If there’s one hurdle I find that local designers, retailers and small businesses are constantly faced with, it’s getting the word out about all the great things they are doing without spending a huge amounts on marketing and PR.
Over the last five years, I can’t tell you how many local designers and creative small business owners in the San Francisco Fashion community have said to me, hey, I’m doing this really cool thing, how can I get more press and get noticed…without, um, paying a PR person a huge retainer to make it happen?
These conversations quite often happen when I’m interviewing someone for a story or when I’m visiting a store for another reason, and they’ve frequently turned into much longer conversations, sometimes leading to me spend a few hours as a media consultant aiming to help them learn more about how journalists and media organizations operate, what public relations professionals do and how they can tackle their PR and marketing efforts on their own.
Obviously there’s not a one-size-fits-all solution for any kind of business. Getting press and getting noticed is a mysterious process that is innately tied to the product itself, the way a business operates and its overall image – but I truly believe that following some basic principles can really up your chances of getting press coverage.
Why do I think this? Because after 10 years as a working journalist and more than five specializing in covering independent, local businesses in the San Francisco Bay Area, I have spent countless hours on the receiving end of small businesses’ promotional efforts. Some are excellent. Others, not so much. But nothing kills me more than seeing a creative business with a worthy product, event or service falter simply because of poor (or last-minute) promotion, disorganized media outreach or other common pitfalls such as poor product images or a web site that’s totally incongruous with the quality level of the product itself. I could go on. And on.
So all of this is a long way of explaining why Rena Ramirez and I are teaming up in early August to host the first Market U seminar. It’s the very first event SF Indie Fashion has ever put on – ever! So you know it’s something I obviously care a great deal about. And I’ll be doing it while 8.5 months pregnant, no less.
The idea is to give local business owners from fashion designers to make-up artists and stylists a crash course in media outreach, public relations skills and marketing strategies that they can use to better promote themselves regardless of their budgets. You’ll get the journalist’s perspective from me and the professional public relations input and know-how from Rena, who represents Bay Area lifestyle brands and independent companies such as FluffyCo, Lorian Lindsay and Apres Collective (formerly Fleece-A-Nista). Much more than just talk, we’re going to give out information packets with tips, outlines and how-to information so attendees can put the new strategies into play immediately after the event.
The result of it all, Rena and I hope, is that more local fashion businesses will get the recognition they deserve.
Hope to see you there! More info about Market U: Media & Marketing 101 for Small Businesses:
What: Market U
When: Aug. 3, 2010 from 6:30-8:30 p.m.
Where: Pigment Cosmetics, One Market St., SF
Cost: $35 per person (advance registration required – no tickets will be available at the door). A portion of the proceeds will benefit the San Francisco Bay Area Fashion Network. Buy your tickets now.