What Every Interior Designer Should Know about PR
If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s the importance of home. While so many industries suffered have suffered in the last two years, the interior design industry continues to soar. My company does PR for interior designers, so we talk to design editors on a daily basis—securing full home tours in national and regional magazines all over the country, as well as expert opinion pieces for major design websites.
And I have exciting news for you—getting quoted in magazine articles like these can absolutely be you! I have helped interior designers get more visibility for almost two decades. It can be very time consuming to DIY your own PR while also managing design projects and a staff. It can also be tricky to pitch yourself to the media—trust me I get it! I pitch clients all day, but when it comes to my own PR, I’d much rather hand it over to someone else. Some days I have the confidence to cold pitch myself and other days, not so much! All this to say, you’re not alone.
Regardless of where you are in your PR journey, the below tips are things you need to know about getting press for your design business (I cannot stress #3 more!).
7 PR Tips Every Interior Designer Should Follow
1. HAVE A POINT OF VIEW: 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 a strong point of view. That means you have to start saying no to clients who aren’t ideal. As a small business owner, I understand how scary it can be to turn away business. But once I got really clear on my ideal client, saying no actually helped me grow my business. It did for my client Lisa too. In one year, she took her business from 850K to 2.25 million all from getting smart with her finances and learning to say no.
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. Follow editors on social media and interact! It’s your chance to get their attention.
3. PHOTOS ARE THE HOLY GRAIL: 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—it’s your number one selling tool to get more business. In terms of getting press, it’s also one of the few things you can control. Even if the magazine plans to reshoot the project, your photos matter most. These days, most magazines don’t have the budget to reshoot your project, so the photos you submit are the photos that will run. One of the biggest mistakes I see designers make is not having enough images to make a full story in a magazine. I always recommend getting 25-30 photos of your projects, so hire your photographers accordingly. Make sure that you have negotiated usage with your photographer and they aren’t going to charge you more to use them in a magazine. Finally, nix the mix lighting. As tempting as it is to turn on all those beautiful lamps, you want to use natural light as much as possible.
4. EDUCATE YOURSELF: You will be most successful getting press if you understand which magazines feature your type of work. This means that you need to devote a few minutes each week to reading digital and print publications. Make it part of your job. When an interior designer comes to me for help getting their work published, the first question I ask is, “What is your dream publication for this project?” While it’s my job to tell you what I think and make suggestions, I always love it when you have done your homework and know aesthetically what might be realistic.
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, @coreydamenjenkins @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. Here is a recent project that I placed for celebrity chef Ludo Lefevbre in AD.
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 me on a project basis.
PS. LuAnn Nigara and I talk about all of this and so much more on her podcast A Well-Designed Business Episode #712.