Marketing & Promotions

Get the Word Out

You know what you have to offer, but does everybody else? With some publicity, your salon will be known to more than just your clients and neighbors.

Every nail salon has something unique to offer the community and there’s no better way to show it than by cultivating some well-deserved publicity. By letting the community know what you’re up to, people can celebrate with you, help you do something good for the neighborhood, or benefit from your area of expertise. Not to mention it’s one of your best forms of advertising.

Chances are good that a salon’s team of nail technicians does more than just go to work every day. The salon owner may spend time traveling in Europe and the United States, educating herself on health and beauty issues. Perhaps the nail salon organized a charity benefit. Or maybe the salon has been in business for more than 15 years. These are some of the stories you could share with the public to get your salon some free publicity.


What exactly do you want to say? Who will be interested in what you have to say? Who can give your message to those interested people? How do you develop a relationship with editors and producers? These are the questions to consider when beginning your quest for publicity.

If you’re looking for publicity, you probably already know what you want to say. But if not, you don’t need to look far to find a good bit of news to share.

“Newsworthy events for the salon include a salon opening, a personnel promotion, new employees joining the salon, or the opening of a new location,” says Charles Buck, president of Arnold Buck Inc., a marketing, advertising, and design company in San Diego, Calif. “Newspapers are good about including this type of information in the business or real estate sections.”

Penny Axberg-Spina, owner of Public Image Ltd. Nails in Wayne, N.J., got some ink in the local weekly paper during the grand opening of her salon. “We joined the chamber of commerce, which meant that the mayor would come to our grand opening,” she explains. “We had a big luncheon, and the mayor cut the ribbon with a huge pair of scissors. We took our own pictures and sent them to the local paper along with a write-up describing our services and introducing ourselves to the community. The editors copied the release right into the newspaper and published the picture with it.”

Beyond openings and personnel changes, nail technicians can lend their expertise in the nail industry to an editor and either becomes a source of information or write short articles on nail care.

“The promotion-minded salon owner or manager may consider observing trends in nail color and style, and submit articles to special sections on those topics. It’s likely the editor won’t take the story word for word, but he might look to the salon or person as an expert to quote in future stories,” says Buck.

Adds Peter Samerjan, president of Samerjan 743 Advertising and design in Los Angeles, Calif., “Almost nowhere on a national or regional level do we see frequent contributions to nail care and nail trends. Almost every magazine, newspaper, TV, and radio station has a fashion editor. Call or write them and express an interest in participating in articles or stories on nail care and nail trends.

“If anyone in the salon wins a nail competition, this is also an excellent opportunity to establish your salon as quality oriented,” Samerjan continues.

Perhaps your salon has a unique theme or an association with a nonprofit organization such as a softball team, a charity, or a church group. A new private label line or a unique marketing plan might be good reasons to cultivate publicity in your local paper’s business section.

Volpe Nails Franchises, based in Endicott, N.Y., uses every opportunity to gain publicity from its community support activities. “I tell Volpe Nails franchises to sponsor a volleyball or bowling team and give the team members neon Volpe shirts,” says Maureen Volpe, president. “One thing we like to do is work with seven or eight businesses who specialize in beauty a - tanning salon, a hair salon, a clothing store, and one of our nail salons - and we develop a fashion show. We donate door prizes and promote our products, but all the money earned goes to a charity, such as the March of Dimes. When the newspaper announces the event, it mentions our names as one of the supporting businesses.”

Volpe employees have participated in golf tournaments to benefit cancer research; Volpe Nails even has its name painted on the side of a stock race car. “Be creative in your use of advertising dollars,” says Volpe. “Spend the money to support the community and get publicity.”

Erin Smith, president of Erin Smith Communications in Beverly Hills, Calif., points out, “There is wide range of events that attract media, but none so effective as the charity benefit. You can hold luncheon benefit featuring nail fashions for the upcoming season or a nail-a-thon, where you do manicures, acrylic, and other services at a set price and donate to proceeds to the charity.

“Other events can be tied into the special week or day that’s coming up, such as Secretaries’ Week or Grandparents’ Day. Media-grabbing events can be as simple as going to the local convalescent home and doing manicures on the residents for free, or going to a homeless shelter for women and giving a beauty pep talk. Keep in mind that anything that’s done as good will and helps the underprivileged is looked up or favorably by the press.”

