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Fashion PR 101: How to Write a Fashion PR Plan

This is an updated version of a popular 2010 article. Enjoy! PS -  for a free Fashion PR plan template, sign up for monthly PR Couture emails!

Planning Makes Perfect

While we may all be tempted to attempt the old business adage of throwing spaghetti at a wall and seeing what sticks, success in public relations requires an extensive discovery and planning phase in order to be both successful and measureable. After all, how can you truly measure your success if you haven't clearly communicated and agreed with your client (or business partners) on the goals and strategy behind your efforts? A well-crafted public relations plan establishes goals, measureable objectives, strategies and supporting tactics to keep everyone on track. While each fashion PR publicist/agency tends to haver her own unique way to putting a PR plan together, the components are similar. The following series of steps provide an easy-to-use outline to customize your own fashion PR plan.

Research/Discovery

  • Where does your brand fit in the marketplace? Who is your target customer and what does she care about? What are your competitors doing? What publications, blogs and events are a fit with your brand? First up, research. There are two avenues to getting the answers you seek, primary and secondary research. Secondary research consists of collecting data that has already been published. You might find statistics relevant to consumer purchasing behavior or emerging trends in a publication like AdAge or Women's Wear Daily. Primary research means going out and doing research on your own – a quick survey of previous customers (social media is great for this), friends and family can all be used to help you better your brand positioning. Then, writing up your findings in a brief Executive Summary to kick off your plan.

Target Customer

  • Don’t make the mistake of choosing a target public that is too broad. One of the biggest mistakes brands make is in their attempt ot be all things to all people. While your client may be convinced that“all women” should fall in love with her handbag line, not establishing a clear target customer actually does a disservice to your brand.  In fact, the more niche you can be the better. Perhaps you learn from your research that many of your customers are young moms who love the fashion-forward look of the bags, but actually use them as diaper bags because of the roomy vinyl exterior. This discovery could drive an entire strategy focused on telling the diaper bag story.  As you get clear about your target customer, begin to paint a picture of her in your plan. Beyond age, income and location, think about developing a persona to guide your positioning. What is her favorite movie? What kind of a car does she drive? What is her favorite flavor of tea? Is she married? Does she travel often or stay close to home? How does she discover new products? Does she use Pinterest? Twitter? Does she check email on her cell phone, laptop, iPad?
  • By identifying your target customer and learning as much as you can about her, you can then begin to develop strategies to engage her around what she cares about, using the various media and platforms where she is already spending her time.

Key Messages/Positioning

  • At the end of every media opportunity, what are the key things you want an editor to know about this brand? At your next trunk show, what imformation is most important to share with potential customers. It could be that your bags are made of recycled plastic, or that the convertible strap means the bag can be worn multiple ways. Perhaps the handbag creator used to be a painter in Morocco and that is where this season's color palette comes from. Whatever it is, get clear about what you want to communicate during your outreach. This can also funciton as a handy cheat sheet of sorts when media training your client to stay on message during interviews. For more tips on media training, check out Give Great Interview with these 10 Haute Media Training Tips.

Objectives

  • While goals are general, objectives are specific. Identify the major objectives that you want to accomplish with your PR plan. Make these measurable so they are easy to evaluate at the end of the campaign. For example, if one of your goals is to become an internationally known handbag designer, Objective 1 may be to secure 5 stories in international print media publications within the next 6 months. Objective 2 might be to work with bloggers in the UK or France on a content campaign for Tumblr.

Strategies & Tactics

  • Once you have clear objectives in place, you need to consider what creative strategies you will employ to ensure you successfully meet your objectives. Remember that each strategy should deliver a cohesive message that ties into your objective.  For more information on how to write goals, objectives, strategies and tactics (it can get a little confusing,) check out How to Write Fashion PR Goals, Objectives, Strategies & Tactics).

