The Best Public Relation Tips For Retailers, PR Experts Say

In the world of retail, maintaining a positive public image is more crucial than ever.

The Best Public Relation Tips For Retailers, Pr Experts Say

In the world of retail, maintaining a positive public image is more crucial than ever. As technology continues to transform the way consumers interact with retailers, businesses must adapt their strategies to meet changing expectations. Public relations (PR) plays a pivotal role in shaping a retailer’s reputation and fostering strong relationships with customers. We’ve had the privilege of interviewing several PR experts who have shared their insights on the best public relation strategies for retailers.

From understanding your audience to leveraging the power of the internet, these experts provide invaluable tips that can help retailers navigate the complex landscape of public relations. Join us as we delve into their expert advice and explore how effective PR can boost brand awareness, attract media attention, and ultimately drive business growth.

Be Creative: Align Your Story to “WOW” Journalists

The Best Public Relation Tips For Retailers, Pr Experts Say

“I work with a food retailer, Venchi, an Italian brand which sells chocolate and Gelato with retail outlets in NYC and now expanding across the country. Every day multiple stores open in cities across the country. So what are you doing to set yourself apart? Just saying you are open is not going to get media attention. But finding a good story to tell or something that makes you trending or fitting into pop culture gives you a better opportunity to get exposure.”

“It is just really important to find a unique selling proposition and point of difference so a PR agency can pitch you out to the relevant media with an angle that will make a journalist say “wow, I want to write about them!” Just saying you are opening on August 1st isn’t enough and you need to be cognizant of that. Creativity is key.”

“Does the owner/founder have a really cool story of how they got to open that store? Is there something cool or unique about the products you are going to be selling? Are they sustainable? It is important to work together with the PR agency to find something compelling and of interest to the media. Many journalists ask “What is new”? and “Why now?” so these are questions a good PR agency will ask you.”

“The fact that you are opening an ice cream store in NYC when there might be 200 such stores in NYC will not get you coverage. But if you are the first outpost of a European brand, that is interesting. If you have a chocolate waterfall in your store, that is interesting. If you are offering free ice cream for the first 250 customers, that might be interesting.”

“Or if there isn’t anything existing, you need to be open to working with your PR agency to create a “WOW” type of angle that the media will want to cover. Perhaps you are going to offer a paid position for the summer as a “Professional Ice Cream Taster” that you can get coverage on. Perhaps you are the first ice cream store to serve in compostable cups.”

“Read through publications you want to be featured in and see what they write about. For example the makers of Fancy Feast Cat Food opened a pop up restaurant in NYC with the menu inspired by the Fancy Feast offerings — that got them in Food & Wine Magazine. You need to task your PR agency with being creative AND being open to ideas they might suggest in order to get the buzz your store needs to drive consumers to it.”

Jane Coloccia, President & Chief Brand Storyteller at JC Communications, LLC

Speak Up: Leverage Thought Leadership

The Best Public Relation Tips For Retailers, Pr Experts Say

“One of the ways retailers can get coverage in the press would be through thought leadership pieces. My client, Michael Allmond has received a lot of press coverage this way, which is difficult for his brand because of the niche (adult novelties & romantic aids). But recently, Mike was featured in a piece by CMS Wire that spoke to customer sentiment analysis.”

“Not only did the story help with SEO via a backlink, but can also showcase a retailer’s focus on specific areas of concern, such as customer service. My client has continued to be able to secure high quality backlinks for his brand’s site, which in turn has led to other more expansive PR opportunities to feature products and services their stores offer.”

Joe Karasin, CMO & Founder, Karasin PPC


Storytelling: Know Your “Why”

The Best Public Relation Tips For Retailers, Pr Experts Say

“For retailers seeking to work with a PR agency and generate media coverage for their store openings, pop-up shops, and collection launches, hosting unique events that attract journalists and the media is a classic strategy that will never go out of style.”

:Additionally, retail stores need to know how to (and trust in PR agencies) to help them reach their audience through thought and emotion-provoking campaigns. We saw this clearly during IKEA’s #StayHome campaign. The campaign actually became one of the best PR campaigns during the pandemic, encouraging people to “fall back in love with their home” all while tapping into the emotions of happy memories, comfort, and safety.  Because of this, IKEA resonated with the public on a personal level.”

“With this in mind, retailers must recognize the power of storytelling and be open to letting it work its magic. Journalists and the media are drawn to the ‘why’ behind an event or campaign. Retailers must allow their PR agency the freedom to craft compelling narratives that resonate with their target audience. Otherwise, you won’t stand out in the pool of pitches that journalists deal with.”

Meghen Peck, Public Relations Account Manager at THEPRBAR Agency


Calendar: Plan Ahead For Seasonal Features

The Best Public Relation Tips For Retailers, Pr Experts Say

“I work with Laughlin Constable Public Relations and we do a great amount of PR work with retailers from clothing stores, bakeries and food specialties, to mobile devices, luxury goods and big box inventory.We plan far ahead with our retail clients to seize calendar, seasonal, and special day and holiday news angles. Being first to media with the idea or spokesperson from your retail brand is key.”

