About 10 years ago I launched the PR division of a branding company. One of our first major clients was Revlon. We were asked to pitch a project – the public relations promotion of an upcoming film partnership, the Bond epic “Die Another Day,” starring, among others, Halle Berry. Revlon product wasn’t placed in the film, but it featured the brand’s top spokesperson, so there was an opportunity of leveraging the connection.
The brand needed a PR group that had expertise in making the most of a theatrical promotional partnership. I had worked on the Ray-Ban/”Men In Black” film tie-in with huge success, so we were given a shot at the business. I remember sitting at a table with about 30 people from Revlon and pitching our business. When we left they voted and we got the job.
Then came the fun part, finding the right team, especially since I didn’t have one. At that point my “company” had only 3 employees, including myself, and it was a bit of a leap to get the business as the project was global in nature and we would be overseeing deployment of the program across the world. Long story short, we stayed calm, secured a great team and did an incredible job, garnering hundreds of millions of impressions and delivering millions in advertising value. It was a total blast - I even went to the London premiere, attended by the Queen herself.
What has this got to do with Halle?? Well, one of the ways we created television coverage was getting our own b-roll and packaging it in as many different ways as we could to distribute to a litany of media outlets. The brand was shooting an ad campaign for the film tie-in, so I went with a crew to gather my b-roll. Essentially, I would be interviewing Halle Berry. Well, she is one gorgeous lady in person. She has flawless skin and a beautiful smile and from what I can tell a gracious personality. On that occasion, and a few others, I was able to watch her in action. A person of her stature always seems to have a lot of hands hovering around, tweaking a garment, powdering a nose, teasing some hair, adjusting a stance. I don’t know about you, but that would drive me crazy. Not Ms. Berry though, she exhibited no spoiled star tantrums. She was total grace under pressure – or at least under a multitude of hands. Something we can all learn from!
Have you heard of Pinterest? If you haven’t you should have by now. It’s one of the top ‘sharing’ platforms online today. In PR terms it’s ‘blowing up.’ Actually, in any term, it’s ‘blowing up.’
We are a visual nation. We like our verbal in sound bytes, and our predilection for bullets and easily digested items fulfills our love of the visual. Maybe visual isn’t really visual, maybe it’s just easy. Easy to see and understand. Easy to analyze and use.
Cut and paste. We like that too… Why is that? Why do we love it so much? Perhaps it’s because of all that technology that was supposed to make life better but only made it more complicated. Like how Email was supposed to cut down on paper. Well, it didn’t. And so here we sit with reams of lost paper, and lots of crazy hours (you can work ALL night if you choose, because YOU CAN!)
When I started my business as a division of a branding company winning corporate clients was the Holy Grail. You WANTED big business because it paid well, generally, and because it was a feather in your cap. Many other PR companies were vying for the coveted corporate client, the one that would “put you on the map.” So if you got the biz it was a great day.
I won a large piece of beauty business (agency of record worldwide for a major project) with only 3 employees—me being one of them. The other two staff members were junior. In our minds we were small but mighty. We kept the client for years and really enjoyed the work, overall… I’d worked on corporate business as the VP of another PR agency prior to launching the division, so it wasn’t entirely unknown territory. But along the road, as our division grew, we certainly had our share of boutique brands. The mix of the two often worked well together, as we creatively forged alliances that used the cache of one brand to enhance the profile of a company with more spending capacity. We certainly produced some wonderful mergers.
Today, after 5 years running my own company, I do wonder, is the corporate client really the way to go? They do have more money, but they do require more resources to run. They do offer prestige, but in an increasing segmented world, smaller can often be more desirable and even visible.
Here’s what I think, corporate is great, as long as they have vision and an ability to play small. In the world of consumer products consumers want to know that they matter. The type of brand ethos that can pull that off generally starts within the culture and that makes that company a good one to work for. So yes, we love corporate, just as long as they care…
Ever since I started in this business, almost 20 years ago, I've noticed that the intensity of our world has dictated the need for a strong morning coffee and a relaxing social glass of wine in the evening.
Now, admittedly, I've largely operated in the types of scenarios where drinks are part of the scene, though when working an event it is always a “no no” to imbibe. But when you start running your own business, as I did a few years ago, your health becomes even more of a focus, and shifting between the two adrenal draining vices can start to cause problems. While that incredible caffeine rush is not easily replaced, and that relaxing moment with a glass may be all you're looking forward to all day long, it's often a good idea to take a break from the two and find a way to recharge "in health." Nothing like a good green tea, an elderflower sparkler or a walk in the park to produce a moment of calm. My advice this new year is to take a break from the vices – oh, if only I could only take my own advice!
I’ve always been a big believer in over communication. In the world of public relations that is our job, after all. To be good at what we do we need to create strategic pathways to communicate our client’s messages – whether to the consumer or to other businesses.
In a vacuum I’ve learned that people always assume the worst, so finding a clear way to keep interested parties “in the loop” is critical to any successful pr plan, program or campaign. I’ve recently gotten married and I know my lovely husband wishes I wouldn’t communicate as much as I do. Just this morning, walking along the promenade in Brooklyn Heights, I asked if he wouldn’t please be present in this beautiful moment for me. Over communication, or just plain redundancy… He thought my communication was going a bit too far.
As a publicist I will always believe that over communication is your best ticket for keeping all the right people in the know, including your clients. So go for it, open up and let ‘em have it!
This is a week of memories… I remember when. Well I do remember when I saw my first pair of Jimmy Choo shoes. Beverly Hills, Oscar week, L’Ermitage Hotel. One of my colleagues popped out to buy a pair because they “looked great and are SO comfortable.” The look then was sling back, not so high heel and yep, kinda fabulous.
