Cutting Expenses in a Crazy Economy? “Don’t Cut Your PR!” Say Beauty Experts

Posted by Sharon Esche Irving under Consumer Editorial, Editorial Insights, General, The PR Mindset

As a ‘beauty PR pro’, I pray that businesses in the beauty industry don’t cut down on public relations when cutting down on expenses in this crazy economy. Imagine my ABSOLUTE DELIGHT to hear three top beauty professionals in the last couple of weeks literally answer my prayers (looks like I won’t have to quit my day job after all <g>).  What are they saying?

“Whatever you do, don’t cut down on your PR effort…don’t mess with your ‘image’ and ‘credibility’ in front of the consumer!  Keep your PR intact and if you have to cut anywhere in communications, make it your advertising budget!

Who were those PR proponents that made me cry?  One was Robin Coe-Hutshing, Creative Director, STUDIO at Fred Segal, guest speaking at a recent Beauty Industry West luncheon in LA.  The next expert was Pamela Baxter, President and CEO of LVMH Perfumes and Cosmetics for North America and President and CEO of Christian Dior Inc, in LA from New York to guest speak at the Cosmetic Executive Women‘s first West Coast event.  And, as if my heart weren’t already pumping from the good news adrenalin about my profession, hot shot editorial hairstylist and fab Changing Heads’ salon owner Bob Press in historic Tappan, NY delivers the musical crescendo to my ears in a lively coast-to-coast phone hello.

Says this media-savvy business owner: “PR is what is drawing new clients into my front door from the community; editorial coverage in my local press is what’s building my business. When the local media reps call and ask me if I want to buy ad space, I say ‘No … .but can I buy editorial space?” (WAY TO GO, BOB PRESS!)

I’ll bring you there – to Robin, Pamela and Bob – so you read up a bit on what these three beauty PR pros in their own right had to say about business, branding and building.


LtoR: BIW Pres. Linda Bertaut, Robin Coe-Hutshing, BIW V.P Irena Kojouharava

To say that Robin Coe-Hutshing knows the power of PR on building your image is a complete understatement!  She  opened STUDIO at Fred Segal in 1984.  Today, STUDIO has grown to an over 4,000 square feet emporium of beauty products from throughout the world. It has served as the launching pad for many of today’s most successful beauty brands and new categories that just caught on!. Her sixth sense for discerning great performing formulas, compelling packaging and market timing is uncanny, creating many of her own successful brands as well as identifying others that were right for the time and the customer.

Robin shares that these days,  “It is public relations that is driving interest toward the brands and supporting the STUDIO image and concept. It is PR rather than advertising that is driving business right into the store, supporting events and the marketing effort.

Robin’s role in the beauty biz has a lot in common with all the salon and spa owners reading this biog post. Like you, she is entrepreneurial, and realizes that the most successful image-building and branding in today’s economy must be ’emotional branding’. “The real connection with the customer MUST be there”, she says. “Customers today like to feel secure and safe…their psyche is attracted to what is established…a little less bling and luxury for luxury’s sake. But your buyer does love high-performance luxury ingredients and luxury services that make her feel secure and good.” And, spoken like a true entrepreneur like you, Robin reminds all in business to ‘get input from your staff and customers but in the end, do what you feel is right, pay attention to your goals and stick to it to be successful‘.


Pamela Baxter

Beauty industry pioneer and branding guru Pamela Baxter maintains that the consumer dream – in a tough economy or not – remains the same: “Women want top quality and they won’t give it up even if they have to sacrifice something else to have it. She’ll scrimp and save if she has to have at least one piece of luxury in her handbag…like a beautiful lipstick case or mirror”” Let’s hope that this way of thinking applies to salon and spa services as well.  LET US KNOW IF YOU THINK IT DOES.

BeautyPRpro bloggers – you’ll be happy to know that Pamela Baxter also talks up the ultimate credibility and prestige image-building of public relations.  She’s another believer that in a challenging state of financial affairs, it’s the publicity that builds your business and your brands -moreso than advertising and in a different, more credible way among consumers.  Pamela views a down market as a great opportunity to get even more creative … to re-look at things, create new things and push tough decisions.  People and products get more innovative!

Says Pam: “At the end of the day, it’s the creativity and the luxury that the consumer is passionate about.”


Changing Heads Salon owner and hair designer extraordinaire Bob Press has a real knack for making public relations work for him.  Over the many years that I’ve known Bob, I have always admired his ability to focus in on exactly who his client is, exactly what his business goals are and finally, the strategic PR approach he always takes toward his salon’s communications effort.  He’s cautious but tenacious once he commits to a plan and is never without PR action of some kind to support his total marketing and sales effort.  We’re asking Bob if he will guest post here in the coming weeks.

“I am very excited about my new salon in Tappan, NY, an area that is steeped in Revolutionary War history and surrounded with celebrities who love living in this area about half an hour from Manhattan,” says Bob. “I realize that my PR effort needs to go into my local magazines and newspapers – and that it is editorial exposure more than advertising that drives new clients in the community through my front door”. Bob recently had several major articles done on his salon in local media that really increased the clientele for him and his talented salon team.

Bob continues: “I realize the importance of having press materials already developed and at hand (like a professional press kit) when we get a call from a local editor or writer wanting to either do a story or simply get more information about my ‘Changing Heads’ Salon.  We also do photo shoots every fashion season to produce a hair design trend collection to send out to press and have had excellent luck with media pick-up.”

I love to hear how Public Relations as a service and a marketing tool is working for leaders in the beauty biz, from the niche and prestige retail brands to the salons and spas of America who work hard at working hard at PR.  And although I believe that public relations and advertising are strong and viable ‘sister services’ that were actually meant to work together and not apart, I must admit that I am thankful to hear from the gurus that if one of these services needs to be cut to survive these tougher times, it should NOT be PR!


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