PR Lessons Learned: Fashion Week San Diego

[The following is a guest post by Maria Palma of Beauty is Within]

The very first Fashion Week in San Diego, touted as “The world’s only Bi-National Fashion Week” came and went like a blink of the eye. That’s because Fashion Week San Diego wasn’t actually a whole week! It turned into a four-day event – some might call it a nightmare while others might say it was OK for a first-time event. Whatever it was, there’s so much to learn from Fashion Week San Diego from a public relations standpoint.

Let me start off by saying that by no means am I a PR “expert”, but I’ve organized events before and know how to deal with the public. As an entrepreneur myself, I am my own PR person. I’ve also worked in customer service for many, many years which in essence, is public relations. That said, I’m going to share my perspective of everything that happened with Fashion Week San Diego from a “service” standpoint.

When I was writing up my blog post about Fashion Week over at Beauty Is Within, naturally I did an internet search to see what other bloggers/writers were saying about the experience. Some of it was not so good. For instance, there was a SignOnSanDiego.com article with the subtitle: “Style event gets an ugly start here with drama, tears” The writer dishes some of the behind-the-scenes drama (angry vendors, age limit, last-minute changes) that happened surrounding the event.

Granted, there is always going to be drama with any event like this, but what was interesting to me was that Allison Andrews, the head organizer of the show, declined to comment on any of it.

Lesson #1: If people are unhappy about something that was your fault – like failure to state at the time of ticket purchase that you had to be 21-years-old to attend the event – then take ownership of that mistake and make a statement to the press. A simple apology will suffice.

I’ve always believed that it’s important to know what people are saying about your business. It’s especially important when your customers have something negative to say. In this case, the customers were the sponsors, designers and event attendees of Fashion Week San Diego. As a business owner, it’s your job to make sure the people you are serving are happy and if they’re not, do something about it!

Lesson #2: Let people know that you’re doing something otherwise they’re going to think that you don’t care and are avoiding the issue. If you have a blog, communicate your intentions. If you have a PR person, have that person issue a statement.

In this day and age of the internet, one negative comment by a customer can spread like wildfire in a matter of seconds and there are people who will judge you based on that one negative article or comment. I personally was able to meet Allison Andrews and speak with her a couple times and to me she seems like a genuine person with good intentions. This was a first-time event with a few details that were overlooked, and I understand that people make mistakes. I certainly don’t expect this type of event to be flawless!

Overall, I feel that Fashin Week San Diego was a success, but if anything, the overall lesson to be learned here is that communication and honesty out of the gate is key.

About This Author

Known as the “fashion publicist’s most powerful accessory,” (San Diego Union-Tribune) and the “West Coast ‘It’ girl of fashion PR,” (YFS Magazine) Crosby Noricks put fashion public relations on the digital map when she launched PR Couture in 2006. She is the author of Ready to Launch: The PR Couture Guide to Breaking into Fashion PR, available on Amazon. Crosby spends her time managing PR Couture and mentoring fashion publicists through PRISM and Instappable, as well as the biannual NYC workshop, Fashion PR Confidential. Occasionally, she opens up limited consulting spots for emerging brands through her signature offering, The Brand Elixir.