation. If their brand isn’t represented well, why should you trust them with yours?

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PR Pros: Choosing Clients’ Causes Carefully

By: Toni L. Rousell                   Original Post can be found here

Your advice is not only valued, as a hired PR professional, wise counsel is required.

So, how do you help your clients choose the causes they support? Being driven by emotions or going with what’s popular, is sure to be a recipe for disaster.

Discouraging clients from seeking alliance with causes they really have no sincere desire to support, or no real understanding of, should be number one priority.  It can be hard to steer them in a more beneficial direction, avoiding self-destruction of their brand, but it’s responsible and necessary.  They’ll thank you later and you’ll sleep better at night.  Throwing support to a cause they don’t truly believe in, will only lead to their support waning, which will consequently reduce the value of their endorsements as they appear “flaky”, or even unstable, in the public-eye.

Local vs. National

It can seem convenient to offer support to the largest, most visible organization when it comes to “giving-back”, but could a local organization, requiring more hands on support, be more beneficial to your client’s long-term philanthropic goals and public image?  Analyzing the organization’s mission, do results support that mission?

Local organizations will allow for your client to see the lives their efforts effect. They will be able to look directly into the eyes of those benefiting from their donations and volunteering, and will also be more likely to give to those in their hometowns who directly affected their success, which makes for excellent public relations.  This encourages a more faithful, less “fair-weather”, connection.

Alternatively, national organizations offer the opportunity for clients to give-back to multiple communities at once.  If your client lives or their primary business is based outside of their hometown, this choice would allow them to give-back to their hometown community, as well as to the new community that has embraced them. There should be no lack of effort on the client’s part to make their presence known, even when the cameras are off or not around.  A national organization will also be more likely to have consistent PR representation, affording a better grasp on public support of the cause and offering more flexible events your client can join.

Making the Commitment 

Sometimes a client desires to support organizations with a focus that may require a little extra effort for educating the public or validating the connection. Is the client truly committed? This is where your client’s genuine beliefs will come into play. The work required will expose the true intent: is it pub or love?

One example of true commitment is that of Actress Ciera Payton. Being raised, until the age of 13, by her grandmother and drug addicted (now incarcerated) father, Ms. Payton wanted to align her brand with organizations that would allow her to connect with youth growing up in an environment similar to herself: children of incarcerated parents.

But how understood is this cause?

Most children of incarcerated parents are misunderstood and, in many cases, ignored.  Many can site statistics, and some can actually admit they’ve become a statistic, but Ms. Payton’s focus is clear: share the fact that she has overcome the statistics.

By welcoming audiences in, sharing some of her most painful moments growing up in a life-threatening environment, Ms. Payton reaches those who can relate, finding those in need. She credits the Arts for saving her life, and not only commits funding, but diligently focuses on giving-back to youth facing the same battles she’s faced by mentoring.  She has chosen a mix of both local and national organizations to support, allowing her to give back to her hometown of New Orleans as well as her new home of Los Angeles.

Maya Angelou quote (pic)

PR and Publicity vs “Puff and Fluff”

While announcing the partnership, be honest with the public.  Don’t puff up your client to be more than what they are or try to fluff up their support to be more than what it is.  Instead, once the choice has been made, be sure to connect with those who genuinely share in the cause.  Reach out to those who are long-term supporters, whether celebrity or not. This will not only increase the support base for the cause, but will also strengthen your client’s alliance.  Joining forces and sharing ideas for creative support, increases public awareness and makes the difference between superficial “puff and fluff” and careful PR and publicity.

Remember, it’s the man who has more that gives more and philanthropic efforts are what keeps many in need going and feeling encouraged.  Giving back for the cameras is bound to be exposed and never worth the backlash.

Fancy Yourself A Fashion PR Girl?

by   This post can originally be found here

 

Ah fashion PR. Ever since the the high brand fashion PR girls (you know…the fashion media goddesses, such as the almighty OscarPR girl/Erika Bearman…) decided to publicly tweet, blog and Facebook away about her job antics..with you know the “usual” 9 to 5 agenda,  the casual name dropping of celebs, the oodles of international trips and champagne swilling parties, a career in Fashion PR has never before looked so (in the worlds of the immortal Coco Chanel) “classy and fabulous.”

The success of popular reality TV shows like “Project Runway,” “Kell on Earth” and “The City,” have also inspired many public relations students and recent graduates to break into the world of fashion PR.  But one must remember that all these lavish ladies such as Whitney Port, Olivia Palermo, Anna Wintour, Grace Coddington… they are at the peaks of their careers. And before you can even think of sipping some martini’s at a high end Monte Carlo fashion bash or hailing that yellow cab in New York City, you may have a long and laborious ladder to climb first.