“For example, to tie into local or regional back to school shopping, by the start of summer we are identifying trends, data points and how we can best fit into those stories, whether offering an in-studio fashion show or pitching the top five trends every high schooler wants to know. We employ a similar strategy but much earlier when it comes to national retailer efforts tied to the holidays.”

“We are planning in January and February for targeted editor briefings and influencer outreach in May and June to seize long-lead holiday gift guide opportunities and be sure we are planting story ideas with provided resources to tell the story well, far in advance of November and December coverage.”

Kris Naidl, EVP, Managing Director PR at Laughlin Constable Public Relations


Collaborate: Local Influencers & Bloggers

The Best Public Relation Tips For Retailers, Pr Experts Say

“As the Founder of my own PR company, I understand that retailers often find it challenging to get coverage. Working with brands is quite distinct from working with retailers. One of my best pieces of advice for retail stores when collaborating with PR agencies is to build relationships with local influencers and popular bloggers.”

“For instance, The Frankie Shop, a trendy boutique in New York City known for its minimalist designs, could partner with a prominent New York fashion influencer like Danielle Bernstein from WeWoreWhat. By providing exclusive access to their upcoming collection and inviting Danielle to host a styling event at their store, The Frankie Shop can generate buzz and coverage from fashion enthusiasts and media outlets focused on New York City style.”

Dover Street Market, a renowned multibrand concept store in New York, could organize a press conference or media-exclusive preview for the launch of their new collaboration with a popular streetwear brand. By inviting influential fashion journalists and reporters to experience the collection firsthand and offering exclusive interviews with the designers, Dover Street Market can secure valuable coverage in major publications like Vogue, GQ, and Hypebeast, highlighting their position as a hub for cutting-edge fashion.”

“These examples are intended to illustrate the strategies and possibilities for retailers in New York working with PR agencies. The actual implementation and success may vary depending on the specific circumstances and goals of each retailer.”

Bryce North, CEO & Founder, Don’t Be A Little Pitch


TikTok: Capitalize on Social Media Trends

The Best Public Relation Tips For Retailers, Pr Experts Say

“The most important thing that retailers need to do to get coverage, aside from hiring a great PR agency, is to capitalize on current trends on social media. Everyone sees ads on social for all of the big-name retailers like Target, Walmart, as well as popular online retailers like Shein. Coverage starts with having a unique and compelling story.”

“For something like a store opening, do research about the location and what the most popular local spots are. Advertise there and engage with the community by creating video content for something like TikTok or Instagram. As the buzz grows around the new store, that will pique the interest of local news outlets that are always looking for community-driven stories.”

“If the store owner has a compelling story or is giving back to the community by donating a portion of the store’s revenue, that is a great way to garner media interest as well.”

“For example, the Writer’s Block independent bookstore in Orlando could capitalize on the huge number of avid readers on TikTok, affectionately known as “BookTok.” While they do have a presence on the app, if they were to create viral content around the bookstore, it’s owners and become the “go-to” bookstore in Orlando, that would be prime for news coverage.”

“Today’s world demands content. If retailers want to thrive, create brand awareness and be in the media regularly, they have to embrace it.”

David Triana, Account Executive with PR firm Delight Labs.

Local to National: Building Brand Awareness

The Best Public Relation Tips For Retailers, Pr Experts Say

“I’m a former brick-and-click owner turned publicist. In a world where everyone wants to be famous, I’ve always prioritized localizing my awareness efforts. The local market served as my proving ground and launchpad to the national stage, providing essential insights into the unique needs and preferences of my audience. This localized approach allowed me to build a strong and loyal customer base who not only supported my business but also became its champions.”

“Scaling up to a national level became smoother, more effective, and sustainable with this solid foundation. It’s amusing when new PR clients dismiss the idea of pursuing local media first, but in reality, it’s crucial to start there to showcase your awesomeness.”

Lakesha Cole, Founder & Principal Publicist, she PR

Give Back: Partner With A Non-Profit or Charity

The Best Public Relation Tips For Retailers, Pr Experts Say

“There’s a simple and effective way to help retailers generate free media coverage that will boost awareness of their stores. The process involves partnering with a local non-profit or charitable organization and scheduling a day to earmark a portion of your retail sales as a donation to the organization. The fundraising event can be promoted via local news outlets as well as the social media channels and email databases of the partner organization.”

“This initiative not only delivers a new stream of revenue for the non-profit/charitable organization, it also…

  1. positions the retailer as a valuable and contributing member of the community
  2. builds awareness of the retailer in the marketplace
  3. ramps up search rank for the retailer
  4. boosts incoming foot traffic for the retailer
  5. delivers a valuable edge for the retailer over its competitors

Rafe Gomez, Co-owner at VC Inc. Marketing

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