This article is featured in O'Dwyer's Sep. '14 Beauty/Fashion & Lifestyle PR Magazine
Here are the basics for how we can utilize PR to revive a brand while simultaneously supporting an expanding sales strategy, as illustrated through a case study on the relaunch of a leading brand from the 1960s.
Beauty industry legend and makeup artist Jerome Alexander was seeking to relaunch his successful Magic Minerals makeup product into a modern and digitally driven sphere.
A major name in the beauty world, Alexander changed the makeup industry from the techniques used down to the tools used. Before cosmetic brushes, makeup artists relied on art brushes. Seeing a need, Alexander created the first professional line of products with professional brushes, going on to sell $8 million in these brushes per year. He also invented the BLO-FLO Hair Brush, a first-of-its-kind that made it easy to dry and style wet hair with one easy tool. As his brand became a staple in major department stores everywhere, Alexander also became a well-known TV personality, appearing on home shopping networks worldwide.
Jerome wanted to revitalize his name as a whole and bring his products back to the forefront of the beauty industry with an impacting relaunch. Once an international phenomenon, Alexander was looking to reach a new and engaged group of consumers with his bestselling products. He wanted his product line to span a larger demographic.
Align the team with core messaging
For their successful brand launch, the entire team has to be on par with brand messaging. It’s important to set up a strong team of vendors including fulfillment, production, website creations, public relations, and social media, that is all on the same page with the core message. A PR team can play an integral role in developing the brand’s updated messaging, because they are familiar with what will resonate with both the media and consumers.
This includes key points highlighted on the website, in marketing material such as online banner ads or in-store signage, and content posted on social media. It should also include speaking points for executives and spokespeople when relevant. There should be no disparities between what’s said to the media and the claims that are made elsewhere about the brand.
How does messaging change with a relaunched brand? Some of the old messaging may be stale. It’s important to figure out what will resonate with the current target demographic. It may be necessary to do message testing through social media content or outreach to media contacts.
Alexander had developed a reputable brand with strong messaging and even authored his own book, Be Your Own Makeup Artist. There was no need to completely throw out his old content; it simply needed to be given a fresh voice. He needed to be more relatable to a younger demographic.
Build a team of interview-ready experts
Alexander himself is acting as the face of both Magic Minerals and his eponymous makeup brand. As a part of the overall company relaunch, Alexander is being offered as an expert source for media interviews in order to keep his name and face fresh in the public eye.
In some cases, there is one person who acts as the face of the brand, while in others, there may be multiple spokespeople. Anyone who will be acting as a voice for the company in media interviews needs to be properly trained on the speaking points for media. If there are multiple spokespeople, clearly define the role of each person. Maybe the CEO is available to discuss business strategy and growth statistics while the celebrity spokesperson discusses personal experience with the brand or product. In this case the messaging will vary for each spokesperson but still needs to align under the same overall theme.
Supporting sales through PR
Alexander is looking to his team for several objectives: Raising consumer awareness about the brand relaunch, driving traffic to the new and rebranded website and increasing sales, and supporting retail distribution and expansion.
A key step toward all of these goals is generating new content through blogger reviews and media coverage. This includes coverage in online, print, and broadcast media. Video reviews are another valuable tool, because they have a higher search engine ranking than written content alone.
With Magic Minerals in particular, it’s been beneficial to have bloggers and social influencers create video reviews that include a discount code, which is a great way to track direct sales.
This isn’t to say that all of the old media coverage cannot be reused. In fact, old TV appearances and magazine articles can be repurposed and reorganized in a way that is meaningful to the media and impactful to the consumer. Showing that a brand has history demonstrates credibility to the consumer. Throwback Thursday (#TBT) which is a huge trend on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, provides the perfect opportunity to share old images and media interviews with Alexander in his heyday.
Raising consumer awareness
As positive coverage is generated, share the reviews on Facebook and Twitter. Interact with bloggers and social influencers who review your product and convert them into brand advocates. They will begin to do your promoting for you, encouraging their readers and followers to purchase the brand.
The goal is to saturate all mediums with fresh content about the brand. The messaging that you worked with the company to revise needs to be echoed across all channels, in order to engrain it in the media and consumers’ brains.
Magic Minerals is currently working with bloggers, editors, and producers in order to maximize media exposure. While a good deal of existing content already existed, much of it was out of date. To connect with the new target demographic, the media outlets and the social influencers reviewing the brand also must resonate with that demographic.
Drive traffic and support sales online
In order to use online coverage to drive traffic to the website, it’s imperative that the URL is included in all placements. Direct referral traffic can easily be tracked from online placements, and referral traffic for print and broadcast can be estimated based on the air date of the segment or date of print publication.
It’s not just traffic that is valuable; you need qualified traffic. In the case of Magic Minerals, the traffic needs to have a low bounce rate and high conversion rate. Again, positive coverage in the media can help with this. The more the consumer hears about the brand through third party editorial coverage and reviews before visiting the website, the lower the chance of them leaving the website without purchasing.
Support retail distribution
PR efforts can be leveraged to support a move from online sales to brick and mortar retail. By demonstrating big wins including feature articles and celebrity endorsements, companies can make their brand more appealing to buyers. You want to show the buyer what you have done to support consumer awareness and what you will do to support sales once the product is in stores.
Alexander has been able to present positive media coverage and high social media engagement for Magic Minerals to his brokers and buyers, which increases the value of the brand in their eyes.
To date, Alexander is successfully selling Magic Minerals online direct-to-consumer and at retail in major drugstores nationwide, and is still expanding his retail presence both domestically and internationally. The message to the consumer, to the media, and to potential retail buyers is consistent, and the overall sentiment is positive. There are a lot of pieces to the puzzle when supporting the relaunch and sales distribution of a brand, but as long as you know how to integrate and utilize PR to best meet your client’s end goal, you have the tools you need to build and execute a successful campaign.
Elizabeth Maxim is an Account Executive at Marketing Maven in Los Angeles.