I met Siobhan (now with B The Communications Agency) last December when she kindly invited me to have my hair done at one of her clients salons. It was my model agents Christmas party and it was full of models, model bookers and casting directors. The salon made my hair look super glossy and extra bouncy. The only thing that made the experience even better was having an epic hot chocolate with the lovely Siobhan whilst discussing all the cool brands that she looks after. The last 10 months have been amazing, there have been some fantastic events and Siobhan has booked me on some fantastic jobs for True North and Aquis. I put out a question on my Instagram stories asking you all what I should ask a PR and your questions came flooding in. I managed to interview Siobhan during her amazing busy working life and ask all of those burning questions about PR, journalism and blogging.
HOW TO WORK IN PR
WHAT 3 THINGS DOES SOMEONE WANTING TO WORK IN PR NEED TO KNOW?
Firstly, you will likely need to intern. I don’t know many people that have entered the industry without having done at least one. While not the most glamorous of roles, this is a great opportunity to learn the ropes and develop your skills. I’d say also to choose an area of PR that you are passionate about, as it will make your job easier (and far more enjoyable!) if you are pitching a product/brand you genuinely believe in. Thirdly, be prepared to work really hard. The hours can sometimes be long and tiring but it’s a really rewarding career choice and there are plenty of perks too.
DO YOU NED A DEGREE IN PR & MARKETING TO WORK IN PR?
No you don’t, although it would obviously be useful. It’s very much a ‘learn on the job’ kind of industry as it’s so fast-paced. I don’t have a uni degree – I did a short course at the London College of Fashion (in Buying & Merchandising) before moving into a career in merchandising. After four years I decided to make the switch to PR so I did an internship at a fashion agency before landing a role at my current agency, where I’ve worked up to the position of Account Manager. I would say if you’ve got the opportunity to do a course/module covering social media/digital marketing then that would be really beneficial, as it’s becoming a bigger and bigger component to PR.
WHAT DOES A TYPICAL DAY IN THE LIFE OF A PR LOOK LIKE?
No two days are ever the same in PR! While there are some tasks I repeat on a daily/weekly basis like compiling reports for clients and writing and designing press releases, a lot of my time will be taken up by responding to press/influencer requests, plotting strategies for new launches, planning events, pitching stories to press and reaching out to new influencers. I’ll also try and hold breakfast meetings twice a week, meeting journalists, influencers, brands or industry contacts.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO CREATE AN EVENT FOR A BRAND?
It will vary depending on the scale and format of the event but I’d normally require an absolute minimum of six weeks notice. For trips abroad, at least three. If a client has a big new launch or focus, I’d put together a PR Plan for it, outlining proposed strategy, which will often include an event. I’d normally suggest 2-3 venues for the client to select from. Once the budget has been signed off, planning can begin in earnest. For most events, I would aim to get the invite out a month in advance but for trips involving travel, more notice is required. There’s often a lot of logistical elements to events, which can be quite time-consuming, for example thinking about catering, lighting, furniture, props, artwork, printing, goodie bags, transport, photography, additional staffing, models, music and so on. Depending on the venue, you can sometimes need to coordinate all of the above.
DO YOU PREFER TO FOLLOW INFLUENCERS OR TRADITIONAL PRESS?
I think both play an important role in generating PR. Both ultimately create an aspirational lifestyle for followers/readers to buy into, just on different mediums. The print landscape is really changing and it’s interesting to see how magazines are adapting to compete with the impulsive nature of social media.
ARE THERE SOME EVENTS WHERE YOU ONLY INVITE PRESS?
Not often, most brands and agencies recognise the importance of having both at events. The exceptions would be if we were previewing a new launch to longlead (monthly) print titles, who are often working 3/4 months ahead, and holding a separate event closer to the launch for shortlead press and influencers. Or, if the brief from the client is to increase print presence or target specific publications then we may stick to print titles only. As many influencers tend to work other jobs I find that influencer attendance isn’t as high for day-time events.
DO INFLUENCERS NEED A MEDIA KIT/PACK AND IF SO, WHAT SHOULD IT INCLUDE?