So what does a PR do exactly? Since publicity is free, a fashion PR company or executive would be responsible for; building relationships with the press (they basically have to make friends with fashion editors, writers and journalists so that these people will write about/feature the product); organising and managing guestlists for promotional events; gifting (sending free product to key editors or celebrities in the hope that they’ll use or write about it); writing, distributing and following up on press releases and press packs; dealing with requests from the press and celebrity PRs; and reporting back to clients on the publicity they’re getting for the brands. PR Reps also help maintain the public image of the brand. They may help with marketing initiatives, or photo shoots, or just maintain the overall perception of the brands mission and image to the market.

So like any other sector in the media (such as journalism for instance) fashion PR is becoming more and more competitive because of how popular culture is depicting is as one of the most charismatic and glamorous jobs in the fashion industry. All the fashion aesthetic and pleasure without the hardcore and challenging sewing/design work. And of course it can be all these stylish things, but only in good time. One must be be prepared to start from the bottom and become acquainted the pains, pressures and hard work that will in due course put you on the winding road towards PR success. So, still fancy becoming the next Gucci PR Gal or Lavin PR Lady? Darlings, go get yourself a notebook and please be ready to take note…

Here are some essential pointers that could assist you onto conquering the yellow brick road of a Fashion PR career:

1. University degree: If you are lucky enough to live in the metropolis of London you may be able to just study for a college diploma in Fashion or for your A-Levels and brave the world of fashion by falling straight into internships. However most Fashion PR wannabe’s will consider doing an undergraduate degree first just as educational insurance in case this becomes a requirement later on. Regarding the academic discipline of your degree it be anything you wish. Still most successful employees in the PR industry usually have an undergraduate degree in the following areas: Journalism, PR, Media studies, English, Fashion, Marketing, History etc. If you don’t have a degree in these disciplines it may still be possible for you to pursue a career as a PR associate however you may need to do some independent research/work to put you up to scratch with the others. I suppose if  you want it enough you will be determined to prove your worth!

2. Work experience: This is a absolute must if you want to place a foot in the first rung of that PR career ladder. While employers aren’t so fussed on your degree discipline, nothing in the world beats hands on experience on the job. When you do your work experience however is entirely up to you. Many students who do a sandwich 4 year course at university will opt to do an industry placement as part of their course. Other students who follow through with more traditional degrees like English may have to do work experience alongside their studies and attempt to balance it out. The best advice is to gain some sort of work experience in the first or second year of your degree so you can concentrate getting the very best marks in your last year. And if you live outside of London where many of the placements and internships are, be prepared to plan ahead and email in advance to avoid nasty surprises of clashing dates and availability!

3. Finding work experience: Finding work experience has never been so easy in this day and age. Long gone are the days were we would have to write letters and deliver them by snail mail post, now we have the world wide web at out fingertips. Sit down with a brew and scour through job websites such as FashionMonitor.com and FashionJobs.com to keep up to date with the latest internship and work placements as and when they happen. And do not just limit yourself to search engine websites. The social media era has now become pervasive with everyone, in every country and with every age. Even your Grandma has probably got a Facebook account and is probably in more tagged pictures than you are. So instead of just using Facebook and Twitter for talking to your friends use it for tracking down companies and employers!

4. Twitter, the biggest social network of them all: Never before has Twitter been in demand so much. Many find it an unfamiliar social media to begin with but once they have sent a few dozen tweets and gained a few followers, it has never become so addictive. You find yourself hash-tagging everything in virtual sight. So if you find yourself on Twitter more times than you would like to admit, use that internet hovering to good use! Track down other who are in similar positions to you to ask for advice, tweet companies directly asking for work placements, follow important people in the industry who might be able to get you a job and reply to their tweets as friendly as you can, in order to show an interest…believe me in the end you will be rewarded for your research and friendliness!

Nonetheless even though Twitter may have its advantages, I’d advise also to be wary of what you voice on there. Unlike Facebook, Twitter has less privacy settings regarding your personal information so don’t write anything down on there you would not want a prospective employer to see.  But all in all, regarding PR placements and internships, Twitter is thee place where they are most regularly advertised. All day every day. You never know when Jonathan Saunders may need an assistant or if Henry Holland  requires a few dozen interns. You just have to be at the right virtual place at the right virtual time…

5. Blogging – As a PR student it might be an idea to show an interest in your area of work by writing a fashion blog. Fashion bloggers have really made their mark in recent years and because of their willingness to write fashion/beauty reviews, articles or whatever interests them they have ended up landing secure PR jobs and placements because of that blog. An employer for instance would gain a brilliant insight into your personality and a taster of how much you want a particular role or how you would fit into the philosophy of their company just through looking at your blog content. And never fear if it’s not as good as some of the other “big bloggers” blogs. Employers will be able to see through that facade of how many “followers” and “comments”  being tantamount to your “success.” It is sheer nonsense. Evidently if you have hundreds of followers then that by all means is fruitful. BUT they will appreciate content over the social factors of it. Blogging after all is not a popularity contest nor should it be enthused to be so.

