April 30, 2012

Want to Get Your Products in Front of Hollywood Costumers?

Filed under: PR — Meredith @ 3:20 am

If you’ve ever dreamed of seeing your products in TV and movies, here’s your chance to learn how to do it. This week only publicist Lauren Aseff is offering private coaching sessions. Let Lauren teach you how she gets her clients products in front of the camera.

  • Ask Lauren one-on-one all about how she gets her clients products in front of the camera
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  • Discover the tools and techniques Lauren uses to get beyond gatekeepers and
    get her clients products in front of Hollywood costumers!

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January 18, 2012

Ex-Boyfriend Featured on Raising Hope

Filed under: PR — Meredith @ 8:18 am

Taking a break from the usual biz advice to share Ex-Boyfriend’s latest excitement. Our Diver Riding a Shark t-shirt was featured on Fox’s Raising Hope. You can see it in the image above on Lucas Neff (Jimmy) during the Mrs. Smartypants episode that aired last night.


And no this wasn’t a result of dumb luck, friends in Hollywood (I wish) or hiring a PR firm, we did this using the publicity techniques I talk about on this blog and in my ebook about doing your own publicity. You can do this for your creative business too, make it happen!

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November 30, 2011

The Case Against Buying Store Lists and Media Lists

Filed under: PR,Wholesaling — Tags: , , , , — Meredith @ 10:53 am

I’ve noticed recently that a lot of fellow biz bloggers and biz coaches are selling press or store lists (or offering them as a value-add for premium products). I’m pretty much against buying/using pre-made store or press lists, and here’s why:

1. They might make me lazy
It’s tempting to use someone else’s list. Making a list of stores or media outlets to pitch is time consuming, so why not let someone else do the work? Because working from someone else’s list is like working with blinders on. I promise you, there are more stores and media outlets that are great for your company that are not on that list you just bought. If you’re relying on a pre-made list, you might not go hunting for them.

2. They don’t give me an edge over my competitors
If someone is selling a list of store or media contacts, you have to wonder who else bought the same list. Are those stores or editors being bombarded with pitches from your competitors? That’s going to make it tougher to get them to focus on you.

I love when I find a hidden gem of a contact and it pays out for me. I’m great at thinking of unconventional places to pitch my work that competitors might not be trying. As a result, I can stand out and probably get a better response. Some of my best media placements for Ex-Boyfriend haven’t been Good Housekeeping or Elle or Design Sponge, they’ve been outlets that focus on niches relevant to my products, like geek culture blogs or outlets with a focus on animal lovers. Other tee labels might all be fighting for a placement in the same dozen or so coveted outlets, but personally, I prefer to skip ’em. I’d rather go where my competitors haven’t thought to look.

Case in point, earlier this fall my company was featured in a magazine about cheese. We saw quite a few orders stemming from the placement. The average clothing company might not think about working with an outlet about cheese. By working with a media outlet that isn’t the first one our competitors think of, we were able to score a win.

3. They probably aren’t perfect for me
Even if I take competitors out of the equation, if a friend who had a jewelry line or a handbag line offered to give me her press list or store list, I’d still say “no thanks”. Media lists and store lists have to be highly customized to be valuable. The press contacts and store lists that are good for another business are not necessarily useful for mine. Even if I could get lists another clothing company was using, it probably still wouldn’t have all the stores and media outlets I should be pitching.

There’s more to your products than being a shirt or a necklace or a bag. Our products have so many niches they could appeal to that it’s important to build our prospect lists with those niches in mind. Hopefully there aren’t a lot of businesses out there with your exact combination of product types and niches, which is why the best store or press list is going to be the one you created yourself.

Purchased Lists as a Jumping Point
The case can be made for using pre-made lists as a starting point. You could use them to get ideas for your own custom list and cross off the ones you don’t need. This can work okay if you understand that the list you’re getting isn’t “your” final list and you want to spend the time checking out each contact on the list to see if they’re a fit for you. It’s not my preferred approach, I’d rather spend the same hours just making my own list, researching my own niches.

If you do decide to start with someone else’s list, make sure you’re not taking their list as gospel. Be prepared to spend the time checking each contact to see if they are suited to your business and then spend the time adding your own contacts that aren’t on the list initially.

