Clean Beauty Brands: Eliminate Bells & Whistles of Traditional PR

by Ashley Willis

Within the $445 Billion beauty industry, brands who are taking a closer look at the ingredients that make up their products have gained much deserved buzz for their approach in developing “better for you” skincare and makeup. For clean skincare and beauty brands, connecting with like-minded consumers requires authentic dialogue that’s stripped of the traditional bells and whistles used by the mainstream lines. Industry insiders understand the conversation around skincare and beauty is changing, and those paying attention are already making adjustments on how they approach PR and Social programs. Consider how Neutrogena has kicked off the year with a fresh-face campaign featuring actress Kerry Washington, free from any photoshopping or touch-ups. They’re following the footsteps of major cosmetic retailer CVS, who has committed to rid their beauty aisles of any touched up imagery, and now has their “no manipulation” standard being followed by the brands they sell.

As with advertising, the way we are approaching beauty PR is changing too, especially as the media landscape changes. The days of simply running product samples to traditional media outlets have evolved to include more opportunities to provide beauty and skincare advice to all types of media – including print as well as online, email, and of course, social influencers.

For clean beauty brands, authenticity is a no-brainer, but implementing a PR and Social strategy to mimic these brand values, while also thinking outside the standard beauty PR “checklist,” is key for successful campaigns.

With Social Influencers, Look Beyond Beauty

It’s impossible to talk through a successful marketing strategy for beauty brands without including influencers. Beauty influencers have catapulted brands into the spotlight with makeup tutorials, unboxings, and product reveals. But for the clean brands, products are more closely related to self-care and wellness. This opens the door to work with influencers in various other categories, such as fitness, nutrition, and general healthy lifestyle. Influencers in these categories provide the opportunity for a brand to stand out compared to traditional beauty influencers who review and spotlight hundreds of products a week. The more you identify those whose content and personal values match that of the brand, the more the products organically become a part of their daily rituals – which is what their following is closely looking at through the lens of their posts and stories.

Take popular wellness influencer @ShutTheKaleUp, who’s content mostly focuses on food and fitness. But as her following grew, so did the type of content her audience was looking for. She regularly shares insights into her clean beauty routine, and how it encompasses her philosophies on clean eating and physical activity for overall wellness. Identifying influencers like this, whose personal values mimic that of the brand, offers further opportunities for relationships to grow – from product seeding, to partnerships, to more promotional content in front of the right audience.

Beauty Pages May Shrink, but Opportunities for Coverage are Great

As the media landscape continues to evolve, and print magazines shrink, beauty product recommendations don’t come from just one source anymore. We’re seeing product and entire brand spotlights in various types of media ranging from parenting, to fitness, and even business/startup media. Gone are the days of the product-only pitch to the standard beauty editor list. Brands have much more to offer media and there is a lot more media beyond the go-to beauty books that want to hear from them. This couldn’t ring true more for clean/natural beauty and wellness brands.

Consider Dermstore, an e-commerce destination for the best in wellness and dermatologist-backed skincare products. Dermstore has a wealth of product knowledge in the wellness space, and can provide value for consumer media that goes further than just providing a product. By pulling from the brand’s expertise in overall skincare knowledge, Resound has built a PR program that goes beyond the product mentions to provide media with valuable input. This includes personalized pitches for insights into trending skincare ingredients for New York Magazine’s Strategist column, curated kits to achieve wellness goals for Shape.com’s health-minded audience, and identifying skincare concerns for US Weekly’s readers looking to follow the routines of their favorite celebrities.

Genuine Content Wins for All Beauty Brands – but Especially those in Clean, Natural

Authentic content is a known win-win for building brand credibility and likeability. For those in the wellness and natural beauty space, it’s the guiding light for developing a social and PR strategy that will resonate with their audience.

Priscilla Tsai, founder of do-good skincare company Cocokind, has built her brand’s clean reputation on regularly sharing her personal skincare issues on the brand’s Instagram account. By sharing her own journey, followers get a look at real skincare issues and how the product line is helping to fix it, with real-time updates on progress. The Instagram page now features #TestimonialTuesday, where customers submit their own before and after photos or written testimonials for the regularly scheduled story series, furthering the conversation on real skincare issues and solutions. Cocokind reported at the end of 2018 they had doubled their followers from 45K to 95K, attributing the growth to the open, real dialogue on skincare they have with their community.

The media has also shown support for those who provide more genuine conversations around beauty, as we saw with Forbes spotlighting Cocokind’s unique approach. Even celeb-backed brands in the healthy products space like Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop are stripping back the glitz and glam to reveal their tried and true beauty rituals.