Who does Farrow & Ball’s PR? Is a question we get asked a lot. Because they are probably one of the most ubiquitous brands in the sector. Well, in the UK they do their PR in-house. And of course they do it very well. But it’s not rocket science.
Let’s start at the beginning, Farrow & Ball don’t sell paint; they sell a lifestyle.
And they do it very, very well.
From their imaginatively-monikered paint colours, Nancy’s Blushes, Borrowed Light and Elephant’s Breath are among my own favourites, to their aspirational How To Decorate bestseller, Farrow & Ball have cemented themselves as the go-to paint supplier of the middle class (and the wannabe middle classes). All this in spite of the claims some professional decorators charge extra – sometimes even double – if their clients want them to use the famed F&B paint.
So how did this small paint firm from Dorset find itself at the top of the decorators’ ladder.
With some very clever – yet achingly simple – PR.
As a former magazine journalist, I have spent a fair amount of time trawling through consumer websites in a bid to find press contacts.
Just to add some context, this was because I wanted to feature their products in print. There was no fee, no hidden agenda, I just wanted to showcase products I knew my readers would love.
And believe me, there is nothing worse for a journalist than finding an image, a beautiful image, that will work perfectly in your feature, that your editor loves, and that is completely out of reach.
Sometimes – but not nearly as often as you’d think – you’d be able to locate the firm’s PR team via the ‘Contact’ page of their website. Other times you’d have to complete the ‘contact us’ form where even as you type you know no one will ever in fact get back to you. And then there’s the brand that simply doesn’t bother with PR and never will, whose stunning, beautiful products rely on being discovered solely through word-of-mouth as journalists simply don’t have the means to shout about them in print or online.
Then there’s Farrow & Ball.
A drop-down menu on the brand’s home page takes you directly to their Press area which opens with: “Thinking of writing about us? We appreciate it and want to make it as easy as possible for you!”
And that they do.
From offering quotes from their famed colour experts and samples of paints for editorial and blog projects, to press releases that can be accessed without registering with the site first, Farrow & Ball know what journalists want and do their best to give it to them.
Then there are direct phone numbers and email addresses for F&B’s PR teams across the globe for those trickier of enquiries.
But the real winner, the real reason why month after month Farrow & Ball are featured numerous times in almost every glossy interiors magazine and website? Their stunning image library.
It’s a tactic now being copied by other paint brands, but in the early days, Farrow & Ball realised the value of a fantastic image and invested heavily in press photography.
Their extensive portfolio of press shots feature beautifully decorated properties, paint ‘splodges’ showing every colour in their 132-hue collection and even behind-the-scene images of decorators carefully applying this most-talked about of paints.
There are images of every room imaginable; commercial spaces, residential homes and rooms themed for specific occasions such as Christmas.
There are chess pieces painted in a plethora of Farrow & Ball’s colours, outdoor furniture, shop fronts, colour cards, paint brushes, plant pots and paint tins.
They are each styled to perfection with every image oozing accessible sophistication. They feature classics from the furniture world, such as Arne Jacobsen’s Egg Chair and Eames’ resplendent DAW.
Each one has been styled and photographed perfectly to achieve the aspirational look, that is just ‘so’ Farrow & Ball. Every image looks like it could have stepped straight out of the pages of Living ETC, Ideal Home or World of Interiors. And each one is available to download right there and then, completely free of charge.
Which is completely at odds with the rest of the brand when you really think about it. After all, a 5l tin of All White Estate Emulsion from Farrow & Ball will set you back £78, whereas the similar White Mist Matt Emulsion from Dulux will cost just £20 – almost a quarter of the price.
But it pays. The PR team at Farrow & Ball know the media. And they know editorial budgets are constantly being slashed and journalists are under more pressure than ever to find quality content their readers will love.
So by providing exactly the right type of image, making them easily available and at no cost at all, Farrow & Ball know their images are going to make it in print every time. And it’s what has helped them become the brand they are today.