[The following is a guest post by Alyson Ryber. Alyson is the Program Manager at Stalwart Communications, a Pay-on-Performance PR and Marketing agency located in San Diego, Calif. The company works with a variety of organizations including defense, high-tech, consumer, professional services and government. She can be reached at alyson[at]stalwartcom.com or on Twitter @arybar]
I’ve always been of the belief that spreading the wealth within a company is highly advantageous when it comes to media opportunities. The same holds true in the fashion industry. Designers have an assortment of experts under their belt and they can further their brand and reputation by featuring these assets at fashion-related conferences, seminars and classes. Associations, students and other industry professionals could benefit from the valuable experience these stylists possess, and there are a number of possible venues to consider which I will address.
Showcasing your client’s creative team as industry experts further confirms that their brand encompasses the cream of the crop; and in addition to focusing your PR efforts on the designer’s clothes, aim to showcase the specialists behind the wardrobe. Regardless if your client is a small boutique or a renowned designer, there are sure to be folks at all levels that are qualified and knowledgeable on a variety of fashion issues. But before pitching your client’s team in this manner, be sure to carefully assess the communication skills of the person that you plan to put in the spotlight.
How to identify expertise
Everyone brings a little something different to the table and that makes the designer’s brand unique and special in their own way. Usually identifying a speaker is easy because they are typically individuals that are knowledgeable and excited when it comes to fashion and the brand they represent. However, some employees’ talents may be limited to strictly “behind-the-scenes” while others are meant to be displayed beyond the department stores window. Ultimately it should be someone that the designer is comfortable with having represent the company and can hold their own intellectually with the specific audience to whom they will present. It’s equally important that the individual has a desire to assume the position and has displayed leadership qualities.
Public Speaking Skills
Being an enthusiastic expert about the brand the employee represents isn’t quite enough to put them center stage. Effective presenters must also possess specific speaking skills, among them including:
- Speed: When giving a presentation, connecting with your audience and allowing them to absorb what you’re saying is essential. Therefore, a presenter should be able to keep a steady pace and not talk at the speed of light.
- Articulation: This is just as critical as speed. Make sure the speaker can communicate clearly as you don’t want audience members to miss out on key points.
- Pronunciation: Doing this poorly makes a bad impression. Select an individual who is comfortable presenting and isn’t going to confuse the audience or cause embarrassment by butchering words.
- Modulation: Featuring a speaker with a monotone voice is one of the quickest ways to lose an audience. Therefore, the ideal candidate should be someone that’s outgoing and able to vary their pitch and tone accordingly.
Where to pitch speakers
Because conferences and seminars usually require presenters to provide a list of previous speaking engagements and references, start off by getting your clients experience with smaller associations or classes. Typically, each major city has a fashion school, where your clients could present as a guest lecturer on a topic related to their expertise. If their brand is available in large department stores, you may want to contact the store and request they put on a seminar for customers. Another idea might be to host a Webinar with a few other industry folks so they can help spread awareness of the event. When you are ready to start pitching stylists for larger speaking engagements, be sure to begin at least six months in advance and possibly even sooner as organizations prefer to have their conferences organized early on for marketing purposes. Some potential options to explore for your clients include:
- Apparel Conferences and Festivals
- Spring/Summer 2010 Fashion Trend Forecasting Seminar in Vancouver
- AAFA Friend Me: Using Social Media to Build Consumer Relationships
Numerous opportunities exist for designers to showcase their experts and illustrate the artistic contributors within arms reach. If you’re finding that there aren’t speaking opportunities available in your client’s area, check editorial calendars and locate topics that align with the expertise of the staff. It’s not just about the clothes, but it’s about the people behind the clothes, and showcasing their talents will benefit the client by increasing the brand’s reputation.