10 Things to Do Before Hiring a PR Agency

While any fashion PR agency worth noting will be well-equipped to help you develop your brand, provide strategic guidance and creative direction, for brands with limited budgets there are several things you can do ahead of the gate to ensure that your PR team is able to quickly mobilize to get the word out about your brand. Once you’ve got these, the next step is to become your fashion publicist’s favorite client!

Brand identity

Why are you in this business? What are you trying to say? How are you similar to and yet different from your competitors? What is unique about your design team, the way you sourced your fabrics, the idea for the name of this season’s collection? Begin to think like an editor and come to your PR team with as much information about what makes you you. This cuts down on the sleuthing and increases story angles.

Target customer

Many brands make the mistake of trying to appeal to everyone, thinking this will help increase their changes of success. The reverse is actually true. If you can come to your PR agency with a clear picture of who your clothes are made for, your PR team will be able to come up with strategies and tactics designed to appeal to that customer, not her 70-year old grandmother.

Style sheet & logo files

A style sheet lists your brand colors, fonts and any directions related to how your logo or tagline can and cannot be used. Send those clear directions as well as your logo in it’s original form (usually EPS) as well as hi-res and low-res versions. This cuts down on unnecessary back and forth and helps keep your press coverage on-brand. You never want someone doing a google image search and choosing an old logo to accompany a post.

Well-branded, social-media friendly website

Your website is the foundation of your online presence and it’s important that it clearly and effectively communicate your brand identity. Images should be able to be pinned on Pinterest, and liked on Facebook. Product images should be named appropriately – ie MarlyRoseFloweredDress.jpg and have alt-image tags “Marly Rose Flowered Dress.”  There should be a clear email sign up in place, as well as social media links and information for press inquiries. Stay away from Flash or templates that don’t match your brand.

eCommerce

Many editors and most all bloggers won’t cover a brand unless it’s available online. While it is fine to list different that your dress is available on ShopBop or boutiques across the country, it is best to enable eCommerce on your site. This also gives you control over unique coupon codes or added incentives that you can offer specific bloggers or celebrity weeklies who cover your line.

Headshots

While you might be most eager to see your collection photographed, you could also be the subject of a story. Have headshots taken of all the key members of your team and provide your PR team with a few different shots for each stakeholder for variety.

Social media presence

Get your Facebook page, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and blog up and thriving. You don’t need to have 100,000 fans, but you do need to be in the habit of consistent and quality posts. If the task of managing so many different platforms feels overwhelming, spend 15-30 minutes a day on 2-3 to start.

Photographs

You’ll need two types 1) images of your line by itself or on a model, shot against a white background with minimal styling and 2) editorial images that communicate your point-of-view. Ideally, provide these in both hi and low resolution.

Samples

Be prepared to provide your fashion PR agency with several samples of your line. While photographs are great, nothing beats seeing a garment in personl. It’s important that your publicist is able to show your line during showroom and market appts, to send pieces over for consideration and to increase your chances of landing coverage. Depending on your price point, it’s ideal to have a full set of samples available for PR purposes.

Realistic expectations

A PR program may take anywhere from 3-6 months to gain momentum, so be patient and be sure you are ready to make the investment. However, by following this list you will make your publicist’s job infinitely more straightforward and have everything in place to help her do her job and increase your results.

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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.