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Cindy Krupp has more than 20 years of experience in brand strategy and public relations. The founder and president of Krupp Group sat down with Jessica Abo to share her journey and how brands can stay relevant in an ever-changing world.
Jessica Abo: Tell us a little bit about your career path.
Cindy Krupp: I was the head of communications at Barney’s and left the company in 2000 to work with emerging brands that were looking to define their brand voice and establish themselves in the marketplace.
What has your agency done to stay relevant?
We have to make sure our clients are everywhere. We tackle each communication strategy from a 360-degree approach — a strong media play both in print and digital, identifying and working with key influencers to support their brand and help to tell their brand story. For celebrities, we work to secure both red carpet placements as well as what we call the “Starbucks shot,” where they’re out and about in a more casual day look. We find the opportunity and we get our brands placed. In order to create that brand stickiness, brands need to be seen numerous times in numerous places.
How have digital influencers changed your business?
Digital influencers have absolutely become a critical part of any communication strategy, and we often layer in media placements. The placements fuel each other. We work with influencers on storytelling, brand awareness plays, collaborations and brand partnerships. It’s an amazing opportunity for brands to really build an authentic connection with their community.
What advice do you have for entrepreneurs right now who are struggling with staying relevant?
Diversify your capabilities. Listen to your customers and your clients. What are their needs? Don’t stick your head in the sand. Things are changing. Don’t blow smoke in the direction of your customers or your clients. Even more so now than ever before, whether you’re a consumer-facing brand or you’re behind the scenes, people are seeking authenticity and transparency. They want to understand who’s working behind the brand. What does the brand stand for? Also, don’t be afraid to admit when you screw up and to take ownership of it. Humility can be a strong brand attribute.
How should brands use their social channels?
I encourage every brand to communicate directly through their social channels and lean into them — have fun with them and have a consistent brand voice. Use those platforms to articulate what the brand is about. I think it’s an amazing way to engage customers, and it didn’t exist before. You don’t have to have a big budget to do it and do it well!
Where should people be spending their budget these days?
People will say, “We have a limited budget. Should we spend it on an influencer, or should we spend it on a celebrity, or should we spend it on PR?”
Nothing works on its own anymore. You need to be firing on all cylinders in order to achieve a sustainable level of brand awareness. Brands need to focus on creating great content for their social channels and all of their direct communication with their customers. They still need solid consistent press coverage as well as a strong influencer campaign and celebrity placements.
The consumer has so much information coming at them at any given moment, and the way in which they shop and the way they discover brands is different than ever before. As a brand, you need to be in every room, even when you’re not in the room.
At what point do you think someone should hire a publicist?
It’s never too early to have the conversation with a publicist. We speak with a lot of brands before they are actually ready to bring us on board. They reach out to us to have the conversation, to plant the seeds, which I think every brand should do, or every entrepreneur. I think it’s really important. It takes time to get your ducks in a row. The assets that we need to be set up for success can be expensive and can take a while to perfect.
What are some of the assets that people would need before working with a publicist?
You need to have a founder’s story. You need a core mission and an elevator pitch. Everyone needs to be able to quickly identify what their company and their brand is about. Are there founders at the helm? Who are the spokespeople for the brand or for the company?
We often receive totally anemic bios, and we completely rewrite them. If you are a consumer-facing brand, you want great images of your product. The media today often uses high-res images that we provide so that they don’t have to shoot the product. Investing in high quality high-res images is a good investment. Those are some of the core assets that in any industry you really need to be successful with your PR.
What else should entrepreneurs know about working with a PR team?
Surround yourself with experts and empower them to do their jobs. Allow your PR team to help you define what is relevant in your messaging and your story. Don’t worry about editing it yourself. Have transparency and authenticity in that partnership, because that is the key to our success.