As a luxury wedding planner, my number one focus is always the client. At the same time, I’m a business woman, and once a couple is happily married, I need to ensure I can keep on doing what I love best – planning more perfect days for couples all over the world.
Building a waiting list of clients doesn’t happen overnight; for me it has been a gradual process building on over 30 years of experience. In that time, I’ve used PR (public relations) to help take me from a small business owner to a high-profile entrepreneur.
By following these five steps, you can use PR to grow your planning business:
1) Surround yourself with good people
When starting off, it’s easy to fall into the trap of believing you’ve got to do everything yourself. No business is ever going to grow that way. Yes, you need to invest some of your time developing your company’s public relations, but by surrounding yourself with good people, will see this investment rocket.
By this, I don’t simply mean hiring a public relations professional or agency to represent you. There are lots of ways to get other people involved in promoting your business. For example, get involved with a local bridal show by offering to do a presentation or sponsor an event. Support charities close to your heart, and be strategic as well by offering support to good causes that local media organizations are championing.
2) Build relationships
It’s important to remember PR is not simply about publicity – it’s about public relations. As wedding planners, we are experts in building relationships with clients to understand and deliver what couples need to feel special on their big day.
Public relations means bringing that authenticity to your wider business relationships, so people understand more about who you are, what your business is about, and what they can expect if they hire you.
3) Spread the word
I’ve never been afraid to talk to people about my business, whether it’s the person sitting next to me on a train or at a big networking event. However, I’ve got to admit, talking to a journalist for the first time was nerve-wracking. We’ve all heard stories about how the press can twist what you say, but equally, there are lots of people working in the media who want to tell good stories. I kept reminding myself, I’ve worked on some amazing events and I’ve got good stories to tell.
Journalists have a job to do as well. PR can help you understand what a journalist needs, and develop a nose for a news story. This helps you provide journalists with relevant stories that they want to showcase.
4) Build credibility
Over the years I’ve moved from a wedding planner who submits stories to journalists to being the wedding planner who journalists call for advice on a story. This relationship has grown from years of submitting good stories. Journalists know the kind of weddings I work on, that I’m on top of the latest trends, and I recognize what they need from an expert commentator.
Becoming the go-to expert in your field is all about building credibility. Once you get known for what you do, not only will you get opportunities to comment as part of a journalist’s story, your credibility will open doors for you to write comment columns and trend pieces for luxury wedding magazines.
For my business, a higher profile in print and online niche media has led to TV opportunities. Breaking into TV was a huge step for my business in terms of raising my profile among a large mainstream audience. In the UK, I’m now a regular contributor to ITV’s This Morning when they need an expert on party planning and weddings. I was also the subject of a Channel 4 documentary on celebrity lifestyles, The Millionaire Party Planner.
5) Take opportunities
You don’t need me to tell you how busy the festive season is for party planners. So, imagine my surprise when organizers of a Christmas ball for charity, Centrepoint, called me two weeks before the event asking for help.
“Who’s the client?” I asked.
“The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are our patrons” the organiser said.
“Yeah, but who’s your client?”
“The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.”
It didn’t leave much time, but sometimes you need to look past the pressure and focus on the opportunity. I booked my train and the next day was at Kensington Palace preparing for Centrepoint’s Winter Whites Gala.
Photos from the royal charity ball went global, with guests including Colin Firth, Tinie Tempah, and Benedict Cumberbatch. There were even press photos of Prince William joining Jon Bon Jovi and Taylor Swift on stage singing ‘Livin’ on a Prayer.’
For high profile clients, confidentiality is essential, so when events come along like this, allowing you to talk about your involvement, don’t be shy – share what you can. Doing exactly that, led me to getting a referral to work for royalty – an opportunity that can change everything.
This is a guest post by Liz Taylor. Liz is the Managing Director of Taylor Lynn Corporation, one of the UK’s leading celebrity and high society wedding planners. You can find Liz on Instagram at @taylorlynncorp. Connect with her today!