6. Gaining work experience: Congratulations on getting a placement! But this is were the hard work begins. You must ensure you are punctual for your first day in order to set a good impression. Be friendly, appeasing, willing and approachable as the team you are working in will appreciate those qualities. As it’s fashion PR they won’t expect you to dress so corporal so feel free to dress to revel in your own normal attire. Nonetheless remember it is a fashion placement so be sure to adhere to particular style that will get you noticed for your creativity or wear certain trends you know to be in vogue to stress that you are indeed “style savvy.”

Sadly you may be making tea, photocopying, sitting at a desk, liasoning, answering the phone, on Excel etc on your first day but don’t feel disheartened by this. You must take it on the chin and continue to smile. What did you expect on your first day? That’d you be whisked away with a senior member of staff to eat danish pastry The Savoy or to go to an exhibition in Paris? Of course not. So remember to use your time to observe productively. See what other employees are doing. Ask them questions on how they got their role or to show you how to function particular software or operate different tasks. As a result you will be appear an interested and eager individual and more likely to be remembered for all the right reasons instead of sulking in the corner like a diva. This may be a job in the fashion industry but it gives you no right to appropriate “model behavior” akin to that of Naomi Campbell.

7. After the work experience: YAY you have survived your first tests of PR Fashion girl work. Now what? Well the experience should have taught you whether you feel that PR would be the right career for you or not. If it is and you imagine yourself in your mind as the next Olivia P then you should be focused on securing your next placement. However that does not mean you should disregard the first company that took you under their wing. If you had a really productive time, perhaps suggest an opportunity for working for the employer again in the next few months? Perhaps write down the names of the contacts you have made and ask whether you can keep in touch? Remember networking is crucial to the fashion industry and by regularly tweeting, writing emails and referring to a previous colleague who knows what that person could do for your potential career prospects? One day you could work with someone who knows Kate Moss, Lily Cole or the editor of a big fashion magazine. What I’m saying is that without networking, if you never ask, you will never know! I’d particularly stress making a LinkedIn account to, a social networking site designed for professionals. (www.linkedin.com)

These tips then are just the basis to springboard your career into the fashion PR industry. These points would probably be the most traditional of avenues but don’t feel you have to completely adhere to it. Most PR employees have diverse and wide ranging backgrounds of how their secured their jobs in the industry which makes it all the more interesting, attainable and reassuring to us who may be apprehensive or nervous about whether we can succeed! Still, it would not hurt to take this advice on board to know what you are up against. As a person you need to be (like with any other career in the fashion industry) determined, hard working, willing to work long and unconventional hours, fashion conscious and knowledgeable, adaptable, passionate, calm under pressure, have a range of interpersonal skills and most significantly of all, be confident. Fashion is a industry full of strong willed characters therefore it is essential that you raise your voice high and proud to have it heard. There are no quiet or mousy plain Jane’s in this field of work. Oh no. Only a parade of colourful and loud characters that bring personality and essence to a brand. Candidates of the highest style calibre if you please…

So the question is…could you then be the next OscarPR girl or a Lagerfeld lass? Oh Reality TV watch your back or indeed watch your production budget…because slowly but surely they’ll be a new influx of PR girls swarming into town…

 

 

7 underrated skills every PR newbie needs

By Jessica Malnik| This post can be found here

 

In an ideal world, nascent PR pros and neophyte journalists should know how to do a variety of things before they walk across the stage and get their diplomas.

 

There’s no need to be an expert in everything, but it helps to have some familiarity with a variety of tasks and programs. As someone who’s been in the workforce for a few years now, I offer seven underrated skills that all aspiring PR pros and journalists should have:

1. Basic HTML knowledge

By this, I mean basic. There’s no need for PR pros to know how to code websites, although it could be helpful. There is a need to know to how to post a blog post using WordPress, Blogger, or Posterous. Knowing simple HTML commands for headlines, body copy, bold, italic, and bullet points is HTML 101.

 

2. Video editing

This can be daunting to learn. I’m not saying everyone should be fluent in Final Cut Pro or Avid, but there is no reason that a marketer or PR pro should not have some familiarity with iMovie, Animoto, or Jaycut. These are simple programs that enable you to upload and edit videos, often in minutes.

3. Excel

Creating simple spreadsheets and tasks in Excel can be difficult for newbies. Though it may be a tough program to learn, there’s no excuse to do so. You will use it more than you think.

4. Proper grammar

Writing well is a staple of just about any career. Good grammar and spelling are at its root. Channel the advice of your middle school English teacher whenever you construct a sentence, paragraph, white paper, presentation, or blog post. Good grammar matters.

