Late last month I conducted an interview with Whitney Ross, designer-entrepreneur of WhitneyKids in Ontario Canada to discuss some of the frustrations a designer experiences when trying to move a line.
Q. What has been your greatest frustration in selling your line?
A. It’s so challenging to find sales reps. They don’t return calls or emails and they’re too busy to look at your line. The ones I’ve found (Whitney has 3 reps) either found me from a trade show or from the James Girone website. James Girone gets a lot of traffic from store buyers. I’m still looking for more reps.
Q. What is your background?
A. I’ve been manufacturing for three years now. Before that I did 10 years in PR sales for magazines. I can pick up the phone and call anyone. With my background, it’s not too surprising that I decided to hire a PR firm to promote my line.
Q. You hired a PR firm? Why did you decide to do that? Who did you hire?
Yes, I hired McCain Best. I knew I had to be in a certain place and with my background in media sales, I knew the easiest way to get there was with a PR firm. My products are sold in prestigious stores.
Q. How does one go about finding a PR firm?
A. Well, I can pick up the phone and call anybody so I called up somebody who was getting a lot of press and asked about their agency. A good agency will have a lot of media contacts.
Q. How does one work with an agency?
A. First, there are no guarantees but they have to have contacts. I had a wish list [Whitney didn’t want to share her wish list], you have to know what you want and who your consumer is. Before I hired the agency, I had already made up press materials and samples.
Q. What are the financial details of hiring a firm?
A. Firms will assign a set numbers of hours per week that they’ll work on your case. You’ll have to sign a contract. A lot of firms will try to pressure you into a long-term contract (for a year) but I signed for a four month commitment. You have to give them at least that long to get any benefits.
Q. Do you mind if I ask what the fees are?
A. (laughs) Yes, I’m not comfortable with sharing that but I will say that fees vary quite a bit. I had one firm who wanted $10,000 a month and there was no way I could afford to pay that.
That concludes the transcript of this interview. Thanks Whitney!
In my travels on the web I found some material from PR Firms.org that you may find of interest.
Hiring a PR Firm: A guide for clients
Working with Your Public Relations Firm: A guide for clients