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April 25, 2011

4 Reasons to Love Free Publicity (and how to get some)

Filed under: PR — Tags: , — Meredith @ 3:56 am

If you’ve ever had your brand talked about in a magazine, high-traffic website, or newspaper, you know the amazing power of publicity. One little placement can generate thousands of dollars in sales over night! The good news about free publicity is that it doesn’t cost any money. The bad news is you’ve got to work for it. If you don’t know how to do that, I’ve got a solution, but first, here are some reasons to love free publicity.

1. Brand Awareness Beyond Your Budget
I’ve been able to get my shop mentioned in some of the highest profile media outlets around — outlets like iVillage, Gizmodo, Baltimore Sun, Nickelodeon, Animal Planet and dozens of others. I’m talking about media outlets that charge more than my monthly paycheck for an ad! I might not have had the cash to buy my way into those publications, but with a little strategic public relations, I was able to get my company mentioned for free.

2.Credible Endorsements Bring in the Customers
I am not knocking paid advertising; I’ve seen a great return on investment from ad placements. That said, advertising doesn’t carry the credibility of a media placement. When people see ads, they’re bound to be skeptical. It’s a company telling you how great they are. Of course they think they’re great, but they’re hardly objective. When a trusted source such as a magazine, website, newspaper, etc. has something nice to say about a business, consumers are a lot more likely to listen. That’s credibility you simply can’t buy.

3. The Caché of Media Placements Will Charm Those Wholesale Clients
Wholesale customers are just like your retail customers; they don’t just want you to tell them why you’re great, they’re interested in hearing about who else thinks you’re great. If you can get your company name or products into magazines, newspapers, blogs, TV shows, etc. that not only means more sales for you, it means more sales for the stores carrying your wares. Some high profile media placements are a great way to convince wholesale clients that your products are the hottest thing around.

4. Ripple Effects
Media placements do so much more than just bring you the audience from the magazine, website, TV show, etc. where your products or company were featured. Those placements have a huge ripple effect on your marketing. Getting on a TV show or movie can cause entertainment magazines to talk about you.  Getting on a high profile website can lead to a flurry of Facebook likes, Tweets and other online buzz, driving traffic to your site from even more sources, and getting search engines to take more interest in your site. Each placement you receive generates more interest in your brand and gets more people talking and sharing.

So now that you’re as jazzed about the idea of free publicity as I am, how do you get some?
I’m not going to lie, getting free publicity is going to take some work. I can’t emphasize this enough. I can give you the tools and techniques to be your own publicist, but at the end of the day, you’ve got to use them to see results. So if you’re ready to do some work… let’s talk about Scoring Publicity For Your Small Business.

This brand new download will teach you everything you need to know to be your own publicist. To be perfectly honest, I debated publishing this for a long time. The information I’ve shared in Scoring Publicity For Your Small Business is the stuff that gave my own online shop a huge competitive advantage. We’ve toiled away at doing our own publicity for several years and had to learn by trial, error and no small amount of research how to get it right. I ultimately decided to publish this information because I want Smaller Box readers to succeed and I know my business has enough other unique advantages that having this information out there won’t really do us any harm.

All of that said, Scoring Publicity For Your Small Business contains my absolute most-valued and top-secret resources and tips. These are details and tips I have not and will not share on the blog because they were simply too hard-won to give away for free, so you’ll only get these tips from private coaching sessions or Scoring Publicity For Your Small Business. If I’ve piqued your interest, read on to see what else is included in this brand new download.

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March 14, 2011

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

Filed under: PR — Tags: , , — Meredith @ 11:05 am

Microsoft-owned Bing recently faced a huge Twitter backlash for pledging to donate $1 to Japan’s earthquake victims for every “retweet” they received on this pledge. Twitter users immediately accused Bing of profiteering from a tragedy.

First let me say, I’m not really a big Bing user and I’m not a huge Microsoft devotee, they do plenty of things I’m not crazy about but this isn’t one of them. Tons of brands are getting involved in the Japan relief effort and raising their profile in the process. After all, you don’t hear about who’s helping Japan without hearing Lady Gaga’s name and thinking “oh that Lady Gaga, what a nice broad.” It’s all marketing, so when celebs are elevating their own brands with charitable work, while complaining about companies doing the same, it smacks of hypocrisy.

