Essential Reads for Freelance Fashion Publicists

A guide to becoming a successful freelance fashion publicist

With more than eight years worth of material, PR Couture is filled with articles to help you succeed as an independent fashion publicist – but they aren’t always the easiest to find. During my freelance PR career, and particularly when helping with managing press outreach for a major fashion runway event in San Diego, I found the following articles to be incredibly helpful in steering me in the right direction.

Business Basics for Independent Publicists

Before getting started, this post, Going Solo: A Guide to Freelance Fashion PR, provides a great scope of what to consider in your initial set-up, such as taking care of budget, project fees, taxes, branding, and other expenses. Not to mention, getting a fair warning about midnight printer ink shopping runs (it happens). This work, although not billable, is time invested to assure long-term success and mentally preparing for the non 8-5 gig. If you need extra help figuring out what to charge, take a look at what Lori Riviere suggests in A Fashion PR Guide to Setting a Pricing Structure and know that Crosby herself is available to help you navigate your PR business as well through her fashion publicist consulting sessions (I’ve done it and it was invaluable).

With a business foundation set, you’re probably eager to grow your client roster. Not so fast. Take some time to figure out how you will set expectations and report on wins for clients. Robin Doyle in this post, Monthly Activity Report Template Shows Clients the Value of Public Relations (and You) shares, “unlike paid advertising, PR services can’t guarantee media placements and that can make many new clients confused and uneasy about paying a publicist a monthly retainer.” Explaining realistic outcomes from the beginning sets a precedent for client relations and education. During my freelance career I used the MAR template Robin provides in this article. This method of reporting helped me stay on track and communicate not just results, but where I was dedicating my time. If event production is part of your service offerings, than 4 Tips to Measure the Impact of a Brand Event is definitely a must-read and might even surprise you!

Become a Pitch Maven

Thinking about results, pitching is at the heart of publicity. For advice on pitching, check out 4 DOs and DON’Ts to Write the Perfect PR Pitch by Rebekah Epstein, as well as her editor desk side series and insight on pitching contributed content. The greatest takeaway for me was clearly understanding the game I was playing and, at a certain level, expecting disappointment. Rebekah writes see “pitching is complicated and chances are you will receive a significantly larger amount of declines than yeses.”And, while you are likely dreaming of landing Vogue covers, don’t forget that pitching business media is an important way to tell your client’s story. All of these articles helped me develop my approach; a hyper-focused media list and personalized pitches for each contact helped land national interest.

For many clients, the allure of print media coverage in the big fashion books is going to be key. If you are new to pitching, consider picking up a copy of  Pitch Perfect, which goes into more detail about the art of pitching. With a short project timeline for the local fashion event, major print publications were not initially on my radar. However, by focusing on developing interesting angles using the backgrounds of participating designers I discoverd Native Max Magazine, which focuses on creative accomplishments of Native Americans. They were interested in our outreach, which ended up landing one designer a multiple-page spread that included mention of the fashion runway event. Native Max later used the story angle as the impetus for a much larger story about Native Americans showing at fashion weeks nationally. So, not matter your timeline, you just might luck out with a unique story angle and a niche publication with a shorter lead-time.

Reaching out to niche publications is a great strategy, and PR Couture has rounded up a handful of digital fashion magazines you should know, and their How to Pitch series with fashion editors offers crucial insight into pitching not just the big guys like People StyleWatch and Redbook, but tips on how to get media coverage on sites and magazines like Babiekins and Brides Magazine.

It’s worth thinking of outside major US mainstream media, and PR Couture has you covered there as well. Laura Perez published the post, How to Pitch Mexican Fashion Media + Tips from Maria Jose Guzman, Fashion Editor of InStyle Mexico, which provides sample pitches and answers questions I pondered such as, Do I pitch in Spanish or English? or What publications should I consider? As a fashion publicist working in Southern California, the Hispanic media market is huge for local clients. For this fashion runway event, Hispanics were represented on the designer roster and in audience demographics, giving the event a bi-national component. By reaching out to hispanic media, we were able to secure Spanish-language coverage in broadcast, blogs, and local publications. Si se puede.

Event Strategy and Beyond

As you probably well know, pitching for media coverage is just a small way that you can help your clients grow their businesses. In order to peak the interest of local media, many of whom felt they had already covered the fashion runway event when it relaunched a few seasons back, I executed with a team a style blogger brunch, inspired by this Publicist Q&A with Alyson Roy, Co-Founder of AMP3 Public Relations. Alyson serves as Chief of Publicity for Nolcha Fashion Week, where I learned she has found success by targeting “favorite style bloggers and influencers by approaching them to style & shoot the product, before anyone else gains access. Together, this creates a crowd-sourced look book that is inspired by tastemakers instead of directed by the brand.” So we invited 30 bloggers for an up-and-close exclusive media-only preview of the accessory designers before they hit the runway. Along with procuring blog and social media coverage, bloggers collaborated on a lookbook using runway looks for Opening Day at the Del Mar Races (this event brings in more than 40,000 race fans to San Diego), which provided an additional story angle for the event. For more out of the box ideas, you’re sure to be inspired by this holiday-themed event planing post by the amazing Small Girls PR team as well as this article about creating a campus ambassador program.

This probably just cracks the surface of the resources available on PR Couture to help you grow your freelance fashion PR business, but I hope you feeling excited to dive in and make your mark.

About Tanya Rivas

Tanya is a bilingual and bicultural publicist, events professional, and founder of La Bella Tanchi. She is a graduate of Fashion PR Confidential and is currently an Account Associate at MSLGROUP in Los Angeles, CA. Connect with her on Twitter @labellatanchi

Photo Credit: TNW