Facing the media can be a challenging task. But if handled correctly, it can prove tremendously beneficial to any business. Whether you’re a salon owner or an employee, using the media effectively will bring in big dollars.

The key to public relations is found in the word “relation.” What we’re talking about here is building strong relationships with members of the media and ultimately their readers/viewers who are your potential customers. It’s a give and take — you give the media what they want in the form of great information for their readers/viewers and in return you get name recognition for your work and your salon. This ultimately leads to more business.

Public relations is not advertising. When you place an ad, you pay for that space to say whatever you want. With public relations, you are offering your services as a resource, and it is up to each individual media outlet how they use it.

Think of PR the same way you would your salon. You build your business, offer the best services and products, and hope that customers will want to do business with you. Working with members of the press is the same. You provide them with the best material possible and hope that they’ll want to put you in their newspapers, magazines, or television programs.

Here’s the most important thing to remember — stick with it! Don’t give up, even if you’ve sent a dozen press releases or phoned a dozen editors and nothing has happened. Hundreds, even thousands of businesses contact these people all the time and it will take time for your salon to register on their radar.

Write a Vision Statement
First off, write a vision statement. What do you want the media to know about you? What are you about, and what makes your salon unique? How do you want to be viewed? When will you be ready to show yourself off? The statement should include how you would look and how your business would appear in both print and broadcast media.

Next determine what types of media your existing customers respond to. There are so many magazines and newspapers out there. Why not start by asking your clients what they like? Chances are if the customers you already serve enjoy those magazines, newspapers, and TV shows, there are more potential customers just like them enjoying the same.

Now’s the time to decide if you want to approach local or national media, and consumer or trade magazines [see sidebar]. Then you’ll need to compile a list of contact names for each TV show or publication you’re interested in. Find out who handles information and stories on beauty, fashion, wellness, trends, and local businesses. It could be a beauty, feature, or lifestyle editor at a magazine or newspaper. It might be a producer or assistant producer at a TV show. You could ask a simple question like, “Can you tell me who I could direct information to on the subject of beauty or fashion?”

Talking to the Media
Once you have compiled your list of contacts, what’s your next step? In order to “get print” or to “get airtime” you must be seen as an expert in your field. The first thing to do is to build a press kit. This kit will contain the basic information about you and your business that journalists can keep on file to use as a reference. It’s the background data you’ll send to each new contact on your list as well as to hand out at outside promotions, charity events, bridal fairs, etc., to separate you from the rest.

The press kit should contain the following components, in this order:
• A cover letter. In a brief letter, introduce yourself and your salon and let the editor know who you are and that you’d like to be of service.
• A timely press release. This will be on a specific topic, like summer pedicures or holiday trends.
• An overview of your company. This will include your salon’s philosophy, service menu, any pertinent awards or recognition you’ve received, and your unique selling points.
• Biographical information on you and key members of your staff.
• Any existing press clippings.
• Fast facts. Include all contact information.
• Photos. Make sure they are clear and high quality.
• Business card.

If you send your kit electronically, make sure the files are not too large to download. If you are sending an actual kit, make sure you use a professional, simple folder. Your logo on materials makes a nice brand statement.

A word to the wise: Make sure there are no errors in grammar or misspelled words.

Periodic Press Releases
Now that you’ve made contact, let’s talk about regular press releases. We recommend that, after sending your kit, you follow up with a press release every four to six weeks. This release should be timely, interesting, and have a “hook” — something to get the editor’s attention quickly.

Let’s say Valentine’s Day is coming and you specialize in couples’ spa packages. Now’s the time to put together a release announcing the availability and the details of what’s included in that package. By targeting your message to a specific holiday, you’re much more likely to get attention when journalists are looking for content for their February issues. Remember that many journalists work months ahead, so get your ideas out early. Monthly print editors may work up to three months in advance, while weekly or daily papers work on shorter lead times.

Other popular seasonal topics include:
• New Year’s resolutions/makeovers
• Cold weather nail care
• Spring trends
• Prom
• Mother’s Day
• Father’s Day
• Graduation
• Back to school
• Homecoming
• Halloween
• Thanksgiving
• Winter holidays

Give the journalists a call about a week after you mail your material.

Remember, this is about building relationships. And don’t forget to use your manners — send a thank you. Keep the media in the game all year long by inviting them to charity events you’re involved in, promotional events, and VIP parties. Be consistent in putting your name out there. And remember the most important rule of all: Don’t give up. You haven’t given up on your business and the hard work has paid off. Soon you’ll be going from “Suzy who?” To “Suzy darling!”

Heather Goodwin has been a top-producing nail technician and makeup artist since 1996. Goodwin is also a success coach with Durocher Enterprises. She can be reached at (727) 224-0518 or tarpon777@aol.com.

10 Ways to Get Ink
1. Throw a party celebrating anything. Be it a salon anniversary, grand re-opening after a remodel, new service menu, celebrating an award, introducing new employees — find an angle and alert the media.

2. Host a charity event. Donate a portion — or all — of your service and retail dollars during this event to a charity of your choice. Editor’s love to cover do-gooder events, especially if they have a personal or unique angle. If editors don’t come, take photos of the event to send afterwards with a press release. Make sure to include all the details.

3. Talk about yourself! You may not be the type to toot your own horn, but if you have done something great, you need to tell people. Write your accomplishments up in the form of a press release and send it to the local media. This means if you win an industry award, a community award, a nail competition, or even a smaller competition like a graphics or nail art contest in a magazine.

4. Talk about your employees! Same goes for promoting your employees. Anytime they win something, let your local press know. It also helps to motivate your employees if they know they are going to be recognized for their efforts.

5. Offer yourself up as an expert. Let local editors know you can provide them with nail-related tips and trends. Send a press release with “great home nail care tips” to the local beauty or lifestyle editors. You never know when they might need to fill space and if they already have a ready-made story with real reader value, they can just drop it in.

6. Unique services always attract attention. If you offer something completely unique or a specialized service, write a release about it, describing it in detail. Provide photos if possible.

7. Send nail art photos. Everyone is fascinated by nail art, even if they might not be interested in wearing it themselves. Better yet, send pictures of cute designs on toes with information on getting the “new fashion pedicure.”

8. Capitalize on a gimmick. Do you have a high percentage of men coming in for nail services? Do you have a client with extremely long nails who loves getting crazy nail art? Get their permission and send a release including pictures and possible sources for a story.

9. Fashion forecast! Do you fancy yourself a fashionista? Send a release to the local beauty or lifestyle editor identifying the coming nail trends and styles. Find a way to supplement what they’re already doing in their fashion reports. Maybe you can do nail styles to go with the spring or fall fashion trends that they are already going to be covering. Offer yourself up as an expert.

10. Survey your clients. Surveys and statistics are always popular. If you have a clever angle, do a survey of your clients and mail the results to the press.

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