For four days last week, we participated in a "style lounge" at the Sundance Film Festival - a pr event where you "gift" your products to celebs & industry insiders. In signing up for the event, I knew it would be part work, part fun since we usually try to get out to Alta every year to visit my brother-in-law & his family anyway and we could tag that on to the end of the trip. And thank goodness we did.
It's not that I didn't enjoy my time there - because I did. For the most part, everyone was very friendly, we met some uber-talented people, and we got great feedback on our work. But I was a little tired of the whole game by the end. We won't purchase the photos from Wire Image to use as "press" as most vendors do. Will people buy more of our new flats because Samuel L. Jackson is pictured with them? Perhaps, but that seems really fake to me. I was thrilled that Mr. Jackson b-lined it over to them & wanted more than one - and just hope that he gives them to someone who will use them or use them himself. But that's not really the point of these gifting suites & I think I've been a little naive to think that they are worth it without that being my point.
So as I was struggling with this during the event and getting a little uneasy over it - I realized more than ever that this is the way promotion works - companies pay for exposure - on small & large scales - whether it's for an ad in a local newspaper or on a blog or with a super star endorsement or a world wide ad campaign. We have a pr person ourselves - who I love - to promote our work and manage any pr initiatives. (And as a result, we get lots of inquiries on the heels of certain press.) People working at this event even told me that celebs really do have fake relationships to benefit their careers - which seems outrageous to me - but not that surprising. So pr really does run the gamut - something I guess I've known, but not actively thought about until recently. It's obviously important for companies to know when & how to use their money best to promote their business. And in doing this event, it became very clear to me that there are many ways to do that.
In the end, I'm happy we did the style lounge because unlike other products there, ours exist beyond the gift bag. Whether those people use our paper goods themselves or give them to someone else, they will be used (most people said they had thank you notes to write) & I hope that L&H filters through hands of others who like our paper goods enough to look us up. And that's pr - and pr that feels right for us.