PR Interview with Tessa Hartmann, Managing Director of Hartmann Media

Hartmann Media is proud to be a Scottish-based fashion PR agency, tailoring campaigns to hit the Scottish press. The agency has also represented international brands such as Swarovski, Ralph Lauren and Louis Vuitton and is the creator of the annual Scottish Fashion Awards. Recently appointed as fashion editor-at-large for The Herald & Times Group, MD Tessa Hartmann tells all, including why she’d invite Anna Wintour to her dream dinner party…

About the agency

What industry sectors does Hartmann Media specialise in?
Fashion, health, beauty, lifestyle & entertainment

What is special about the agency’s approach to PR?
We were Scotland’s first truly specialised fashion PR agency to set up here 15 years ago, having returned from working for several years in London. It always amazed me how many Scottish PRs claimed to be jack-of-all-trades, offering a variety of areas of expertise. In my view it’s challenging for an account executive to specialise in legal PR and fashion PR, it wouldn’t happen in London but it did and still does in Scotland – but not from us! We are a boutique agency with a small but dedicated team of fashion, lifestyle, and entertainment executives. We live and breathe this sector, it fuels our being. Being selective with the brands we represent across the luxury brand and high street fashion sector allows us to build a credible track record with impressive results for our clients.

How do you ensure your clients get the right coverage in the press?
We know the Scottish media landscape like the back of our hands. We have a passionate pursuit of knowledge, networking and out-of-the-box thinking, allowing us to deliver the expected and unexpected results for our clients. Given the fashion and lifestyle sector we offer a great creative service, directing and producing high-fashion shoots for our clients that get serious coverage in not only the Scottish printed press but national glossies too. With our in-house new media and production service we produce brand and creative campaigns. Our sister company Glasgow Animation Ltd is also a specialist 3D CGI business working in film and broadcast production, so we brainstorm fantastic multiplatform strategies.

What do you look for in new recruits?
Hunger and serious market knowledge of our specialised sectors are crucial. It always amazes me when so many executives come for interviews and you discover that they don’t actually read many papers themselves. Local economy, retail and market statistics are crucial to have a thorough understanding of this business. It’s not just about fashion business; it’s about the business of fashion! I also love recruits who follow international fashion and have a few clever secrets about foreign markets that can be applied here! All of this, combined with good humour and experience work for me. I would say that given our sector, if you come dressed as a banker you simply wouldn’t get the job!

About clients

Can you list some of your most well-known, or respected clients?
Our biggest client is, I guess, our own brand that we created and own and which is now known around the world – Scottish Fashion Awards. Over the last 15 years we have worked with Swarovski, Ralph Lauren, Duchamp, Louis Vuitton, Bvlgari, LK Bennett, Furla, Bentley Motors UK, MTV Europe, MAC, Toni & Guy, Bobbi Brown and The Prince’s Trust.

Tell us about one of your clients you are working with at the moment. What campaign do you have planned?
We are working on a Scottish wide campaign for leading menswear brand Duchamp.

Hartmann Media creates and produces the annual Scottish Fashion Awards. What is it all about, and what do you have planned for next year?
I founded the event in 2006 to provide a platform to honour and celebrate the incredible fashion talents that hail from Scotland, who work around the world. Hilary Alexander stated the awards are ‘Scotland’s Fashion Oscars’, which was a huge compliment, and we are also listed on the Swarovski global red carpet list which includes The Oscars, The Golden Globes and Cannes Film Festival, so it’s a huge feat for an event in Scotland. There are 13 awards, from designer of the year, to accessories, textiles, cashmere, styling, journalism, photography and business. We work very hard at recruiting a highly influential panel made of industry players such as fashion CEOs, fashion directors and successful designers. It’s a huge event now and attracts a pretty impressive guest list. Over the last six years we have welcomed everyone from Samantha Cameron, Dame Shirley Bassey, Daphne Guinness, David Gandy to Scottish talent like Kane Saunders, Holly Fulton, Louise Gray, Sam McKnight, Rankin and Pam Hogg. We work really hard to give this platform to the next generation of talent and believe we have played a huge part in bringing their names to the market place. We first honoured Kane when he was a graduate, Louise Gray as a graduate and Fulton too. Then there are super exciting new names like Obscure Couture, William Chambers & Emily Lamb. Next year we are moving to a new huge venue, and selling public tickets for a great show and really vamping it up. Think fashion rocks, Scottish style, with a red carpet to knock you out!

Do you target social and online media often in your campaigns? Do you find it a useful tool, or is traditional PR more effective?
For sure; any PR campaign cannot afford to ignore the power of social media. We used to spend serious budget on client invitations to events, but now it’s all electronic. Our web team will work at creating exciting interactive e-vites – printed invites are becoming a thing of the past. Facebook and other social networking sites are crucial, particularly for fashion. We release news on Facebook and other sites even before it goes mainstream. The power of the fashion blogger is great, so this combined with significant print media makes for a good campaign. In our sector, it’s all about 21st century media; get with the programme or change your bus!

Is there a potential client you’d love to work for?
So many; Tom Ford, Karl Lagerfield and with regards to film and television, Judy McGrath from her MTV days and Disney’s Anne Sweeney. To see them operate would be great. Plus, I would go back to being a runner just to spend a week with Anna Wintour – that would be great!

About journalists

What can you offer to journalists seeking a story on one of your clients?
The works, back stage at a fashion week, in a recording studio with Dame Shirley Bassey, shooting a fashion video with actress Louise Linton based in LA, product reviews, samples, loans and great parties!

How do you build and maintain strong relationships with journalists? Be honest otherwise it will come back to haunt you. Make their job easier by being well prepared. Place yourself in their shoes; deliver strong images to support your story and think of a strong hook. So many releases are just generic info without something to hang it on!

In your experience, do you think the relationship between journalists and PRs is always harmonious, or is it more of a love-hate affair?
In my experience it’s always been harmonious. Scotland is a small market and we’ve worked with the same group of journalists for years. Give them respect and don’t take it personally if they don’t like your pitch. Plus, don’t forget to thank them – so many people take coverage for granted today and forget the simple details like ‘thanks’. We at PR Hartmann Media like the clients we represent so we often entertain local journalists to find out what works for them, what they don’t like and how to smash it together!

How do you think the PR/journalist dynamic will change in the future?
The key is even more communication. Journalist’s jobs in many parts are under threat due to market conditions, so brainstorm ideas for stories that will not only work for their title but also bring something more. But remember the world is small, so chances are if they move media title you will meet them again in another role, so relationship-building and respect are for me key to evolution. Everyone is watching the 21st century trends; just make sure you are informed and dynamic with your thinking with and without the journalist.

About you

How did you get into PR?
I studied Business Law and Marketing at university and interned at Kennedy Foundation Special Olympic Games one summer. The following summer they offered me an intern job in Washington DC, then when I graduated I got a job in their London agency. I am forever grateful to them for setting me on my way!

If you could invite three VIPs to a dinner party, who would they be, and why?
David Cameron, because I admire his tenacity in these difficult times and for trying to address a ‘bad house’ left by his predecessor, Anna Wintour for her stories that if ever published would be a bestseller, and Beyonce for her uber fashion edge and for an after dinner song!

Do you attend networking events? If so, which are you attending soon?
Haven’t done in while as we are so busy at work. Plus I am married with four children so days are hectic to say the least. But being involved in so many events, I consider my daily work to be networking.

What is the best piece of business advice you’ve ever been given?
‘Learn to listen and listen to learn’ – from my father and mentor. I still practise it today.

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[img|jpg|Tessa Hartmann, MD]

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