Annessa Blair, an enterprising nail technician in St. Petersburg, Fla., gained publicity for herself and her cause when she created a 348-foot sculptured nail to benefit the American Heart Association. During the planning stages, Blair spent one day phoning local newspapers, magazines, and radio stations in the Tampa Bay and St. Petersburg area. “I sent press releases to the media who said they might be interested,” she says. Her efforts paid off. Two radio stations and the local CBS affiliate covered the event. Columnist Jacquin Sanders of the St. Petersburg Times featured Blair and her project in his column, and a Times photographer was on location to shoot the event.


Who Wants to Know?

Now that you’ve decided what your event or unique message to the community is, who would benefit most from hearing or reading it? Nail biters will be happy to learn a few tips that you care, while business owners want to know how you increased profits by improving service. Moms like to read that your salon sponsored a softball team.

Teens will run for their nail polish when you inform them how to personalize their new orange shade to match their skin tone. Don’t forget the brides who want a perfect set of nails for their wedding and who maybe be able to coax the grooms into a manicure as well.

Put yourself in the shoes of the person you’re trying to reach. If you were that person what sections of the newspaper would interest you most? What radio stations would you listen to? What resources would give you the information you wanted?

Now you know where to send your message.

“The obvious choices are local newspapers, regional magazines, and local TV and radio stations,” says Samerjan. “Call before you send your releases and find out who handles releases for community events.”

Often, you can reach your target audience in the not-so-obvious places. “Local groups, such as churches and schools, have newsletters where your release can run,” Samerjan suggests. “So do gyms and health clubs. You may try to strike a relationship where they run your press release in return for your promoting their business in your salon.”

Prepare a Press Kit

To introduce your business to members of the media, start by making a press kit. You may need to purchase some supplies such as folders, salon stationery (If you don’t already have it), even a stapler, paper clips, and fresh typewriter ribbon to make the kits. “I’d fine nice folders with pockets and make a press kit for each of the daily and community newspapers in my market,” says Buck.

“First thing I’d do is make a fact sheet about my salon: where it’s located, its square footage, the number of stations and nail artists, special services, and whether it’s open on Saturdays and Sundays,” continues Buck. “Have a biography of the salon owner describing her background and professional affiliations, when she got her license, and her education. Include any articles on the salon or the people who work there. Finally, I’d have the news release.”

Writing the News Release

The news release tells your story. You don’t need any special form, just salon stationery, but there is a standard format you should follow (see sample on page 108). If you don’t consider yourself a writer, don’t panic. The editors of a newspaper or a magazine or the producers of a TV or radio show are professionals who can take a few facts and assemble them into an interesting presentation. The easier you make their job, though, the more likely they are to use you release.

Use 8 ½ -by-11-inch paper. In the upper right hand corner, put the contact name - that’s the person who will answer questions about the press release - and phone number, the name of the salon, and the name of the salon, and the address. Then put a sentence on the release in all capital letters telling the newspapers when to print the news. For example, it should say


The media person reading your release will want to know early in your story what you have to offer. Explains Samerjan, “At the beginning of you release, try to encapsulate the story in one overview sentence, such as ‘Sue’s Nail Salon Hosts Record-Breaking Charity Event.’ This allows the editor a quick look at what your release is about and saves her time, especially if you’ve sent your release to the wrong editor.”

Adds Buck, “Tell the story in about seven words. Then, in the body of the release, leave a 15-space margin on both sides (about 1 ½ inches); in the release itself use upper and lower case letters, not all caps; and indent the first line of every paragraph five spaces (about half an inch).

“Your first, or lead, paragraph tells the five W’s: Who, What, When, Where, Why. This paragraph should be about 14 words: ‘Hillcrest Salon, owned by resident Patty Meyer, opens this weekend to serve the needs of the community,” says Buck. “The other paragraphs explain in further detail about the salon. Each paragraph should be about two sentences long. The release should be written in descending order of importance, with the most important information in the beginning.”

Keep releases short, truthful, and upbeat. A well-written release with proper spelling shows the editor you’re a professional. If possible, limit press releases to one page, and always give the reader your unique point of view.

“Try to find something unusual,” says Buck. “It’s not enough to have a grand opening, you need to find some newsworthy hook. Maybe the salon owner has just returned from Paris, and her new international perspective will interest the readers. Maybe it’s an entirely new career for her.”

Indicate the end of your story with a line of pound signs (###) or the number 30 (-30-). If the story continues on a second page, type “MORE” or “more”. This ensures the editor reads the entire release.

