PUBLICITY TIPS FOR INTERIOR DESIGNERS
As someone who has been living out of a suitcase since August 2016, I’m beyond eager to get into our forever home this fall.
Like counting down the days.
I’m following all the brands and designers I can find on Instagram.
I’m pinning and re-pinning, and then pinning some more, any design ideas I can on Pinterest.
After all this time spent on social media, you’d think I’d feel confident about what colors, furniture, and accessories we should go with no matter what home we purchase.
Except I’m not.
In fact, after all that time spent scrolling on social, I’m even more confused about what to do and where to start to make my home the interior of my dreams.
And don’t even get me started on trying to find someone local in my area I can hire to help me.
Seriously, where are all the interior designers hiding?
Being a publicist, I see ton of free opportunities for interior designers to capitalize on finding clients like me—those desperate and in need of assistance or even those who don’t yet know they need assistance.
And none of them require depending on social media.
Here are 10 ways for interior designers to use public relations (PR) to help boost their businesses.
Be in the know
What is the number one thing every interior designer needs to know about PR?
That PR is one of the best ways to build your brand and get the word out about your business and yourself as an expert.
But first, you have to understand what PR is.
PR is the art of convincing an audience—outside your usual circle of influence—to promote your idea, purchase your product, support your position, or recognize your expertise.
To a casual observer, public relations in regard to interior design conjures up shows on HGTV or your own design magazine.
In reality, the nature of PR is vast and varied.
PR encompasses all sorts of tactics, including media relations, online content, social media posts, online reviews, word of mouth outreach, influencer and affiliate partnerships, and event planning.
Basically, any time you see, hear, or read about a designer, it’s thanks to someone’s PR efforts.
For example, when a designer builds a solid relationship with a media outlet, repeatedly sends them useful information and gains exposure, the public now sees that designer or their company consistently featured, and they begin to recognize his or her name and view that designer as a trusted expert to go to for information about interior design or the industry.
Top designers and their teams know how to get a plan in place that turns these concepts into tangible, measurable results.
They know how to create publicity campaigns that blend a healthy mix of media relations, marketing, advertising, event planning, and social media to position themselves as a reliable source of information and the go-to in interior design.
It takes more than a press release and a couple blog posts and a news article here and there though.
It’s critical to get a multi-pronged strategy in place, and make sure you have all your bases covered.
Now that we’re on the same page with the definition of PR, let’s take a look at what works to generate some buzz and drive results.
Verify your visibility
Be honest: Is your business easy to find?
If I Googled you or your company name right now, what would I find?
A website that’s updated, accurate, and best describes how I can work with you, what it will cost, and how I can get in touch to hire you ASAP?
Or are you the best kept secret in town?
The best thing you can do for your business today, is to make sure your online presence is order.
I call this your publicity house.
And, because word of mouth is still the number one way people research and then commit to service-based businesses, I can’t recommend enough you get your publicity house in order.
Your publicity house is your foundation.
You need to have your presence sufficiently established online from your website to your blog to your social media profiles.
Are you images current, professional, and high quality across all platforms?
Is your bio clear and easy to understand on every site where name appears?
You won’t get the results you want from any sort of marketing or publicity efforts if you don’t have a strong online presence.
Because if you are pitching and promoting yourself as the next big thing but when people Google they aren’t finding you, no one will care about you.
Especially if you plan on doing any sort of public relations-related outreach to the media, make sure you have your publicity house in order.
With the number of interior designers flooding the inboxes of the media, you can count on the fact that these editors and writers will be checking each submission’s online presence as a means to weed out who not to cover.
As always, you want to have the edge.
I also want to stress that having your publicity house in order doesn’t mean having more likes or followers than everyone else. It means having a consistent presence online that is activity and updated and the appearance that you know your stuff and can easily engage with customers.
Once your publicity house is built and stable you can begin thinking about amassing the publicity you’re looking for.
Create compelling content
You’re the newsroom now.
Make sure the stuff you’re putting out there keeps your audience—both current customers and potentials—coming back for more.
When you’re creating fresh and relevant content, you’re fueling your digital marketing campaigns and attracting new visitors.
While this veers from the idea of traditional PR methods, promoting your own content through email, on you blog or vlog, your social media accounts and other channels, is the benefit of living in our digital age.
