PR & Marketing with Zoe Hiljemark

May 1, 2020

It was wonderful to catch up with Zoe Hiljemark one of our esteemed RISE Ambassadors, who helps photographers to attract more of their dream clients through impactful publicity and compelling marketing content. There is often confusion with PR and Marketing so I thought I would delve a little deeper.

Zoe could we start by you sharing with us……

RISE: How long have been a PR and Marketing Consultant for and what pulled you into this line of work?

I’ve worked in PR and marketing for almost 17 years now and still love what I do. I’d studied Communications & PR at University, so it was pretty inevitable that I would end up doing something related to the media.

Fate led me to a boutique PR agency at the start of my career. That’s where I learnt the ropes from the ground up. I got to understand how businesses can get featured in the media and gain valuable visibility. It was exciting work and within six months I was managing client accounts.

I’ve since worked in-house at a luxury interiors brand, where I was managing national and international PR, and then in 2009, I became PR Director at a marketing agency leading a small team. With ten years of experience by the time I had my eldest son, I set up my own business so that I could work flexibly.

I think the diversity of the role is what keeps it exciting. No day is the same and it’s both challenging and rewarding.

RISE: You have specialised in working solely with photographers, what made you make that decision?

I hired Karen Wiltshire to photograph my son when he was born, back in 2012. I loved her work and so I jumped at the chance to work with her when I set up my own business a few months later. She kindly introduced me to other photographers who needed help with blogging and publicity, and I’ve got a lot to thank her for.

Before too long, most of my clients were professional photographers. Deciding to niche down, around five years ago, was a great decision as I love working with creatives and opening their eyes to the power of publicity.

RISE: Can you explain the difference between PR & Marketing?


Marketing is any activity that is focused on promotion and building brand awareness. PR comes under the umbrella of marketing. It’s a long-term promotional strategy which is focused on developing a positive reputation, influence and credibility.

Whereas marketing typically involves communicating directly with the intended customer/buyer, PR is focused on building relationships with others – such as journalists and influencers – and indirectly reaching the intended audience.

RISE: What do you find photographers/creatives struggle with the most?

As a general rule, I find that photographers don’t enjoy promoting themselves. Many lack the confidence to shout about what they do or don’t know how to spread the word about their work. Or, they just don’t have the time to promote themselves, and would rather be behind a camera than pitching journalists or writing blogs.

By outsourcing PR and marketing to me, my photography clients get comfort from knowing that promotional activities are getting done and they can focus on the tasks in their business that they enjoy more.

RISE: What do you feel is the one most important thing a photographer could do for their business from a PR and Marketing point of view?

So many photographers hold themselves back by worrying too much about putting themselves out there.

I think the best possible thing a photographer can do is get out of their own way! So many photographers hold themselves back by worrying too much about putting themselves out there.

RISE: It’s hard to constantly come up with new content to publish, is there any advice you can give with this?

Coming up with content ideas I think is the easy part once you have a really clear picture in your mind of who your ideal client is. Once you know that person in great detail, and consider what information, help and resources they would find useful at each of the stages in the buying process, then the content ideas can flow quite easily.

But I agree that having to constantly create and publish fresh content on social media, for example, can be a challenge. Repurposing your existing content, like tips shared in blogs and videos you’ve already created, is a great way around this.

RISE: How important is language and spelling within your content?

Really important! We don’t all need to speak or write the Queen’s English. It’s important to be authentically you as a small business owner when you are your brand. But, there’s no excuse for bad grammar or incorrect spelling when there are free online tools like Grammarly that can help correct mistakes.

Everyone should proof-read before hitting publish. Checking your written work is important as readers will form an impression of you based on how you communicate. Errors just look sloppy!

RISE: How far in advance do you think we should be planning content?

It’s worth having an outline for 6-12 months ahead so you have an idea of what you’ll be launching and promoting in the future. But in terms of content creation, like blogging and social media posts, I would say ideally plan only about 1-2 months ahead.

It can feel great to pre-prepare content, but you do need to keep a degree of flexibility in your planning.

As we’ve seen with the recent outbreak of the Coronavirus, things can change so quickly. If you had pre-prepared social media posts and blog content for this March and April well in advance, chances are that you would have needed to edit those quite significantly to ensure your posts were socially appropriate and relevant.

RISE:. What are your thoughts on scheduling your marketing, are there any top tips or apps you could recommend?

When it comes to social media posts, scheduling can help if you’re busy, but I think it’s better to post and be on the platform at the same you post so that you’re able to interact with your audience andrespond to any comments or questions. Having said that, I occasionally use the in-built Facebook scheduling tool and have used Planoly and Buffer before. I’ve also heard great things about Later.

RISE: You have a Facebook group ‘PR Savvy Photographers’ can you tell us more about this and what photographers can expect when they join?

I started my Facebook group so I could help more photographers. I can only work 1-2-1 with a very limited number of clients, as there’s only one of me, but through the group, I can reach more people and share PR and content marketing tips and resources. I host a weekly video call that all members are welcome to attend, and I encourage members to ask questions and seek help from the group if they need it.

RISE: What is next for you in your business?

I’m excited to be part of RISE as an Ambassador and collaborations, like this, I see as being a key focus for the future. I’ll continue to provide 1-2-1 help for photographers. I’m also launching a series of courses this year and am working on a podcast. Watch this space!

As a RISE member you can now head over to your ‘Members Area’ where Zoe will share lots of help and advice and how to get going with your own PR and Marketing.

For more help and advice on PR & Marketing, check out Zoe’s Website

Zoe would also like to invite you to join her join on….

PR Savvy Photographers



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