The New PR Agency Model: How Lauren Kleinman of Dreamday is Pioneering the Future of PR
Ask any DTC brand what they want more of (aside from sales) and they’ll usually say something along the lines of this: to expand brand awareness and build community. But, hitting those goals requires clarity and deep insight into what the customer really wants.
To learn more about what DTC brands can do to scale and drive brand awareness, we chatted with Lauren Kleinman, former founding team member and VP of marketing at Ritual and founder of Dreamday, a performance-driven PR consultancy, partnering with disruptive brands such as Parsley Health, Seed, Brightland, Girlfriend Collective, and Fly by Jing. Lauren is also the Co-founder of the performance publisher in high-demand, The Quality Edit.
From choosing brand partners to crafting strong PR pitches, Lauren shared her experiences, learnings, and tips with the Tydo team.
On Building a Brand: Listen to Your Customers First
For Lauren, every brand touchpoint impacts the customer experience. And ultimately, it’s those moments that do the heavy lifting during a brand’s key growth period.
Lauren shares, “Everything comes back to brand—the campaigns you launch, your social media presence, the way CX responds to your customers, how you present yourself as a founder, and your authentic storytelling. It's important to be thoughtful about every detail while keeping the big picture in mind.”
All these factors apply to how Lauren chooses her clients at Dreamday.
Before deciding to work with a client—first and foremost—Lauren dives into the founder’s story.
After many conversations and her own research, she’s able to see why the brand exists and whether the founder’s goals and vision align with the brand messaging.
That’s a big part of her decision-making process, in regards to whether or not to take on the brand as a Dreamday client—as authentic storytelling is such an important part of any publicist’s job.
“At Ritual, I learned that it's really important to listen to each and every customer, proactively seek out feedback, and apply those learnings to constantly make the product and experience better.”
Putting Your Brand First and Foremost. But, What Does That Really Mean?
Reputation is one of the driving forces behind how Lauren approaches branding at Dreamday.
From hiring practices to PR pitches, the vision and reputation she sees for her brand determine the steps she takes on a daily basis.
Most importantly, her team makes it a priority to always go above and beyond—creating the best possible experience for customers and clients.
Before working with clients, there are a number of boxes that need to be ticked so that both parties get the best results. By understanding everything she can about the client—from values to mission statement—Lauren clearly gets a sense of the brand’s priorities and how Dreamday can be the best partner possible.
This type of strategy pays off in the long run. In fact, Lauren says all of her clients come in as referrals from other founders and brands.
What are some of the questions Lauren likes to ask herself (and her team) to ensure they’re on the right track? She focuses on the following:
- How do we innovate on the PR model, pioneering the future of affiliate PR or “performance PR” to drive not only impactful storytelling but also strong affiliate performance?
- How do we anticipate client needs before they ask?
- What can we do to go above and beyond at every touchpoint?
- How can we make the editor’s life as easy as possible and draft the most compelling pitches?
- Do we care deeply about every client we’re servicing so that we can truly act as an extension of their team?
- How do we hire the best and most supportive team members to foster a cohesive culture even with remote talent?
Asking these types of questions helps Lauren and her team create a powerful and effective service experience, which they anticipate will lead to even more partnerships down the line.
With all of this in mind, the Dreamday team tries not to do too much. And, they tell their brands to do the same.
For Lauren, clarity is key. “Consumers have a very short attention span. The more you can clearly define your mission and values and stick to them at every touchpoint, the better off you’ll be,” she says.
“Sometimes less is more; do fewer things better.”
Performance PR Defined
About a year ago, Dreamday coined the term—performance PR.
The way Lauren describes it—most traditional affiliate marketing agencies are broken and affiliate marketing deserves its bad rap. That’s because most affiliate agencies focus on deal sites and loyalty partners that are rarely brand-aligned, and they have very little focus or relationships with publishers and top-tier content. Generally speaking, PR agencies are not performance-oriented and the UVPM metric for a small and growing business is outdated.
Dreamday sits at the intersection of affiliate marketing, focusing on top-tier publishers, content, commerce, and shopping that can drive ROI.
When the Dreamday team talks about affiliate marketing with clients, they bring up partners such as Meredith, PureWow, New York Times, and Condé Nast.
Lauren and her team forge direct relationships with these publishers on the brand’s behalf in a mutually beneficial way—through increasing commission rates, providing performance bonuses, and/or just keeping the brand top of mind.
On top of that, they focus their efforts on commerce PR—pitching evergreen product stories and roundups that drive meaningful brand awareness, affiliate traffic, and revenue.
As it relates to measuring success, clicks and revenue are great indicators, as well as the AOV from the content piece, click through rate, and conversion rate. Lauren also looks at the brand's commission on every sale to make sure the economics align with the brand’s KPIs.
“We mainly look at the number of PR inclusions and the quality of inclusions. On the affiliate side, we look at the corresponding revenue and traffic from that piece of content.”
Ready to Pitch Your DTC Brand? Do This First.
As the former VP of marketing at Ritual and the current Founder of a performance-driven PR consultancy, Lauren has valuable insight into best pitching practices for DTC brands.
Before crafting a PR pitch, one of the best places to start is the brand story. Why was the brand created? What’s the idea and vision behind each and every product?
“Make the pitch as relevant and intriguing to the editor as possible,” Lauren says.
There’s a stark contrast between an effective pitch and one that’s created just for the sake of pitching. Brands looking for a way to stand out in an editor’s inbox should add the following:
- The 5 Whys: Who, What, When, Where, and Why
- Founder quotes
- If samples are available
- High-resolution images (or a link to imagery)
- Affiliate information
And, the call to action (aka the end goal) is important too.
“Editors get hundreds of pitches a day,” Lauren shares, “It's important to add some color and personality. Don’t go overboard but add some nods here and there to show you're human and did your research ahead of time. Lastly, and maybe most obviously, don't make careless errors.”
Another way to stand out? Show the real side of being a founder.
“Just as important as all of the above is having the founder of the brand open up and share the intention behind the product and company. They need to be willing to put themselves out there,” notes Lauren.
Lauren shares an example of one client, Partake Foods, whose Founder Denise Woodard did just that: “She drained her 401k and sold her engagement ring to start Partake. It’s those types of stories that make you respect entrepreneurs so much more and make our work in supporting their journey that much more rewarding.”
“Authenticity and vulnerability make you kind of step back and say, ‘Wow, this is an amazing accomplishment, founder, and brand. We’ll do whatever we can to support them.’”
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