With Fiona Minett, from Boss Your PR
When starting a beauty business, there are various subjects that have steeper learning curves than others. One of those subjects is PR and it is essential to success in the beauty world. Founders need someone else to talk about their brand. It’s like a sort of vetting process for retailers, consumers, and magazines. However, our experience is that a lot of beauty brands struggle with the ins-and-outs of the process. But it doesn’t have to be that way! The Clean Team decided it was necessary to teach our members how to achieve PR in-house and on a budget.
That is why I asked the fabulous Fiona Minett, founder of Boss Your PR, if she would collaborate with us on a webinar that would focus on helping our members learn about PR. Fiona has quite an extensive career in PR and now focuses on helping small business get into the likes of Vogue and Elle. I was introduced to her company, Boss Your PR, at the end of last year and was really impressed with how she has simplified the PR process. Something all business owners need!
Definitely check out our podcast. You will not only get inside tips and tricks on how to use PR effectively in-house and on a budget, but also discuss good beauty hooks and PR strategies for launch. Check out Fiona’s website at www.bossyourpr.com where you can have access to her free resources hub. You should definitely take advantage of that – I already have!
Now on to the show!
Raquel: Hello and welcome to the Clean Chat Podcast. I’m the host Raquel Wing, founder of The Clean Hub. Every Tuesday on the Clean Chat we are helping Clean Beauty founders from around the world learn how to grow their businesses easily and affordably every single day. We are here to support clean beauty founders so if that is you, definitely sign up to our membership site at thecleanhub.com for exclusive freebies and information on how to grow your business. Now onto the show.
Hi there everyone, thank you for joining us on Clean Chat. Today we have the lovely Fiona Minett, founder of Boss Your PR. I’m really excited to chat with Fiona today because she is the one to talk to if you’re trying to get PR started in house and on a budget and that’s why welcomed her into The Clean Hub, to share her expertise with our members. Fiona has a lot of experience in the subject and has helped people get into the likes of Elle and Vogue and today she’s going to give us all some fab tips and tricks. So without further ado, thank you Fiona for coming onto the show.
Fiona: Hi, thank you for having me I’m really excited to be here to do the podcast and to follow up from the webinar session I did for you guys.
Raquel: Great, I thought we could started by you telling us a little bit about your background and how you started Boss Your PR.
Fiona: So I’ve worked in PR since I was about 22. I worked in house and in agency across fashion, beauty and lifestyle. When I was 24, you know feeling bold, feeling brave I set up my own agency. So I set that up, I ran it for about 6 years, I had a team and an office and we worked with all sorts of clients, small businesses, start-ups and across the beauty, fashion, interiors and lifestyle sectors. So yeah my experience is really putting unknown brands into like you say the likes of Vogue and Elle and really giving them that positioning to elevate their brand. I stepped back from that when I turned 30, a few life changes and I sort of thought well how can I support businesses at a slightly different level so actually really work with them in a more direct way to educate them and give them the skills and tools and equip them with what they need to know and tackle their own PR because it’s a lot more time efficient and cost effective for them to really give it a go themselves. So I’ve had different experience with beauty brands, placing a lot of reviews a lot of sample reviews, service reviews in trade media, in consumer media, so yeah experience is quite broad.
Raquel: That’s what I like what you do because you help people in house learn how to do their own PR because especially for a new beauty brand I think it’s so important for them to kind of get to grips with that and also they can’t afford a major PR budget. That’s obviously why I mentioned we asked you to come on The Clean Hub, because you really spell it our really well.
So you could you tell us a little bit, I know in the collaboration you talk a little bit about hooks, why it’s important PR toolkit and how to work with micro influencers and that sort of thing. Could you tell us a little bit about that or hook and why it’s important?
