Pull letters. Letters of responsibility. B-roll. Ed cals?
If you’re not sure what any of the above mean, you’re in the right place. Every industry has its own jargon and acronyms and the fashion public relations industry is no exception.
What’s a pull letter or letter of responsibility?
The pull letter, letter of responsibility, or LOR for short, is an important component when working with freelance stylists and market editors who want to borrow product samples for magazine shoots or VIP dressing opportunities.
A pull letter includes the shoot dates, story theme, publication date and sample return date. Most importantly, the letter states that the publication will take financial responsibility for any products loaned and pay for replacements in the event of loss or damage.
Basically, it is an agreement that client samples will be returned, and that should anything happen to the item, costs will be covered by the borrower. Particularly important for luxury brands (losing a diamond bracelet on a red carpet or a rip down the back of a couture gown is a huge financial problem, as you can imagine), requiring a signed LOR, whether provided by the publication or by the publicist on behalf of the brand, is a smart best practice for any PR company lending out samples.
Pro tip for pull letters
Since freelance stylists are not employed in-house at a publication, they will usually provide a pull letter or letter of responsibility from an editor at the publication they’re shooting for. Make sure the letter includes the editor’s contact information so you can reach out and confirm the stylist is, in fact, working on a project for the publication.
You can also use social media to vet freelance stylists. Most stylists and editors use social media to promote their work, so it’s a good practice to check out their accounts and/or website and see examples of their work before deciding whether to loan samples for a shoot.
Pull letters help establish a comfort level when you’ve never worked with a stylist before, or you’re unfamiliar with their work. For publications, it provides a safety net should anything go “missing” in the shoe closet, and sets your client’s mind at ease.
If you are at all concerned about the proper and safe return of samples, ensure the LOR has a clause about when and how to recover lost costs, should anything go wrong. You may also require a credit card on file, or a deposit to further ensure peace of mind. If you are planning on developing an in-house or standard agency document to use for sample requests, be sure to have it reviewed by an attorney to ensure it is an enforceable legal document.