For the fifth and final IG Live of our Week of Visibility our focus is all about PR for Visibility, so Pedddle founder Nicki sat down for a chat with Nerissa from Untld Project, a PR and marketing agency dedicated to helping independent creative brands. Nerissa also runs her own small business, The Bargello Edit, and we wanted to find out a little bit more about using PR for visibility and why Christmas in July is so prominent in the PR world.
What is PR and why is it good for our businesses?
We use a really simple description from Holly’s mum. For those of you who don’t know, Holly works at the Untld Project, and Holly’s mum says, “PR is basically advertising, but you have to convince a journalist to do it for free”. That is PR in a nutshell!
Obviously, there is a cost attached in terms of your own time, but ultimately what you’re trying to achieve is a journalist featuring a product or service in a magazine, newspaper, blog or journal for free that spotlights your business. There are a few different types, such as traditional product placement and gift guides.
Brand awareness is something a lot of small businesses tend to sleep on also. By showing you’re an expert at something, this can be a great way to raise your brand profile.
Why do we need to start doing PR for Christmas in July?
For a lot of monthly magazines that people love to buy, Christmas starts now. Christmas in July was an industry term, but is now more well known by business owners. It’s essentially getting particular products from your range ready, pics shot and developed and written up so that that a journalist is able to look at it now and get it ready to feature in a monthly title that might not come out until October/November.
July is a fantastic time to get your stuff ready. As you get closer to Christmas you can still get coverage, but there will just be less of it, so it’s best to get in early and July is the kick off for Christmas coverage.
Have a big brand mentality – we are just as important as big businesses and can think like they do!
What would you send out to a publication company?
A PR toolkit – this includes all your images. It doesn’t have to be every product, it could just be 2 or 3 bestsellers shot really nicely. Imagery is key – make sure you’ve got something that shows it could be Christmassy. If your brand is not obviously festive, it could have winter touches in it, like pinecones or twigs etc.
A press release explaining what those products are – have a snappy intro and for a product based release, a few lines about what it is and why its amazing for Christmas gifting. Sell it to the journalist.
Where to buy – provide a link to it, and state how much it costs.
What images should you send out to them?
There are two types – lifestyle and cutouts.
Lifestyle – these are the kind that you share on your website or share on your social media.
Cutouts – this would be an image of your product on a flat lay and all of the background has been removed. If you’re not are what this looks like, you can find it easily by looking through a magazine. I always recommend Readly – you can go back and search publications and gift guides from previous years and see what they’re looking for and where your brand would fit. I have a reel on Untld Project‘s Instagram about this.
If a creative business hasn’t yet made anything new, and are looking at products from last year, is that ok?
Absolutely! Just making it new and adding newness if needed. If it’s a bestseller, say it’s a best seller, as what you’re telling the journalist is “People love this product and that’s why you should feature it”.
If it was popular last year but maybe needs a bit of love, you could add a bit of colour or tweak the packaging. Journalists are looking for a product to land in their inbox that they want to share with their readers.
How do we know who is the right person to contact, and where can we find their contact details?
Research is really important. Chances are, whoever did it last year will be doing it again this year, so it’s always worth having a look. Gift guides are not only in magazines. Make sure you’re looking at the online versions of them too, and the journalist’s name will probably be in the byline.
It’s much better to have a pool of about 6-8 journalists that you nurture relationships, with rather than reaching out to 50 journalists.
In the front of most magazines, there will be a telephone number for the publication. It’s a bit old-school, but give them a call and ask for an email address to contact the journalist. Remember, boundaries are important – be sure not to bombard anyone.
For monthly magazines, now is the time to start contacting. Home magazines are always worth getting in touch with earlier as they start working early.
What else should we consider?
It’s really about focus. I would get 2-5 products depending on what you sell, and focus on them getting them shot beautifully and hammering them home, more colour ways, more options to personalise them.
Whereas previously, having lots of options previously used to be popular, I think this Christmas will see a return to being more traditional, thoughtful and personal and making sure your gifts are thought about. People will be buying from small business but will be buying much more considerately, rather than treating family and friends that they are not with.
I think this is what journalists will be pushing. Personally, as a product based business owner, I’m going to focus on five things across a range of prices. I’m going to make sure I’ve got that pocket money price, a premium price and then a few bits in between. Let’s be strategic – it’s a bit of a scary time right now. We all need a bit of focus and to be a bit “Christmas cautious”.
Be really clear about the products you want to put forward and what they are about. Categories like “for him”, “for her”, and “for kids” are standard. I’m interested to see with there being more of a view on being more open with gender, whether those traditional sections will disappear and be replaced in favour of more gender neutral gifts.
Other little things like “for pets” has become a huge category. I do wonder whether it will focus more on price, colour, other things like sustainability & vegan products. Think about the things that matters to you and what your brand stands for, and don’t try to stand for all of them.
What would be your top take-aways to sum up what we’ve chatted about?
Look at your product range – is there any low hanging fruit, things you had last year you could take and give a Christmas spin?
Start looking at photography – Get your products shot as soon as possible. If yo need to book in with a shoot and send, do it now as it can start to get busy.
Get your press folder ready – this is to accompany your photos.
Research who you’re going to speak to – and figure out when you’re going to speak to/approach them.
What’s next for Untld Project?
We are releasing something very soon! It’s to help with the PR journey, but I can’t say anything else yet. We will be announcing everything on Thursday next week, so do join our newsletter or follow us on Instagram and everything will be revealed. Spoiler alert, it’s amazing!