Your interior design business is growing.
You have hired a small to mid-sized team to help with drawings, operations, and finance.
Things are running smoothly.
Is now the right time to hire a publicist to take your business to the next level?
What exactly is PR for interior design?
Public relations is a wonderfully straightforward term. The function of PR is to present a curated image of your company to the public through media. Media is a broad term that includes the traditional channels such as television, newspapers, and magazines. It also includes social media, which has radically changed the function of PR for all businesses and given an advantage to interior designers who have access to showcase their work to millions of people for free.
If you are succeeding as an interior designer in 2018, chances are you are already managing a web presence and have had some interaction with traditional media, likely with local or highly-targeted outlets. You have captivating, professionally produced photographs of your work, and an eye for fun, on-the-go social media snaps that you post with some regularity.
However, larger media outlets are not likely to stumble upon your work no matter how strong your ‘gram game is. You need to reach out, and there are rules of engagement. Unless you have had some prior exposure to the mainstream media game, you won’t have a clue where to start. You have to engage the right people for the right opportunities, and they intentionally make themselves hard to find. You can and should try to cultivate relationships with the writers and editors of design magazines by attending events, networking as much as possible, and seeking introductions. However, a professional publicist will already have established those relationships and can greatly accelerate the process of inducting you into the club. There are only 24 hours in a day, after all, and chasing these opportunities can become a full-time job.
Additionally, PR professionals are not just social butterflies that make social connections. They can also help take your business to the next level by identifying your design edge, establishing your core branding, and finding the most suitable platforms to launch your freshly packaged image to the masses. They develop a communications plan for you to follow, giving you smooth talking points and a consistent voice. As your public image grows, you will have an easier time securing media coverage, the scale of which can grow to national and international levels with the right moves. Once your media presence has gone national, you’ll be in the running for a wide variety of lucrative opportunities such as product lines, licensing deals, and possibly even a television presence. In addition, national media attention attracts a wave of high-profile clients.
Publicist? Yes, please! Wait, can I afford it?
Hiring a publicist is starting to sound like a must, but the question is, can you afford it? A typical high-quality PR professional will charge approximately $2,000 per month on retainer, which is necessary to secure their services on an ongoing basis. Many are available on a one-time basis for an event fee, which is a good idea for short-term needs such as media training or courting a particular opportunity, but to achieve sustainable long-term growth in your public image, you will need ongoing support.
If funds for the monthly retainer are not currently in your budget, explore how you can leverage your current employees and where you can find time in your schedule to make an impact. As stated above, courting media attention has a particular recipe for success, and luckily writer and publicity whiz Amy Flurry wrote a book, Recipe For Success, laying out exactly how to DIY PR in this radical new media landscape. Just like making a Michelin star meal requires extremely nuanced care in approach, Flurry’s book addresses every last detail of how to engage with the media like an insider. Armed with this must-have guidebook, you and your current team can get started on your in-house PR effort. If you need more hands on deck but still can’t afford a publicist on retainer, consider hiring a junior employee that you can train.
Qualities of a Quality Publicist
Whoever you choose to lead your PR effort, whether it’s an outside professional, an employee or yourself, you’ll need to assess and make sure that person has the following characteristics:
- Articulate, friendly, and the consummate professional
- Culturally aware and informed on the latest current events across all mainstream sectors, particularly design
- Can target your communications and adapt your message and wording to match the intended audience and tone of the platform
- Can help identify what your current branding effort is lacking (e.g., logo, consistency in style across the website and social media)
So again, there is a lot you can do on your own without hiring a professional publicist, but having one will undoubtedly grow your client base as well as put you in the running for massively profitable side business such as product lines, licensing deals, and media appearances. However, never forget that as an interior designer, you will always be your most powerful PR tool!