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Pay No Attention to The Woman Spinning in the Tower: The Fashion PR (Mis)Perception

margarettarrant2.jpgIf the fairies who came to bestow gifts upon Sleeping Beauty at her party were actually public relations practitioners, the Fashion PR practitioner would have been the one nobody wanted to invite (and remember how well that turned out).
It's no secret that for many traditional public relations organizations and practitioners, Fashion Public Relations is perceived as the immature, superficial younger sister or bizarre aunt you only admit relation to when pressed (or when she's talking to somebody important, then she's your BFF).

Contributions from Fashion PR, or any Lifestyle PR specialty really, are rarely appreciated or acknowledged. BlinnPR says quite frankly, "I have little respect for fashion, sports and celebrity publicists," The Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) Mission tells us that "Public relations serves a wide variety of institutions in society such as businesses, trade unions, government agencies, voluntary associations, foundations, hospitals, schools, colleges and religious institutions."

Despite a lack of support from PR organizations or lifestyle-pr based educational curriculum, a high percentage of female PR undergraduates want a career in a lifestyle PR specialty like Fashion/Beauty or Entertainment/Celebrity. The fashion industry relies on relationships and connections, often to the point of exclusivity, which helps maintain an aura of glamour, but also make access to accurate information about the profession difficult.

I think the major misperception is that Fashion PR practitioners don't practice strategic pr, which is basically the idea that public relations is more than sending out a press release, it requires an overall positioning strategy and smart "strategic" pitching. According to Markitek, strategic pr includes the following:

1. You have to cultivate relationships with these groups. [industry influencers]

2. You have to make sure that what you do is worth covering.

3. You have to make sure that what you do is going to generate positive instead of negative press.

In my graduate research interviewing Fashion PR practitioners, every practitioner described major strategic and tactical elements of their work that go above and beyond what is defined above.

It's frustrating that these perceptions about Fashion PR exist, especially since they are based an outdated, limited and limiting understanding of the job, as well as the significance and influence - cultural and otherwise, of fashion and the fashion industry.

Significantly, recent commentary about the unresolved, somewhat contentious relationship between Fashion PR and Fashion Bloggers is troubling, yet inspiring, and points to the important role that Fashion PR is playing in defining and exploring web 2.0/social media/new media relationships.

With blogs and the rise of citizen journalism, those in fashion's inner circle, as well as those who just love fashion, have sucessfully turned the traditional fashion PR relationship on its head. These days, fashion magazines are looking to blogs for inspiration and the latest scoop. The sucess of fashion blogs has opened up a very unique opportunity for Fashion PRs and Bloggers to navigate and develop a new kind of PR/Media relationship.

I think that traditional PR should be paying better attention to Fashion PR and consider re-thinking that invitation. It's simply not very good manners to exclude Fashion PR from the party, and I'd dare to say that without us, it's probably not going to be that great of a party anyway. Wake-Up Sleeping PR!

2 Comments

  • Posted April 19, 2007 at 7:46 am | Permalink

    I haven’t read the links the you just posted so I don’t know if this was discussed, but I’m curious if PR professionals don’t take Fashion PR seriously because it is predominantly women or because they think the multi billion dollar fashion industry is frivilous (channeling Meryl Streep)?

    But the good news is that some magazine editors understand the need for and impact of the internet. I blogged about Franca Sozzani’s take on fashion and the internet at http://www.debutanteclothing.com

  • Posted April 19, 2007 at 7:46 am | Permalink

    I haven’t read the links the you just posted so I don’t know if this was discussed, but I’m curious if PR professionals don’t take Fashion PR seriously because it is predominantly women or because they think the multi billion dollar fashion industry is frivilous (channeling Meryl Streep)?

    But the good news is that some magazine editors understand the need for and impact of the internet. I blogged about Franca Sozzani’s take on fashion and the internet at http://www.debutanteclothing.com

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Meet Crosby Noricks

Hi. I'm Crosby, the founder of PR Couture and a fashion brand strategist. I care about supporting and celebrating fashion publicists as well as helping companies connect with their audiences in more meaningful ways. Recently, iMedia included me in their annual list of 25 Internet Marketing Leaders and Innovators, along with people from Starbucks, Twitter and Volkswagon, which I think is pretty neat. Like Elle Woods, I am a Gemini-vegetarian (that's about where the similarities end). Let's connect: Check out my full bio, Brand Elixer sessions or shoot me a note.