5. Basic math

Whether you’re analyzing statistics, comparing percentages, or helping prepare a budget, simple math skills come in handy more often than you might think.

6. SEO

Understanding how SEO affects your site’s search rankings is important. At the very least, you should know to craft an SEO-friendly headline and keywords for site content. Any added knowledge is gravy. For additional SEO resources, check out SEOMoz blog, a phenomenal resource.

7. Social media familiarity

It’s mind blowing how many marketers and PR pros handle “social media tasks” professionally when they have no or little experience using those platforms. You don’t have to be super active on Facebook, Twitter, G+, etc., but you should at least be on the sites and know how to use them.

 

What other skills should marketers and PR pros have? Please leave them in the comments section below.

Jessica Malnik is a PR/marketing coordinator, social media specialist, videographer, and an avid Gen Y blogger. A version of this article originally appeared on her blog.

What Do You Do When Your Venue Closes Days Before Your Event?

When the Children’s Book Choice Awards planners arrived for load in, they discovered a lock on the venue’s doors and had to act quickly to save the event.

By Beth Kormanik | This Post can be found here

<p>  The Children's Book Choice Awards switched venues at the last minute, but it brought along its bookshelf lectern.</p>

The venue for the Children’s Choice Book Awards changes each year, and planner Lizz Torgovnick of Sequence Events and her clients at the Children’s Book Council had carefully scouted locations before choosing the Liberty Theater for this year’s event in May. The historic facility—with its unique layout and original theater boxes—had even inspired the event’s red curtain theme.

When the load-in crew members arrived on Friday to prep for the Monday event, they found an event planner’s nightmare: a padlock on the door and a post detailing liquor and other violations. The team faced a quick decision: Hope the legal issues would be resolved by Monday, or change venues.

“The first hour was spent asking, ‘What the heck is going on?’ Was it still possible to have the event there,” Torgovnick said. “We couldn’t get our venue contact on the phone, so it became clear very quickly that we needed to find a new venue for our event. After a few semi-frantic calls to team Sequence, everyone was on the case. We called every venue we’ve ever worked with that could accommodate this event.”

They needed an open venue that had space for a cocktail reception, award presentation, and dessert reception for 300 people—without increasing the budget. Finding an open venue in a matter of hours, even in a city like New York with its numerous options, is no easy task. The first round of phone calls yielded no results. Liberty Theater’s audiovisual contact suggested a not-yet-open space called Stage 48, fewer than 10 blocks from the original venue. It was still finalizing details of its build out, but it was available, and the team scheduled a walk-through.

“Luckily, it was a pretty good fit,” Torgovnick said. “It was 80 percent of what we needed from a venue, and the rest was doable. It was kind of a miracle.”

With the client’s approval, they made the switch. But the crew still faced several hurdles: ordering a new menu without a tasting, creating a new floor plan and new seat assignments, and alerting guests to the change in location. Then there was the stage itself. Intended more for live music events, it did not have stairs for winners to climb to receive their awards.

So planners asked the chef to recreate as best he could the original menu and cobbled together a staircase from materials the venue had on hand. The Children’s Book Council emailed event guests about the new location, and the night of the event, a hired staffer stood outside of the old venue in case anyone missed the message.

Another challenge was the elevator. It was not operational, so guests had to climb to reach the third-floor reception site. To accommodate guests who couldn’t make the hike, staffers kept the bar open on the main level and brought in hors d’oeuvres.

Despite the change, the event largely stayed on budget. Stage 48 matched the original venue price, and there was no haggling with the Liberty Theater since it had not cashed the deposit check. The only loss was for a satellite truck that planners had hired for a live online broadcast of the show. Its signal, which had been tested at the former venue, did not work from the new one.

The Liberty Theater’s William Curran told BizBash that the violations were from the theater’s in-house restaurant at the time, Famous Dave’s, which was operated separately. Curran said the management took care of the violations in court that Friday and reopened in time for dinner service. (He added that Famous Dave’s had been replaced by the Liberty Diner under new management.)

“We could have done the event here, but they felt more comfortable moving,” Curran said. “In my 30 years I’ve never had something like that. I understood that the event planner was very upset to say the least, and that’s why I did everything I could to help them.”

Torgovnick said she was disappointed that her client never received an apology from the Liberty Theater, but the experience had taught her valuable lessons.

“Be prepared,” she said. “Be on top of all of the details. If you have all of the puzzle pieces, if you have to reassemble them in a different place, it’s possible. Expecting the unexpected is part of our job, and in a sick way is what we love about the industry. The biggest problem that anyone could face came our way, and we still had a fantastic event.”

 

Lies Samantha Jones Told Me

This post can originally be found here

I have a bone to pick with Samantha Jones of Samantha Jones PR.

