Today I want to have an earnest chat about doing your own PR and getting your own ink. From my many conversations with designers I know that PR is important to them and that everyone understands the benefits of being featured in the press. But there are a lot of open questions - and preconceived notions - that prevent people from actually doing their own PR.
A week ago I asked for the top questions on this topic and I am so grateful for all the responses. I noticed a lot of the same themes: how to approach PR overall, what goals to set, where to start, how to do it without spending a lot of time, and of course the ins and outs of pitching and getting placements.
The questions have definitely helped me finetune the topics I am covering in my upcoming course, but at the same time I was excited to see that most of them focused exactly on what I will be teaching: Laying the foundation to do your own PR, and doing so in a way so you don’t have to spend a lot of time or money....
Today, I have some good news and need a favor. After months - not to say years - of work, I am putting the finishing touches on my long-awaited Master DIY PR Course for interior designers.
This program has been a labor of love, but at times it has felt like giving birth. As a mom of three, I know what I am talking about ;) Kidding aside, now that the finish line is in sight, I could really use your help.
I want to make sure that I’ve covered everything, but I am a bit too close to the project right now. I may not realize what you don’t know yet and would like to learn when it comes to getting started with doing your own PR. I would love some input from you. It will only take a few seconds. If you are a design professional, can you go to this link and answer two super-simple questions?
Thanks so much!
Fear of rejection is a big reason why a lot of people shy away from doing PR. We all have the need to feel loved and accepted. And this is true whether it’s on a basic human or on a professional level. When you pitch something to an editor - especially your own story or work -, you put yourself in a very vulnerable place.
Our hustling self wants our work to be recognized, our talent and effort to be acknowledged. But the fear of rejection feeds on our deep-seated insecurity of not being good enough, even if in everyday life we are self-confident, accomplished professionals with heaps of accolades and success stories of satisfied clients.
PR, especially pitching, is very emotional. The high when your story gets picked up is sky-high, the low when your pitch gets flat-out rejected is like a punch in the gut. And there is no way to take that volatility away.
The harsh reality is that most PR pitches get rejected. I know, it stinks. Some of them are simply bad, but there are...
When it comes to doing your own PR, getting started is hard. But keeping going is even harder.
At the beginning, you are all fired up and motivated, pitching away. But then you get a no, or two, or three, or worse, don't hear anything back at all. Poof, the energy and motivation drains.
But motivation is a myth. It fades more quickly than your summer tan. The tricky thing about PR is it doesn’t take a lot of effort, it only requires a little bit of time here and there - but consistently. And staying consistent is hard, really hard. It takes commitment to stick with it, not just when you’re fired up, but when you’re busy, tired and overwhelmed with life and work stuff.
There is no instant gratification. PR is a marathon, not a sprint. It needs to become part of your business routine like paying your bills or posting on social media. You have to show up and keep showing up, even, or especially if you’re not seeing results. Because they are likely just...
I have been on the fence about whether or not to address this topic because, honestly, I wasn’t quite sure about what I would say. We live in a complex time and there is no easy, straight forward way to approach it. The pandemic, the racial reckoning, the political mess - it’s a lot to deal with for us as humans and communicators.
We’ve had conversations about this on my weekly coaching call for my Design PR Insider Membership, and I very much appreciate everyone’s perspective. Not having grown up here in the U.S., I sometimes feel like I am missing some of the experience and history that inform people’s perceptions of the issue who have always lived here, especially when it comes to the BLM issue. But I am open and ready to learn.
As a communicator, here is what I would say to you if you have a design business or another business in an industry not directly related to any of the hot topics:
For over 20 years I have been promoting businesses, products, services, people, causes. From sports (soccer, of course!) to banks to mobile service providers to aids organizations to tech start-ups to engineered wood and designy things and people. Making other people and things look good in the media and elsewhere has been my professional life, and it’s gotten to be fairly easy because after a while you’ve mastered the tricks and tools and have built the relationships.
My comfort zone is in the background, coaching people what to say and do. I’m good at that. I have media trained plenty of top executives and savvy business folks, written presentations and speeches up the wazoo and organized countless media interviews.
Now, running a business of my own - starting with a direct sales business years ago and leading into my current consulting gig - has challenged me in different ways. Is still challenging me!
Not surprisingly, it’s much easier to help other...
Do you love or hate spreadsheets?
To me, this is a purely rhetorical question. Like everyone else in their right mind, I DESPISE spreadsheets. With a passion. Opening Excel makes my skin itch and my face fall asleep. Could there be anything more boring and tedious?
Okay, maybe bookkeeping or doing tax stuff… Am I right, or am I right?
(If you fall into the spreadsheet lover camp, good for you, weirdo! You probably already have a master spreadsheet that tracks more things than I can think of. I don’t know how you do it, but I have the utmost respect and maybe wish I could be just a little bit more like you...)
That being said, I actually do use spreadsheets, albeit reluctantly, because tracking is supercritical in PR as in every kind of business. I even have fancy PR software that is supposed to do it for me, but honestly, it leaves a lot to be desired, and I often find that it’s more effective to keep it simple (the Get Ink DIY mantra!) and set up a basic...
My job as a PR pro fundamentally consists of connecting my clients and/or their stories with the media and other audiences. Lately, I’ve been feeling a bit like a relationship counselor as I am realizing that there are some fundamental misunderstandings from both sides, but especially from the designer’s point of view.
When I talk with journalists in the design space and how they work with interior designers, they usually tell me a lot of the same things:
All great news, isn’t it?!
When I talk with interior designers who are interested in getting PR, I also hear a lot of the same things:
And then the biggie:
So often people have their mind set on being featured in a certain media outlet. Amongst my PR team the running joke for many years was "Why don't we get it on the Oprah Show?" I have to admit, it was sort of a relief when the show ended because our clients stopped asking to be on it!
In my defense, I did get one product on the show. It was a segment with Nate Berkus and he was showing off our highly sophisticated electronic Kohler DTV shower system at the Harpo Studios in Chicago. The only problem was that the display we brought along was not designed to be briskly moved around since it had an open tank of water. So when the stagehands moved it, or rather yanked it, from backstage onto the studio floor, the engineer I had brought along and I were sweating bullets and praying that the whole thing wasn't going to short-circuit because the water spilled over. It didn't, all went well, but I don't recall many times in my life when I was more nervous....
While the world around us is swiftly moving from one crisis to the next, I have chosen to focus on what I can control.
Not to say that it's not unsettling. It is. And I have lots of opinions. But that's what they are, opinions.
I used to love arguing with people and trying to convince them that I was RIGHT and they were WRONG. Then I realized that everyone has their own truth, which is simply an opinion - and I learned to respect that. (For the most part...)
It might seem trivial and superficial but launching my new Design PR Insider Membership during this flat-out crazy time has helped keep me grounded.
Working with my group of founding members already has given me real joy because I can tell that I can make a small difference in a tiny corner of this world, and people appreciate it. We're not tackling racial inequality or curing a disease, but the world can use every bit of positive energy we can create and spread.
So much for the world-changing power of DIY PR, one small happy...