I’ll tell you something, I don’t think making a name for yourself in the shoe department is the easiest thing to do. From a PR standpoint, getting great press on shoes can be a challenge, because they are on the feet after all. When we get one of our fashion clients shot on the red carpet, it’s all about the dress. We work pretty hard to make sure our jewelry is covered. But shoes. Wow.
We did a big to-do a few years ago when our client, Kwiat, partnered with Stuart Weitzman and did a pair of “million dollar” slippers for the Academy Award red carpet. I give his PR people credit, they did an incredible job getting press, and it’s just not easy. BUT here’s the thing. Of all our personal fashion items I think it’s safe to say that shoes rank pretty darn high. And Jimmy Choo broke out and made it happen, on the red carpet and off. They are a success story that other brands should consider studying. And now they are partnering with H&M to bring fabulous to the masses (not unlike other brands that have gone before, Stella, Karl Lagerfeld and Matthew Williamson). I think it’s a good thing. I’m a fan!
I am a “Good Morning America” nut. I watch every single morning. I follow Chris and Sam on Twitter. You get the idea. And while GMA feeds my soul on a daily basis, it seldom feeds my work—alas, stories about three-year-olds surviving a week alone in the woods outfitted only in flame-retardant PJs aren’t as applicable to fashion as one might think.
So imagine my surprise when Diane announced during this morning’s show that the Olsen twins were stopping by to make an announcement—causing me to recalculate my morning routine to allow for lunch making as well as Olsen twins news. Turns out those wily twins are launching a tween fashion line with J.C. Penney’s set to hit floors in February nationwide.
Now, I must admit, when Penney’s opened up their Manhattan flagship store this summer, I cringed at the amount of money they were dumping into such a grand venture during the worst retail climate in a long time. I mean, I think Target’s move to introduce the GO International program was nothing short of brilliant. But J.C. Penney’s celebrity diffuse lines have fallen short for consumers and me as well. A quick gander at the I ‘Heart’ Ronson line, by wunderkind Charlotte Ronson, shows a hefty number of markdowns. That said, I must say that I’m impressed with Penney’s ability to cajole Ashley and Mary-Kate Olsen into launching a line for them. The kids that grew up watching Ash and MK on television and video are now credit card carrying teens and young adults—a fact I’m sure the big wigs at JCP are banking on (pun intended).
Select styles of the "Olsenboye" line — named for the twins' family in Norway — will be offered for a limited time online and in some stores from Nov. 6 until the official launch in February. Prices range between $20 and $50. Marketing support leans heavily on social-media buzz and "guerrilla" street outreach via pink ice cream trucks turned mobile shops that will travel around New York City today, with the Olsen sisters aboard. Ultimately, if this venture doesn’t end in a landside retail success (which it just might) it’s already a resounding PR success. As Michelle on “Full House” would say: J.C. Penney’s, you got it dude!
Gosh, now Obama is getting a Nobel Peace Prize. His role keeps getting more interesting by the minute. First, pedaling the Olympics, now this. Well, admittedly, he knew nothing about this pending honor. I'm not saying he doesn't deserve it, but I can tell you this, based on what I do for a living, too much too early is not good for anyone, especially the President of the United States. I'll just bet he knows that...
I remember when Bush was doing his thing, all I could think was WAKE UP and smell the coffee! Your image SUCKS! I wondered, “Wasn't there SOMEONE in Washington that could tell him the truth?” For instance, instead of flying OVER New Orleans just after Katrina, STOP in for a visit. Honestly, most of the big mistakes this man made were manmade. All he had to do was handle some things differently and his overall image wouldn't have been half as bad as it was. The guy put more money toward Africa than any other president and yet you would never ever know it. BAD PR. Who the heck was helping him?
And now this. Mr. President, I know you had nothing to do with it, but really be careful here. The bigger they are the harder they fall. Keep it real.
It seems to me that now a days blogging is the only way to go. Whether it's micro blogging, the normal blogging or status updates, we no longer reach for our phones to make a phone call but rather to update our social media profiles. Should we no longer ask for people’s phone number, but instead their Facebook and Twitter user names? With all these new platforms emerging, I often wonder how we will ever have enough time to keep up with them all. Heck, our company devotes an entire division to managing this for clients.
Although my bread and butter is made from telling clients they NEED to be in the social media realms, I strongly believe that face time is much more important than Facebook time. Yes, it's important to have a social media presence. And yes, you should keep your virtual "friends" and followers informed, but at the end of the day, how many of these people are really your friends? If you can't make the face time, at least make the phone call. Maybe Twitter is onto this idea also since they just launched the new (but when you're reading this, probably not the latest) application allowing you to make phone calls via Twalkin. Oh Twitter, you're always on top of the trends!
I know we’ll most likely be using this new application for our campaigns, so go ahead and give us a call. But, to be honest, it’s probably easier to get in touch online ☺ Someday I’ll practice what I preach.
Someone asked me to do a blog on creativity. They are in a similar industry, so I'm sure they were hoping I would shed a little light on the process, or at least offer up my take on how to tap into creative juices - within context, of course. Well, as you do when you riff, I went off track a bit, landing somewhere on Pollock and how the seeming chaos of his splatter art was actually pure and pleasing order (there is a computer program that can back this claim).
Creativity. I believe EVERYONE is creative, it's just expressed in different ways for different people. Creativity is something everyone needs because the process helps you solve problems and everyone has a problem to solve. Moms need to know what is giving their little ones gas. Kids need to know how to bend the rules and stay up late. PR agencies need to know how to get their clients coverage in the media. Media companies need to know how to position their titles to advertisers. And yes, visual artists need to find something new to paint (or sculpt or whatever.) So, since creativity is something we all can do, why not own it more. Declare yourself people! YOU are the creatives!