If we’re to believe this conniving liar [which, sadly, a lot of wide-eyed young publicists and publicists-to-be do], publicists are nothing more than glorified socialites, flitting from red carpet appearances to restaurant openings to the front row of New York Fashion Week.

This is why Samantha Jones is a liar:

Publicists do not get to have this much fun.

Samantha Jones Miley Cyrus

Public relations executives function almost entirely behind the scenes. If you think you’ll get to actually enjoy events you put together, you’ve got another thing coming. A publicist will be found in the background of a photo of an event, likely frantically trying to network with all the key media attendees in the room or scowling at a waiter for not being attentive enough to guests. Remember that time Samantha left her own restaurant opening event before it was over? Yeah. Not so much.

What the hell is with her schedule?

Film title: Sex and the City: The Movie

This is an overall problem with the Sex & the City story lines, but you will not find a publicist who has as much free time as Samantha. Lunch is eaten at your desk. Sometimes dinner, too. Sometimes on weekends.

About all that money…

Samantha Jones Money

Seriously, WHERE does this bitch get all her cash? Granted, an owner of a successful PR firm can make a lot of dough, she apparently has no employees, intermittent [and not that well-known] clients and doesn’t work realistic PR hours. Not exactly the recipe for her success.

This office [overlooking Times Square]:

Samantha Jones Office 1Nope. Just nope.

But, whatever. Work hard, play hard. You can pretend you’re this fabulous.

Samantha Jones gif

Celebrity Product Placement 101

This post can originally be found here

red-carpet-package

Any small business owner who has experienced the “magic” effect of successful celebrity product placement can tell you: celebrities equal sales. As a publicist who works in the celebrity space, I can tell you that celebrities also equal placements, which, when executed correctly, is good for both you and for your clients.

If you’re interested in starting a celebrity program for your brand, here’s a little food for thought:

Does Celebrity Product Placement Make Sense for You?

Celebrity product placement can mean a huge investment of time, effort and money, so it’s important to be realistic. If your brand is a high-end accessories brand, you have a much better chance of leveraging the “celebrity power” than, say, a brand of patio grills. Similarly, getting an endorsement for your $2 lipstick from a celebrity who is used to wearing Dior is going to be pretty difficult. Be honest with yourself when determining if a celebrity outreach program makes sense for your brand.

Identify Your Influencers

It’s practically impossible to directly reach a celebrity. However, Hollywood is full of gatekeepers, or influencers, who can help get your product into the hands of stars. These gatekeepers include celebrity publicists, managers, agents, makeup artists, wardrobe stylists, hair stylists, etc. Depending on your product or service, you may target different groups of influencers to get your product in the hands of celebrities. Be careful to identify which influencers are right for your brand.

The “Wow” Factor

Celebrities receives gifts from brands every single day. Nice gifts – we’re talking thousands of dollars worth of swag and high-end goods and services. It’s not enough to have a high quality good to get a celebrity fan; you have to go the extra mile when it comes to presentation. This sounds easy enough, but be careful: creating special presentation can become expensive very quickly.

Quantity

When developing a celebrity product placement strategy for your brand, be aware: you’re going to have to send out a LOT of free product/offer a lot of free services before you’ll see any ROI.

The Delicate Art of Follow Up

When you’ve made the investment of sending a product to a celebrity or offering your gratis service to the celebrity, it is tempting to want to get an endorsement right away. You were nice enough to give them your incredible one-of-a-kind product, so why wouldn’t they jump at the chance to tell you how great it is, right?

Wrong.

First, celebrities are very busy and you’ll be lucky they ever actually use, wear or even see your product. Second, if you have sent to a particular celebrity’s manager or publicist, they don’t care about getting you feedback (especially if you’re not paying for an endorsement).

Instead, learn how to gently follow up to ensure the celebrity received your product and offer to send more should they desire.

A Hollywood Publicist’s Six Tips for How to Build a Lasting Movie Star

Talent is God-given, and demands humility; fame is Man-given, and demands gratitude — especially to a publicist. For 40 years, Susan Patricola has seen Hollywood fame both flow and ebb. As press agent to current stars like Joaquin Phoenix and Jeremy Renner, she is especially qualified to assess what puts (and keeps) you on the right lists — like our roundup of the 100 Most Valuable Stars, for example. Vulture recently caught up with Patricola at the Beverly Hills Four Seasons, where she offered up a few insights from her decades in the red-carpeted trenches. She may not pick her clients’ roles, but her advice on how they should act when off the set is just as important to figuring out how to make it to the A-list — and not fall off.

