Affordable small-scale manufacturing options, fashion technology business applications, and low overhead e-commerce solutions are reducing the need for so much upfront capital to enter fashion entrepreneurship. As a result, there are a lot of new independent entrepreneurs entering the fashion market and providing tech solutions for the communications industry and beyond.
For those in fashion public relations and related fields, the rise of digital has intensified opportunities and required continual innovation. The conventional fashion PR approach heavily relies on maintaining relationships with media and stylists, and generating press coverage, product placement and social media mentions.
Administrative operations around these fundamental basics can take over the majority of in-house and/or agency PR resources, as they traditionally require individual transactions, positioning PR agents merely as intermediaries. But with an abundance of media outlets, a culture of content overload, and quickly evolving communication channels, the traditional approach is insufficient. It’s irrational and expensive.
Although PR is a long-term investment and it definitely takes time to build exposure and momentum towards brand awareness, traditional processes towards editorial engagement are outdated because they are neither scalable nor cost-effective in a growing and evolving media environment.
New approach to Fashion PR
A few fashion-tech start-ups such as my company, spOt the shop (sign up for a free 14 day trial through PR Couture), affiliate powerhouse rewardStyle, influencer directory Fohr Card, Get Media Happy (which connects media queries to lifestyle brands), and Production Showroom (which connects brands to stylists and costume designers) have created fashion specialized PR solutions that cater to the evolution and growth of the media industry. By taking advantage of these new companies, media, brands, stylists and publicists can work together more resourcefully and more efficiently.
These global online solutions promote productivity, consistency and scalability of PR campaigns, as they streamline or even automate many of the administrative tasks related to media and blogger relations. For example, by allowing brands, designers, showrooms and PR agents to consolidate and tag their seasonal collections and marketing assets, spOt the shop allows publishers and stylists to easily search and filter through seasonal collections, effortlessly discover, and instantly access pertinent materials and products for their media outlets.
Some PR agencies are leading the industry by adopting these tech-based PR management solutions to complement their efforts and streamline clerical processes. This allows communication professionals to focus on high-level strategy, creative concepts and to differentiate themselves by producing incredibly customized and proactive communication programs for their clients.
Some PR agencies are leading the industry by adopting these tech-based PR management solutions to complement their efforts and streamline clerical processes.
Steeped in the tradition of "but we've always done it this way," or a misunderstanding of the true value of their own expertise, the majority of PR agencies are slow to adapt. PR agency business models are habitually built on the promise of media coverage through administrative activities; essentially leasing contact lists until the relationship between the brand and agency is terminated, and offering cookie-cutter PR services in exchange for ambiguous retainers. Agencies still believe that their contact lists and relationships are their bread and butter, but those ushering in a new way of providing clients value realize a contact list and administrative work (emails, sample management, tracking sheets) is what’s keeping their business alive, it's time to reevaluate.
The true value of a PR professional is the ability to craft strategic programs that generate calculated results. Today, more than ever, a PR campaign needs a cohesive strategy for it to be effective, and adapting to new technologies can elevate our conversations, expand our reach, and give us the time we need to focus on strategic and creative work.
What this shift means for Publicists and PR Agencies
Administrative PR processes have to evolve to catch up with the growth of the media industry and to make room for PR creativity and originality. Let’s be real: PR is certainly more than social media, networking and pitching media. Today, more than ever, a PR campaign needs a cohesive strategy for it to be effective, and adapting to new technologies can elevate brand conversations, expand reach, and optimize processes to allow us to get back to acting as that true extension of a company's executive team.
About Nour Al Hammoud
Nour is a fashion and lifestyle PR consultant and the founder of spOt the shop, an innovative and specialized PR platform and solution that caters to the growing and evolving fashion and lifestyle markets and media landscape.
Nour has been in the PR industry for over a decade and has worked both in-house and on the agency side. She has helped established recognized brands such as BCBG Max Azria, Herve Leger, Stuart Weitzman, DKNY and Le Château promote their businesses, and has collaborated with dozens of talented emerging and independent designers.
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(A version of this post originally appeared on Startup Fashion. It has been modified and reposted with permission.)
Image via: Glam Getaways