Press is the indisputable force in driving Fashion purchase decisions as well as the power to skyrocket a designer to fame. The opportunities that press coverage can kindle are boundless. Press coverage can not only sway buyer decisions and drive brand awareness, press coverage can attract potential investors. There’s nothing scary or snobbish about approaching and being covered by the press. But in order to get that press coverage, you need to have a well thought out strategy and not to mention, be ready to put in some hard work. Here are 4 Steps to help you secure good solid PR-
Step 1: Do Your Homework
Just like you would research fabrics for your next collection, the masses for your target audience, or stores to distribute to, you also need to research on various publications and tailor your approach accordingly. You not only have the option of big editorial magazines, but now you can even target famous fashion blogs. What is important is you understand the audience of that publication. For instance, Vogue, ELLE, Bazaar etc have much of an elite audience, whereas the daily newspapers have a mix of all kinds of consumers. Your next-door-neighbour could be a famous fashion blogger with her own niche and loyal audience. Here’s what you need to learn in your research:
- Determine whether your collection is truly relevant to each magazine.
- Learn the section titles, the types of stories they include and who writes them.
- For each target publication, determine in which specific section or column your story would best fit.
- Check to see if they cater to your niche. Some magazines cover celebrity style while some totally avoid bridal and maternity wear. Do not contact them if you don’t design for these categories.
- Understand the voice in which they speak. Some have a formal tone, some write in gritty undertones, some informal and peppy etc.If you customize your press release/story to that voice, it will help the publication save on their time and effort, and hence increases your chances of being featured.
- You can also go off-route and target other related magazines in the travel, food and lifestyle category. Use this approach when you can’t get through the editorial calendars of the big magazines.
Step 2: Approaching the right people
The writers and Editors are all listed in the front of each publication on the mast head. First send the press kit to the fashion news of fashion features editor, not directly to the Fashion Editor or Director. Send a handwritten, personal note to attract the editor’s attention.Exploit any personal connections to the editors, drop names or get someone in the industry to call and introduce you. The news or features editors will review your work to see if it fits any of their upcoming stories.
If you don’t succeed with the features editor, you can contact the market editor as well. If two people at one magazine say no, it’s not going to happen that season, and you shouldn’t contact anyone else. If an editor says no, don’t go to the person’s boss; you risk annoying that entire team.
After you send a lookbook to an editor, call up once to follow up. You can ask if they received that package and that you would be happy to set up an appointment to show your samples in person. Whatever the response, don’t be pushy or argumentative. If your product doesn’t fit what the Director needs at this moment, it may be perfect next season.
TIP: Court the young editors who are looking for fresh stories. You can offer to go to their office to meet with the junior editor and in all probability what they like, even senior editors will like.
Step 3: When To Approach
There are long-lead and short-lead publications. Newspapers, which come out daily or weekly, have short leads and writers have to work very close to their print deadline. You can approach short-lead writers anytime to pitch a story. If it relates to a specific event, such as a fashion week, or a regular feature for which they plan in advance, you want to contact them a month in advance. On the other hand, if your story becomes suddenly relevant to their coverage of current events, you can contact them immediately and potentially be included a story in that week.
Monthly magazines are long-lead publications. Their stories are assigned several months in advance. Plan ahead and contact them 4 months in advance.
You may also want to contact them with exclusives, ie, the designer must give a publication the interview or story to them first before sharing it with others. You ought to be strategic with your exclusives as there are chances you can’t wait too long for a publication to accept it. When you are waiting for an exclusive with a well known magazine and mean-while another magazine calls, you can do two things:
i) Inform the editor of the first (popular) magazine as soon as possible that you have been approached by someone else but that you still prefer to give them the exclusive if they can commit to running it.
ii)Find out quickly and discretely if and when the first magazine plans to run your story. You will learn if they are interested or not, and if they are not, get back to the one who approached you and give them the exclusive. Do not turn down good press in the hopes of something that might not happen.
Step 4: Be ready for the Results
You may be tempted to ignore this step, but more often than not, good PR coverage does increase demand for your products. If you are ill prepared to produce/distribute the required quantities when the calls start coming, you risk the chance of disappointing your new customers.
Make sure you know the exact date when the magazine issue will hit the stands. Then make arrangements with the website that is listed as the source for your products to be prepared if it runs out of stock. If you are selling your own goods online, best to be prepared on the actions to be taken (reinforcement of stock and updating database) once it’s all sold out. However, it’s best to underestimate the amount of production you need. It is possible to be featured in a major magazine and have absolutely no response. It is better to be sold out and in demand than have tons of excess.
BONUS: Other ways of securing PR
While the above steps outline how to contact the press directly to get featured, there are other subtle ways that can still land you press coverage. Here’s a pointer list of other ways you can achieve PR:
- Dressing Celebrities
- Networking through socializing online or at offline events and parties.
- Blogging for your own label.
- Give-Aways and donations for publicity opportunities.
- Entering highly established competitions or industry awards.
So there you have it! PR is not such a secret anymore. Have the right personality, be courageous and believe in your products. PR will then be a breeze.
PS: Let me know if you want an elucidated account of how you can use the other techniques mentioned above (in the Bonus part) to garner PR and I shall do a post on that.
Hope this helped. Cheers!
Excerpts from & Reference: The Fashion Designer Survival Guide by Mary Gehlhar
PR Image credit: Niuton May