Finally, Samerjan advises, keep it neat. “The cardinal rule is never, ever submit a handwritten release,” he says: “Always take the time to type your release. If they can’t read it, they can’t read it, they can’t use it.”

In addition, your release must be appropriate in content and tone for the media you have chosen. If your story sounds like an ad, the editor may be reluctant to print it. News stories must have something to offer the community.

Photo Tips

If you can, you should send a photo with your release. Pictures add a dimension to your story that words cannot. When you send a photo with your release, put your name and address on a label on the back of the photo. Include a caption on a separate piece of paper explaining the photo: when and where it was taken, who or what is in it, and how it relates to your story. Attach the caption to the photo with tape, or place the photo in an envelope to the caption with a paper clip. Don’t staple the photo to anything, and don’t paper clip the photo to the caption unless it’s protected with cardboard. Editors can’t use a photo that’s been damaged in the mail.

Interesting photos are most likely to be used. Get a close-up on faces, and if you’re taking a group shot, have some people stand and others sit. The various levels in the photo make a more visually pleasing shot. If you’re photographing a product or an object, add a prop or two to enliven the photo. For example, if you’re photographing polish bottles from your private label line, they will look sharper against the soft colors and contours of a vase of flowers. Use plenty of film to give yourself a choice of photographs.

Voices Carry

Some people prefer to get their news from newspapers or magazines. Others are dedicated listeners to radio or television talk shows, so be sure to target all these people these people in your publicity campaign.

“Just as location is important to the success of a nail salon, angle is important to getting booked to do an interview on a radio or television program,” explains Smith. She suggests you develop story ideas by asking your own clients what they want to know or what they find interesting about your services, and refine these ideas to appeal to the general public.

“Find out which interview show feature human interest stories, and which shows are public affairs programs that talk about serious issues affecting the community,” Smith suggests. “Watch local talk shows and listen to radio talk shows. See what types of beauty segments, if any, they have and what their show format is. Do they do demonstrations? Do they go on location or do everything in the studio? Are they live or taped? Do they have a consumer reporter who already covers the beauty industry?”

The next step is to develop a story to fit the radio or TV show’s format. If you provide a variety of topics, from light to serious, you’ll give the production manager more options for placing your story. Light stories could cover back-to-school nail care and fall polish colors or a service demonstration, says Smith. A more serious topic might be how to avoid nail health problems.

“Once you’ve done the research and developed some story ideas, contact the show by calling the show’s production office and asking to whose attention you should send a segment idea,” Smith says. “Send a brief cover letter describing your segment idea, why you think it’s particularly relevant, and a brief description of your credentials. This cover letter should accompany your media kit.”


Send, Send, Send

Alfonso Segovia of Chicago Hair Design in Chicago is a media master. His frequent nail art competition wins have been the topic of numerous articles, and recently a profile of Segovia appeared on television. How does he get so much media attention?

“Right after a competition, we send releases and pictures to whomever we think will be interested,” says Luz Segovia, Alfonso’s wife and business partner. “We’ve spent a lot of time getting the names, addresses, and phone numbers of people in the media who might use the information.”

Keep sending your media kit and press release, and keep tabs on responses. Often, editors will place a release in the community news section without contacting you. If that happens, great! You know that forum is appropriate for your message.

Also, be aware that editors and producers need a certain amount of lead time – the amount of time they need prior to publication or air sate. “Different deadlines,’ says Samerjan. “For example, if you are announcing a charity event in conjunction with your salon, magazines may require a two-week lead time.” Be aware of the deadlines and plan ahead.

Bear in mind that it takes some time for a release to become publicity. “For television, it usually takes them about four months to get back to you,” says Segovia. “But newspapers don’t take as long usually about four weeks.”

Follow up with editors and procedures. “Make a call within a week to see if they are interested in your ideas or if they want to discuss them further,” says Smith. “Keep in mind that editors and procedures are very, very busy. When you call, tell them your name and the salon name, and say that you’re following up on a recent article or topic suggestion. Then ask if they have a minute to talk to you or if you should call back at another time.”

If you don’t get a response or the person doesn’t seem interested in a story, don’t be discouraged. The person you sent the media kit and release to has probably put your name on file as an expert in nails. Don’t be surprised if the fashion editor or the producer of the New Trends spot on the local radio station singles you out for your expert advice because you took the time to introduce yourself. It may be soon after you sent the release, or even after you have forgotten you sent it.

Before long, you’ll meet new clients who introduce themselves by saying, “Didn’t I read about you in the paper?” or “I loved your guest appearance on TV!”     

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