I do think it’s nice when brands (yes, celebs are brands) use their position to help a good cause. My online shop just kicked off its big annual fundraiser for homeless animals. We’re not cackling all the way to the bank in Cruella De Vil style puppy fur coats while pretending to care about animals to raise our profile. It’s genuinely a pet cause for us (no pun intended) and we feel fortunate to have our company as a vehicle to raise money for it and encourage other people to care about it.

All of that said, yes, publicly supporting a charitable cause does provide benefits for a brand. It attracts media attention, it usually gets the public to think well of the brand, or at least it has historically. This “spit in your face” style cynicism the public is now heaping on brands who try to do good might make companies shy away from charitable efforts in the future. Afterall, if nothing but scorn is to be gained from charitable work, those companies may as well take the same money they’re giving to charity and spend it on ads that benefit no one but the company.

I find the charity backlash troubling, both as a brand owner who’s fond of supporting charities and getting my company’s fans involved and as a consumer who likes supporting brands who promote good causes. If the only result companies see from charitable efforts is bad press, the trend of companies lending a hand to good causes could become a thing of the past.

What’s your take? Do you like when companies support charitable causes? What could companies do to use their position for good and not be seen as predatory?


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October 12, 2010

The PR Game: Quantity vs Quality

Filed under: PR — Tags: , , — Meredith @ 10:29 am

If you’re trying to improve your SEO, increase sales, and gain brand awareness, nothing beats a media placement. Or does it? Not all media placements are created equal so it’s important to understand that difference between pitching for quantity vs pitching for quality.

Do you want hundreds or even thousands of blogs to review your products? No problem. Just about anyone can make this happen. There are millions of blogs out there and finding some that will write about your brand isn’t all that difficult. Many of these bloggers may want a free product sample to review, but aside from that, getting press from them is simple. These are blogs with low readership and they don’t get pitched all day, so getting to the front of the line isn’t difficult.

In fact, many bloggers got into blogging just to get free stuff, and they have a simple pay to play system. You send them stuff, they write about you. You can find a lot of these bloggers looking for freebies on lists like HARO. They usually say they are looking for products to “review,” and by that, they mean they are looking for free products in exchange for a review.

Personally, I don’t bother with this numbers game and here’s why:

1. Pitching is time consuming. I’d rather spend my time on higher profile media outlets even if I get a lower response rate.

2 The SEO benefits are minimal. Getting links from any reputable site contributes to your SEO.  So getting 1,000 small blogs to review your products will give you a little SEO benefit. However, the emphasis is on little. Links from higher traffic websites provide far more SEO benefit. That means it’s more beneficial to get linked by the New York Times than a blogger site with 10 visits a day.

3. The cost of freebies adds up. Bloggers with very little readership  demanding free samples can leave a serious dent in your wallet. There’s the cost of the products, plus the cost of postage. Do that a few hundred times and you’ve easily lost thousands of dollars.

Pitching high quality media outlets is tough. They get a lot of pitches so getting their attention is going to take some doing. You’ll need a combination of a well-crafted pitch, timing, targeting and plain old luck. If you can get a handful of these placements each year, you’re doing well. This is the type of placements I focus my PR time on and here’s why:

1. These placements convert and convert and convert. If you get a placement from a major magazine or website, not only will you probably get a rush of orders when the placement goes out, you’ll continue to get conversions for months or even years to come. My clothing company got a write up on Gizmodo a couple of years ago.  If you aren’t familiar with this site, they’re number 4 on Technorati’s list of top blogs. They get over 15 million page views each month and are considered a go-to blog in the tech world. To this day, my website gets traffic and sales from that placement, even though it was quite a while ago.

2. The SEO benefits are outstanding. Getting links from a site with millions of visitors causes search engines to start ranking your site higher. A few links like this provides greater benefit than a bunch of links from sites with no traffic.

3. The branding benefits are tough to beat. When a media outlet that has a lot of readers plugs you, your brand awareness grows. Even if they don’t all purchase, they’re still becoming aware of your brand and may be spreading the word about you in ways you’re unaware of.

