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Geisha by Marta Lamovsek

Seven Fashion PR Dont's

[The following is a guest post by Polina Raygorodskaya of Polina Fashion. Polina Fashion LLC is a New York-based fashion PR and marketing firm that also specializes in live events, fashion shows, and photo shoot production.  © 2009 Polina Fashion LLC, All rights reserved. info[at]polinafashion.com]

Geisha by Marta Lamovsek
Geisha by Marta L. Lamovsek

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Here are seven things all designers should avoid when managing your fashion public relations.

1. Don’t Mass Pitch

There is nothing that wastes a reporters time more (and on their bad side faster) than mass emails to all the reporters on your contact list regardless of whether the topic is relevant to what they write about or not. A personalized email may take more of your time but it really goes a long way to getting people to pay attention to your name. While each message does not have to be completely different, it should at least contain the person’s name to which you are mailing as well as at least one customized sentence explaining why your pitch is relevant to their readership.

2. Don't send untargeted pitches

Your favorite magazine may be GQ but that doesn’t mean you should pitch the editor your collection of women’s shoes unless you are pitching to the stylist for an upcoming photo-shoot involving women. Be realistic and do your research. Know the target demographic for the magazines you are pitching to and be sure that your line fits within that demographic.

3. Don’t Respond on Your Own Time

Reporters often have very short deadlines, that is why it is called “the News.” If you don’t think you will be able to turn something around quickly make sure you inform the reporter right away and don’t take a long time to respond because you don’t have something to say. If you can’t make it on their deadline respond to them as soon as possible letting them know. If you are working on an article or answering interview questions a brief email to let them know that you are working on them will go a long way in building a relationship with the reporter.

4. Don’t Fib

If you don’t know something, never resort to making up facts. Reporters are taught to fact check and do background research on the subject matter so making up information will not only ruin your credibility but may also embarrass you…as it should.

5. Don’t Overwrite

Sending pitches that are pages long beyond what they need to be is a sure way to get ignored by reporters. Put the most important content in the first paragraph of the email or even better; keep the email to only one paragraph. Do not make a press release longer than a page and a half, for the best results keep it limited to one page.

6. Don’t Be Trite

While I should not have to ever say this, unfortunately I do. Think outside the box. Fashion should be full of original ideas and ground-breaking creative direction. While the adage, “No plot is new” comes to mind, I beg to disagree. Do not aspire to be the next Coco Chanel; aspire to be the first you. Inspiration is fine, but there is no excuse for confidence in your own creation and the audacity to take risks.

7. Don’t Be Negative

Never speak poorly about another line, a photographer you have worked with, or, frankly anyone whatsoever. While it is bad business etiquette to knock someone, it also demonstrates a complete lack of class. Be wary of small talk with media personnel containing such statements or they could very well be the news you didn’t want published. If you have a controversial statement to make with your ad campaign or line, stand behind it, but acknowledge that for everything there are consequences.

About the Author

Polina Raygorodskaya is an acclaimed analyst and public relations specialist for the fashion industry. As president of Polina Fashion LLC, she has addressed the marketing and public relations needs of countless up and coming designers. For more information, please visit www.polinafashion.com or email info[at]polinafashion.com.

Photo courtesy of Marta L. Lamovšek

8 Comments

  • Posted April 27, 2009 at 7:31 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for all the great advice. I especially like this line in #6 – Do not aspire to be the next Coco Chanel; aspire to be the first you. Well said!

  • Posted May 7, 2009 at 11:00 am | Permalink

    Gotta love the effort you put into this blog :)

  • Posted May 28, 2009 at 1:52 am | Permalink

    Small difference of opinion. Reporters are trained to check facts but most of the time do not cross check as they depend on the integrity of the person providing news. Of course in some cases they do cross check. So if you have been a true news provider in the past they are likely to accept you at face value.

  • Thanks for the post
    Posted August 15, 2009 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

    Great Article, Thanks so much!
    - Dan of Los Angeles Public Relations News

  • Posted September 20, 2009 at 5:53 am | Permalink

    I absolutely agree. Think of it as ‘time/money’. If PR people would take a moment to actually read what columnists write, they won’t waste time blind-blast pitching the wrong person. To do that, is the fastest way to make a writer very annoyed. Sadly, when you do pitch them something that is their ‘beat’, they will ignore you.
    .-= Lisa ´s last blog ..New York Fashion Week: Nolcha, the fashion show within fashion week =-.

  • caroline austerman
    Posted October 1, 2009 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

    Interesting article and good tips.

  • Whitney
    Posted November 2, 2009 at 5:47 pm | Permalink

    What a great list. These are great rules for making a fashion related pr pitch; furthermore, they’re great guidelines to apply to pitches for any other industry, and anyone reading your blog should take note of this.

    I’m currently a third-year pr student, but I’ve dabbled in the world of public relations outside of school quite a bit, and I hear rules like these all the time. I’m glad to see them applied, focused and shaped further to fit a specific industry. There is much power in knowing how to customize general techniques to fit an industry- much like power exists in knowing how to customize a pitch to a journalist!

    The journalists and other media affiliates we pitch to, as pr professionals, tend to all share the same characteristics, regardless of the industries in which they work: they are busy, impatient, and hungry for a good story with an easy lead.

    To further support your list and to represent the needs and wants of ALL journalists, I will summarize: they don’t like their time wasted, they hate being polluted with irrelevant pitches, they won’t wait for you to get the information to them, they will spot gaps immediately and call you on it, and they will forward anything (positive and negative) you say.

    I do feel there is at least one more key reminder to add to your list, and I’ve certainly learned it’s importance the hard way. To add to your existing seven, most journalists decide whether or not a pitch is “worth it” within their first 25 seconds of reading and/or hearing what you have to say so, 8) focus on exact word usage and intrigue immediately, make it quick, interesting, and captivating so THEY ask for more and YOU become the chased rather than the chaser.

    Stumbling with your sentence structures and using the wrong words can make or break a pitch and can immediately affect your initial credibility as perceived by the journalist you are speaking or writing to. When calling, it doesn’t hurt to practice exactly what you’re going to say and what words you’re going to use to be most effective. When writing, taking the time to rewrite your opening few sentences to make sure you’re using the most effective words will certainly prove to be worth your while.

    Your rules are great, but I’ve learned that something as small as one word can destroy a pitch, so I think it would be beneficial for your readers to not underestimate my rule #8.

  • Whitney
    Posted November 2, 2009 at 5:48 pm | Permalink

    **correction- ;8) was supposed to be ” #8 “, silly automatic emoticons.

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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 rad 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 an electronic communiqué.