The famous quote from Microsoft creator Bill Gates, “If I was down to my last dollar, I’d spend it on public relations,” proves how invaluable a well executed PR campaign is to the success of a company. Gates probably wasn’t referring to his secret plan of taking over the fashion world, but you get the idea. The main goal of PR is to attract awareness, growth and ultimately, the success of a business. Without it, you could have a great denim line…that no one knows about. It’s your job (or that of your PR team) to figure out the best methods to do build interest and enthusiasm for those jeans, while staying within budget.
With an unlimited budget, shelling out $25,000 to have Ms. Fabulous Celebrity tweet about your clothing, or messengering 100 samples to a coveted list of fashion bloggers and influencers might just work wonders. However, if you’re a startup or an unknown, emerging designer who is just starting out, that kind of PR outreach is just not happening
Instead, focus on utilizing the resources you do have, creativity being your biggest ally. Provided that you have a solid brand story, direction and collection, here are 6 creative assets that will help with a successful launch.
A Multitude of Brand Materials
Many start ups actually forget to put together a press kit. This is a set of promotional materials about the business, owner, mission, etc., intended for the media (though you might also find parts helpful when reaching out to fashion buyers as well). Whether you create something printed or host these materials ob your website, be sure to include: product photography, headshots of the design team, the company logo, any previous press mentions and social media statistics. Since it’s often the first thing editors will review when checking out a new collection, the press kit should be well-designed with clear, concise writing that features the company the same way you want the press to write about you.
In addition, consider a Branded Video. As a new designer, you may not be able to afford Fashion Week or a big event. One way to promote your line is to shoot your own fashion film to tell your story. Get creative and come up with a concept that will show off the collection and appeal to your target audience. Gather a group of friends to model your clothes, head to the beach and see what happens. Upload it on YouTube and promote it via social media and to the press.
While you’re filming, don’t forget to take static images, and create a lookbook that you can host on your website and pitch to the media.
Product Images on a White Background
You need great images of all of your designs. Clean, uncluttered, high resolution images on a white background, ready at your disposable. While employing a photographer can be costly, with a little trial and error, it’s actually pretty easy to take your own high quality fashion photos. These images are your ticket to landing editorial placements. Flat images (meaning laid out neatly on a white background), or on a dress form are usually best. If the designs are shot on models, make sure the models are not overly accessorized or stylized. Editors are looking through hundreds of pitches and pictures everyday. If they ask you for a knee-length circle skirt, show them a knee-length circle skirt, not one that with a pink crinoline underneath.
A Pre-Determined Budget for Samples
Once you start spreading the word about your fashion client, bloggers from all walks of life will come knocking on your digital door, requesting for samples in exchange for a blog post or Instagram post. While working with bloggers is a great way to promote a collection, you need to be very selective with who you work with, especially in the beginning of a product launch. Unless the blogger has a substantial following, fits your client’s aesthetic and has worked in the past with other companies equal or aspirational to yours, it’s probably a waste of funds at this time to send samples. Instead, offer early access to the new collection, a visit to the designer’s studio, or an exclusive interview.
On the other hand, sending samples to a print publication is worth it – and should be factored into your PR strategy and budget. When sending out requested samples to print editors (that’s key, an editor must have requested the sample for this to work), don’t be afraid of asking for their shipping number. More often than not, editors will need an item sent overnight. If you don’t send it quickly, you risk losing the placement. But Fedex and UPS fees can add up. Most big publishing companies like Hearst and Conde Nast will give you their shipping account info, you just have to ask.
Active Social Media Accounts
Social media is an amazing, free tool that fashion editors and bloggers are using constantly to discover the next big brand. Your social media presence should make use of relevant hashtags, image best practices and engagement strategies that give off a positive impression.
Getting momentum for a fashion line without a ton of budget is challenging. But there are a host of inexpensive, even free solutions out there that can easily give the impression that you are running a much bigger operation, one that any editor worth her salt should be excited to cover.
For more tips to help you secure press overage and grow your brand, check out Pitch Perfect: The PR Couture Guide to Fashion Media Coverage, available in English and Spanish.