Meet the expert - Jean Egbunike on PR + Communications
At the beginning of Mustard, PR was a bit of a mystery to us. We wanted to get our lockers seen by as many people as possible, but how? That's when Jean came into our lives and she may even be the reason you're reading this now! Jean works with Niki, our new in-house PR hero, to spread the locker love to lovely people across the world. We've been featured in some dreamy magazines, news outlets and on websites and blogs, all thanks to them. We aren't quite publicity experts ourselves yet, but we have certainly learnt a lot! If you want to know some more about the secrets of PR, read on find out her top tips, words of wisdom and of course, her favourite locker!
What exactly is PR in a nutshell?
PR is a communications tool that allows you to tell your brand/product story to the consumer using the media as a channel.
As a small business on a shoestring budget it can be hard to know where to invest your time and cash. What would be the best ‘bang for buck’ approach to PR to get started?
PR is an investment so I would say that if you have a shoestring budget, try and attempt to do it yourself. There is so much information available on the web, especially Youtube. You can absolutely understand the basics by doing some research.
Social media is a powerful communication tool that one can manage on your own as you start off and build your own communication platform. Start local – think about your local press and audience. Tell your friends and peers, because they can act as influencers for your brand or product and help spread the word. If you can afford to, put your product in the right hands by giving out samples to your key target media. Spend some time working this out – if you are producing a home product, immerse yourself in home and lifestyle magazines and press and find out the names of the journalists that are writing the articles and then get in contact. We are the best tellers of our own story.
We all see so much content and have inboxes stuffed with emails. What’s the most effective way to catch the attention of the press and get traction?
Create a story that describes what your brand or product is all about. Make it interesting, not fluffy. Include the most important bits of your story. Some important things to think about:
Does it communicate your key brand messages? For example, is your brand eco/sustainable?
How can your brand be accessed? What is the cost? Include website and social media details.
Think about your headline – is your brand unique, what is its stand out? That is your headline and that will catch the attention of the press.
Imagery tells the best story so it is worth investing in producing eye-caching imagery - even one or two product photographs should be priority.
How do you measure success in the PR world? What results do you look for to know you’re on the right track?
Seeing your brand or product being featured in publications is a strong measure of success. Social media engagement and follower growth are also strong indicators that your story has cut through. Successful PR often takes time, so allow 3-6 months for your PR to work its way through to journalists as the press work at least 4 to 12 weeks ahead.
Is there a stand out brand that you think has nailed their PR and what do you love about the way they do things?
I am very interested in fashion so always love the way that Dior execute their PR and shape their stories. It’s all about the detail and the planning that enables them to exhibit such fine work. Also, a really good friend of mine is global head of communications for clean beauty brand REN and she hits the mark every time, because she is very considered in her planning and her execution. She possesses effortless communication skills - she really does care about people and that comes through in the way that she manages PR. She is also generous and supportive of other PRs and brands. She is someone that I definitely respect and look up to.
Is it true that ‘any publicity is good publicity’?
I don't believe so. With the internet and social media information remains in the public domain forever. Negative publicity can destroy reputations, careers and brands in minutes! It's important, if you do have something that can be perceived as negative or potentially damaging to your business to deal with it promptly and honestly - explain the situation as clearly as you can to your audience and if it's a mistake or an error on your part apologise straight away. Do seek advice from a professional to help you navigate any unfortunate negative publicity.
What’s one thing you wish more people know about what you do?
It’s a tough business. You can often send out 100 emails with one or two responses. That can be depressing sometimes – it can easily start to feel like rejection and you have to grow a thick skin. In this busy world that we now live in, it’s the norm for people not to respond to emails. In the positive, it’s wonderful to work with brands that you are proud to represent and that you believe in. You have to be a lateral and creative thinker. Most of all you have to have good communication skills that will enable you to build relationships that are long lasting and help you to tell your story. I’ve made some really great friendships and working relationships over the years.
Describe yourself in three words
Creative, warm and loyal - in no particular order!
We’ve met up to chat PR, what drink should I buy you?
Gin and tonic with lots of ice and a grapefruit slice.
What’s your favourite quote?
"I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."
- Maya Angelou
What’s your guilty pleasure?
The Real Housewives of New York
Are you a morning person or a night owl?
What’s your favourite Mustard locker?
My absolute favourite is the Lowdown in Blush. I am lucky to have one in my office.
And lastly, a little bit about you and your business…
We are @je_communications, a boutique public relations agency and look after clients in the homes and interiors, lifestyle and food arena. We manage media communications for a fabulous roster of clients including Mustard Made, Houseof, Nomad Noe, Original Beans and Cake Boy. We are great team players and cheerleaders for the businesses and the people that own them. We are experts in our field – we love creating stories and securing relationships with our clients and journalists.