Press Hook was created to provide a platform for media professionals and publicists to connect and streamline their efforts. Though their job descriptions are very different, both are tasked with staying on top of the world as it changes. Pitching during a pandemic has been a new skill for everyone, and at Press Hook, we want to provide resources, expert insights, and other tools to make the transition just a little bit easier. That’s why we’re happy to announce a new series that sheds some light on each industry's current pulse.
First up: the beauty trends that every publicist should know about. From how to remain competitive in tough times, to the ‘new-new’ of products and habits, we spoke with leaders within the space about what they think is especially important right now.
The founder’s presence is essential
When everything feels up in the air and uncertain, it’s challenging to make a case for why someone should invest in a new foundation or hair product. And while past beauty trends featured simple round-ups of must-haves, these days, more writers and editors are digging a step further. As part of your evolving PR strategies, it’s vital to focus on and highlight the founder behind the labels, according to Rachel Johnson Burns, founder of the boutique public relations and branding agency, RLJPR. How come? When a consumer’s day-to-day is more stressful and confusing, they will be drawn to transparency, connection, and authenticity. “They are looking for not just another skincare line or mascara to invest in, but a trustworthy face and ethos behind a brand to relate and connect with,” Johnson explains.
What does this look like? Johnson says it can take form in many ways, but a few meaningful approaches include telling the story behind the history of the brand, timely panel discussions, and offering up the entrepreneur's insight on starting or running a business. “Shining a spotlight on the brand founder will [not only] generate more exposure, but build trust and credibility during a time of great change and uncertainty,” she adds.
Skincare and self-care reign supreme
One way to think about beauty trends is to take note of your own routines. When you were prepping for the day yesterday, did you do a full face of makeup? Or did you shower, brush your hair, and apply a healthy amount of moisturizer. If you are like most people these days, skincare has remained vital, while getting glammed up has fallen by the wayside. That’s partly why Jamie Maser Berman, the founder of Maser Communications, says skincare and self-care will continue to be featured in top-tier publications. “In our current climate of working remotely, we are spending more and more time at our house, creating mini-spa moments to feel good and quell anxiety,” she explains. With the requirement of masks in most places, many consumers are concerned with ‘maskne’ and the like. Focusing on alleviating those issues can help you land a placement. All beauty publicists who cover products within this category should double-down on their efforts and send relevant pitches to stay top-of-mind for journalists.
Wellness and beauty are more intertwined than ever
If you’ve been developing PR strategies for a while, you likely agree with Burns, who says the beauty and wellness markets have always been closely connected. However, Burns says that with the rise of COVID-19, the relationship between the two markets has become even more evident and critical.
In fact, Burn says a key beauty trend is always keeping the wellness aspect part of the pitching process. “Consumers are looking for ways to ease stress, tension, methods to make their new at-home life easier,” she continues. “There has been a major shift in consumer behavior toward wellness through eating, exercise, and skin health rituals. Keeping in mind this merging of the two sectors will be beneficial for your client's new brand development, research, and marketing initiatives.”
The ‘lipstick effect’ is over
If you aren’t familiar with the ‘lipstick effect’ and how it’s impacted PR strategies, allow Tyler Williams, the founder and CEO of Nouveau Communications, to explain. As he describes it, it’s the theory that during an economic crisis, consumers will often splurge on a small luxury good—a fancy lipstick, for example—as a much-needed pick-me-up. This was a trend during the 2008 recession, as well as the months immediately following 9/11. Unfortunately, though, Williams says COVID-19 hasn’t caused this ‘treat yourself’ mindset. “While we've seen some uptick in color cosmetics around eye products and self-care products, most consumers are focused on soothing and relaxing, not on high-end goods,” he explains.
This can create a tricky learning curve for those beauty publicists who tend to cover the luxury market, since they don’t have a ‘winning’ product to focus on, Williams says. Not all hope is lost, though. It just means publicists may need to be a little more hands-on and reactive. “You'll need to follow specific product trends as they unfold [and] work closely with your clients to understand their internal sales data, all while being sensitive to a time marked by economic unease and social tensions,” Williams says.
Consumers are moving toward minimalism and multi-tasking
Sadly, the United States is experiencing a high unemployment rate. Many companies are still only operating at half-capacity, millions of professionals are waiting to be re-hired post-furlough, and far-too-many businesses to count have gone under. This means the vast majority of Americans no longer have the disposable income they once had. And one of the first items they’ll cut out to save money in their budget? Cosmetics and beauty goods that are perceived as unnecessary or redundant.
This means publicists will need to adjust to a new beauty trend that illustrates the values in products. “Many consumers are not able to invest in their typical beauty routines. Brands are having to adjust their strategies to meet consumers' demands, which is focused on at-home care so that they can maintain the health of their skin,” Burns shares. It’s an overused saying, but right now, less really is more, since many are focused on their family and children’s expenses, rather than their personal needs. “We are seeing a shift to minimalist skincare and more of a focus on multi-tasking products,” she adds.
Eyes are having a moment
One of the few silver linings of wearing a mask every time you walk out your front door is not having to figure out makeup. After all, if you have a breakout on your cheek, it’s not visible to anyone. In a strange turn of events, some of the biggest beauty trends are focused on what can be seen by everyone: our eyes! More consumers are looking for ways to bring attention to these soul-searchers, and it provides an opportunity for publicists to cater their pitches, according to Jayne Morehouse, the CEO of The Beauty Industry Report. Shoppers will look for ways to enhance their lashes, their lids, their brows, and the overall appearance of their above-the-nose area.
DIY beauty is here to stay
Though we all looked forward to the day when our beloved hairstylist was able to open their doors, once the day came, it wasn’t as joyous as we had hoped. With cases still skyrocketing, many services aren't being offered, making the experience different than before. Plus, those who are high-risk or live with someone immune-compromised may not feel comfortable going into a salon at all. Williams says that since many consumers figured out how to do their own at-home manicures, simple cuts, and waxing at home, they are less inclined to jump right back into their old, expensive habits. This provides an opportunity for those publicists who can develop DIY pitches for their brands. “We all need to adapt to the new reality that professional services aren't going to bounce back easily,” he continues. “That means we not only need to be creative in how we position brands that were service-based to media, but we also need to guide our clients on navigating new opportunities and revenue streams so they can weather the storm.”