What Every Interior Designer Should Know about PR
It seems you can’t read anything these days without seeing THAT interior designer’s name. You know the one. Her latest project is featured on your favorite blog. Her pick for the “best white paint” is quoted in your favorite magazine. And there she is again on that design podcast talking about her top trends for spring! It’s like she’s an interior design PR machine! It’s kind of maddening.
But it’s also kind of awesome. Because I have news for you. This can absolutely be you. But it helps to know a few insider secrets before you run off and hire a publicist. (Yup, spoken straight from the mouth of a publicist!)
I have been doing PR for interior designers since I first started my business in 2008. In fact, one of my very first clients was an up and coming interior designer. She was a dream client—mostly because she checked all the boxes (that’s PR speak for had all the components that make magazine editors drool)—she was incredibly talented, already had a roster of celebrity clients, had a vision to open a shop, and write a book.
Through the years, I got her publicity for all of them—even landing her a coveted spot on Town & Country’s “Who’s Next in Decorating.”
I still work with many other interior designers—some on a project base, meaning the goal was to get their one project placed—while some choose to have ongoing PR, where they want to be positioned as an expert. There are many reasons to hire a publicist, but read on for what you need to know before you do. And if you need some help figuring out how to reach your potential clients, here are a few thought starters to help with that.
7 PR Tips Every Interior Designer Should Follow
1. DEVELOP YOUR OWN STYLE: Many interior designers don’t want to put themselves in a certain box. They feel they can cater to any style. I’m here to tell you that if you want to stand out in your field, you need to have your own unique style. The client mentioned above is known for her eclectic style, and put modern vintage on the map. She isn’t afraid of color, and loves to mix pieces from different time periods. Of course, she is capable of designing an all white modern home, but it’s not why she is famous.
2. RELATIONSHIPS MATTER: More than in any other industry, interior design editors love having a direct relationship with you. You may think this negates having a publicist, but in fact, it actually helps a publicist do their job better. You should go to as many events in your city that you can. In L.A. there is LCDQ Legends Week, where elected designers create windows and appear on panels. There are also parties all week, where ticketed guests can mingle with industry insiders, other designers and magazine editors.
3. FOCUS ON WHAT YOU CAN CONTROL: You should have your interior design project styled and professionally photographed. Even if you have no plans to get press, you should have professional images on your website. That is one of the few things you can control. Even if the magazine plans to reshoot the project, your photos matter most. Keep in mind that even with amazing photos, getting a design project featured in a magazine comes down to many factors: if your projects fits in with their editorial plans, if they have had a similar project featured recently, if it is on-trend, and many other factors that you have zero control over.
4. CREATE A STYLE SHEET: When you (or your publicist) submit a project to a magazine, you will want to include a style sheet. This is a document that breaks down the interesting features about the project as well as the sources. You will also want to include the project address, square footage, and any interesting details about the homeowner.
5. SOCIAL MEDIA IS IMPORTANT: Perhaps more than for any other client, social media is crucial for showcasing your work as an interior designer. Especially on Instagram, an already visual platform, you have the opportunity to promote your work, attract new clients, and attract the attention of editors and tastemakers who matter. Approach your Instagram with the same effort you would approach a new project. Some designers who do this very well include: @sarahshermansamuel, @houseofsixinteriors, @amberinteriors, @emilyhenderson
6. CONSIDER A CELEBRITY PARTNERSHIP: Some design projects speak for themselves, but most of the time publications care about the story behind the homeowner. They care even more if it is a celebrity’s home. Why? Because readers love to see where celebrities live. If you are just starting out in the industry, I highly recommend that you consider doing a small project on a trade basis. That means that you provide your service for free in exchange for using their name in the media. Having just one celebrity can make the difference of a publication saying yes, and will also add to your credibility as you build a name for yourself.
7. INVEST IN AN INTERIOR DESIGN PUBLICIST: Even if you are well established, pitching and managing the media is something you should take off your plate. Your time is a hot commodity! Spend it designing and managing clients. Pitching the media can require a lot of time and and an insane amount of follow up. When should you hire a publicist? When you have a completed project that you think is worthy of a magazine. If you are an established designer, it’s always most ideal to have ongoing PR that can help keep your name in the media. But, if you aren’t ready for that, you can hire a publicist on a project basis.
If you’d like more information on my interior design PR services, click here.