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Media Coverage and PR for Your Spa
This Article was originally published in the August 2011 of Skin Inc. magazine.
As a spa professional, you are likely getting most of your business from word of mouth. Many of you are savvy with twitter, facebook, and YouTube and are already using social media to promote your spa. But remember traditional public relations? Are you using newspapers, magazines, TV and radio to your advantage?
PR is not advertising – instead of paying for an ad, with PR you can achieve the credibility that only editorial coverage delivers. An advertisement is self-promotion and is perceived exactly as such. A mention in an article or on air is a third party raving about you. This type of exposure carries name recognition, improves your reputation and can bring new clients.
Attaining publicity entails either hiring a PR professional or a PR firm (i.e. a budget), or doing it internally, which requires knowledge, time and energy.
You can find an independent PR professional for as low as $2000 a month while PR firms can run up to $10,000 a month. For a PR firm to promote a day spa, it would be logical to pay around $4000-$5000 a month. When signing with a PR firm, you will be expected to commit to at least six months, if not one year. This is logical, since you can’t expect to see results overnight, and consumer magazines work on a four-months’ lead-time.
If your day spa is a small operation and you can’t afford to spend such amounts, consider doing the PR yourself. The most important thing is to create relationships with the media. Familiar yourself with the local magazines, newspapers, TV and radio stations in your area and find out who are the journalists who cover spa/beauty/health. You can do that by looking up the mastheads of the printed publications and/or looking up the websites of the stations. It would be wise to invite these reporters for a complimentary treatment at your facility.
But before you do all that, you have to understand the nature of media in general, your local media specifically, as well as tailor your communication to each magazine, newspaper, or station.
When speaking to the media, you have to put yourself in their shoes. You as a spa owner are focusing on your business, but a journalist’s mission is to deliver news, not to promote your spa. Your message to the media has to contain something exciting and beneficial to consumers – that’s what will peak reporters’ interest and motivate them to cover your spa. What differentiates your spa from the competition? Are you offering a groundbreaking new treatment no one has ever done? Are you offering a new product, or does your product contain an innovative ingredient? Is your spa involved with the community is an interesting way? Can you offer an exclusive promotion for the readers of one particular publication?
Think of trends, seasons, holiday promotions and anything else that may be of interest to a journalist. Check your ego at the door and understand that a journalist may want to ask you questions that are not related directly to your spa, but could be of interest to the readers/viewers. Your goal is to achieve exposure – being positioned as an expert is not a bad thing!
Be sure to have photos of your spa on hand to be emailed (300 DPI, and large enough to be printed). If you don’t have the means to print a professional press kit, be sure to have all the required information about what it is you’re promoting, as well as general information about your spa – including address, general phone number, website, and a way for the journalist to reach you directly.
Before you contact a journalist, be sure to read or view and be familiar with previous stories and the manner in which this magazine/newspaper/TV show reports. The worst thing you can do is suggesting a story to a reporter on a topic that he or she just covered. Remember that reporters and editors may be on tight deadlines and can come across as impatient or hurried. Don’t take it personally. If you don’t hear back, be persistent, but always polite. Familiarize yourself with the method each reporter wants to be contacted. When in doubt – use email. Write in a concise and clear way, and get to the point quickly.
Be certain to speak about what you know, to be truthful and persistent. If you feel you may not have the time to handle it all on your own, do consider hiring a PR professional to help you out. If that is your chosen path, work out how much money you can spend and view it as an investment. Not all PR brings in new clients – if that’s what you’re after, be clear in your communication with the PR professional that you expect the publicity to generate additional income to cover the expense.
When you do achieve editorial coverage, be sure to capitalize on it – frame it and display it at the spa, scan it and add it to your website’s press section.
Remember to thank the journalist – the least you can do is mail a hand-written card. Consider taking them out to lunch or sending flowers. Creating long-lasting relationships with the media will be the key to your PR success.
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