1. Train them to keep an eye on their mouths.
The first step for up and comers is media training. Without it, they should not be allowed anywhere near a reporter, because, as Patricola insists, today, “nothing is off the record.” If a publicist has done their job well, there will come a point when everyone is hanging onto every word that the client says. And that’s when you really have to be careful. “For Jeremy Renner, when The Hurt Locker came out, we were at every award show,” says Patricola. “And at one, he was having a private conversation, but someone overheard it and printed it. You have to be aware.”

2. Know the TV talk show landscape.
Generally speaking, which morning talk show you see a star on has less to do with the star and more to do with the movie they are plugging. For example, ABC’s Good Morning America “gets the lighter movies, and the comedies,” while NBC’s Today “has some weight behind it” and goes for more serious, dramatic films. Late-night talk shows, of course, have distinct demographics: Kimmel is more popular with young men 18 to 34 (which is likely why you see Ben Stiller hyping his bawdy comedy The Watch there); Leno does better in the middle parts of the country; Letterman is more popular on the coasts, etc. But which ones her clients appear on, Patricola says, has as much to do with personal chemistry between guest and host as the targeted audience. If you have a client new to the circuit, take stock of their conversational strengths and weaknesses and try to match them with a host who might best play off of them, or vice versa. This ineffable quality matters so much, Patricola says, because the late-night couches “often insist on exclusivities” — that is, doing Late Show With David Letterman means your client likely won’t be doing The Tonight Show With Jay Leno, and also won’t get a second chance elsewhere if they tank their first appearance.

3. Strike surgically, don’t carpet-bomb.
The mistake many publicists make with new movie stars, Patricola says, is trying to get as wide a reach as possible, mistaking breadth for depth. Take a gorgeous, waifish actress in her early twenties with just a few movies under her belt: “We could put you on the cover of Shape magazine in a bathing suit, but that would be a terrible idea, because while it would get more impressions, they would be the wrong impressions. There’s a big difference between being photographed on the beach in Santa Monica for Self, and getting Mario Testino to shoot you on the French Riviera for Vogue.

4. Don’t always be afraid of tough questions.
The knee-jerk rule of publicity is that you should never let a journalist ask a client too many probing questions. But even though the reflexive approach for some publicists is to steer toward puff pieces, you should not be afraid of in-depth coverage. With big enough stars, “Their joy lies in the work; they don’t want to talk about making their last movie,” Patricola explains. “So that leaves their personal life, which they don’t want to talk about either, and the ideas that the movies are about, which they do.” Say yes less frequently, and reserve those yeses for places that will also devote column inches to exploring the ideas the celebrity wants to address — The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, Vanity Fair. There, the star can muse on the things they want to while gaining the imprimatur that comes with the publication.

If your star is a little quirkier, this approach can also work well … with the right person. Know your star. If they can handle an in-depth piece, let them go for it. In 2005, Patricola agreed to let Phoenix be interviewed by the notoriouslyprobing Lynn Hirschberg for the New York Times leading up to Walk the Line.Addiction, recovery, and deeply held personal religious beliefs are all commonly avoided in polite conversation and celebrity profiles — which is why they made for a riveting read in the penetrating (and glowing) interview that resulted. “After I put Joaquin with Lynn Hirschberg for that New York Times profile, [his William Morris Endeavor agent] Patrick Whitesell said to me, ‘You’re either a genius, or insane.’ But I knew Lynn, and I knew Joaquin, and I knew they’d get along great.”

5. When an actor can’t follow the rules, adjust the rules.
Some actors, no matter how much media training they receive, are simply intractably bad interviews. In that case, Patricola pairs them with publications with which they can’t fail, often because the interview isn’t really about them. “You put them with someone who’s not going to skewer them, like InStylemagazine,” she says, adding, with mock enthusiasm, “‘Show us what’s in your closet!’”

And what about an actor who can’t stay out of the clubs and is constantly popping up in unseemly paparazzi photos? “I never say, ‘You can’t party anymore,’ but I have told clients that there are certain places and events where they just can’t go. You have to find your space within fame,” she says.

6. Tell your star to be a star.
“Clients sometimes don’t want to look the part of a movie star, but if you want to be a movie star, you have to care about appearances. You can look good, or not. That’s truly your choice. But do we want an actor who looks like he hasn’t taken a bath? Why should people care about you if you don’t care? Look like you care.”

Even more important? Don’t speak ill about the downsides of fame. Yes, celebrity comes with its downsides — being unable to go out for groceries or dinner without being hounded by paparazzi — but dedicated fans can’t relate to that, and never will. All they see is someone glamorous and wealthy, and there’s a form of aspirational adulation there that you shouldn’t try to quash, no matter how well-intentioned you may be in trying to show people we’re all the same. “People want to revere their stars,” says Patricola. “I tell clients, ‘They don’t want your money, but they do want to revere you for a certain amount of time; let them. They can’t do it if you’re whining all the time.’”

