Tuesday, April 19, 2011

US PR Agency: your recommendations

To date the US has been a strong off-shore market for Shoes of Prey, but not one that we have been especially dedicated to cultivating. Aside from being a strong off-shore market, we've also had some excellent press placements there that we've generated from Sydney, including:

However, one of the great lessons we've learnt from our partnerships in Japan and Russia is that by being local we get introductions and connections that would be tough to generate over email. To facilitate this in the US, we're thinking about engaging a PR agency to share their rolodex, relationships and expertise given that this is a market that we're not as well-connected with as we are in Australia. We're looking at both East and West coast and we want access to stylists, celebrities, editors, producers and fashion influencers. To this end, we're not interested in pitches from agencies but we would love your recommendations (or warnings) on agencies you have worked with. We'd also be so appreciative of any tips, lessons or advice you'd be willing to share. We've learnt some tough lessons of our own in this space and would love your help avoiding learning it all the hard way.

Do you have any advice about working in the US market? Have you used a PR agency in the States that you'd recommend or warn us against? What were the lessons you learnt out of this?

Photo credit.


  1. Having previously worked "on the agency" side, I've seen many selection processes that were draining for all parties, but which did little to help the client to pick the best agency.

    I've often thought that if I was a client myself looking for a PR agency, my most important step would be asking to meet some of each agencies' current clients over coffee. A reference check, if you like. Which is a bit like what you're doing here.

    If I knew anyone working in fashion PR, I'd let you know, but it's not my area sorry. I know plenty of folks doing startup PR, and I'm sure many of them will start trying to win your business. But you're right to identify upfront that your targets are stylists, etc -- people that startup PR specialists are unlikely to know well. Stick to your guns, despite the eager wooing. Choosing an agency that defines success as coverage in TechCrunch would be a mistake.

  2. My immediate response to this is NO. My second response is YES. The no is to the PR agency. The yes is to your words around 'partnerships' that have worked for you in Japan and Russia. When you think of the effort, IP and skin that you 3 have 'in the game', you can't assume that an agency will ever share your passion and goals. However, I do think that have a local partner would add value and give you traction in those markets.

    SO my question would be, who could you buddy and partner with in the US?

  3. Steven - thanks for the feedback. Agreed that we definitely need to focus on finding a fashion PR agency with the right rolodex in that industry as opposed to a startup agency.

    MFN - interesting thought though we're reasonably convinced that for the US and UK markets, we can manage those ourselves rather than arranging partnerships in those markets like we've done for Japan, Russia and now the Netherlands (blog post to come on that last one!). There are arguments both ways but we feel of all the markets around the world those two are the most similar to Australia. They're also big and critical to the success of Shoes of Prey and we're keen to tackle them ourselves.

  4. Having spent quite some money on a PR agency, I would strongly advise against it. Rather hire someone part-time to work on it than give it to a PR agency. The publications that are relevant for Shoes of Prey want to speak to *you* directly, and PR agencies are way to expensive for the value you provide. Feel free to email me directly for more concrete advice on mass customization PR in the US!

  5. Thanks for the feedback Carmen. Our thought was to potentially have Jodie spend 6 months in the US working directly with the PR agency. The PR agency would provide the rolodex and introductions, then Jodie would meet with the media publications directly, we've definitely found the same as you - that publications would prefer to speak with the founders than a PR agency. The trouble is we don't have the media connections in the US like we do in Australia.

  6. I definitely believe you can do it on your own in UK & US. However, it would take time to work out who the media players are and influencers, and to get your way in so to speak. With a PR agency, that timeline would be shortened and they may know people that you can't find.

    With any startup, there is an urgency to scale. Getting the right PR agency can help you focus on what you do best and get to your goal sooner. I think eventually you will need to open a sales office there.