Yesterday was the third gathering of Keziah Connections and the theme of this months event was PR and Communication.
The event was held in the beautiful Manadara Spa at Westminster Park Plaza hotel. For anybody with a built environment background, you may know it as…’ the hotel in the roundabout’!
When I arrived at the hotel it was bustling with businessmen and tourists coming and going, but a short walk through the impressive lobby, takes you to a lift in which you descend into the calming environment of the spa.
The Balinese heritage of the Mandara brand is reflected in the decor and the featured brands are beautifully displayed in the public areas. The spa features a range of body treatments from Mandara but also facial treatments from Elemis as both brands are under the same ownership as well as nails by OPI.
We were spoilt with champagne and nibbles and were given an opportunity to network and connect before the presentations began.
First to speak was Deb Johnson from Pure PR who did an excellent job of clarifying what PR actually is (!) dispelling the myth that it is super glamorous and party packed all the time. PR is all about relationships. Between the PR agency and the brand, as well as that of the PR agency and journalists, (both print and online) and bloggers. Deb explained that PR is so important for brands because the bottom line is that increased awareness leads to increased sales so good relationships and aPR budget really is important. Whilst PR and Marketing are linked, Deb explained that marketing focuses more on demand and consumers whereas her role is about increasing the profile of the brand. Monica from Honey for Beauty who brought some of her products to the event was used as a case study of how a brand would be supported by an agency. Deb gave a real insight into her role and was very honest about the need for brands to feel confident in their PR and for the PR to know the product thoroughly. One of her strongest messages was around packaging, the need for it to be easily identifiable and easy to reproduce in print – a message that continued through to the next speaker..
We then moved to a treatment room and watched a treatment being carried out while the lovely Louisa from Monty PR about the brand revamp that took place last year – packaging being an important part of that. Mandara is an interesting range as it is sold exclusively in Sainsbury’s which is one of the most accessible places in the UK, but as we say from the spa and later the treatments is that it provides a luxurious treatment with a paraben/sodium lauryl sulphate free ethos that lots of higher end brands share. For Mandara, the PR is really important to help to get that message across. Louisa and Kelly, the Spa Manager, talked us through the different product families and how they relate to different tropical locations across the world. Kelly explained how the treatments for each product family contain signature massage elements from those areas and we had a chance to test and try products and see the products in action as Roxanne carried out a treatment.
When beautiful, professional, intelligent, savvy, strong women of colour come together, remarkable things happen. Watch this space … for high profile brands, through collaborative and partnership working.