I have been doing PR for interior designers since I first started by business. In fact, one of my very first clients was an up and coming interior designer. She was a dream client, mostly because she checked all the boxes—she was incredibly talented, already had a roster of celebrity clients, and had a vision to eventually open a shop, and write a book. Through the years, we helped her get publicity for all of them.
Since then, I have worked with many other interior designers—some on a project base, meaning the goal was to get their one project placed—while some have chosen to have ongoing PR, where they want to be positioned as an expert. There are many reasons to hire a publicist if you are an interior designer, which I will explain at the end, but there are also a few things to consider before you do.
1. DEVELOP YOUR OWN STYLE: A few interior designers that I have consulted with have been afraid of putting themselves in a certain box or being known for a certain style. They feel they can cater to any style. I’m here to tell you that if you want to become known in your field, you should really consider being specific. The client I mentioned first, who had the book and the shop, was known for her eclectic style, and was one of the first designers to mix modern with vintage. She isn’t afraid of color, and loves to mix pieces from different time periods. Of course, she is capable of designing an all white modern home, but that’s not really what she’s known for. Having a definitive style put her on the map, and made getting press way easier.
2. RELATIONSHIPS MATTER: I have noticed more than in any other industry, interior design editors really like to have a direct relationship with the designer. You may think this negates having a publicist, but in fact, it actually helps a publicist do their job better. You should go to as many events in your city that you can. In L.A. we have LCDQ Legends Week, and designers are selected to design windows, appear on panels, and attend parties where they can mingle with industry insiders, other designers and magazine editors.
3. FOCUS ON WHAT YOU CAN CONTROL: If you have a completed project that you want to get in a magazine, you must have it styled and professionally photographed. That is one of the few things you can control. Even if the magazine plans to reshoot the project, your photos matter most. Keep in mind that even when you have amazing photos, getting a design project featured in a magazine comes down to many factors: the editorial calendar of the magazine and if the project fits into that, if they have had a similar project featured recently, if it is on-trend, and many other factors that you have zero control over.
4. CREATE A STYLE SHEET: When you (or your publicist) submit a project to a magazine, you will want to include a style sheet. This is a document that breaks down the interesting features about the project as well as the sources. You will also want to include the project address, square footage, and any interesting details about the homeowner.
5. SOCIAL MEDIA IS IMPORTANT: Perhaps more than for any other client, social media is crucial for showcasing your work as an interior designer. Especially on Instagram, an already visual platform, you have the opportunity to promote your work, attract new clients, and attract the attention of editors and tastemakers who matter. Approach your Instagram with the same effort you would approach a new project. Some designers who do this very well include: @sarahshermansamuel, @houseofsixinteriors, @amberinteriors, @emilyhenderson
6. CONSIDER A CELEBRITY PARTNERSHIP: Many design projects speak for themselves, but most of the time publications care about the story behind the homeowner. They care even more if it is a relevant celebrity. Why? Because readers like to read about celebrities and see where they live. If you are just starting out in the industry, I highly recommend that you consider doing a small project on a trade basis. That means that you provide your service for free in exchange for being able to use their name and pitch their project to the media. Having just one celebrity can make the difference of a publication saying yes, and will also add to your credibility as you build a name for yourself.
7. INVEST IN A PUBLICIST: Even if you are well established, pitching and managing the media is something you should take off your plate. Your time is much better spent designing and managing your clients. Pitching the media can require a lot of time and and an insane amount of follow up. When should you hire a publicist? When you have a completed project that you think is worthy of a magazine. If you are an established designer, it’s always most ideal to have ongoing PR that can help keep your name in the media, but if you aren’t ready for that, you can hire a publicist on a project basis.