I've realized that one of the things designers are most interested in is to hear how their peers have managed to have media success and learn how it has impacted their interior design businesses. To paint that picture I decided to start a series of interviews with designers that have experience with PR and are open to share their successes, failures and lessons in using it. The goal is to provide inspiration, insights and learnings that can help you determine if and how PR may work for your business.
My first guest is Pamela Durkin, ASID, LEED AP ID+C, from Pamela Durkin Designs. I recently had a chat with her on Instagram about the power of PR and let me tell you, she's a pro. (And she has the best glasses!)
Please tell me the 3 most important things about yourself and your business.
Pam: I’m a 30-year design veteran. My clients are high net worth individuals who move to Naples, FL to enjoy their 2nd, 3rd or 4th home.
I am now teaching other designers what I have learned over my career so they, too, can have a life and a business they love!
When and why did you start integrating PR into your marketing?
Pam: I’ve been using PR and placements pretty consistently over my 30-year career. I think placements are so much more powerful than ads, so I’ve always sought those out.
What has been your biggest media success, and what your biggest “failure”, i.e. learning?
Pam: I was lucky enough to get on a TV for 2 segments just a few months back. As much as I’d like to think it was in my control, it really was a stroke of good fortune. I had participated in a local charity event for the Ronald McDonald House. In my concept statement, I mentioned that I could relate to what the parents were going through because my son had been in Neonatal Intensive Care when he was born. Even though that was 17 years in the past, the media picked it up as a ‘Human Interest Story.’ It took me completely by surprise but what I learned is that tying our design work to meaningful connection and storytelling is so important. To me, that was my biggest media success.
As for a learning experience, I was spending a lot of time commenting on reporter inquiries but realized that I was not speaking to my ideal client. The content I was participating in was geared towards a DIY client and not the affluent, which is my market. I realized that not all media coverage is good coverage so now I set my ego aside and am much more choosy on what I participate in.
What impact has getting published and being visible in the media had on your business?
Pam: To be honest, I think it has helped in multiple ways. Of course, it elevates my design business and authority in my market. Anytime you’re published, it’s an instant credibility boost. It also provides a nice validation from an outside source that the work I am doing is noticed and seen as different. Let’s be honest, all creatives need that feedback to keep producing great work. I’ve also learned to make the most of those placements by talking about them in social media, adding them to my monthly newsletter, putting them on my website and adding printouts to my pre-sale packet.
What is your best advice for interior designers who are considering PR?
Pam: Start small but definitely go ahead and start. An easy way to get noticed is to sign up for the free version of HARO (Help a Reporter Out). You can get media inquiries from reporters looking for sound bites from designers. Also, don’t underestimate the value of local placements. Reach out to your local editors and offer to be a resource to them. Along with the pretty pictures, be sure to tell the stories about the challenges you faced on a project and how they got resolved.
Follow Pam on Instagram to learn more.
P.S. One of the recent new Get Ink DIY offerings is a subscription to curated media opportunities for interior designers that come from HARO and other sources. Check it out if you are interested in a shortcut to media fame.