When I published ‘The Post The PRs Wrote’, it focussed mainly on how PRs and Bloggers could work together more harmoniously. It was all done anonymously, and I deleted every single one of the privately sent emails after compiling the post so I have no record (or in fact, memory) of who said what. But it did rather open a flood-gate and from my perspective, a very interesting over-view of how beauty PRs work within the fast changing beauty industry and what they’re up against in an increasingly competitive beauty world where new products, new formulations, new ingredients, new colours and new innovations are blasted out weekly.
Not for one minute is this a ‘keep-the-PRs-happy’ post; we all have to work together and there are some very, very good PRs and also some excruciatingly bad ones, as in any other industry. But, there is a general view in fashion and beauty that PRs are somehow lower down the food chain than the journalists themselves and because the very nature of PR is to be uncomplaining and act as a service industry, we don’t get to see behind the scenes very often. So, this post is kind of a shout out for the good PRs, many of them business owners running their own agencies, to let them have a voice. You need to bear in mind that a PR’s first priority is to their client and not to bloggers or journalists, but with a skilled PR that will be imperceptible. The quotes below come from across fashion and beauty PRs in this country and abroad and I’m largely calling everyone ‘writers’ so I don’t make an easily identifiable distinction between industries or genres of writing.
“I invited a writer to the launch of a premium product. It was an expensive launch using up a big proportion of the budget. She arrived late, slipped into the back row – and slept though the entire presentation.”
“To do a launch properly, it takes months of planning and a lot of money. Clients are desperate to have senior editors there. It’s beyond embarrassing when the writer says they are sending their intern instead because we can’t say ‘No, we’re not feeding and watering your intern at vast expense – *you* are the one we’ve laid this on for’. We aren’t laying on a thousands-of-pounds -worth launch for the interns, and we’re the ones that get shouted at by the client. In short, if we wanted the intern there we would have invited them, not you.”
“When the stand-in, i.e. intern, then requests a car to carry her/him there and back, it’s just insult to injury. Why are we paying for a car for anyone, when it is all part and parcel of a beauty/fashion writer’s job, at whatever level, to go to launches? It’s not really our fault if you haven’t got an Oyster card.”
“On more than one occasion, we’ve sent over £300 worth of products to a publication, where it’s got ‘lost’. They’d never lose £300 pounds worth of anything if they’d paid for it themselves!”
“I took a writer out for a very long and expensive lunch. At the end, she decided the bag of products I’d given her was too heavy, so could I bike it her (to exactly the same office she was heading after her nice lunch but she just couldn’t be bothered to carry it). When I hesitated, she asked if I could carry it for her instead.”
“We organised a film screening evening, paid for by one of our clients. These evenings are held in private cinemas, everyone is given wine, pop-corn and ice-creams – it’s supposed to be a treat and a fun event, but it costs a fortune to host. One editor couldn’t make our screening so he/she demanded we hold a second private screening for him/herself and his/her team on a different day that was more convenient. We said no.”
“I took a group of writers on a trip to the Far East. We arrived at the airport and a *key* writer refused point blank to go unless I bumped her ticket up to first class as apparently she doesn’t travel in anything other. She sat quite happily and completely guilt free in the lap of luxury while the rest of the group ‘slummed’ it in economy.”
“The ‘why did my rival see the product first? ’ question is always awkward. How can you tell someone that your client would rather be in the rival publication than theirs?”
“Getting hold of writers is often very, very difficult. I tried phoning, emailing and eventually using snail mail to try and get hold of one particular writer and still had no joy. So, I let a rival publication have the story. The writer then phoned me to shout at me, asking why I hadn’t let him/her know first!”
“It’s our job to get a product or treatment featured in as many publications as possible – that’s fundamental to what we do. So, it’s really annoying and frustrating to have a writer phone to ask why I didn’t tell her/him that other publications were featuring it, too. Ultimately, if I had told her/him, they’d have canned it and used a different brand, and then I wouldn’t have done the right thing by my client who is the one that pays my bills and keeps me in food and lodging, not the writers.”
“The top five things I am asked concerning a launch are 1) what’s the address? 2) what time does it start? 3) how much does the product cost? 4) can I send the intern? 5) can you send a car? The answers to questions one and two are ON THE INVITATION and the cost is usually in bold on the release.”
“We wanted to send a bunch of flowers to a writer as a thank you for featuring a brand. We spoke to his/her assistant to ask when the writer would be available to receive them. The assistant told us that the writer would rather have a voucher than flowers. So we sent a generous voucher for a big department store. We didn’t get a thank you or anything, so we phoned to check that it had been received. The assistant told us that the writer was ‘disappointed’ with the value of the voucher and that a higher value would have been more appropriate.”
“Although I said sorry when a writer emailed me say they’d been disgusted by my launch as there weren’t enough cocktails on offer, I totally, 100% didn’t mean it.”
“We sent a writer to have a hair treatment. When she left, she realised she’d left a bag of products from a previous PR appointment at the salon. She asked US to bike her back the competitor brand products.”
Personally, I’ll have to put my hands up to being one of those that can’t remember where the launch is or what time, but on the plus, I’m happy to travel economy.
*all products are sent to me as samples from brands and agencies unless otherwise stated. Affiliate links may be used. Posts are not affiliate driven.