Are you, in fact, the best PR Manager for your antiques business?

Are you, in fact, the best PR Manager for your antiques business?

Tuesday 18th April 2023 at 08:01

By Rob

Stop the press!

Stop the press! Part one.

There is no trade richer in history and human interest stories than the antiques business. Every piece has a story to tell, and many are potentially newsworthy. If you want awareness for your art, antiques or collectables, it is worth putting PR opportunities into the marketing mix.

In a previous blog, Pennywise, Pound Foolish, we covered the cost of action vs. inaction. ph9 have blogged for a long time about hitting the right notes with your antiques website, specialist online marketplace, advertising, email, and photography.

In part #1 (this part) of our two-part PR blog series, we'll explain what is PR (and what it's not) and we will help you decide if PR could help your antiques business achieve its goals. And, if so, who should do it.

In part #2 you will discover how to write and submit an antiques press release yourself.

... if you're not already subscribed to our mailing list, then please join to be notified when we release part #2!

So what is PR? And what is PR not?

Simply put, Public Relations is a way of controlling how you and your business come across. The main goal of PR is to communicate engaging information and create or maintain a positive image. It should mean taking a long-term, strategic approach to how the public and media perceive you. It often includes short-term tactical activities like social media content, press releases, conferences, interviews and events.

As with any other part of your business plan, you need clear goals and objectives. PR is not the same as marketing or advertising. Your stories should appear to be organic news rather than you promoting your business. Also, a one-off PR project isn't a quick fix. Consistency is key before, during and after a PR campaign.

Lipstick on a pig

Trying to create PR around something that isn’t newsworthy can be like putting lipstick on a pig. No matter how many press releases you put out there or how many newspapers you send them to, if your story is a pig, to begin with, it will always be a pig.

If you are going to go the whole hog and add PR to your marketing mix, you have to start with something genuinely different and newsworthy.

The rule of thumb is to follow the rules of TRUTH;

PR Truth rule

T – Topical or timely

  • Can you link to a news story or trend? You will need to be an expert or offer a unique point of view. Your content needs to have just happened or is about to happen.

R – Relevant

  • Your content has to be relevant to a large audience: the right audience for your target publication/s. Work out who your story affects and how it helps them.

U – Unique

  • Your content will need to be new or unusual to attract media attention.

T – Tragedy and tension

  • The media love a human interest story, especially when tragedy or tension is involved! Yours is more likely to be picked up if you are helping someone overcome trouble or prosper in the face of adversity.

H – Humans and heroes

  • Put people at the heart of your story. But only celebrate success where it is relevant for your readers to engage with. It is not about boasting or giving yourself a pat on the back. If you focus on the reader/ employees/ beneficiaries rather than yourself, you should be on the right track.

So who can do PR?

  • Well, you can outsource it to a professional, but you can also do it yourself. I will explain...

Option 1. You can outsource it


PR professionals create a strategy to help businesses and individuals to build a positive reputation (or rescue a damaged one). This could be through local or national press releases, speaking or sales events, publicity stunts, articles or social media. They will start with your objectives and work up and execute the plan, often bringing in copywriters, content managers and photographers.

The benefits of hiring the right PR firm are:

  • you get a fresh perspective on your business challenges
  • they have strong relationships with the media
  • they have specialist knowledge
  • you have one less hat to have to wear.

But only if they are the right fit. If you want to look for a PR agency or specialist, ask other local businesses for recommendations and check out review sites.

Hiring a PR manager can be a significant investment, and you need that investment to work hard. Start with a clear idea of what you want to achieve. You will find it hard to agree on and meet your goals, budget and timeline if you are unclear or your brief is woolly.

A briefing document or meeting is the starting point for you to explain everything the agency needs to understand you and your business plan. You can explain what is and isn't working, where you want to get to, and when. As ever, you will get out what you put in.

A PR brief might look something like this...

To make life simpler for you, we've created a template PR brief which you can download and use (for free!).

Click here to download our sample PR brief

What should you expect to pay for an agency?

The answer, as ever, is it depends. When you have your brief, approach a few recommended PR and marketing agencies. Remember, the better the information about your business and goals, the clearer they will be about what they can do, for how much, and over what time.

