Today on The Chaise Lounge podcast, host Nick May catches up with his good friend and fellow cheerleader for the interior design trade, Amy Flurry. For listeners who have not yet met this multitalented Athens, Georgia-based communications specialist, allow us to introduce you:
Amy is an editor/brand consultant/author/speaker/artist/founder and publisher of her own to-the-design-trade magazine, as well as a partner in Aloka, a new, sustainably produced home-textile design company with its home base in the Cisco showroom, in High Point, North Carolina.
Today in the Lounge, Nick focuses on Amy’s role as a trusted media design brand advisor and communications pro, who helps designers understand what “getting press” looks like now.
Creativity, Communications, Collaboration and Commerce: Navigating the New Media Frontier
Amy was one of the first design industry insiders to encourage design entrepreneurs to take their creative business’s success into their own hands via DIY PR. In fact, she wrote the book about it: After more than a decade of sitting on the editorial side of the fashion/design/art and culture desk, Amy released her first book, Recipe for Press, in 2011, and followed up with a book especially for designers, Recipe for Press: Designer Edition, in 2018.
A lot has changed since then.
“We’ve expanded and we have all these new tools,” says Amy, pointing to print publications, online pinboards, multiple social media platforms, digital magazines, newsletters, video, and on and on and on. “But now, people are going to see it contract. And they’re going to use these tools in a very focused way. We’re going to get choosy about what we listen to.”
How to Get Your Interior Design Business Noticed Now
The way we connect creativity and commerce continues to evolve, says Amy, and it pays to keep pace with all the new ways to communicate your story.
The fundamentals have not changed:
- Good photography
- A focused idea
- Being quick to respond to media requests
- And having the discipline to follow up and stay on message
“There are different models now. Everybody’s an expert and everything, but how much of that will last?” asks Amy. “The things that will last will be the things that people really put the that time, heart, and creativity in to be truly engaging. Otherwise we keep deleting.”
Who, What, Where, When, and WHY?
Whose Influence Really Matters?
Let’s face it: We’re all getting a little tired of looking at screens all day.
We’re all being bombarded with emails, Instagram posts, and irrelevant-to-us Stories. And lots of them never get a second look or listen, no less a personal response.
That’s one reason why a personal note, postcard, or a DM targeted to the right person can be more powerful.
Amy Flurry’s staff at Recipe for Press spends months preparing, checking, and double-checking the author’s annual media list (updated twice a year), to make sure the contact information she provides is current and relevant in the rapidly changing interior design landscape.
New to the list, the increasingly influential podcasts, including our own podcast host and producer Nick May, whose iMay Media brand was one of the first to celebrate the work lives of successful interior designers, painting contractors, manufacturers, editors, and industry allies whose stories inspire designers to take control of their media identity.
“Where else can you share and tell your story and have people’s undivided attention?” Amy asks. “With the interview, you have an opportunity to deepen that relationship and start collaborating. That’s the nature of communications right now. If you really are conscious about this, you’ve probably met enough people to find a lot of common work together. And you realize, ‘Maybe I can do more with the relationships I already have.’”
We’re all in business, Amy reminds us: “Connecting your story to commerce has to be done very intentionally.”
What Hasn’t Changed
Here’s one thing that never changes in the interior design business: the absolutely essential need for quality photography to share with editors, to post on your website, and to get attention on social media channels like Instagram.
But maybe still photography is not enough anymore in a world where the competition for recognition is fierce. That’s why Amy recommends posting short videos and live-action images that capture the eye with a bit of action.
In a crowded landscape, we need the element of surprise to slow us down. To stand out now, “you need to work a little harder to make it really good,” says Amy.
Where to Be Seen
There’s a place for every design business in the media landscape where editors and producers are hungry for high-quality content.
But the best place for Interior Design Business A may not be the same as for Interior Design Business B, C, D, or E.
While you may dream of appearing in the pages of Elle Décor or Architectural Digest or House Beautiful, stop to consider:
- Is your work right for these publications?
- Are those publications right for YOU and your goals for growing your design business?
Instead of targeting a high-end client halfway across the country or opposite coast in a national consumer magazine, consider a targeted a beloved regional magazine that people know and care about in your area,” advises Amy.
Don’t discount quality online or trade publications, or one of the newer custom print or digital publications being produced by brands like Schumacher, Urban Electric, and influential voices like Amy Flurry herself!
When to Pitch
You’ve invested a lot of time and effort in building your interior design brand.
Don’t blow it now by being impatient: Collect the right materials to share that put your best face forward with your target audience/client. And that includes a proper collection of current headshots of yourself: Media pros and potential clients want to know the face and voice behind the brand.
Know Your “Why”
Above all, Amy and Nick agree, “Know your why.”
Before you pitch a single magazine, book publisher, HGTV producer, or podcast professional, have a clear, concise concept of what you want to get out of press.
If what you want, for example, is more local business, don’t overlook regional publications: Go where your clients live, read what they read, and place your brand’s story in places they trust.
On the other hand, if you want to expand your brand’s visibility beyond a local market that’s grown too small or overcrowded for your business, think of where you want to head next and explore that region’s most influential podcasts and publications.
Target your marketing to the places you want to go—not the places you have been.
You can learn more about Amy Flurry and the communications tools you need to grow your design business at amyflurry.com and @amyflurry on Instagram.
And if you are heading to High Point Market this Spring, join Nick and Amy at the Universal to the Trade Designer’s Lounge, Showroom, where Nick is hosting some great panels. They’re looking forward to collaborating with you!
Chaise Lounge Updates
A new season of Coast to Coast Design is live, with Garrison Hullinger and new co-host Lisa Davenport! Give it a listen to learn about just how many ways there are to run a design business.
If you would like to hear more episodes, please visit us on iTunes, Spotify or your favorite podcasting app! We’d love it if you post a review, you may even hear your review read live on our next podcast. Also, find The Chaise Lounge on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. With that said, keep dreaming big, and keep designing a great design business. See ya!