Last Friday, 30 January 2015, The Design Trust organised a very popular PR workshop & networking event at the British Library in London with various experts, including design journalist Barbara Chandler, who writes for the London Evening Standard.
This is post 1 in a series of 4 where we share the expert tips and excellent one liners from our speakers at our event.
design journalist barbara chandler’s top 17 tips & myths busters:
“Many creatives are scared of promotion and would love to employ a PR agent instead.
But the reality is: YOU know your products. YOU have the intimate knowledge, the stories, the passion and the emotion. You can make immediate decisions on what products to send or what to say. YOU have access to pictures & samples immediately.”
Tip 2: I love it when the creative I want to speak to picks up the phone.
“I don’t really like speaking to PR agents. I prefer to speak with the designer directly, and have a true conversation. Don’t worry, you don’t have to pretend to have a PA.”
Tip 3: Think more broadly about ‘The Press’.
“In newspapers you can aim for news, features or special interests such as the design or interiors section.” Have you got business or product news to share, do you want an interview, images to sell your products? Think about where and what to pitch to whom.
Tip 4: Be aware of the deadlines.
“For a national newspapers the filing date is about one day in advance. Most monthly magazines are still 2-3 months in advance. Think about it like this: it’s about 2-3x their publication times: one day for newspapers, 2-3 weeks for weekly publications, 2-3 months for monthly publications.”
Tip 5: Don’t underestimate local promotion.
“I spotted a little postcard in a window in Twickenham with some ceramics. Nobody was home and I took a picture of the card and phoned them up. I later featured them in the London Evening Standard.”
“Local papers are easier to get into, and a good starting point. But emphasis your local angle.”
Tip 6: Journalist are real people.
“The media” can feel abstract. But its not abstract. Get to know journalists one-by-one. Don’t put out blanket emails. An intro like ‘hi there’ gets me really cross, and won’t be read.”
Tip 7: Research loads of different magazines.
“Check out a selection in a good design book shop. Check out who writes what. What do they like? Do they have a news section, special interests or passions? Write to them by name.
We journalists are just filling our pages in time with great things. If you help us to do that you will succeed more easily.”
Tip 8: I call it my 1+1+1 approach: build up your relationships.
“Make an effort to get to know 6 journalists in depth, instead of approaching 30+ approaching blankly.
Build up your contact book slowly. Getting into the press is about building relationships.”
Tip 9: Approach people only if you are really ready.
“You only get one chance.
Have everything in place.”
Tip 10: Take or give PR responsibility.
“When your business grows, make somebody specifically responsible for PR and name them in your communications, so I can ask for them by name.
If they pick up the phone, they are the face of your business. Make sure they are trained properly, and that they know your business and products well.”
Tip 11: Follow the press release framework: What? Who? Where? When? Why?
“It’s very simple, but so often forgotten. Just answer those questions: What? Who? Where? When? Why?
Have all the facts in your press release.
Don’t use floral language, but I need the basic facts.
Please put a date on your press release, so I know how current it is.
Give your press release to someone else to read to check if it makes sense. Obviously avoid grammar and spelling mistakes.
Really make it easy for me: spelling of names, job titles, full address and postcode, directions to how to get to an event.”
Tip 12: Emails are out of hand.
“I get too many emails.
Its YOUR challenge to stand out with the subject line, so I will open your email in the first place.
Don’t use just ‘press release’, make it relevant and newsworthy e.g. refer to 100% Design, TENT or blue ceramics.
Try to put as much in the main body of your email, don’t just refer to an attachment.
Add links to images or specific web pages (but check that they work!).
Never add more than one attachments, and make clear what the attachments are about. Don’t let me guess what is what.”
Tip 13: Don’t assume that a journalist knows anything.
“I might not remember your company or products. ALWAYS include a couple of lines with facts or highlights about your business and background.”
Tip 14: Send real life things in the post. Entice me!
“I love handwritten, colourful envelopes. Add a little note in the corner what it is about.
But please … don’t send me bulky stuff! I am a freelancer and might not be at home, and I won’t be too pleased if I need to queue to pick them up from the post office when I am not in.”
Tip 15: Images are crucial.
“Newspapers haven’t got the budget to do special images, so we rely on yours. They must be of professional standard.
Good images are often the reason why we include somebody. My Editor often will first ask about the images, before anything else.
You ought to have good cutout pics, ideally on a white background.
Have lifestyle images, and research the styles used in the media you are approaching.
Have pictures of yourself: a simple portrait, some with your work and some where you are making your work.”
Tip 16: Press section on your website.
“If you have a ‘press’ section on your website, then don’t just include your press cuttings under there. Have another section with info how journalists can contact you. Include a mobile number, as often I am in a hurry to get information or pictures.
And if you include press cuttings in your press section, make sure that they are large enough so I can read them.”
Tip 17: Learn from others’ mistakes.
“In the last couple of years I have started a twitter campaign called #direPR where I tweet about … dire PR. Have a look, giggle and learn.”
Which tip did you find most useful? Do share with us below in the comments box!
To read the other blogs in this series:
- Part 2: PR advice and 2 creative exercises by Lara Watson, Editor of Mollie Makes.
- Part 3: 10 creative ways to raise your profile (without a press release) with Paula Gardner of DoYourOwnPR
- Part 4: 99 top design & craft journalist, bloggers & media to follow on twitter