9 Things Every Publicist Does (Differently) That You Should Do, Too!

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People will ask me all the time, “Why do I need a publicist?” If you have to ask the question, chances are you probably need one. Why? Because there are too many stories, too many angles, and too many opportunities you might miss by not knowing the rules of the game, so to speak. Authors, speakers, small business owners (turned authors) often launch headlong into their marketing campaign with little or no regard for the steps and the process of getting media. Some authors stumble into success after success, and that’s great, but it’s often not the norm. Why? Because in our zeal to tell the world about our story, we often stumble over our own efforts. We send pitches that are too long, or send them to the wrong person. Or we get a media person on the phone and fumble our elevator pitch. All of these things can rob authors of the chance to get some coverage for their book .

Over the years, a lot has changed in publicity. Players have come and gone, pitching windows have narrowed, and with so many stories vying for airtime, your 15 minutes of fame often seems like 15 seconds. To be successful, not just once but continually, you need to understand how publicity people view each facet of their job (and the pitch) and how they garner the media they do. Generally it’s not one thing, it’s a collection of tasks publicity people do over and over that gets them traction on a story.

Let’s look at some of the things we do on an ongoing basis and how you might be able to apply them to your own marketing efforts:

    1. Think like a journalist: This is probably the most important and the most difficult. When I say “think like a journalist” what I mean is thinking objectively and not thinking about yourself, your book, or your pitch because those don’t matter. The only thing a journalist cares about is “Will this interest my readers.” If you can work using that objectivity, you’ll gain greater access to media, both online and off, than you could have ever imagined.
    1. Know the rules: When I say rules, I mean not just the rules of your industry but the rules of pitching. When to pitch, who to pitch, how to pitch. A good publicist knows this, updates her information constantly (because media changes, moves, etc.) and lives and dies by these rules. Why? Get a reporter angry and you’ll see what I mean. Turn in a story late and see how much media coverage you end up getting. A lot of authors think they are special and different, and the rules don’t apply to them. Yes, you are special and different and yes, the rules still apply to you.
    1. Read outside of your market: They say that, eventually, everything ties into everything. This may or may not be true for all industries, but when it comes to promotion you’d be surprised how much a ripple over there can affect what you’re doing here. Reading outside of your market, mostly related to changes affecting other markets, serves a couple of purposes. First, the importance of creativity when you’re pitching can’t be overstated and sometimes to be creative, you have to look through your world using a different lens. By digging into and outside of your market, you’ll be able to gain access to information that could affect your message long-term, or perhaps give your brain enough juice and insight to bring a new set of ideas that will create some great pitches.
    1. Google Alerts: You can’t possibly follow every thread of discussion around your topic, or know where and when it’s being covered, but you do need to stay up on all of it; that’s where Google Alerts comes in. Yes, there are more elaborate tracking services, but Google Alerts is a great way to know when and where your topic is being featured. Also important, you’ll see who’s getting quoted and which media is covering your industry.
    1. Understand the importance of local media: Many times clients want to overlook local media. It’s not as glamourous or as big as national media. Well, that may be true but there’s gold in your back yard. We love local campaigns and local media loves their regional “celebrities.” If you haven’t done a local outreach you should. Additionally, network with local media by going to media events like Press Clubs (which anyone can register for). You never know where this will lead you, and you never know where your local contact may wind up on the media food chain. Years ago I worked with a producer for a local (small) Los Angeles station. We stayed in touch over the years and now she’s one of the head producers at CNN.
    1. Local vs. National: And speaking of local publicity — local media loves a local angle on a national story. If you can hook your book into something that’s going on nationally, then I suggest you pitch it to your local market. Good publicity people are always on the look-out for regional tie-ins, they make for great media!
    1. Media leads: I subscribe to several media leads services and I scan them, not just for existing clients, but to note trends nationally. Doing a quick scan of leads is a fantastic way to see what’s piquing the media interest. As you start doing that, you will also find that you’re responding to more and more stories because you’re starting to see tie-ins that you may not have seen previously (which is helped along by #3).
    1. Realize the importance of a subject line: I know that the topic of subject lines in email pitching has been covered (a lot), but I can’t state enough how important it is or how much time a good publicist can spend agonizing over it. Don’t just willy-nilly point and click your way through your media pitching — subject lines are extremely significant, and most publicity people I know spend a lot of time crafting, redrafting, editing and tweaking them. You should, too.
    1. It’s all about relationships: Once you start getting media, remember that staying in touch with the person who interviewed you is important. Find them on LinkedIn, thank them for the story they did on you (I still send hand-written thank you notes) and then stay in touch a few times a year. Perhaps you can comment on a story they did or send them a quick update or a copy of your latest book. If you can become a reliable media source for someone, you’ll likely always be in their rolodex even when they move on. Just like the example I gave above, media can move, and if you’re lucky, your information will keep moving with them.

