So you launched your collection or even had your first online sale (congratulations!). Your friends and family, even teachers and neighbours say that your product is great. It might be a right time to start building your brand awareness. Please read the previous sentence at least ten times. ‘Start building’ – PR may take ages. It will not necessarily bring direct sales, it is crazy difficult to measure, but it is worth doing. Especially, if it doesn’t cost money, free PR? Yes, please!
Follow these 17 steps to learn how to reach out to fashion media, build brand awareness and access your free PR.
First of all, you are an emerging fashion brand. What does that mean? There is a very slight chance (close to 0.1%) that any fashion editors and stylists will know about you. Unless you are friends with them! So, the first question is:
Do you (or anyone from your team or family) know a fashion journalist, editor, fashion assistant or a stylist?
If yes – even if the person is a junior editor or an assistant stylist in your local fashion magazine or a news website – that’s the way to start building your media presence. Go speak with them and agree on an interview or a product feature. It’s already free PR. Off you go!
- When you have your first media mention/product feature/interview you can build on it. You can and must share this with your fans on Social Media, especially Twitter. Why? So they know that media is interested in you, no matter big or small. It is your job to build on this. In this day and age, there are hundreds of articles, features and blog post every day. If you don’t share it multiple times (no, one Facebook share is not enough), it will get lost. Pin it to the top on all your Social Media channels at least for a week, retweet it, use it as a material for a Throwback Thursday, re-use!
- Repost this feature on your website (we assume you have a blog on your website).
- You can then use this as a lead to start a conversation with other editors or publications. See step no. 8 for further information.
- After your first publication is live/printed, send a personal email to an editor of that publication to express gratitude. It might be the first time the editor will hear about you; they don’t necessarily follow each article. The good news is – they will hear about you!
- Follow the publication, their Editor in chief and other important team members on Social Media, especially Twitter. You can then tag them when you share your post and thank them publicly, which means it will also reach their followers. And they will not think that someone random just tagged them (as you already sent that email, right?).
If no – So you don’t know a single person in the media. Here’s what you have to do:
- Start with research. First of all, what magazines or websites you would like to be in? If your answer is Vogue, here’s a question. Is Vogue reader actually your target audience? How to do the research? Look at the websites and magazines that already feature emerging designers (on Social Media or just Google). Try and find their Media Packs, sometimes called Media Kit. Just Google a phrase ‘Vogue UK Media Pack’. In the media pack they will say, who are their audience, how big is that audience, demographics and geo-location, everything you need to know if it’s a match. Define key ten publications in the order of priority.
- Follow all of them on Social Media, and by follow we mean actually following and engaging with their content.
- Find out who are the people in their team. The best research tools are Twitter and Linkedin. Both can give away people’s names and positions. Follow on Twitter and try to connect on Linkedin. Find out who is who in the team. If the publication is big, they might have a team of 10+ people. If a publication is small, you can aim the fashion editor – there will probably be no other people in the fashion teamRememberer what we told in the beginning (see No. 1), aim big but start small. Starting with niche, independent magazines can give you more value and even more relevant audience. Maybe less prestige, but you have to define your goals and prioritise.
- Please note, the best way to get your product into a magazine – to connect with the stylists. It is usually a stylist or a fashion assistant (yes, Google ‘fashion assistant i-D magazine’) who will look for the products for the shoot, not the journalist or an editor. However, if you want a feature or an interview, then it will be a fashion editor, assistant fashion editor, fashion writer or a features writer.
- Spend some time following them and engaging with their content. After some time you can send a personal message (on Linkedin) or a tweet and ask what is the best email to introduce your brand to them. No answer? See No. 11.
- A little trick to find out an editor’s email address: find out any email address in the publication. Usually, they’re all formed in the same way. For example, email@example.com (that’s my email address and my team has exactly the same formulation). Don’t forget that cold emails don’t work in this case. So you better know who are you emailing and what they have been up to. If you have engaged with them online already, your brand name will ring a bell. If you asked their email address and they didn’t get back to you and now you’re emailing them, begin your email with a warm opening line: “Dear… my name is…, I am a designer at… I asked you for your contact details on Twitter and I understand you don’t give away this information easy, but I hope you don’t mind me sending you an email after my extensive research…”
- Follow up. If you don’t hear back within a week, follow up with a short email, politely asking whether “you had a chance to read my previous email”.
- Still nothing? Try a different member at their team, repeat step 12 after a week.
- Simultaneously, try building relationships with other publications on your list.
- While online communication can do a job, real life relationships are the most difficult to forget. If you are based in London, there are numerous events that invite journalists, editors and stylists as speakers or guests. Go, introduce yourself, be honest, ask advice on how and when to contact them personally, ask for a business card. If you are based anywhere else, there are opportunities to meet local media, use those and do the same.
- Be patient and consistent. PR is very difficult and can take months to bring results. No surprise, most of the PR agencies will work on at least 6 months contracts – they perfectly know that a brand may not get press coverage in the first few months, even if they have personal relationships with fashion editors.
- Good luck! Yes, in the case of PR luck (which usually means right timing) plays a big role. You can always repeat the steps in a few months time.
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