Fashion PR: Lift off or rip off?

One of the first big financial investment decisions designers face post launching their fashion label, is whether or not to invest in getting professional press and public relations support.

Getting featured in one of the glossies ‘”style tip pages”, or worn by a style icon can mean make or break. Jimmy Choo and Marchesa’s successful Hollywood red carpet strategy saw brand recognition and sales soar to dizzying heights.

Securing the right PR for your brand image and product is vital. One thing is clear – it is impossible to measure the direct return on your PR investment, and there is little point in considering PR at all if you haven’t sufficient stockists to direct your efforts at.

London fashion PR firms’ monthly fees range from £600 to £2500. Meeting with the PR firms is as much an opportunity for you to check them out as it is for them to meet you. One showroom I visited resembled a teenager’s bedroom, where I couldn’t envisage a Conde Nast journalist riffling through piles of unsorted accessories.

Listening to recommendations from friends and colleagues, helped me to devise ten pointers:

  1. Who is the main account contact – a senior executive or an intern? Interns are good inexpensive helpers, but don’t have the connections to get the product taken seriously.
  2. How many brands do they represent? The ratio of brands to senior employees gives an indication of time they will spend on your account.
  3. How many complimentary brands (price, image and product segment) are on their books? An indicator of the type of journalist they deal with.
  4. How long have they had their clients? Visiting websites of the brands shows their press success.
  5. How is the showroom arranged? Is your product going to be shown in the best light?
  6. How enthusiastic are they about your brand and product? Do they understand your vision?
  7. Do they have press or celebrity connections? Ask which celebrity they would gift.
  8. What strategy do they devise for you? Test them to think outside of the box to suit your needs.
  9. What events are included in your fees? PR firms arrange a press day to invite journalists and stylists to view their brands at the start of each season. I was surprised when some charged an additional fee.
  10. Fees and monthly expenses? What do these entail? Giving them a monthly capped amount and agreeing on certain things in advance, stops you being over run with lunch and taxi bills. One firm I spoke with was not willing to negotiate down on their fee, as they could not justify the time on the account – I liked this honesty!

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