Fiona: Yeah, absolutely. I mean there are so many different elements of PR and like you say it’s really important for new brands, small brands in any industry to really understand how it works in order to get the most value out of it. Some of the crucial aspects of that is as having a starting point out of it is having a hook , so finding what your hooks are and creating a PR toolkit. So those are the foundations. So finding a hook, it might be there’s something interesting about the back-story of creation of the brand, you know how the product came to be or what drove you to be creating your own product or service. There might be something interesting about the product specifically, you know maybe unique health benefits or something that sets you apart as a differential is really what is going to allow you to create your PR hooks and messages. Then from that your PR toolkit is the sort of basics, functioning website, it’s having good high resolution imagery, it’s having access to samples if you’re a product based business, it’s creating a press release and nice sort of other materials, that content and really have what a journalist might ask you at some point, having all of that ready before you even start to make approaches. So then the next step beyond that is exploring working with people such as micro influencers, larger influencers, bloggers, connecting with journalists and really you can be quite targeted bout how you do that. So making sure you chose the right people for your brand, that’s what’s really going to elevate your brand in terms of having those like-minded connections and building a bit of a support network around you which you can really do with micro influencers because your sort of getting them at the early stages and you can create that loyalty to your brand and you can sort of build from there really. So there’s a lot of different aspects to consider but in terms of the foundations and starting points, PR hooks, PR toolkit and then you can go from there and making connections.
Raquel: Yeah it’s about having it ready, spend the time creating it so you have it ready and then you have a comprehensive system. Thinking of hooks, I wanted to ask you this question. As a natural beauty brand, they try to approach from the fact that they’re a natural beauty brand, they’re organic. I’d say that’s not a hook anymore , right. It has to be something more interesting than that, they’re organic or natural would you say?
Fiona: I agree, I think it has to go deeper than that. I mean you know it’s great if you were talking to a beauty journalist and she was compiling a top 10 organic face creams, then fantastic. If your’s ticks that box then that’s a great opportunity but in terms of being proactive and pitching your product to the media, there really needs to be something deeper than that to set you apart because you know like we say it’s such a growing industry in terms of the sort of ethical organic sort of pure natural beauty brands. What else is there that makes you different and it comes back to what ingredients that you use, the combination you use, what health claims or benefits can your products bring, what really is your reason for being in terms of your reason for having created the product, what’s behind it and what benefits can people have from using it or from going and using your services. There’s a lot of things that can play into a hook and can play into creating a differential but it’s really pinning down what makes you different from your immediate competitors for example and therefore what would make you stand out to a journalist. There’s a so what test that I always talk about, you know if you’re sending a press release to a journalist, you don’t what them looking at it and going so what, what does that mean to me I see a hundred of these every day, what is going to stop them saying that or having that reaction. What’s going to make them go wow, okay this is interesting, this is new, something different let me explore it further.
Raquel: Yeah, I think that that’s so important like you said. The element of a good hook is to stand out and do something different that people want to know more about and you kind of have to do the work yourself to figure out what fundamentally your business stands for and why.
Fiona: Yeah, absolutely.
Raquel: Are there any mistakes you see beauty brands make when they’re pitching for PR or just mistakes smaller companies make in general?
Fiona: Yeah I think there’s a couple really. I think the assumption really is that journalists are so keen to fill pages that we can get away without sending them samples for example. But actually sending a sample of a product is so crucially integral to the process of PR so a journalist has to be given an experience of the product or service. I see brands assuming they can stand out without having that access to samples or having that access to their service. There’s going to be a hundred other brands alongside them that will offer that access and will therefore get the opportunity ahead of the brands that don’t. So that’s something that I find, especially working with small brands is it’s really hard for them to sort of set aside that quantity of stock for sampling but it’s so important if you’re going to tackle PR to really accept that it is a cost of coverage.
So that’s one thing. But also I keep talking about differential is brands that try to position themselves alongside competitors to the detriment of their own brand, of course they’ve got to emulate their success by copying their model or doing something very similar. I think there’s a tendency in sort of all of us to be comparing ourselves to those who deem are better or more successful but I think that’s really to the detriment of brands. Especially small brands where personality is so important and you know, finding what sets them apart is so important and actually you reasons for your being and your reasons for being in business are often very different to those of the sort of larger competitors. So those are the things that make you special and make you unique, so those are the things you should play on. So there’s a couple of very different points there but ones that I see sort of main business sort of falling into those traps.
Raquel: Right. Okay, I get a lot questions about using PR so how often should brands be talking to media or reaching out for PR? Like is it something you work in weekly, monthly, daily?
