Do such discouraging facts mean you should feature degenerate decorators or bizarre fashions in your publicity or advertising? The answer is a qualified "No, probably not." In today's culture, who really knows for certain? The old accepted standards of personal morality and marketing strategies seem to have been tossed out the window, literally. Unfavorable publicity, which years ago, would cause a retailing disaster, now are shrugged off. Shoppers just wait for the close-out sales.
An Interesting Lesson
What do the sex-sational talk shows tell us? Simply this. For more readers and viewers, we must add some color and interest to our communications. An editor would say, "Add an angle. Try to come up with an idea or tie-in that will interest your audience."
It doesn't mean you must feature scandalous or disgusting material as seen on "trash" shows. (Of course, if you include a testimonial endorsement from a local celebrity or sexy star, female or male, your release is going to generate added interest and sales.) The types of behavior that excite talk show viewers and tabloid readers do not directly relate to items of interest for home fashions shoppers.
Shopping may be fun and games for some individuals, but for most, it is serious business. They are more concerned about product benefits and price ranges.
So, in a publicity release you want to add items of information that will motivate more people to read it. How do you do this ? Here are some made-up examples that might give you an idea.
The Facts, Ma'am
Suppose your store, Darlings Decorating, has been selected to provide and install custom window treatments for a model home in your marketing area. A Home Tour fund raiser by a local social and charitable group will be an added plus for your participation. Your name and store also will be included in ads and publicity to be released by both the builder/developer and the charity.
You will want to supplement their efforts with your own publicity materials. Proceed as follows:
Outline the basic information with the essential "Who, What, Where, When, Why and How" facts needed for any PR release.
• Who: Darling Decorating, 100 Gorgeous Mall, Blanktown, IN 44444
• What: Window stylings for model home and "Home Tour"
• Where: The "Really Something" Model Home, Wyndowe Way, 555 Miniview Ln.
• When: March, 1996
• Why: Show latest window stylings for new Victorian model home. Also, to assist Blanktown Ladies League raise funds for its various charities.
• How: Provide ideas, products and labor at no-charge for the model home
Those are the skeleton facts for your release. Now, assemble them on your own letterhead to read something like this:
100 Gorgeous Mall
Blanktown, IN 44444
March 5, 1996
For more information: Call Debby Darling at above address
For Immediate Release
FEATURED IN LOCAL
MODEL HOME TOUR
Ms. Debby Darling of Darling's Draperies, located in the Gorgeous Mall, announces that her firm was selected to create the window stylings in builder, Joe Fourply's, "Really Something" model home, 555 Miniview Ln.
The Victorian style home also has been selected for a "Home Tour" fund raising event, sponsored by the Blanktown Ladies League. Proceeds of ticket sales for the March 20 to 27 tour will be used for the League's local charities.
Ms. Darling is a window decorating specialist. She has designed unique custom stylings for many of the fine homes in the Blanktown area. Her treatments will be coordinated with other colors and furnishings used in the elegant home. Stylings will range from very elaborate Victorian-period layered looks with lush draperies and valences to the more functional yet sophisticated contemporary designs of pleated fabric shades and fabric-louver vertical blinds.
The draperies were fabricated using Darling's special collections of designer fabrics for curtains, draperies, swags and valences; also from the stores' varied assortment of alternate window coverings and interior fashion accessories.
Ms. Darling also offers an in-home consultation service. Call 555-5555
for an appointment and free price estimates.
•••• (End of release)
That's it, a standard release with some added descriptions and product information. The editor, who receives many similar boring releases, may print it for one or more of the following reasons:
1. The information involves two local businesses and a social/charity group with important members.
2. The publicity will be of some interest to a limited number of subscribers and potential advertisers. (After all, the newspaper is in business to make money, too. Other suppliers for the home may want to do tie-in advertising.)
3. The newspaper is committed to reporting local area news. That's why it's there. The model home and tour will be news to some.
The editor will edit and rewrite Debby's release to eliminate extra adjectives and puffery. The release then will be included on a local news, society or business page. In a larger metropolitan newspaper, the release would be reported in a Living or Fashions section.
The information will be of interest to an audience of home-oriented readers. That's good; it's the reason for the release. Darling's will gain some added awareness, also some potential new business and added sales. Such releases do have real value in getting new prospect leads.
However, Debby Darling has just returned from the World of Home Fashion international trade show and seminars. While there, she received additional training, which she knew would be of interest to her clients and prospects:
• She completed her independent study and the review session needed to pass the examination and be awarded a Certified Window Treatment Consultant diploma and title.
