Specialist Essays: Lynne Thomas, Flipside PR - Small is definitely beautiful

Boutique agencies can offer the personal touch that larger companies may not be able to.

When I started Flipside PR in 2003, the beauty market was significantly less saturated than it is now. Skincare and cosmetics have changed dramatically. Years ago, beauty products would simply hide and cover, but the benefits would be washed down the drain at the end of the day. However, with the advent of 'beautyceuticals' - formulations with bioactive ingredients said to have pharmaceutical benefits - products are now designed to affect the skin on a cellular level.

Beauty has become more technical and scientific, so companies can benefit from an agency such as Flipside, which specialises in 'cosmeceuticals' or results-driven skincare.

Cosmeceuticals have been available from professional skincare salons and spas for the past 15 years, and because we have worked with professional skincare brands for years, we are aware of the complexities of ingredients and the functionality of products.

We believe it's important to educate journalists about the efficacy of our products, as most of the brands we represent have clinically proven results. It is important that we can communicate our clients' messages to the consumer in a concise and accessible way.

Flipside has been behind major launches such as bareMinerals introducing itself to the UK market via QVC and professional salons and spas. It was Flipside that laid the foundations for bareMinerals to become a mainstream beauty brand, which is what most companies aspire to be.

We have also been at the forefront of introducing significant beauty breakthroughs including AHAs, Peptides, Idebenone, CoffeeBerry and Sirtuins.

Working with the top formulators and skincare experts of brands such as Priori and Functionalab also means that we fully understand which products work and which don't, how the skin is corrected or enhanced by certain products, and which beauty claims are simply fantasy. Each member of our team knows the ingredients, benefits and effects of a brand's product offerings, which ensures that journalists get detailed answers to the questions they ask.

As we are a specialist agency, we pride ourselves on our journalistic connections and knowledge of how leading beauty writers work. Many consumers are more educated about what their skin needs and they expect multi-tasking beauty products to address a variety of skincare concerns.

Major brands are now competing to produce efficacious products with proven results. Journalists have to be able to cut through the marketing spiel and get to the heart of what a product does. At Flipside, we make this easy for them by ensuring that they have current information on trends.

Through our affiliations to organisations such as the British Association of Cosmetic Doctors, we have access to a large bank of skin specialists who can provide quotes for articles.

As a small boutique agency, we offer a more personalised service, guaranteeing continued contact with our clients, so that they are not 'lost in a portfolio', as may be the case at larger PR companies.

Working with small start-up companies means that we are aware of the constrictions of budget, and Flipside has a unique way of ensuring that small brands punch above their weight to build brand reputation and make sure they are heard.

We also run campaigns for our clients via Facebook and Twitter. As this service isn't outsourced, we can better relay the messages required, and understand the need for consumer-friendly communication.


- What is the most impressive piece of launch PR of the past year?

Clinique does an efficient job with its PR. Its success lies in the fact that it takes a highly scientific proposition and makes it accessible. The marketing and PR for the Repairwear Laser Focus make-up has been visual and dynamic.

- How do you find spokespeople to whom your market responds positively?

It is vital to find honest spokespeople who know the industry and understand how the media work, with quick and concise responses to deadlines. Many experts represent a brand, but they must be genuinely interested in informing consumers of the right skincare choices and able to provide impartial advice.

Lynne Thomas is a director at Flipside PR.

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