Fiona: It really depends. As a general sort of rule in terms of PR practise for these small businesses is to sort of do it yourselves, is you need to be doing some sort of PR activity every week but that’s not necessarily contacting the same people every week. So say you’ve sent out a pitch, say you’ve sent out sort of a press release to a contact. There’s a fine line in being helpful and making sure you’re trying to give them everything that they might need and basically being a stalker. You know they don’t want phone calls every day, they don’t want voice emails left on their voicemail every day. They will just give you a wide birth and just block you quite frankly. There’s a fine line so maybe you send a press release, later you send another email in follow-up, you call to follow up you know just wondering if you thought it might be of interest. You know try to keep that contact and content that you’re offering them relevant. So if you’ve got a new product send it, do the follow-up. If you get a response to say you’re not interested then fine actually you can put them on your list and compartmentalise them until you’ve got a new conversation to share with them. So it’s just a sort of common sense approach I guess in some ways and actually if you have a quick turnover of product or collections or you’ve got new services being introduced, then those are all reasons to get in touch with the press. So it’s just sort of a play by ear and just to make sure you’re staying relevant and helpful is the main thing.
Raquel: That was going to lead to my next question which was they send the products, they reach out to them but they’re not hearing back. How soon should founders see results or is there a way for them to get feedback? Should they expect feedback, how does that work?
Fiona: I think that if you’ve got to the point where you’re in a dialogue with a journalist. So if they’ve asked you to send products they probably would have given you an indication to what sort of issue they’re reviewing them for or if they’ve called in imagery, they might be saying, oh this’ll be for the June issue for example. In which case you can start to pre-empt the opportunities and the coverage that might be coming up. And that’s always a question you can ask, as well as to give yourself a timeline but also to say, okay you’re looking to wrapping this issue up in the next few weeks. Maybe I’ll just drop you a note in the next couple of weeks to make sure there’s nothing else that you need or just to check if there’s any more that I can send to you. And again it just comes down to being helpful and being friendly, you know the journalists can’t do their job without our help. So it’s trying to sort of build those relationships but don’t be afraid to ask what issue or what month or what date they are looking for this content to be created by. And also, sometimes a sample will be called in or you’ll send a sample speculatively just to introduce a journalist to a product and it may not come to anything and again that’s just sort ,of a cost of putting the brand out there. But in terms from where you start PR and from when you start activating you can be looking at 2 to 3 months before you really start to see the results, given lead times of monthly magazines especially. The thing is you can see coverage start to come through but in terms of that even translating into sales that might take a little bit longer because quite often a customer needs to have multiple touch points before they make the decision to purchase. So they need to see you brand in the media, on social media, they need to visit your website, they need to hear about your brand from someone else or a personal recommendation. So quite often it’s a sort of accumulative effect of exposure that leads to purchase. That’s not always the case, sometimes it’s immediate but it’s being realistic about your expectations and actually a lot of this is long-term development strategy. PR is an investment in your business and in growing your business through exposure. Sometimes it’s a short-term result, sometimes it’s not.
Raquel: So I have a couple of questions that founders within the program asked so I thought I would ask them to you now .
Fiona: Fire away.
Raquel: Alright, perfect. So if one has a product that they haven’t launched. So they have a beauty product, they haven’t launched, they have a hook or a unique selling point; from a PR angle do you think it’s better to send a press release to a number of outlets or approach one with an exclusive offer?
Fiona: This is tricky, it depends if you have a lot of money behind the product and you’ve set up a collaboration with a celebrity ambassador for example, then you might want to set up exclusively to celebrity magazines. But if that’s not the case, for general brand introduction, if you’ve got a great hook, if it’s a new brand, fantastic just seed it out there. Put it out there, you know as a new launch, as a new product this is what we’re offering, this is how amazing our product is, we’re really excited about it and seed it. Don’t seed it to all and sundry, seed it to those you think it would bring value to in terms of what magazines are going to respond well to it, what magazines speak to your target market, what magazines you think fit the price point. There’s a lot of different considerations but essentially unless it really is a sort of an exclusive opportunity in terms of celebrity connection or something sort of high level like that, I should get it out there and see how much of a buzz you can create from a sort of a wide range of exposure.
Raquel: Okay, awesome. That kind of leads me to my next question is what stage to begin the PR process?
