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Mantra for today:

   “It's all about lifestyle, baby!”

The PR “Lifestyle” Distinction

By Gaye Carleton

When I founded my agency in 1987, we specialized in public relations strictly for the music, arts and entertainment industries. Our clients included major record companies like Atlantic and Epic Records, well-known recording artists Phil Collins and Richie Havens, established fine artists such as Andrew Wyeth and a variety of lesser known arts organizations, galleries, actors, models and the like.

But due in large part to the success of MTV in the late ‘80s, the entertainment industry was quickly changing to capitalize on this visibility opportunity. Certainly fashion was taking on a more significant role in the music industry, as were other celebrity image enhancers such as home furnishings, cars, exotic travel and anything and everything else that added to the mystique (and value) of a recording star, celebrity or personality of any ilk.

Almost immediately, the media, which until then prided itself on being industry-specific, saw the opportunity to expand its own demographics (and sales) by increasing coverage outside of its usual turf.

I can actually remember the moment I became conscious of the trend that heralded this shift, and I realized that if I could guide my firm into what would soon become the “generalist” media arena, I could create a strong competitive edge.

So in addition to our entertainment clients, we began representing fashion designers and companies, beauty products and services, home furnishings, travel destinations, even financial experts and anything or anyone else that supported and enhanced the quality of our lives.

We started making the crossover by securing media coverage for our fashion designers in entertainment publications, making placements for our celebrity clientele in shelter and home magazines, providing personal finance content to fashion magazines and so on. We continued to expand the types of clients and industries on our roster and, much to our delight, were having great success at it.

Our clients, whether they were involved in fashion, finance, technology, travel, beauty or business, appeared in a variety of mainstream media outside their usual industry territory and they - like us - were also reaping the benefits. The shift we all were riding so favorably has since been identified in one word: Lifestyle.

Sure, there are PR agencies out there that tagged themselves as Lifestyle specialists. In fact, Lifestyle has traditionally been a specialty area in public relations exclusively working within the beauty, fashion and home furnishings industries.

But mine is the holistic notion of lifestyle that encompasses all that we are and do.

A special mention regarding trade publications is also worth noting here. Make no mistake about it. They are and always will be “industry specific,” and remain incredibly valuable as part of a client’s media mix.

Today it’s commonplace to open the pages of Vogue and see a story about finance; turn on the telly to Oprah for the latest medical information on heart health; flip through Rolling Stone and read about a new technology company; pick up Newsweek and learn about the latest and hottest exotic travel destination; page through the Wall Street Journal and be captured by an article on up-and-coming filmmakers. In fact we, as consumers, hardly give it a second thought.

Still, much to my surprise and sheer joy, Mantra is one of only a handful of agencies throughout the U.S. to actually “specialize” in being skilled generalists who intentionally and wholeheartedly embrace this “lifestyle” phenomena.

So when a new client calls, it might be a record company or well-known athlete, a high-tech firm with a healthy PR budget or a grassroots arts center with considerably less to spend, an engineering enterprise or entrepreneur, a CEO from Los Angeles or a charitable organization based in Miami. That’s okay. Because we at Mantra know the “lifestyle” secret to making media magic for them all.

Originally published in the PR Network newsletter (December, 2005) in a slightly modified form.

© Gaye Carleton 2005


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