“There is only one thing in life worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.” – Oscar Wilde
It’s been thousands of dedicated hours getting your latest collection ready and now you’re faced with the conundrum of letting the masses know. Unlike the young North West adorably chasing away the paparazzi with a soft ‘no pictures’, you’re absolutely ready for all the media and press attention you can get. Print, online, television, the society pages in newspapers or all the above; improving your brand’s visibility is top of your agenda.
Executed efficaciously and you could be looking at increased sales, influence and awareness, as well as, the stamp of authority on your brand. However, the budget to hire a fashion PR agency may not be in the cards. Good news is that you can do your PR, that is if you’re always ready with the following tips.
Get your ducks in a row
Media rooms are quite hectic, so you’ll only have a few minutes to convince them that they should consider you. Get your foot through the door by having well-written and visually appealing PR essentials on standby. Media Kits are your first introduction to the press and thus should present your brand identity authentically. Things to include are:
- Striking cover page – you want to encourage them to read the whole thing
- Note from the founder
- Mini look book with high-resolution images
- Well-written brand story and your logo
- a press release link that guides them to other media mentions of your brand
- All your contact information – Always be accessible and have a quick response time.
- Quotes from the founder they could easily incorporate into an article.
Avoid doing this as a PDF. Rather, provide a link in the body of the email they can click and read immediately. Secondly, you need a polished and active online presence. They will unquestionably do a quick search to see what the internet is saying about you. Thus, your website and social media pages must accurately represent you through aesthetic and content. It also helps to have a large organic online following.
Reach the right people
Upside is editors and journalists are always ready to cover new stories and businesses for their readers. Downside is that you need to find the right person who will push your proposal for approval. Media houses tend to have several departments and timelines to contend with. Send your pitch to the wrong person and they won’t pass it forward to the right department. Once you’ve decided on the reason you need media exposure, think about the person who will make it happen. Want a spread in the latest ‘IT’ magazine, reach out to their fashion editor or their assistant. Have an event coming up, a society or lifestyle editor is who you need. If you’re not sure what the protocol is, or their contact numbers for that matter, your best bet is reaching out to an intern.
Quit the small talk & get to the point!
Whether you’re looking to have an article written, sending an invitation or looking to be featured in their editorial fashion pages, your first sentences to them should answer the 5W’s & H (Who, What, When, Where, Why & How). This is also where you pitch what exactly you want to achieve, your cool factor and exclusivity angle. Whomever is scanning through your message should be able to grasp the concept and get a feel of your brand immediately. If they have questions they’ll get in touch.
Consider Media Calendars
Know which media house reaches your target market and learn about their schedules. That includes when they develop content, print/publish it and when it’s available for audience consumption. Media houses set their diaries way in advance, for example, magazines will know what they’re working on at least three months to a year in advance. Therefore, if you’re looking to have a shoot or article slotted in, pitch this with the editorial meeting dates in mind. Do your research and using their current editorial calendar, you can sell your idea in line with an upcoming theme or trend.
Magazines will know what they’re working on at least three months to a year in advance.
Event wise, consider that print will always need notice much earlier than blogs, television and web platforms; which can make edits in real time. Take for example, the June issue of a magazine goes to press (is printed) at least by May or the lifestyle portion of the Saturday newspaper is printed on Monday or Tuesday.
We can’t emphasise the importance of good images with your request. An invitation to your runway show, for example, should disseminate the 5w’s&H in a clean, tightly-written and well-designed way. This will speak to the quality of your event and your brand as a whole. Keep in mind that the fourth estate is always on the move, so this information shouldn’t be sent as an attachment, rather in the body of an email and mobile friendly.
Sometimes silence doesn’t necessarily mean No. Things get missed when deadlines are breathing down their necks. You’re allowed to send follow up emails or in the case of events RSVP prompts and the day-of reminders. However, don’t go overboard. If you’re receiving vague answers or silence after your prompts, it’s time to gracefully give up on that media house. It could be an indication that you need to broaden circulation and reach out to more than just the big-tier media.
Even if they RSVP, media can back out of attendance for many reasons, such as a bigger event on the same day. To ensure that the journalists want to come to your event, embrace the ‘bring a friend’ rule in the invitation. Nobody likes to go to a party by themselves. Your clothes may be great, but they prefer to experience it with some bitings and an open bar. This may not be the rule internationally, but locally it’s a great motivator to encourage guests to stay and network That could result in a feature that’s longer than a paragraph or at least you’ll have great pictures running in the society pages. If you can swing it financially, a media gift hamper after the event will be a reminder that they need to get the word out about your brand asap.
The truth is, people enjoy working with people they know. After you’ve established contact, try as much as possible to meet editors and producers face to face. If you don’t have a mutual friend, start by attending similar events that can get you in the same room with them. The more familiar you seem, the more likely they’ll be open to communicating or working with you. Don’t forget to be as courteous and cognizant of their time as you are tenacious to be featured.
Building a successful rapport with the media doesn’t happen overnight; especially on a national or international level. You will receive some rejections at first but use this as learning opportunities to tweak your pitches and you’ll begin to see results.
Interacting with the media is a long-game endeavour. As your brand grows, your media connections should evolve as well. This comes about when your reliable, honest, easy to approach and constantly providing novelty. Once in, don’t forget to keep sharing your story and the advances you’re making. Keep them curious and interested in your brand, and it will continuously get the coverage it needs.