Further Reading: Tips and Tricks to Build Your Press List

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June 29, 2010

4 Tips on Celebrity Gifting

Filed under: PR — Tags: , , , — Meredith @ 7:50 am

These days everyone wants to know what celebrities are wearing. They pop up on TV, in magazines and on celebrity gossip blogs decked out in the coolest clothing and accessories. Small designers dream of getting their own creations into celebrity hands. But how do you go about it? Here are a few tips:

1. Pick the Right Celebrity
It doesn’t matter if Chace Crawford is your favorite because he’s so beautiful and appears on your favorite TV show. He may not be the right person to give your products to. Choosing a celebrity who’d genuinely appreciate your products is the first step in a successful gifting to celebs. That means doing your research, so…

2. Follow Your Celebrities
Pick a few celebs that you think would be a good choice for gifting. If you aren’t sure where to start, begin reading magazines with celebrity interviews. They often provide insight into their personal interests and taste. Notice what celebrities wear when they’re not working (you can often find candid pictures of their day to day lives in gossip magazines and on gossip websites).

If you sell vegan shoes, take note of which celebrities have said they’re vegetarians. If you sell Christian jewelry, start paying attention who which celebrities are public about their Christian faith.

Once you’ve chosen a celebrity whose taste or interests match your products, find ways to make contact…

3. Get Online
These days lots of celebrities are online and you can contact them through their Twitter or blog. Celebs that make themselves publicly accessible in this way are also great because you can see what’s going on in their lives and find a perfect moment to offer them a gift.

Pay attention to whether or not the celebrity has an upcoming birthday. Are they getting married soon? Are they expecting a baby? Look for moments like this as an excuse to offer them a special gift.

4. Reach Out
If the celebrity you are hoping to give a gift to is online, reaching out might be as simple as sending a Tweet, email or blog comment. If your target celebrity is a little more elusive, check out Contact Any Celebrity. This paid service hooks you up with contact information for just about any celebrity.

If you have deeper pockets, another options is gifting suites. These are suites that are set up at Hollywood events like Emmys or MTV Music Awards, where business owners/representatives gather in a room and hand out free swag to any celebrity that happens by. Be forewarned that these events can get expensive, and you won’t necessarily know who will show up. On the plus side, you’re likely to be able to actually snap a picture of a celebrity with your products, which helps create proof that the celebrity owns your products.

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April 8, 2010

Quick PR Tip: Don’t ask “If”, Explain “Why”

Filed under: PR — Tags: , — Meredith @ 11:13 am

The difference between a successful and failed PR pitch often has to do with approach. If you email a contact asking them if they will write about you, you’re going about it the wrong way. Don’t ask if they will write about you. Explain to them why they SHOULD write about you. How is the story you’re pitching compelling for their readers?

You will not be able to do this if:
– You didn’t actually read the publication you’re pitching
– You sent the same pitch to dozens of different media outlets with different audiences
– You don’t know the answer to this question yourself

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March 25, 2010

You’re Doing It Wrong: 4 Ways You’re Not Marketing to YOUR Customers

Filed under: Blogging,PR,Promotions,Social Media — Tags: , , , , — Meredith @ 10:26 am

One of the biggest mistakes I see smaller businesses making online is that they often don’t understand who their target market is. As a result they don’t actually market to them. Developing a successful small business means having a very clear understanding of who your target audience is. You might be saying “duh” right now but consider these questions:

Does your media list mostly contain indie blogs?

Do your Facebook statuses say “Just found a new source for fabrics on ebay.” and “Trying to figure out how to use Quickbooks for small business”?

Do you blog mainly about going to trade shows and how to put in a perfect dart?

If you’re guilty of these faux pas, you probably aren’t marketing to your target audience and you may not even understand who your target audience is. Don’t get me wrong, it’s okay to pitch indie blogs. There’s nothing wrong with giving customers a little behind the scenes peak at your day to day life. The problem is that’s all some small businesses do. Unless you sell supplies, most of your potential customers probably aren’t small business owners or artisans. They’re people who admire unique products, but can’t necessarily produce them on their own, and aren’t even terribly interested in how you do your magic. They just enjoy the end result.

So here are four places you can change your ways immediately and start marketing to potential customers instead of, well, yourself.