Fiona: Essentially at any stage. I think the main things are that a brand is actively selling or about to launch eminently, that a brand has the imagery required, the information required and access again to samples. Essentially if you can build that PR toolkit that we were talking about and you’ve got a hook, you’re ready for PR. The common misconception is that it’s for those who have a big budget, they want to throw money at it, they want to get these endorsements and they do it alongside their advertising and you know magazines won’t touch me if I’m not advertising. There’s all these sort of assumptions about PR but actually it’s for the start-ups, the new businesses that are looking to make an impact with launch or you know the small business that are looking to blossom organically with a PR as a tool to sort of help them. So yeah, any stage as long as really you feel you have a PR hook and you can create your tool-kit then you can be ready to go.
Raquel: That is awesome. Okay, another question is do you think that larger retailers like a department store expect PR representation?
Fiona: I think with this one, I think they would be looking for some element of recognition within the market. So you know already having a track record of sales, be sort of developing in terms of business growth. That actually is something that PR would help with, in terms of the business having done their own PR this brand having done their own PR. But I don’t think that would be an expectation of the department store, so if the brand presents a supply in the department store the store would have their own PR and marketing in-house to push that brand as a supplier. I think PR creates the platform, PR gives the exposure to then be able to position yourself well. They would have an agency connection or an in-house PR department for example.
Raquel: Right, right. Okay that makes sense. And how much time, I know you’ve touched on this a little bit, as a piece of advise how much time would you dedicate to PR if you had an early stage beauty business? Like is it an hour a day or you said weekly I think?
Fiona: Yeah to be doing some activity weekly and you know I’ve run a business, I’ve worked for myself, time is precious. That you don’t have enough hours in the day to do everything that you need to let alone with me throwing PR into the mix for you. So I know it’s really tricky but ultimately you put so much into a brand, you want people to be able see it. You know you want people to be aware of your brand otherwise what is it all for? So that’s why I encourage people to really think about how much time they can allocate to PR. It might be a morning a week, it might be two mornings a week. I think if you can look between a half day and a full day a week on PR, fantastic. It might be a combination of PR and social media or PR and any advertising that you do already. You know working with influencers and bloggers. That all comes under the banner. If not I would maybe try an hour every other day. I mean there’s no sort of hard and fast rule but I would try not to let a week go by without doing some sort of activity. So if you get to a Friday, if you got a couple of hours that you can put into PR then just send out some pictures, send out some emails, add a few names to your contact list and just do some of the PR admin even just so you can, right okay I’m going to give this a better go next week and come Monday, come Tuesday I’m going to give it a blast I’m going to just do a few phone calls I’m going to do some more pitching or maybe write a new press release. And just sort of moderate it that way so that you’re actually giving yourself enough time to put into creating opportunities for yourself and the business, because that’s what is going to grow you.
Raquel: That is awesome. Thank you so much Fiona and if people wanted to get in touch with you or have access to your resources, where should they go?
Fiona: So head over to the website bossyourpr.com and on there you’ll find my free resources to hub. The password access is ‘I’M READY TO BOSS MY PR’, all capital letters. So you’ll be able to get into the hub, there’s downloadables in there, join the face book group Share Your Voice, and you can find me on Instagram as well BOSS YOUR PR, so yeah really easy to get in touch and find out what’s going on and what services are available.
Raquel: Yes, thank you. I’ve definitely have taken advantage of the free resources hub, I love what you’re doing. Like you mentioned you do workshops as well where you teach this information.
Fiona: Yes, that’s it. There’s a range of ways that I can work with people, so yeah I do regular workshops locally. I’m looking to expand those out into London and across the South East in the next few months. So they’re a real sort of starting point for PR. The basics, what it is and how it works and how you can do it and they’re great networking evenings as well. I can work 1:1 with clients in terms of training, strategy creation, coaching, mentoring, sort of monthly accountability. I can equip you to do your own PR but then I can hold your hand through the process so it’s not a case of right, you should know what you’re doing now so off you go, get on with it. There’s a real sort of support and guidance factor there as well .
Raquel: Thank you very much Fiona and thank you everyone for listening to The Clean Chat, have a fabulous day.
Thank you for tuning into The Clean Chat today, if you’re a clean beauty brand don’t forget to sign up to our membership site thecleanhub.com to learn how to accelerate your business. Have a fabulous day and Viva Clean Beauty.