Mastering The Art Of The Press Release

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HOW TO GET THE MEDIA NEWS THEY CAN USE FROM YOU SPA OR SALON, by Katherine Rothman

Why is public relations important for my salon or spa?

According to Public Relations News, "Public relations is the management function which evaluates public attitudes, identifies the policies and procedures of an individual or an organization with the public interest, and plans and executes a program of action to earn public understanding and acceptance."

PR's importance is changing, according to The Fall of Advertising and the Rise of PR (HarperBusiness). American marketing strategists Al and Laura Ries argue that public relations has become the most effective way to build a brand. Well-known brands like The Body Shop, PlayStation and Harry Potter spend little on brand-name advertising. The same is true for many entrepreneurial companies like yours. Business owners become known in their respective fields of concentration many times through public relations and the associated media generated.

The benefits of PR

The aim of PR is to increase sales — but it's a long term strategy rather than a quick win. An effective campaign will reap many benefits, including:

  • Generating a greater understanding of your products and services
  • Creating awareness of your company's success stories
  • Building and establishing the right kind of image and, ultimately:
  • Increasing your bottom line profits.

While this concept of promotion may sound appealing, a PR firm may not be financially feasible for every salon or spa. Below are some tips for "do it yourself PR."

The Press Release

A press release should be no more than two pages long and should include the relevant points such as who, what, where, why, when and how. A press release cannot be completely self serving and should read much differently than an ad. Understanding what is not appropriate press release material is as important as understanding what is. The main point to keep in mind is that there has to be an inherent benefit to the consumer and knowledge that can be gleaned from a release.

Non-Newworthy, self promoting press release topics:

Salon XYZ to undergo summer renovation .

Salon XYZ celebrates five years in business.

Salon manager to speak at beauty conference.

Salon XYZ hires three new stylists.

Examples of Newsworthy Consumer Topics

Salon XYZ performs new straightening technique from Japan

John Doe of Salon XYZ offers hair care tips for sun-damaged hair.

John Doe of Salon XYZ dishes the hair dos and hair donts seen on the red carpet this Oscar season.

Spa XYZ offers new lymphatic drainage treatment.

Examples of Newsworthy Trade Magazine Topics

Pitching the haircare/spa trade magazines is different than pitching the consumer media such as Vogue, Allure, Elle et al. When pitching the trade magazines, you are effectively speaking to your colleagues in the business who will indeed have interest in developments and news from your salon/spa that would not be relevant for the average consumer. Possible press release ideas include:

Salon XYZ inks exclusive distribution deal with ABC product line.

Salon XYZ to enter into franchise agreement.

Head stylist at Salon XYZ to become a spokesperson for ABC product line.

Salon XYZ offers course for new spa and salon owners.

It is important to structure the release so that the headline is eye-catching and that all of the key points are addressed in the release. It is helpful to put a web-address of your salon/spa at the bottom of the release and leave contact information for editors.

Now that I have written the release to whom do I send it?

Although it will cost money, the best and most time effective way to gather a media database is to subscribe to services such as Bacons www.bacons.com or Burrelles http://www.burrellesluce.com  which will allow you to access media contacts and develop lists on-line. Media and media contacts change so frequently that these services provide the most accurate way to formulate comprehensive, accurate media lists. Press releases for a salon or spa should be sent (via e-mail in most cases) to beauty editors. For example, if your salon is located in Cincinnati, it would be appropriate to send releases to all of the Cincinnati media including radio, TV, newspapers, magazines, web-sites that have a format for beauty stories. If the information is general enough, the release can also be sent to national magazine beauty editors such as Bazaar, Ladies' Home Journal Redbook, etc. Below are examples of stories that would be strictly local and those that can apply to the national beauty publications.

Local Angle Only- Ohio salon offers pro bono haircuts to local welfare moms on Mother's Day.

Appropriate for national and local- Do it yourself at home spa treatments found in your refrigerator.

Keep releases timely. Magazines operate in advance of where we are in "real time." For example, in August many magazines are working on holiday stories. At that time it would be appropriate to send them holiday themed releases. Press releases to newspapers should be sent with current topics as newspapers publish in "real time." Always remember to try to tie-in press release topics with a season, holiday, fashion trend, celebrity, news event etc. Press releases should be followed up verbally with an upbeat, and concise "phone pitch" making careful note of each editor's specific response. Once you have gotten all of the mileage you can out of a specific release, it is time to move on too a new topic. If you badger the media with one idea, and don't take no for an answer, you will alienate these contacts.

Pitching TV- Television is obviously a visual medium. TV producers like experts who can not only tell the audience but show them as well. To garner interest from your local TV station, you might entice a producer to cover your salon by offering a Father's day contest to a local father in need of an "extreme makeover." This type of segment would prove to be a great showcase for the stylists at your salon. If it is Valentine's Day, you can pitch a segment idea on his and hers makeovers and offer a candelit dinner to the lucky couple (with cameras filming) post makeover. Spa bachelorette parties are another great TV idea to pitch in June at the peak of wedding season. Since most TV programs do not have "beauty producers" you can send these pitches to the "assignment editor" who will funnel them out to the appropriate producer at the station or TV program.

The most important component to keep in mind when devising a press release is to ask yourself if you would be interested in a potential topic if you were not in the spa/salon industry. Once way to measure this is to show the release to friends who are not in the business and see if the release peaks their attention and provides new, insightful information.

Below are books available on www.amazon.com that go into further detail on writing press releases and garnering free publicity.

1.   Writing Effective News Releases...: How to Get Free Publicity for Yourself, Your Business, or Your Organization by Catherine V. McIntyre (Paperback )

2.   6 Steps to Free Publicity: "For Corporate Publicists or Solo Professionals, Including...Publishers, Consultants, Conference Planners, Politicians, Inventors

3.   Creating Powerful Press Releases: 11 Steps To Creating Press Releases That Get Printed! by Don Crowther (Digital )

4.   A Guide to Preparing Cost-Effective Press Releases (Haworth Marketing and Resources : Innovations in Practice & Professional Services Series) by Robert H. Loeffler (Hardcover )

5.   Complete Publicity Plans: How to Create Publicity That Will Spark Media Exposure and Excitement (ADAMS STREETWISE SERIES) by Sandra L. Beckwith (Paperback )

6.   Free Publicity 101: How to Write Press Releases and Get Your Story in the Media by Cathy Stucker, IdeaLady.com (Digital - May 2004)

Please Contact: Katherine Rothman at

KMR Communications, Inc

(212) 213-6444

About the Author: Katherine M. Rothman is the CEO of KMR Communications, Inc a public relations firm in Manhattan specializing in beauty, health and fitness clientele nationwide. www.kmrcommunications.com (212) 213-6444 info@kmrcommunications.com

KMR Communications, Inc specializes in beauty, health and fitness public relations for clients nationwide. The firm represents Rene Furterer hair care, Klorane Skin Care, was responsible for the launch of Oasis on Park Day Spa, and has represented the Robert Stuart Salon and DeFranco Spagnolo Salon Spa among many others.