You’re your own newsroom now!
Here are the types of content you can create to drive your PR strategy:
Maybe you already have email campaigns set up for prospects or a newsletter that you send to your database.
Either way, upping your email game is a must.
This is an easy way to send helpful tips on the latest design trends, highlight sales, and share facts and happenings about what’s going on with your business.
Struggling to figure out what to email out?
I have a design friend in Dallas who sends out an email to her list every Thursday and it’s three things they need to do know ahead of the weekend about the following:
One industry or trend update and her take on it.
Think, “Summer style makeover.”
One do-it-yourself idea that can be done in a weekend.
Something like, “One big change that will revamp your entire living room for less than $100.’
One sale or new launch from a brand she knows, trusts, and loves.
For example, “Joanna Gaines just launched a new line….”
Sure, it takes her (or someone on her team) a few minutes each week to pull this very short email blast and its related content, which lives on her website in a blog area.
But, the return on investment is huge for this time spent.
By sending out an exclusive email to her list each week, she’s keeping herself top-of-mind with those who are interested in paying her for her expertise.
Establishing a relationship with them.
Showing her vast array of expertise.
Revealing her personality and whether or not she’s a good fit for a client.
Going above and beyond to provide valuable, educational information to those who have requested to receive it.
Blog and testimonial pages
On your website, there should be a blog where the vast amount of knowledge you possess can live.
This blog is an excellent place to direct your social media efforts to. And to drive any paid ad traffic you partake in.
With the content on your blog, it’s important that you keep it relevant, educational, and helpful.
Your blog is a great medium for more in-depth information about design styles you specialize in, industry and trend news, client testimonials, resources for current customers and potentials, as well as the occasional downloadable content like design layouts or checklists.
These downloadable design layouts and checklists also are great for helping you capture contact information and grow your email list.
Your blog and testimonial pages also are great ways to showcase client testimonials, showcase your awards, highlight industry partnerships you’re proud of, and a place for you to highlight all of your press coverage.
Incorporating these tactics alone will help build up the foundation for your PR strategy and gives you the freedom to promote your brand—and drive business—through your own channels.
Without dealing with social media or whatever the algorithm is this week.
Now, onto the other channels that can really boost your PR to the next level!
Build your media relations
This is usually what people think of when you say PR.
Media relations should be a huge component of your plans for your business.
Leveraging other people and their networks is key to positioning your brand prominently in the public eye and marketing yourself as an expert.
The following folks can help you do this:
Journalists and reporters
Bloggers and magazine writers
Newspaper and news site writers and editors
Start building a focused list for distributing your content or pitching your news where you know your target customers will be apt to read, watch, or view the information.
Always keep in mind that the secret to building successful relationships with the media, just like in interior design, is demonstrating what service you can offer.
Media professionals are tasked with providing content for their listeners, viewers, and readers. They need to keep their advertisers happy by driving traffic and boosting their subscribers and followers.
If you have great content that their readers will like, you look appealing to them.
If you have a large library of knowledge, like your blog for example, you look appealing to them.
If you can give them industry insight, trend news, or other interior design-specific intel first, you look appealing to them.
If you’re not sure where to start with a media list, ask yourself these four questions:
Who is your target customer?
What is your target customer reading, watching, or listening to?
Who are the correct contacts at these outlets that cover your niche?
Have they written about your interior design previously?
In addition to building a media list, another way to promote your brand without spending a cent is to engage with reporters.
I know it’s hard to believe, but journalists are people too.
Just as you would strike up a conversation with any other human being, there’s no better way to catch a media contact’s attention than to engage them on an article they’ve just written or an episode they’ve recently shared.
Obviously, their latest work is something they have a professional, and sometimes personal, interest in.
While you may be tempted to respond directly to the comments section of the article, the best way to contact a reporter is to send him or her an email. This way, you can demonstrate thoughtful analysis and commentary on their article.
Plus, your direct contact information is now at said reporter’s fingertips.
Is your business related to a story that just made the latest issue of House Beautiful? Email the writer and show them why you’re a valuable source for future and related industry news.
Did your local news station run a story that you can provide more context to? Send them a note!