Evaluation

  • Almost done! The final part of the plan is figuring out how to evaluate the success of the program. This may include media impressions, Facebook page growth or engagement, referral traffic to a website, or even a pre and post survey to determine how levels of awareness or brand affinity have changed as a result of your campaign. One thing that always helps is to remember to benchmark your current numbers before you begin your program.

Relationship Tending

  • Relationships with media, customers and vendors shouldn't end just because your campaign does. Smart fashion PR practitioners and designers know that PR is a cumulative process. Continue cultivating any new and existing relationships with editors, vendors, publics with regular follow up. Strong relationships establish credibility and will make your job easier the next time around. Keeping in touch has never been so easy in today’s world of technology. A quick email, tweet or mention on a Facebook page can go a long way so stay in touch even during downtime.

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About the author: Crosby


Known as the "fashion publicist's most powerful accessory," (SD-UT) and the "West Coast 'It' girl of fashion PR," (YFS Magazine) Crosby Noricks is a brand strategist, author and founder of PR Couture. Crosby was included in the iMedia 25 Class of 2012 Internet Marketing Leaders and Innovators, and enjoys helping fashion and lifestyle brands connect with their audiences in meaningful and creative ways.

8 Comments

  • Colleen Monaghan
    Posted April 3, 2012 at 9:50 am | Permalink

    I find that this post in particular on writing your own fashion PR Plan is incredibly similar to the work I have been currently doing in my Message Development and Strategic Communications classes. Building a plan is essentially doing a Strategic Message Planner. I find it reassuring to know that the experience I am getting in the classroom will truly help me when I have a job in the real world. I think that it is incredibly important to establish solid connections with individuals in the fashion world as well as PR in order to conduct a successful campaign. The ideas for staying in touch under the relationship tending section is truly insightful and different from what we have learned in class as far as building relationships go. I think the hardest part about PR is figuring out the target audience and not making it too broad. It is so difficult to target a specific consumer because sometimes the product may seem to be appealing to many different types of customers. I am working on a campaign for a Chinese restaurant in my message development class right now and it is difficult to nail the target audience and create a new campaign because as of now the target audience is mainly the Chinese population of my town and families in the surrounding area. I would really like to push that target audience even further to channel American students and draw them to the restaurant, but my fear is that by attempting to do so, I might make my target audience way too broad. This article was really insightful, helpful, and gave me some great ideas for my own strategic message planner!

    • Posted April 3, 2012 at 10:10 am | Permalink

      Hi Colleen,

      Thanks so much for your comment. You’ll absolutely find that most strategic plans that deal with communication are similar and getting experience writing them in class is great. I agree that it’s important not to make your target too broad – on the other hand, you could have multiple outtreach efforts going (one geared toward local families, one geared toward college students) – you would then create speficic strategies for each audience. Best of luck!

  • Posted April 4, 2012 at 9:25 am | Permalink

    Hi Crosby,

    I tried signing up for the free template but it’s not accepting my url even though I subscribe to your newsletter. Please advise. Thanks.

  • Erin Sickinger
    Posted April 25, 2012 at 11:03 am | Permalink

    This article was incredibly well written and informative. This article touches on the work that I have currently been doing in my Message Development and Strategic Communication classes as well. I have to agree with Colleen’s comment above about how insightful the section on not only building strong customer relationships, but maintaining those relationships. It’s definitely a different angle from what we have learned in terms of defining the target audience. Thanks for this insightful and helpful article! I will be definitely using some of these tips in my Strategic Message Planner.

  • Posted May 12, 2012 at 9:22 pm | Permalink

    I tried signing up for the template but it keeps telling me to enter a valid email.

  • Laura
    Posted January 25, 2014 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

    Hi! Love the articles, they’re all so helpful! I tried clicking on the “Give Great Interview with these 10 Haute Media Training Tips” but it takes me to “How to Write Fashion PR Goals…”. I’d love to know some more tips for how to have a great interview, if the link still exists!
    Thanks,
    Lar

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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.