Once upon a time in the 20th century, the press release was the hallmark of any good PR campaign. Traditional media was the only media, and publicists, or “PR agents” as they were sometimes called, were the exclusive go-between for obtaining media coverage and other types of publicity.
The 21st century ushered in social networking which morphed into social media. Digital media became extremely profitable and found mainstream legitimacy, and email databases made journalist contacts more readily available. Somewhere along the way our collective attention spans shrunk, while our access to snippets of visually stimulating content grew exponentially. Whereas when there was less media, each piece of press coverage held more weight and intrinsic value, there are now many more opportunities to obtain media coverage and buzz than ever before.
Welcome to PR 2.0
It’s all about community, accessibility and DIY! In 2017, ambitious self-starters can tap into a rich vein of public relations opportunity simply by seeking out free resources and the right online information sharing communities. Anyone can pitch their story directly to journalists and bloggers, and cultivate a fan base with the right tools. Here are a few of my personal favorites:
Started by Fashion PR maven Crosby Noricks in 2006, PRCouture is the digital networking mecca for all things fashion and lifestyle public relations. According to Noricks, the old guard mega PR organizations from PRSA to O’Dwyer’s were a bit too broad and stodgy for the fashion and lifestyle niche. This sub-genre in public relations needed its own community platform where novices and veterans alike can converge and share information about the glamorous, yet challenging, world of fashion and lifestyle public relations. The glitz and glam, along with the keys to entry and professional protocol of fashion and lifestyle PR are all addressed at PRCouture.com.
Established PR pros share relevant and timely career advice, post-grads get the inside scoop on internships and entry level jobs, upstart fashion designers learn up to the minute PR and marketing tactics they can implement on a bootstrapped budget (think preset pitching templates and a list of dos and don’ts to live by), and established fashion and lifestyle brands can browse vetted PR practitioners in their specific niche. This community even holds its own annual awards ceremony, dubbed the Bespoke Communication Awards (or the BCAs). The BCA Awards celebrate excellence among fashion and lifestyle communications professionals. BCA Spotlight awards honor best in show PR campaigns, while Individual awards honor PR practitioners who have made a positive impact on the industry through innovation, mentoring, career success and all around best practices.
For those looking to enter fashion and lifestyle PR’s inner circle of inside tips and networking, all of this amazingness is at your fingertips at prcouture.com.
Co-founded by yours truly, Upitch is the first app that brings the PR pitching process into the mobile space. We’re also the first platform to use a “micro” model, whereby press releases and PR pitches are pared down to just 400 characters. We’ve heard from our colleagues time and again that “the press release is dead.” Well, thankfully, Upitch has been born. Users craft their pitch using the app’s preset pitching template, which consists of a headline, summery, 400 character pitch box, up to five images, a URL and social media links. Pitches are then categorized by geographic location and industry categories. Journalists open the app on their end, choose filter preferences that match their beat and geographical location. Journalists then begin browsing and swiping through a feed of brief pitches that are relevant to what and where they cover. In the spirit of the iconic Tinder dating app, journos swipe left to pass on a pitch and go on to the next, or they swipe right to show interest in a pitch. The pitcher is notified when their pitch has a match, and pitcher and journalist then instant message on the in-app messenger platform.
Aside from making journalists’ lives easier, Upitch levels the playing field for startups and entrepreneurs who can’t afford to retain a PR firm. Anyone can pitch to targeted journalists on the app, every pitch is 400 characters in length and they all get equal screen time on journalists’ smartphone screens. The Upitch app is currently available on the app store. People looking to pitch journalists can use either the mobile app or pitch journalists from their desktop/laptop at upitchapp.com.
Yes, call me Captain Obvious, but I’d be remiss to not mention the IG. Instagram is such a yummy bowl of promotional deliciousness that I don’t know where to start! One of the world’s most successful apps, Instagram allows you to tell your story through images, hashtags and captions. These stories pack quite a powerful punch when it comes to courting and curating an enthusiastic audience for your brand. The adage, “a picture is worth a thousand words,” has never applied so well as it does here. The right image and filter posted with trending hashtags and an engaging caption will take you far in Insta-land.
Creating your Instagram account is free. Posting content is free and interacting with other Instagram members is free. The potential payoff is priceless. But here’s the rub… to succeed with this platform it’s important to stay focused on the brand image you are trying to present so that you can grow a targeted and engaged audience to eventually build your bottom line, not just your ego.
Instagram has become such a valuable PR tool that it’s spawned its own industry, with a host of apps created specifically to enhance your IG content and to grow your account. Those who thrive on Instagram treat the photo sharing app as a science. Everything from what days and times they choose to post, to creating highly produced imagery, targeted yet outside-the-box hashtags, and captions to illicit a reaction from followers and potential followers alike. There are paid platforms that assist you in engaging with large amounts of Instagram users to up your chance of gaining followers, but do your research and read reviews from other users before choosing any paid Instagram engagement platform.
According to The Huffington Post different days of the week have different prime photo sharing times that one should observe when seeking high engagement. Did you know that 7 PM to 10 PM is considered prime photo posting time during most week days? Wednesday is statistically the most favorable day to post, and 1 AM on Friday is also a desirable time to share your best photos. Photos posted with the ”Normal” filter tend to actually be more successful that many light altering filters. If you are a filter junkie, Clarendon and Juno are the most popular filters for enhancing your IG images. Popular photo enhancing apps like the Mira App can retouch photos with a light touch that doesn’t look overdone or artificial.
Create killer presentations and proposals for clients, investors, colleagues or members of the media with Proposify’s free proposal templates. Proposify allows you to choose a professional template to capture the look and feel of your industry and the layout you are trying to present. Imagery, infographics, lists and formatting can all be added with a couple of clicks for presentations that will wow any crowd. Create your account, let Proposify know what industry you are in, and view template suggestions that will help you close the deal. This platform even offers customer support for those who need a bit of hand holding. Whether you’re a startup looking to pitch potential investors, a PR pro hoping to land that next big client, a lifestyle brand in need of a visual story board, or you’re looking to book your next speaking engagement to promote your book, Proposify has presentation and proposal templates for just about anyone.
Peruse their template gallery, and you can choose and even customize the template design that works best to tell your story. If preferred, choose your industry from the menu bar across the top of the template gallery page, and let Proposify guide you towards templates that will make your proposal or presentation shine.