Even better, ask them if, based on their latest story or segment, they’ve considered an alternative conclusion to the topic at hand and why they should.
Use what’s free to your advantage
Feeling clueless on where to get started with media outreach?
Take a deep breath and then take advantage of the free resources out there just waiting for you to take advantage of them.
Sign up for HARO
Literally the first stop for anyone looking to get more buzz for their brand is HARO, more formally known as Help a Reporter Out.
This service provides you with real-time media opportunities up to three times daily that come straight from journalists on a deadline who need a source.
You can filter opportunities by industry and start submitting your info immediately wherever it is relevant
Do your homework
Another way to promote your business for free is to do your homework.
Money makes the world go around, and the media is no different.
They rely on advertising revenue.
For this reason, outlets post a publicly-accessible editorial calendar at the beginning of each year for prospective advertisers to plan their budgets around what topics each publication plans to cover.
You can easily find these calendars on the about page or in the advertising or media kit section of their websites.
Using these editorial calendars as your guide, you can plan your own strategy and pitch with relevance when you know the outlet is looking for the news you can provide to them.
Quick tip: Print outlets operate more than four months in advance of their issue date. Keep that in mind as you pitch to give reporters enough time to craft their story and to have any chance in swaying it with your angle.
Perfect your pitch
Once you’ve done your homework and research, it’s time to start some media outreach and generate coverage for yourself.
Well thought out press releases and pitches are paramount here.
When pitching the media remember to:
Do your homework: Make sure your pitch is on point to what the contact you’re reaching out to actually covers. You don’t want to pitch interior trends to the food editor. Unsure of who to target with your pitches? Don’t be afraid to ask if there’s someone at that particular media outlet that you can direct your info to!
Provide all the facts When you’re communicating with a media professional, not only should you get all the topical facts down, but make sure you have company info and personal credentials ready. Be sure to craft a succinct bio to include in each email pitch you’re sending. This is a two- or three-sentence bio on you as well as where they can find out more about you, like your website or most populated social media channel.
Personalize your message Think about your media prospect just like a prospective client. Be friendly and helpful to keep them receptive to working with you and interested in what you can offer. Personalize subject lines and messages so you don’t come across as spammy! Don’t copy and paste the same information to a bunch of different contacts.
Leverage PR resources You can post press releases onto newswire sites for small fees. This means your release is automatically syndicated on thousands of news sites and can be a great opportunity to build some solid SEO. Also, remember to sign up for sites like HARO, which was discussed earlier.
Engage with your community
We’ve covered a lot of the digital aspects of a PR strategy, but since interior design is a belly-to-belly business, you’ll find it as no surprise that tactics like community events, speaking opportunities at clubs and schools, volunteering for local charities, and creating your own events will help potential customers and other local vendors be drawn to you.
Don’t forget to make time to get out there in the community and get your hands dirty.
Then publicize it!
Generate newsworthy topics
If you’re looking to generate some news and get some ideas for future press releases and stories to pitch, here are some starting points to generate the buzz that’ll put your company in the right light.
Special events like a talk or educational presentation you’re giving or hosting, a fundraiser you’re sponsoring, the opening of a new office, a team charity day.
Guidebooks and resources helpful ebooks, pamphlets, and other shareable tips for potential customers and vendor partners.
Professional insight and commentary chime in on local design trends, new restrictions, codes, or regulations that could affect design decisions, or tie in your area of expertise to news-making fashion industry trends (i.e., Met Gala, Pantone Color of the Year, etc.).
Company announcements Share exciting news about a significant or interesting design or client (with their permission, of course) awards and recognitions, new hires, and fun team profiles.
Once you’ve brainstormed ideas and mapped out an outreach plan and a rough timeline, you’ll feel much more organized and in control of your PR efforts.
Right now, it may seem overwhelming, but PR is simple once you start to think about it.
For one, you’re already in the relationship business. Continue to put yourself out in the community and build relationships.
Just step it up a notch by meeting the local media and starting to connect digitally with the rest or seek them out.
Remember PR is a marathon, not a sprint!
You’re building your brand, reputation, and supporting your digital marketing foundation. PR takes time and consistent work.
But it’ll be worth its weight in gold if done correctly and consistently.