Being a publicist is more than just knowing how to craft a snazzy email, it’s a process and an ongoing effort. If done right, you can really pull in a lot of great mentions, features and even reviews. Building media relationships takes a while, and there are no shortcuts, but if done effectively, these relationships can grow and flourish throughout your career. And remember: Media loves media. The more you get, the more you’ll get. Know the rules, honor the rules and perhaps if you’re lucky, the media will beat a path to your door.

How To Respond To HARO/ProfNet Queries Without Pissing Writers Off

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Think your peach defuzzer is the greatest product in the known universe, or rep a doctor who’s on the road to curing a formerly incurable disease? Then you’re probably signed up as an expert source on services like Help a Reporter (HARO)and ProfNet.

I use these services as just one of many tools in my arsenal to find expert and “real life” sources, but often I end up frustrated — and without usable sources. To be fair, sometimes my requests are kind of crazy — like I’m looking for a Hispanic woman in her 40s who lives in the Midwest and drives a Suburban. But many times, it’s the people who respond to queries that make a writer want to drive flaming daggers into her eyes.

Don’t get me wrong — I love and appreciate these services. They’re free to journalists, and I often find good sources through them, like the beautiful bridal entrepreneur-slash-cage fighter I ended up profiling for Fortune Small Business and later for Inc. But the successes are tempered by avalanches of off-point e-mails from PR reps and expert sources.

If you use these services as a PR rep or a source, here are some tips for boosting your chances of a reply when you respond to a writer’s query. (Yes, writers, these requests confusingly are called queries.) I’ll use some examples from recent queries I sent in.

1. Read the Freakin’ Query!

Lat week I sent out the following query:

Are We Detoxing Too Much?
I’m looking for experts such as MDs who can discuss whether the detoxing trend is going too far, in terms of detoxing our homes, our bodies, and our food. Magazines and books are telling us to purge everything from house dust to bleach to non-organic foods, and more and more people are going on fasts and detox diets. How do you know if you’re going too far? And how much do we REALLY need to detox? I do not need to hear from vendors about detoxing products.

You get it, right? I’m looking for information on the negative side of detoxing — how much is too much and how to know if you’ve gone too far. And yet, almost 100% of the responses I received were from medical professionals who offered to talk about why we need to go on detox diets and how to do it. It’s like they scanned the query, saw the word “detox,” and blasted off an e-mail about the wonders of detoxing. If you can’t (or won’t) read, how can we trust you as an expert?

So please…READ the query!

2. Sell Yourself

Every once in a while I get a response that says something like, “I can help you with your article. Call me.” Yeah, I’ll get right on that. Please, tell me who you are and what makes you an expert in the topic I queried.

3. Remember That Our Job Is Not to Sell Your Product

Of course, people who respond to writer queries have something to sell, whether it’s a product, a viewpoint, or something else. But you need to use some smarts to determine when it’s right to make a blatant product pitch. For example, here’s a query I sent out yesterday:

For a national health magazine, I’m looking for beauty news that’s NOT product-specific and that is backed by studies. For example, I don’t care that Jane’s Sun Kissed Skin Lotion was proven to prevent wrinkles, but I do care that a recent study published in the Journal of Dermatology concluded that the antioxidants in pistachios were proven to whiten teeth. Please, no product pitches.

I’m guessing you noticed that I did not want product-specific pitches. I mean, I made it pretty clear, right? So why do I get replies from people telling me, for example, that the FatBlaster Brand Laser Machine has been proven to reduce the look of cellulite? I guess the reps think, “Well, it can’t hurt to send it along anyway.” But guess what? Itcan hurt, because I’ll be sending very negative vibes your way, and I will remember you when you contact me again.

4. Don’t Add Us to Lists Unless We Ask You To

I can’t even count how many PR reps add my address to their press lists after harvesting it from a HARO or ProfNet query. I know this because I have a special e-mail address that I use only for queries on these services, so when I start getting press releases at that address, I know how I ended up on the list. Many people see I’m a writer — what type? who cares? — and decide that maybe I’d like to write about their clients who run a cracker factory in Boise. But even if a PR rep groks my specialties, I don’t want to be added to press lists unless I ask for it. Just because I wrote about safe web surfing in 2001 doesn’t mean that I want to receive press releases on that topic for the rest of my days. I get enough e-mail as it is.

Now HARO has a special feature that hides your e-mail address on your queries so this is less of an issue, but as soon as you respond to a PR rep they have your e-mail address and can add it to their press lists, so the problem hasn’t been completely eradicated.

5. Make Sure Your Client Is Available

It sucks when a PR rep responds to a HARO or ProfNet request with what sounds like the perfect source, but when you try to set up the interview the source goes AWOL. Check with your source to make sure he’s interested in doing the interview before you respond to a query.