Maintaining relevancy in the wedding industry can be challenging, and this is where elevating your PR strategy as an entrepreneur becomes essential. I recently had a chance to interview Sasha Vasilyuk, the founder of I DO PR, a leading public relations agency that helps wedding and lifestyle brands connect with the media.
Her interview below offers tangible tips on how to leverage your business and brand using PR AND she shares what you're doing wrong.
Sasha has a wealth of knowledge about public relations and the wedding industry, working with businesses both small and large. She has consulted for HoneyBook, AllSeated, Weddington Way, Best Buy, Virginia Tourism Authority, Event Leadership Institute, and many others.
She is the author of the book “Marry the Media: How to Gain Publicity for Your Wedding Business” and offers DIY PR Tools for wedding pro's who want to build buzz in the media.
You can catch her speaking at industry events and teaching PR course at the Event Leadership Institute. When she's not thinking about weddings, Sasha is writing essays and travel articles for Harper's Bazaar, LA Times, USA Today, Huffington Post and others.
Tell us more about I DO PR! What does your company do for entrepreneurs and creatives in the wedding industry?
I help connect wedding brands with media who would be interested in writing about them so that they can grow their business. I consult for bigger brands like Honeybook, which I helped launch, Weddington Way and AllSeated, but I also work with planners, photographers, invitation designers, jewelers, and bridal boutiques. Because I can only help so many people at one time and because I strongly believe publicity is something every entrepreneur can and should be able to get for their business, I launched a series of DIY PR Tools meant to help you do what I do: gain publicity in the media.
What are two of the biggest mistakes entrepreneurs in the wedding industry make when it comes to PR?
The number one biggest mistake is to simply ignore the power of PR.
The secret behind every single top wedding influencer you know is publicity. Yes, they all have talent, but it is publicity that has gotten them where they are today. If you want to grow your business, PR is simply essential.
The second mistake I see all the time is entrepreneurs who don’t use the publicity they get to their full advantage. A media feature is a huge endorsement and should be recycled on your website, blog, social media, portfolio, and even office. Being featured in, say, Martha Stewart Weddings or The New York Times, is the best selling tool there is.
What is the first step a business owner should take in developing a PR strategy?
Figure out what your marketing goals are for the upcoming year and what audience you would like to reach to achieve them. Then, figure out what media that audience consumes and study it to understand how best to approach that specific media with your work or story ideas.
The wedding industry has changed so much in the last 10 years— and especially in the last 2 years! What do you think industry creatives should be focusing on now so that they’re one step ahead of an ever-changing industry?
Rather than jump on every new social media comes along, focus on your brand and what makes it unique in the world. If you’re able to build a solid reputation for your brand, that will never go out of style no matter what changes happen around you.
If a company can’t afford to hire a PR firm to represent them, what are some tools they can use to do it themselves?
Most companies can’t afford a PR firm, but that doesn’t mean they can’t do some things themselves.
The two essential tools I recommend to everyone is a media list (a list of editors and their contact information) and a basic understanding of how to pitch, which can be found in different PR books and online guides. With those two, you can be in The New York Times by next week. Seriously.
What is one thing a business owner can do each day to get the word out there about their product or service?
While social media has its place in today’s marketing, most business owners today place way too much importance on blasting the world with their pictures. Instead, what works – and always will – is good old networking. Every day, try to form one individual connection with someone who matters: colleagues, potential partners, old clients, influencers, or editors.
Thank you so much, Sasha, for sharing all your expertise!