Can This Business Be Saved?: You Can Be Your Best Publicist

Q: I’m desperate for attention for my high-end accessories line, but I can’t afford to hire a publicist. What are viable do-it-yourself ideas for exposure?

A: Think about leveraging celebrity clout as a first option: A single photo or video of a star wearing your stuff—a tacit endorsement—can generate big business.

Make a wish list of the people whose personalities and profiles appeal to your target market—no sense going after Annette Bening if your audience is more Kim Kardashian. Connect with a key contact—the star’s publicist, agent or stylist, all of whom can be tracked online.

“I have a policy to never send out anything blindly without first connecting with somebody in direct contact with the celebrity,” says Jill Donovan, creator of Rustic Cuff bracelets. “It’s better for them to know that a package is coming and to be on the lookout for it than to have it sent to a mailroom where it may get lost in a sea of stuff.”

Send it in a classy package so it stands out. Donovan did just that after identifying Kathie Lee Gifford as someone she’d like to see wearing her bling. “The world is actually not as big as it seems,” Donovan says. “And if you keep that in mind, anything is possible when it comes to marketing your designs on a very small budget to big stars.”

Take screen shots of stars wearing your product and thank them for their support. If they send a thank-you letter, use it with permission on your website, social networks and via email. Plus, share the kudos with retail accounts.

Next, consider hosting a giveaway on Facebook. Social media whiz Cindy Morrison recommends using the Wildfire app, which abides by Facebook’s strict rules on contests.

To create buzz, offer a great prize in exchange for “likes” or engagement. One of Morrison’s clients, Just Between Friends, a gently used children’s clothing franchise, teamed up with Merry Maids, a housekeeping service for working moms, to do four giveaways in four weeks. Result: Just Between Friends increased its “likes” by almost 1,000, and both companies generated new business.

Finally, teleclasses—free phone-based seminars—are a great way to market your style advice, which can bring awareness to your accessories line.

Announce your teleclass by email to your subscriber list a week ahead and include details on the specific topics you’ll cover. Share the details on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Ask 10 people (not four, not seven—go for 10) to promote the call to their email subscribers, as well. (I use

Keep the call to just 15 to 20 minutes. You’ll get better attendance and stronger results if you respect everyone’s time.

Give your best style advice—perhaps it’s 10 things color says about you and how to determine your personal power color to enhance your earning potential. Or your teleclass may focus on the hottest style trends for the season. Women dial in to hear your top tips on how to update their look without breaking the budget.

Never present teleclasses as sales presentations. This is a service that keeps you connected to your audience. As a thank-you for participating, you can offer a limited-time discount to shop your new collection or you can invite listeners to contact you for a personal showing. When you give your best content, people will want to get to know you better—and they’ll want to see your line.


Tory Johnson is CEO and founder of Spark & Hustle, a weekly contributor on ABC's Good Morning America and a contributing editor of SUCCESS magazine.

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