Publicity is one of the most crucial elements for any fashion show. The worst thing you could do is put on a breath-taking runway show and have nobody hear about it! Here are six simple Do-It-Yourself PR techniques that any independent fashion designer or start-up fashion brand can use to maximize their Fashion Week impact:
1) Do your homework: You can’t achieve results until you clearly define what you want. Before starting any PR activity for Fashion Week, it’s crucial to identify your goals for publicity. First, ask yourself whom you want to be targeting through your runway show? Is it potential investors, buyers, stylists, celebrities or press? Most likely, it’s a combination of all of the above. Next, establish your parameters, for example: are you targeting a luxury or budget consumer, are you targeting the ready-to-wear market or couture? If you’re targeting a budget consumer, it’s not going to be realistic to put Bergdorf’s & Vogue on your invite list. Once you’ve defined your demographic and target audience, you can make a properly curated wish list. Be optimistic and set your sights high, but also be sure to focus on buyers & press that are relevant and attainable for your brand.
2) Angle your show: You want to build the theme of your show like you would tell a good story. Find a way to take the inspiration of your collection and your brand’s unique selling points to create a pitch. During Fashion Week, you are competing with many other shows, so you need to be able to explain why your show is note-worthy and interesting. This means coming up with a hook, and clear bullet points that support it. The hook could come from the colors, the fabrics, the cuts, or the way your garments are produced. If you are manufactured locally, use organic or sustainable materials, have a charitable tie-in, or are using an innovative technique that is rare, be sure to use this content to your advantage. All of these elements should come together to create a themed title for your show, and then each of your publicity materials should follow suit. Your invitations, lighting, runway music, and gift bags should all match your theme and play a part in telling your collection’s story.
3) Get Social: With your wish list in place, you should use social media to your benefit and begin to follow these companies and individuals on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Ideally, you should zero in on specific editors, bloggers, buyers, stylists or celebrities who are most relevant to you. Consider targeting media from your hometown or your local community, where the market may be less saturated than in fashion capitals like London and New York. It takes time to build a social media relationship, but by providing valuable interaction with your targets, they will start to notice you. This means re-tweeting or sharing their content, answering their questions, or providing helpful information. It’s not all about you, so make sure your interaction is not only self-serving. When the right time comes, ask if you can email over an invitation to your runway show. In general, journalists are much more receptive to pitches when they know the pitcher understands their content.
4) Be prepared to seize opportunities: Before things get crazy (and they will), compile all of the potential press materials a reporter or blogger might request so that you can maximize your exposure. Typically, a journalist will request a specific set of materials on the day of or immediately following your runway show, and if you aren’t able to turn these items around quickly, you might miss the boat for coverage. Traditionally these items would include: a press release (outlining the who, where, what, why, when of your show), a run-of-show (an itemized list of looks and garments as they came down the runway), a BIO (about the brand + about the designer), designer headshot, and if available a seasonal look book and/or line sheet. If you can, get all of these materials into the queue ahead of time so that you can be prepared when a journalist expresses interest in you. Most importantly, ensure you have a photographer in place to capture the runway show and to turn around a shareable link to all of the images as quickly as possible following the event.
5) Be visible and available post-show: After a lengthy string of sleepless nights and an insane amount of stress, your first instinct when your show is all said and done will probably be to escape to a private after party with your closest friends and family to enjoy a much-needed glass of bubbly. But you have to hang on a little bit longer. The bulk of the opportunity is lurking beyond the runway immediately following your show, and you don’t want any of those potential connections to go to waste. Plan to circulate, thank your guests, hear feedback and in general, treat everyone in the room like a VIP. Potential investors, buyers, or interested press and media will make themselves known, so you just need to be present to shake the hand, grab the business card, or turn it on for the camera one more time.
6) Follow-up fast: While your show is still fresh in the minds of all who attended, be sure to circulate a follow-up message to your attendees. Ideally, you would have kept a well-organized list of guests, categorized by press/buyers/stylists/celebrities/other, so that you can email each and every one with an appropriate message. That message should include a thank you, link to runway images, brief blurb or recap about the show, and a clear call-to-action. For example, if it’s a press person, you want to ask if they plan on covering your show; or if it’s a buyer, you want to ask to set up an appointment to review the collection. Make your outreaches as personalized as you can. Finally, to maximize the value of your runway show, be sure to share the content beyond the event itself. You can post photos to all of your social networks, send out a recap or newsletter to your mailing list and/or existing customers, and use the images to pitch more editors and bloggers who didn’t attend your show but are still at the top of your media wish list.
About Alyson Roy:
Alyson Roy is a Co-Founder of AMP3 Public Relations, a boutique consumer agency that specializes in Lifestyle & Fashion PR campaigns. With a niche in Launch PR campaigns, AMP3 offers 3 core areas of service: 1) Traditional PR & Media Outreach, 2) Social Media PR & Online Visibility, and 3) Special Event PR & Production. Alyson has handled PR for Nolcha Fashion Week for the past eight consecutive seasons. She is also the publicist of record for Cat Footwear (the global footwear licensee of Caterpillar, Inc.) and handles publicity for both emerging and established fashion brands. She contributes to a slew of media outlets and sits on the Advisory Boards for Nolcha Fashion Week, Fashion Advance and Blazetrak. For more information, follow her on Twitter (@AlyAMP3) or visit www.AMP3pr.com.
Notes for New York Fashion Week:
Notes for New York Fashion Week is a series of top tips from fashion industry professionals to prepare independent fashion designers for their fashion week runway show. From public relations to creative planning, from guest lists to collection preparation and more it covers the key components to create a successful runway show during New York Fashion Week.
If you are a fashion industry professional interested to share your expertise with independent fashion designers please email firstname.lastname@example.org with more information about your company.
Nolcha Fashion Week: New York, founded by Kerry Bannigan and Arthur Mandel, is a leading award winning event held during New York Fashion Week hosting independent fashion designer runway shows.