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Making the most of your PR & Wedding Marketing with Propose PR

Author: Nicola Russill-Roy

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This week on @WeddingHour we were joined by Nicola Russill-Roy, founder of @ProposePR.

Propose PR is the UK’s first PR agency dedicated to representing brands within the wedding industry. It is a full service agency offering PR & Marketing solutions individually tailored to their client’s individual needs.

We talked to Nicola about PR & Marketing in the wedding industry, how she started her business and how wedding businesses can approach marketing during the pandemic.

Tell us about Propose PR and how you got started?

I set up Propose PR back in 2008, prior to this I worked as a Marketing Manager for British Airways and prior to this I had worked in many ad agencies in London. I was 25 when I set up my company and the reason was because I was fed up of working in a really corporate background because I am a very creative person.

I met my now husband back then and in a conversation one day I said I wanted to run my own business. He encouraged me to quit my 9-5 job and make the move to set up my own company with his full support all the way. I had only known him 6 weeks at this point!! We moved in together and I set up my own fashion PR company but quickly learnt that there were so many fashion PR companies already out there.

My husband proposed to me in 2007 and throughout those 12 months I was reading a lot of wedding magazines and realised there wasn’t a PR company just for the wedding industry so I decided to just go for it! I think believe that business is all about taking a risk so I set up my company and 12 years on I am still here and doing really well!!

How important is PR when it comes to marketing your business? How can PR benefit a wedding business?

There are a number of ways that a business can market themselves and they all form part of the marketing mix. If a company is looking to promote themselves there are a number of different ways that they can do this.

PR, marketing, advertising, sales, they’re all different but when you put them all together it’s like a big puzzle. If a company is doing all of the parts of the puzzle well, then they will be more visible and easily found and often are more successful.

PR really helps to elevate the business even more as you are using the power of being featured in magazines, newspapers and blogs to be found, and puts you in front of global audience. The benefits are PR are free, it increases your visibility, adds credibility and adds a layer of endorsement because it’s the blog you’re featured in to say you’re amazing. It puts a spotlight onto your business.

We have seen some terrible stories in the press during the pandemic. Many Business owners have been dealing with requests for refunds, rather than postponements, often with couples threatening bad press. What’s the best way to handle this?

There’s a saying that there’s no such thing as bad PR, if people are speaking about you then that’s good right?! I’m not sure that that’s the case; you wouldn’t want your business to be talked about in a negative way as it can be very damaging. During the pandemic there have been stories of companies caught up in this negative light and it’s how you deal with that.

Online PR, social media, blogs and magazines that have comments at the end, means that anyone can leave comments and slander a company if they want to. The right thing to do is not to put your head under the sand. I have been working with a few companies on a PR crisis management basis since the pandemic broke who have found themselves in a spotlight through the media in a negative way.

My tips for anyone whose business is going through the same is to firstly communicate. It’s not going to go away; it will only get worse if you ignore it. By not responding to negative comments you are going to aggravate people more, respond as quickly as you can.

Secondly don’t respond with emotion. This is hard especially if it’s your own company, but you will need to be professional in your response. Use someone as a sounding board before you reply, or someone outside of your business.

Lastly, respond to a complaint with facts and empathy. If it was your fault, put your hand up and apologise. If it’s not your fault, again respond with facts. It might be worth taking legal advice as well to make sure that your facts are backed up and how you are responding is legally accurate.

In these tough times, what’s the best approach when it comes to PR and a marketing plan?

My advice is if you have a fire in your business; don’t look at doing any kind of PR. What I mean by a fire is if you are in a business and money is drying up, you don’t have many enquiries coming in and you’re not sure if you are going to make it through the next 6 months, you need to be working more on aggressive sales techniques. This is the fire you need to put out.

If your business is doing okay, this is when you can indulge in PR and marketing. You can do PR yourself; if your budget is limited but make sure have some basic PR training. There are some free sources online, or I can also offer this, you just need to know where to look and what to do.

The other thing is if you really want to outsource it, shop around. Agencies are doing different price points. For me for example, I was doing a minimum of three months contracts before the pandemic. I adapted during the pandemic as I realised no one in the wedding industry was going to want to commit financially to a three month contract so I dismissed this and I now do monthly pay as you go.

Don’t commit yourself financially for a long time period, work with companies that can be flexible.

How can PR improve brand awareness and create real engagement?

PR is putting you out there into the media so it’s really going to boost your brand awareness, more than you can do on your own social media or blogs, however it’s important to still continue with your own internal marketing to go alongside this. These will all elevate your brand. If you have been featured in an industry magazine for example, you can promote that you have been featured in that specific magazine on your website and social media. It builds trust and businesses will be more likely to want to work with you.

What’s some of the biggest mistakes that businesses make in the wedding industry when it comes to PR?

One of the biggest misunderstandings is not knowing what PR is and what it will bring to your company. If they think that by doing PR it will instantly bring them lots of bookings, this is wrong as this is not how it works. Many businesses are eager to undertake PR without ensuring that their business is ready first.

One of the main things to look at is to make sure that you have a strong brand, website, great images, good copy, attractive social media platforms etc. This is what people will look at if they see you in a magazine. Another big mistake is not giving it enough time. PR is something that builds your brand over time, you need to be consistent and it takes time and patience.

If a company can not afford a PR agency, especially with budgets being tight, are there any tips for a DIY approach?

Yes! Go to #journorequest on twitter there are loads of journalists around the world looking to use experts to feature in articles they are currently working on.

What do you think is the best form of marketing for a business in the wedding industry?

In my opinion, networking, referrals and recommendations are some of the most important things you need to be doing although there isn’t just one form of marketing that works best. It’s like making a cake, you have to put multiple ingredients in, marketing is the same, there is no one best form of marketing to drive your business forward.

You need to be doing lots of things, ensuring your social media is up to date, that your website it clear and sells you, networking with other industry suppliers who can recommend you. Wedding fairs can be good, being featured in wedding magazines and blogs, not randomly though; you need to build yourself a strategy.


Written by

Nicola Russill-Roy

Nicola Russill-Roy is the founder of Propose PR, the UK’s first PR agency dedicated to representing brands within the wedding industry. It is a full service agency offering PR & Marketing solutions individually tailored to their client’s individual needs.

Learn more about Nicola Russill-Roy