1. Blog
Blog about things that are interesting to your customers. If you sell dog leashes, blog about cute dog videos from Youtube. If you sell cosmetics, blog about how to achieve the perfect smokey eye.

2. Social Media
Stop spending all day on Etsy’s self-promotion forums. Stop tweeting about new Ebay seller policies, troubles with your merchant account and CPSIA all day. Start Tweeting and Facebooking about stuff your customers will find interesting, amusing or informative. If you want to socialize with fellow artisans or small business owners create TWO social media accounts, one for customers and one for peers.

3. Advertising
This is a biggie. There is a giant world of advertising to be had out there. There are niche publications for nearly everything. So stop spending all your ad dollars on publications mainly read by other artisans and business owners (again, unless you sell supplies or services for business owners or something). It’s okay to do a little marketing to that audience, but make sure the bulk of your ad dollars are being spent on publications that reach potential customers and not just your peers.

Check out sites like Blogads, explore Google Adwords and Adbrite. Think about who your target customers are and what publications they read and what websites they visit. Speaking of which…

4. Media List
Make sure your media list contains press relevant to your brand. A press list for a jewelry company should be different than a press list for a company that mainly designs housewares. Make sure you’re thinking about niche audiences that might like your products. A company that makes jewelry out of circuit boards should be pitching to geek publications. A company that makes pendants featuring different dog breeds should be pitching to pet publications.

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February 8, 2010

How NOT to Get Press From a Blogger (or anyone else)

Filed under: PR — Tags: , — Meredith @ 5:04 am

There are loads of how-tos out there on getting press from blogs. Getting publicity is an invaluable way to grow your brand, so why do so many small business owners insist on sure-to-fail tactics? Although many of these seem like no brainers, I see these mistakes frequently in my online travels. So here are a few things NOT to do when trying to get press for your brand.

1. Give Attitude
When you’re trying to get press for your brand, you’re basically asking someone to do you a favor. Press is usually free. Occasionally you may get asked for a sample (my $.02 on that topic here), but in general, asking for press tends to cost nothing. This is why it’s super-important not to be a jerk. Don’t complain if the blogger has a specific format they want inquiries in. Don’t whine if they ask you for high resolution product photos or a press kit. If you’re not prepared to cater to demands from bloggers and magazine editors, don’t ask for press in the first place. The worst thing you can do is give these people a hard time or send them a nasty correspondence.

2. Nag nag nag

It’s totally fine to keep press contacts up to date on new product launches and special events. It’s reasonable to follow up if you’ve sent a sample to someone. What you don’t want to do is be a pest. Hassling an editor or blogger repeatedly with the same (or a similar) pitch, when they’ve given no indication that they’re interested is nagging. Pitching the same contact repeatedly in a short period of time is nagging.

What should you do? Query your contacts no more than once a month and never send them the same or a similar pitch. If you don’t have anything newsworthy to share, don’t bother. Save that contact for the future when you actually have news for them.

The pitch on the left re-frames an already pitched product as one that is timely and relevant. The pitch on the right reiterates information already sent to the press contact that didn’t receive a response the first time it was tried.

3. Link the press to an inadequate website
If you want a blogger or magazine editor to give you some press, you need to provide them with access to quality product photos, quality product descriptions and a good looking website. If your product photos are murky and gray and look like they were shot on your basement’s stained carpeting, fix that before you start asking for press.

If your website looks like it stepped out of Geocities in 1998 fix it. Don’t ask for press until you’ve got a pristine, well-designed, attractive site. While you’re at it, make sure your product information is as detailed as possible. Publishers don’t want to send their readers to a site that’s hard to use, doesn’t provide a sizing chart, doesn’t really have any return or contact information.

Don’t even think about asking fore press from a single media outlet until you’ve addressed all of these issues.

4. Ignore press contacts
Say you’ve got an interested blogger or journalist who wants to give you some press. Make it your number one priority to pay attention to her. If she needs a product sample by Tuesday, Fedex it. If she needs you on the phone at 2 for an interview, make it happen.

All the hard work you’ve put into generating press is useless if you can’t follow through. Make sure you’re on top of all inquiries you receive from publishers. Make yourself easily accessible and easy to work with. Editors and bloggers are pressed for time and often up against deadlines. The easier you can make life for them, the more interested they’re going to be in working with you.

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