I don’t think it’s essential but they are a good tool to give an overview of your style in a concise way. They can be a great portfolio of your work and can help PR quickly identify if you’re right for a particular project. When a PR gives you an initial brief for a project, it’s a great opportunity to customise your media kit to show similar work you’ve done in the past and the engagement you received. As a minimum, when having your first conversation with a new PR contact always send links to all of your channels and the most up to date stats on followers and engagement.
In terms of what to include if you are creating a media kit – a short bio on who you are and what your page is all about, links to your blog (if you have one) and social channels with the most up to date stats for number of followers, average engagement and demographic. This one’s important as PR won’t be privy to this information and it can really help to decide if you’re right for the project in mind. If, for example, most of your followers are based in Australia, it’s probably not the best partnership to highlight a UK launch. You may choose to omit your rates from the kit as they may vary depending on the amount of work you’ll need to produce for each project.
HOW DO YOU DECIDE WHICH INFLUENCERS TO INVITE TO EVENTS?
It will depend on what the event is for. PR keep mailing lists, which will often be split into a number of categories, for example curly-haired influencers, vegan, 40+ etc, as well as general beauty and fashion. So we will look at who is the core target for the event and start seeding out from there. If it’s a really small event, such as an afternoon tea or an intimate dinner, we will draw up a ‘key targets’ list, who will get the invite first. If anyone on that list can’t make it for whatever reason, we will then extend the list until we’re at capacity.
WHAT ARE THE KEY METRICS YOU LOOK FOR WHEN SEARCHING FOR INFLUENCERS ON EACH SOCIAL PLATFORM?
Engagement. While number of followers looks great on a report, engagement is key for brands ROI. If, for example, someone has 100k followers but is only averaging 5 likes per post and 2 comments, your money (and samples) are going to be better utilised on someone who has 20k followers but regularly receives 600 likes and 30 comments per post. As a general rule of thumb, an engagement of more than 3% is deemed credible so if you have 20k followers and you’re getting an average of 600 likes and 30 comments per post, your engagement would be 3.15%. Having said all that, I don’t exactly grab my calculator every time an influencer gets in touch – if you’re a good fit for a brand, I’ll happily explore options.
HOW DO YOU DECIDE WHICH INFLUENCERS TO WORK WITH ON BRAND COLLABORATIONS?
It will depend on the brief from the client as they may be looking to target a particular demographic but usually I’ll start with influencers I have already established relationships with and who are existing fans of the product/brand in question. I’d never reach out to an influencer and outright ask them if they want to do a sponsored project on something I don’t know if they’ve even tried. In those instances I’d open by saying there’s a potential project I think could appeal to your followers but I’d firstly like to get your thoughts on the proposal and secondly send you a sample to try before you make a decision. There’s no point in securing sponsored content from someone who isn’t interested in the product as most followers are savvy enough to tell when an influencer is just taking the fee (*cough* tea ‘detoxes’ and teeth-pulling kits). For the project we recently worked on together, for a haircare brand, your name instantly popped into my head as I know how much of a fan you are of the brand (and you have great hair!).
WHICH SOCIAL PLATFORM DO THE MAJORITY OF YOUR CLIENTS LIKE TO COLLABORATE ON?
Definitely Instagram, for a number of reasons – it’s visual, you can shop directly from the post (if you have a business profile) and it’s easy to track feedback from followers.
CAN YOU INDICATE HOW MUCH INFLUENCERS SHOULD CHARGE?
It will really depend on a number of factors but for a ‘micro-influencer’ (roughly between 5-30k followers) £150 is usually a good starting point. You could also think about offering a package to include more than one platform. When deciding on your fee, you’ll need to think about how much time it will take to create the content, as this should be reflected in your fee. Obviously editing and filming for YouTube is going to take a lot more of your time than taking one photo for Instagram.
DO YOUR CLIENTS PREFER TO WORK WITH INFLUENCERS OR NATIONAL PRESS?
A real mixture of both. Clients get a huge buzz seeing their product in print, and it’s great for brand awareness. Influencers on the other hand, create an aspirational lifestyle and an endorsement can often lead to a huge sales spike. Digital is also easier for brands to track follow-through sales, especially if affiliate links are in place.
DO YOU THINK INFLUENCERS AND CONTENT CREATORS WILL STILL BE AROUND IN 10 YEARS TIME?
Yes, absolutely. The industry is growing rapidly and I can’t see that changing anytime soon.
Let me know if there are any more questions about PR that you would like answered.
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