For many eager fresh-faced fashionistas, a career in fashion PR can offer an opportunity to work the business side of fashion; fashion writing, fashion show production, in-store events/sample sales, branding, website development, all while helping fashion designers, boutiques, and fashion labels find the success they deserve.
As with any industry, fashion public relations is concerned with building and maintaining relationships with different target publics - media, prospective customers, vendors, investors, and deals with reputation management, serving as the conduit between those different groups and those in charge at your company - whether that is the CEO or the designer herself.
Fashion Schools, a portal web site designed to help students find the right fashion college, describes the role of the fashion PR as follows:
Fashion Public Relations Specialists and Publicists help apparel companies and retail stores build and maintain a favorable public image. Because they do not pay for publicity or media coverage, Public Relations (PR) Specialists must find creative ways to keep the company's brand name in the public eye. PR specialists select information that they want to share with the public and write up press releases or conduct press conferences to distribute the news through television, newspapers, radio and direct mail. They are also responsible for interacting with media when questions or crises arise from outside sources. As such, PR specialists must maintain strong professional relationships with media personnel.
Now, while that definition is slightly out of date - I would argue that le grand internet is has fundamentally shifted the way both industries (fashion and PR) operate, it does give a broad overview of the profession. Of course, PR isn't free,
The magic wand that fashion PR appears to wield over the editor's picks section in your favorite fashion magazine is, in fact, the result of hours of work coordinating, emailing and overseeing.
Most fashion PR agencies operate on a retainer basis, meaning each client pays for X amount of hours a month, based on individual practitioners hourly rates. And yes, even if you are an intern making zero dollars, you might still be billable in the eyes of your agency.
To get started in fashion PR and land that first fashion PR internship, know that you are facing a competitive industry where who you know and a great pair of boots will get you noticed a lot faster than a carefully constructed resume. Still, there are several things you can do to position yourself in the brightest light possible, at least long enough to secure that internship at before being relegated to the back office and sent on seemingly impossible errands on extreme deadlines.
Online and offline, who do you know and who could you get to know? Ask around and see if anybody knows anybody and then get in touch for a brief informational interview. Don't even worry about a job, just focus on getting to know people in the industry and making a good impression. Once that is done, I almost guarantee you that when a position does open up, you will get an email. Online, Twitter is a great place to begin to develop relationships with PR Practitioners and show off your smarts. Do a quick search to find people talking about things you are interested in, then introduce yourself and contribute to the conversation! PR Couture recently did a post on fashion PR and fashion industry ladies and gents tweeting away.
Work on your portfolio
Do you have any creative friends? A photographer, a stylist, a local band? Offer your services designing a press kit - include basic info like a bio, sample work, contact information, and testimonials. Print it all out, save a digital copy and bring it with you to your next interview. No friends? Don't worry, see if there are any local fashion shows coming up for charity and offer to write a press release. None of those either, get creative on your own and develop a media kit for a mythical company or for your favorite designer.
Start a fashion or PR blog
What about fashion truly inspires you? Are you obsessed with shoes, your own daily outfits, or a full on label whore? Set up a blog - the onsugar platform makes it super easy and start blogging! As you develop more content, outreach to other fashion bloggers you admire (many work in PR) and start commenting and building your blogroll. The blogroll is the modern fashion PR 2.0 gal's rolodex to start making friends ie contacts. The next time you apply for a fashion PR Internship, include a link to your blog in your cover letter. It will show that you are truly passionate about fashion and be an insider's look at who you are. Great working relationships are all chemistry, baby.
Fashion PR Internships
Check the Fashion PR Job Board, run by PR Couture for fashion internships and PR positions
Fashion and fashion PR internships abound at Free Fashion Internships
Join the Fashion Jobs and Networking group on Facebook
Once you land the gig
Be prepared to work! Check out Diary of a Fashion PR Intern for a behind the scenes look at New York Fashion Week.
(Image: Self and Closet By Aurus Sy)