PR agencies typically bill on pay-per-placement, projects and retainers.

Pay-per-placement PR

This means you are charged for every article or interview the agency secures. Rates vary based on the media's readership, i.e. you will pay more to be in red-top papers than your local gazette. Here is where your brief gets really important, so you only pay for the media you want and not the wrong media.

PR Project rates

This are for one-off, tactical pieces of work, but this can include one-off strategic planning. Though this will cost more than placements or retainers, you can get a lot from a good agency. Their research, planning and specialist knowledge may help you to build a plan you can execute yourself.

PR Retainers

Thes are are usually charged monthly but form an annual contract. Like a good accountant, a great PR agency that has understood your needs will spot opportunities you might miss. As we said earlier, PR is not a one-shot deal, so consistent representation can pay off in the long term.

Social Media and blogs can be undertaken as one-off projects or retained services.

PR pricing

Here are some example fees:

  • Full-Service Agencies
    • Providing everything from planning to delivery, working on one-off fees or monthly retainers. Retainer fees vary from c.£500 per month for small agencies up to £10k+ for larger agencies (regardless of coverage achieved). Specific projects are over and above this.
  • PR Distribution Agencies
    • These agencies will write and send your press releases to the media.
    • The fee for a professionally written press release is around £200 per press release, sometimes more.
    • Distribution fees vary from £100 to over £1000+ per press release distributed, based on the number of journalists you want to reach.
  • Freelance PR Managers
    • You can hunt out a specialist in your local region or antiques specialism. Often working alone, freelancers can get to know you and your business and build strong relationships. The average rate seems to be around £326 per day.

Ultimately hiring someone to do your PR is an investment, and any investment should be directly proportional to the value you receive. For many small antiques businesses, this won't be affordable.

Option 2. "Just a minute, didn’t you say I can do it myself?!"

Do it myself

Yes! No one knows your business as well as you! And you should be your own best spokesperson! After all, you already choose the language you use online and on social media, the events you go to, the antiques you stock, and the conversations you have with your customers.

And you decide how your professional antiques website looks (with a little help from your friends ;))

All of this creates your personal and business brand.

You have the experience to know what interests and intrigues your customers. Keep a record of the stories and reels that get lots of engagement on Instagram and Facebook (more on Instagram insights coming soon to the blog!) Do more of what works!

Look at your best stock. Maybe there is an interesting backstory in how you came by it, who owned it previously, or when it was made. If it could have regional or national appeal, start adding relevant hashtags to increase the reach of your posts. Mix up your social media content by adding behind-the-scenes videos and backstories (without breaking any confidence with your VIP customers, of course!). Write a blog about one of your stories. Link to it from your social media and emails to improve your search performance. Be consistent.

Make a list of publications or events you would like to feature in and dates for when you would like people to hear about your story. Work back from then and plan to write a short press release.

Look for opportunities to share your stories beyond your current reach. It should pay dividends.

Many hats

Conclusion: every item could have a story to share

Content has never been more important. And everyone can create content – even you. Blogs, emails, social media, your website, a specialist online marketplace and photography are vital tools in marketing your antiques, art or vintage business.

Whether you choose to use a PR agency, do it yourself or a mixture of the two will depend on your ambitions, goals and resources.

As with any other marketing activity, you need to be consistent. PR is not a 'set it and forget it' activity — no matter who does it. It has to be more than a hat you wear now and then!

So could you be the best PR Manager for your antiques or art business? Have a go at filling in our simple sample PR brief. Then try to answer it yourself as if you were an agency. Maybe you will surprise yourself!

If you fancy having a go at creating your own Press Release, find out more in our PR blog part #2, coming soon! If you're not already subscribed to our mailing list, then do subscribe to be notified when we put it out.

At Antiques Web Design by ph9, we're here to help you get started. We specialize in creating websites that are tailored to your business needs. We can also guide you through the process of joining antiques marketplaces and help you set up and manage online advertising campaigns. Contact us today to learn more and start taking action towards growing your business hats.

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Antiques Web Design

By Rob
Tuesday 18th April 2023 at 08:01

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