Roxy Jacenko, Founder and Director of Sweaty Betty PR was kind enough to offer her advice on getting the word out about your new Fashion Startup!
The Importance of PR for Emerging Fashion Labels
Sweaty Betty PR has been managing communications on behalf of global, Australian and independent fashion brands for over seven years. While we work with huge international brands such as Levi’s® and Converse, we also represent a clutch of emerging fashion labels – and in our opinion, a PR strategy is JUST as important, if not more so, for smaller brands in the industry.
Australia has a very different fashion and retail industry to any other region; we are a huge country with a very small population and an oversupply of fashion brands, most of which are influenced by trends in America and the US. Therefore it can be harder for the less established Australian brands to be heard over all the competition; which is where a communications campaign will assist in giving your label a voice.
Whether you are appointing an agency, or carrying out PR yourself, the main points to consider are:-
Where is your position in the market? If you retail for under $50 there is no point pitching to Vogue. Similarly, high end products aren’t right for Dolly and Take 5. Be honest with yourself; where do you fit in the current fashion landscape? Once you’ve answered this question you can devise a list of the relevant media to which you can tell your story.
What’s your USP (unique selling point)? Are your prints sourced from an exclusive supplier in Europe? Do your affordable prices set you apart? Have you created a brand new style of jean? Work out what makes you different to the competition and use this point in all your communication.
Behind every great fashion brand is a story, a history, a background which the media will use to paint a picture of your label. Think of those that you know – Sass & Bide started selling their jeans at Portobello Markets in London, designer Rachel Gilbert headed up Nicky Hilton’s label before starting out on her own – what’s your history? What inspired you to design your own collection? Who/what influences you? Create an intriguing biography on you or your designer to pitch to media for profiles and fashion features.
Once you’ve created a complete brand outline of your label, you need to ensure your collateral is ready to be promoted to the public. Never start PR without your tools lined up and ready to communicate; these include:-
– Brand logo
– Look book (featuring images of each piece in your collection, style names and prices)
– High resolution images of each piece in your collection
– A number/website to be listed in media for stockist enquiries
– A full set of samples for media to use in their fashion shoots (note that PR agencies always work with the forthcoming season collections so prepare samples well in advance)
You are now ready to employ a PR agency! The most important factor for an emerging label when choosing a PR agency is to pick a partner with an excellent offering of brands in their portfolio; this way you can be sure that the media will be visiting their showroom regularly and your collection will be in the heart of this fashion destination. The smaller labels at Sweaty Betty PR leverage so much from being merchandised alongside international brands and household names; many a time we’ve secured a top item of coverage for an independent brand simply because the editor spotted something they loved while browsing the rack of a well-known label.
Australia is home to an array of fashion PR agencies; do your research and choose your top three, then arrange face to face meetings with each. Take your collection, prepare a biography and think about the earlier points, and brief the agency on exactly what you want to achieve from a PR partner. Take in to account the size, atmosphere, design and layout of the showroom; this is where your label will be housed for at least six months and you must be comfortable with the space.
Get a feel for the PR team; your relationship with the agency is important as you’ll be speaking to them on an almost daily basis. Find out how they report their PR results and request regular feedback from editors about your collection; this will help you choose the most PR-friendly pieces in future. Bear in mind that most PR agencies work on a monthly retainer fee, and it takes 3-4 months for monthly press coverage to filter through the pages, as these magazine work very far in advance.
The key to fashion PR is PREPARATION – on both sides, the designer and the agency. Our industry is always working one season ahead, particularly in Australia when we can see the overseas trends before they hit our seasons. You must be well organised and have efficient processes in place for briefing your PR agency to achieve the desired results.
And finally remember – PR doesn’t necessarily translate in to sales immediately. For a new or emerging fashion brand, PR is about raising your profile, generating brand awareness and positioning you in the industry. It’s a marathon, not a sprint, but a long-term PR strategy will ensure your label is taken from the obscure to the familiar and beyond.
About Sweaty Betty PR
Seven years ago, young publicist Roxy Jacenko created Sweaty Betty PR; a dynamic, results-driven agency which marched to its own drumbeat with a fresh, new and exciting communications strategy. Roxy’s start-up venture placed Sweaty Betty PR in ‘the new school of Public Relations’ and the agency’s impressive portfolio of clients soon attracted an array of brands to her fashion PR stable. Fast forward to 2011, and Sweaty Betty PR is a powerful force in the Australian PR industry; the agency boasts 70+ international and homegrown brands, the 20-strong team includes experienced Publicists, in-house Copywriter, and full time Graphic Designer, and the huge designer showroom in Sydney’s trendy warehouse district filled with a variety of collections and products is the first port of call for media and celebrities.