• She also attended a seminar on Strategies to Improve Your Business in which the speaker suggested some additional ways to increase interest in one's publicity releases.
So, good student Debby decided to use the suggestions to revise the above release. She did not send out the release as written. Instead, she substituted the following two releases also on her own letterhead and with the same heading information as before.
LOCAL STYLIST AWARDED WINDOW DECORATING
Ms. Debby Darling of Darling's Decorating, located in the Gorgeous Mall, recently attended the international World of Home Fashion trade show and educational seminars held in Indianapolis, IN. While there, she completed the requirements needed to receive her degree as a Certified Window Treatment Consultant. The lengthy course of study, approved by the Window Coverings Association of America (WCAA), included extensive study and training in basic and custom window treatment designs, fabrication and installation.
Ms. Darling has created original window stylings for many homes in the Blanktown area. Her showroom features various collections of designer fabrics, alternate coverings and accessories for all styles of window treatments, ranging from low-priced basic styles to elegant custom effects. She also offers an in-your-home consultation service. Call 555-5555 for an appointment.
In another seminar Debby attended, the instructor had discussed and showed photographs of some custom window stylings that various entertainment and sports celebrities had used in their homes. The settings had been featured in several high-style consumer home decorating magazines.
So, Debby decided to add some celebrity interest to her release. She knew that most Americans relish news of any kind about celebrities. She prepared another release, as follows:
WINDOWS OF STARS
FEATURED IN NEW MODEL HOME AND TOUR
Ms. Debby Darling, owner of Darling's Decorating, located in the Gorgeous Shopping Mall, has designed various celebrity window stylings, which will be a feature of the Really Something model home at 555 Miniview Ln., Wyndowe Place, here in Blanktown. All window treatments in the home were designed, fabricated and installed by her and the associates in her firm.
The model home also has been selected by the Blanktown Ladies League for a fund-raiser Home Tour to be held during the week of March 20 through 27. Proceeds from ticket sales, available from any league member, will be used for local charitable activities.
Darling is a certified window decorating consultant. She recently attended a World of Home Fashion trade show in Indianapolis, IN, where she was awarded certification.
While at the show, she also attended several educational seminars on window stylings. One of these classes featured window settings used by various entertainment and sports celebrities in their homes, as shown in leading interior fashion magazines.
In her designs for the new model home, Darling has used some of these same celebrity settings. The treatments are coordinated with other colors and furnishings throughout the unique Victorian-style home.
"Our stylings showcase the latest in designer fabrics and other window coverings products," says Darling. "Fashions range from elaborate layered settings with deluxe fabrics and elegant swags to innovative contemporary stylings, using alternate products like sophisticated pleated shades and fabric-louver vertical blinds."
Darling's showroom at 100 Gorgeous Mall also displays a variety of fashionable window vignettes. Ms. Darling is available for in-home consultation. Call 555-5555 for an appointment.
Chances are good that both of Debby's releases will be used with only minor revisions. The first covers a definite local news item; the second one mentions celebrities. In our culture, that's a magic word. In the information cards displayed in the model home, Debby even can use the celebrity names.
Debby's release would attract even more readers if she would include a professional photograph with it. (A five- by seven-inch, black and white print should be supplied, not a color print.)
Debby planned her release mailings as follows:
• Release One at least three weeks before her second mailing.
• Release Two at least two weeks in advance of completion of the model home and Home Tour.
Naturally, she checked with builder, Joe Fourply, occasionally to plan the best date for Release Two. As an added precaution she also called the local editor to tell her or him about the releases and tactfully suggest additional press coverage of the home and tour.
In summary, assuming both releases are used because she has made them more interesting to more readers, Debby has achieved a publicity coup.
• She will receive added personal prestige and credibility because of her new certification and title.
• Her second release probably will be featured prominently because of the celebrity tie-in. ( At least, it should be.)
• Her business and in-home appointments should increase.
• She may become the accepted expert source about interior decorating that the editor would call for verification of future home fashion items.
• Release Two easily could be expanded into a longer feature article in a special Living or Home Fashions section.
• Debby can expand the value of her release by:
1. Putting the same information in a direct mail piece for mailing to clients and a select prospect list.
2. Using the same information in a desktop newsletter to go to a similar mailing list.
3. Featuring her new certification status in her advertising, business cards and other print materials.
John J. Lichty is a consultant and senior editor for Draperies & Window Coverings magazine. He has more than 30 years experience in the planning and administration of various consumer, trade and retail advertising programs.