Trends, not brands, drive home decorating

Neither declining residential real-estate prices nor the rising cost of building materials seems to be cooling the white-hot home improvement boom in the US. As a result, home decorating coverage is surging, especially at the regional and local levels.

Neither declining residential real-estate prices nor the rising cost of building materials seems to be cooling the white-hot home improvement boom in the US. As a result, home decorating coverage is surging, especially at the regional and local levels.

"The media remain very interested in home makeovers and how to get more with what you have," explains Kelly O'Brien, AE with Sarasota, FL-based Clarke Advertising & Public Relations, which represents ClosetMaid and its line of closet organizers.

"A lot of focus remains on the traditional shelter titles and women's outlets," she adds, "but we've also expanded our reach into places like bridal magazines, with stories on things like his-and-her closets."

Home decorating coverage in recent years has tended to be trend- rather than product-driven. For a while it was media rooms, then luxury kitchens. Now, Katherine Swift, senior account director with Franklin, MA-based Clarity Communications Group, says, "We're seeing a lot of media coverage tied to green furniture and homes because a lot of people are putting in Energy Star appliances and turning to things like furniture made from reclaimed wood."

Michael Morris, VP at Kellen Communications, has also seen the green decorating trend, but stresses you don't necessarily need an environmental professional in your pitch to sell the story.

"There are places like the Green Building Council where you can obtain statistics on how important this has become, along with all the products available," he says.

One of the drivers - as well as a major beneficiary - of the home decorating boom is all the TV programming aimed at the do-it-yourself consumer. O'Brien says many of the well-established shows on networks like HGTV are sponsor-driven and remain difficult for a traditional PR pitch.

But because it's such a growing category, she adds: "There are always new shows out there that can't yet command product placement, so those are ones you want to pitch with product samples. When the show takes off, you're already in with the producers."

Michael Berens, research and knowledge resource director at the American Society of Interior Designers, suggests some home decorating coverage may be doing a bit of a disservice.

"Some of our designers have been on home decorating shows, and they'll tell you this is not real design - it's entertainment," he says. "They make it look like you can do a living room in three hours by yourself, but in reality, [it takes] weeks of preparation."

PITCHING... Home Decorating

General-interest outlets tend to focus on home decorating in early fall, before the holidays, and March, when spring cleaning spurs home improvement.

The real growth in home decorating right now is in regional titles, radio, and TV, so develop a market-by-market strategy, and tailor your pitches to match the dominant home trends in those areas

Most editors won't require samples of high-end or large furniture, but you need great art for a home decorating story pitch, so make sure your client invests in great photography

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