Harris Shepard’s eponymous Public Relations agency has helped launch hundreds of brands, changing the fortunes of countless beauty industry entrepreneurs with his PR sense and creative approach to communicating a message. One such success is a nail care line now synonymous with polish, OPI.
“Twenty-two years ago, Harris Shepard approached me with a proposal to bring OPI into the consumer spotlight,” says Suzi Weiss-Fischmann, OPI Executive VP & Artistic Director. “He helped carry the OPI message to the consumer that one of the most affordable luxuries available to women could have tremendous impact on their lives. On a personal level, Harris is the kindest, most loyal, and funniest friend whom I am blessed to have in my life.”
SALON TODAY’s Anne Moratto recently interviewed Shepard, encouraging him to share some of his ‘get noticed’ tips with salon and spa owners.
SALON TODAY: How do I differentiate my salon or spa from millions of others that editors are reading about?
Shepard: “The good news is that if you’re in our industry and you own a salon, you’re probably a very creative person, already. So while always being authentic and true to what you believe, you also have to think outside the box to make the news. In the fashion world, there is couture and ready-to-wear, and couture makes the news. It might not be what you are doing every day but you can make news by thinking about what makes you special and what you are doing at your salon that is ‘couture’ and really unique.”
ST: Should I try doing it myself or should I hire a publicist or an agency?
Shepard: “A good agency costs money and it take awhile to get press. If it’s something you think you could do, then great, but you probably do want to hire a PR person if you’re really serious about getting press. Make sure that person knows what they’re doing and that they’ve had success with someone else in your field. Also, don’t hire for two months and expect results; you need to budget for a year or more.”
ST: What is one thing a salon or spa can do right away to start seeing the benefit of public relations?
Shepard: “A lot of times, people forget that PR starts from within. Make sure that everyone on your salon team is giving out the same message—who are we, what are we trying to say about ourselves, and make sure it’s consistent. Happy employees will put out the word about you.”
ST: Should salons focus on gaining local or national attention? Where should they concentrate their efforts?
Shepard: “This is an important decision to make because you only have so much time. I have found that national is actually easier but you have to be ready to get it--you have to have something newsy to talk about. But your business is going to come from local press, so research your local news outlets and editors and invite them into your business. If there isn’t a designated Beauty Editor then invite the editor that makes the most sense—Lifestyle, Local news, Living. Don’t waste their time and make sure you truly have something new to show them. You could do a tie-in with a local charity or copy a celebrity look that is trending and show how to replicate it.”
Shepard’s final word:
“Authenticity is very important. To be in business is one thing, to make news is another. Don’t copy someone. If I owned a salon it would be different than what works for you. What makes news is something unique and special. Find what that is for you.”