Saturday, March 24, 2007

Marketing your own company can be tricky

Please indulge me while I draw your attention to an article in the March issue of Progress magazine about yours truly (click the image to read the story). Yes, this does fall partly into the 'shameless self promotion' category, BUT it is a media article about a subject that is near and dear to me (Photo is by Paul Daly). And my experience in pitching this story to media on my own behalf - as opposed to a client - was eye-opening indeed.

Jellybean Row is a series of original, highly detailed home decor pieces celebrating our bright downtown row house imagery. They are rich in architectural detail, mass printed and then plaque mounted. You can mix and match from 10 different designs (as well as a Christmas series) to create your own Jellybean Row combination. They are available in two sizes; the standard 4.5" by 8" and the large 9" by 16".

In launching this product last year, I engaged in a fairly aggressive marketing public relations campaign, generating coverage in The Telegram, The Express, The Business Post, and on VOCM. The Progress article was secured last November, but glossy monthlies have very long lead times. The pitch - and it is a good one - is that Jellybean Row is the first product to elevate downtown heritage home imagery out of the craft category and into home decor. They are architecturally detailed, not loose and impressionistic. And they are targeted at a mass market comprising local people, tourists, convention goers, expat Newfoundlanders and others. My markets truly are global.

I perform media relations work on behalf of my clients almost every week, but doing this work on behalf of my own company has been enlightening.

For one thing, it is difficult to become detached from the product. When I pitch a story idea on behalf of a client, I am once removed and therefore able to "talk up" the selling points in a most unabashed way. However, when pitching my own product I was often self-conscious about blowing my own horn. I am not inclined to bragging, so I found it slightly awkward to tell people how great the product is.

Rejection was also difficult. When an editor turns down a story pitch I make on behalf of a client, that's simply a name crossed off a list. It's not good, but it can be processed on an intellectual level. However, when an editor rejected my pitch about Jellybean Row, it was hard not to take it personally. 'You mean... you don't like it? You don't think my baby is pretty?'

I did well in pitching the Jellybean Row story and generated considerable coverage, but, in looking back, I wonder if I might have done better had I hired a PR colleague to do the work on my behalf. Their objectivity might have been an advantage.

I know that this blog attracts readers from all around the world so, if you are interested in this elegant little piece of home (*blush), visit the Jellybean Row web site. The e-commerce piece is still under construction but you can place national and international orders through the site, with payment by regular post, for now.


Greg Locke said...

My question is, did you hire the photographer and submit the photo for free to the magazine or did they hire him?

From a marketing point of view, supplying good art work would increase your chances of getting coverage in certain publications.
A professional grade photo for free can be a pretty good incentive to print.

People really need to know and target the media organiations they are trying to sell to. Sometimes a publication has such a tight theme/audience focus that a "story" just doesn't fit the publication.

Self promotion always sucks for the very reasons you mention.

...and never underestimate that in such a small town a hell of a lot of crap gets in the way of decision making when simple judging on the merit, quality or talent is all that's needed.


Geoff Meeker said...

Yes, Greg, agreed on all points! I do tailor my media pitches to specific news outlets, and target each one for different reasons (depending on their audiences). I did have some professional photos taken by Dave Hebbard, and they definitely helped. You can see some of them here, here and here.