I owned a handbag company in the fashion industry and the one constant in my life was the issue of press – did we have enough of it?
Once we started receiving press, we were forever focused on getting more. Almost as important as designs, sales and delivering the goods on time, is the issue of publicity. You can have the most amazing product, but if it does not receive press, then the company is not going to go very far. That is just the plain truth.
How To Get Publicity?
Fortunately, I have several tips to help get the press ball rolling.
On your website you should have a page called PRESS or NEWS or something to that effect where you can put all of your press mentions. Just create that page from the inception of your site so when you receive publicity, that is where it will go.
When starting out your company, you can hire a public relations company and they can handle all of this for you. In New York or Los Angeles, there are many public relations companies which I am sure would be happy for your business. I believe the traditional public relations companies have lost business as people are cutting their PR budgets as they take publicity in house or are trying to renegotiate their rates.
However, public relations companies are great because they have proven connections with magazine editors to help get you editorial placements, they know reporters who report on style and fashion, and can possibly help you land an interview. They can also help steer your brand, so that it promotes a consistent brand identity and message.
Publicity On A Budget
If you do not have the budget for a PR company when starting out, here are a couple of things you can do:
- Write a press release. There are many websites which can help guide you to write a strong press release, but the bottom line is that you just need to get the announcement out. I would then submit it to various news outlets.
There are a few free websites and then there are a couple that one has to pay for such as www.PRWeb.com or www.WebWire.com. These press release companies will ensure that your press is submitted to thousands of news agencies who are looking for stories.
Write statements about the launch of your company, your new collection and inspiration or a new fabric you are using. Write press releases whenever you are doing anything newsworthy.
- Put a PDF of your press release on your website.
- Sign up for HARO (Help a Reporter Out) and Reporter Connection. These sites connect busy journalists with experts, companies and much more. There are postings every day and there are many prestigious magazines, newspapers, bloggers and TV shows which use these sites.
- Send out your Look Books or Product shots of key looks to various editors. Look at the mastheads of the major magazines and look for the Accessory Editor, Accessory Assistant or Accessory Market editor.
If you have a well-produced Look Book, mail them a copy. If not, email them a copy of your Look Book or your key looks. I would suggest that if your Look Book is a huge file, do not send it. If it is less than 2MB, then I would send it.
Furthermore, I would embed the pictures in the email so they do not have to open the attachments. These editors are beyond busy so make your email brief and to the point. If you do not know the editors email addresses, call the magazine. The magazine phone number is always listed on the masthead. It is usually pretty small and near the bottom of the page.
- Consider doing a gifting suite. A gifting suite is where you give out products to celebrities who come by and get to pick out whatever they want in exchange for a photo with them holding your item.
These can be expensive to do sometimes just because you have to pay to participate. And then of course you have to provide product. But there are always times when you can negotiate or try to get into the suite at the last minute for a reduced rate. If people love your brand, then I bet you could even get in free.
- Befriend stylists. When you are reading your magazines for inspiration always look at who styled the shoots. There are celebrity stylists like Rachel Zoe who are probably unapproachable, but there are many other stylists who make a living working consistently day in and day out in this business. There are fashion stylists, music stylists and costume stylists who can all be approached.
The way I would approach them is to find out who is who and see if they have a Facebook or Twitter account. With all of these social media platforms reaching out to a famous personality is easier than it has ever been.
I would send them a message and see how I could send them pictures of my samples for them to use for an upcoming shoot. These stylists work freelance and there are also agencies such as Cloutier and Zenobia who represent wardrobe stylists. There are many more listed online – just search for wardrobe stylists.
- Send product directly to an actress, personality or model through their management company or through their publicist.
The hard part is to find out who their manager is. I would then send the product directly to the manager’s office and then follow up and see if they received it. I would find this information out by just looking online to see if their publicist or manager was listed. And if it is hard to find, I would start calling around to the various talent agencies to see if they represent “so-so actress” and they will always deny or confirm that basic information over the phone.
- Ask your friends, family or colleagues if they have any connections. Chances are that somebody may know somebody. And then I would ask if they would make an introduction.
Honestly, you have to be aggressive in this business if you want the celebrities to wear your product. It never hurts to ask. The worse they can say is no.