The editor of Insider attended a talk at last week’s International Jewellery London show, on the ways in which fashion brands and designers can work effectively with the trade press.
The talk, Working Effectively with the Trade Press to Get Coverage for Your Brand/Business, was led by a panel including Editor of Retail Jeweller, Ruth Faulkner; Director of FACETS PR and Jewellery Editor at LUXURE, Sarah Carpin; and Consultant and Senior Account Manager at FACETS PR, Kathryn Bishop.
The aim of the talk was to encourage fashion brands and designers to interact with the right kind of press, and to do so in an effective manner. Of course, it is easy to see the press as your route to sales, but they have to want to include you in their publications too, so you have to be viable. As Sarah Carpin said: “There’s no point being in Vogue if you have no retail stockists, you need to talk to trade publications first.”
But we get it, you haven’t worked this hard – and you’ve managed to get that celebrity to wear your design on the red carpet – for it not be worthy of appearing in Vogue, but as you know, people want proof. The reason that appearing in trade publications is so important for your brand, is that the big brands are reading these magazines and listening to them for who is up and coming.
The wealth of information gathered from this talk can be applied to any fashion business owner, or designer wanting to build their brand. So read on for top tips and advice on pitching to trade press editors, and mistakes to avoid from the panel, for the benefit of your fashion brand.
The panel at IJL 2015
Getting in the Trade Press
Press releases from jewellery designers about their new collections arrive in the inboxes of trade press editors, like Ruth, every day. But the editor has to have a valid reason to put you into a publication, and that reason must be about business as much as it is news.
These magazines are informing retailers of not just who should be in their stores, but why – people want to know why a designer is good. So if you want to be in a trade publication, you need to have a good ‘hook’, according to the panel.
The panel suggested mentioning the following in your press release:
- If you’re working on a collaboration.
- If you’re moving on to a different product.
- If you’ve gained access to a well-known or prestigious institution.
- Overall, you should have an interesting story – not an X-Factor-style sob story – about your product, your journey as a designer or fashion business, and why you are so unique.
The other point made was that the difference between sending PR to trade press rather than consumer press, is that you cannot just send pretty pictures. Trade press editors want interesting stories, your unique selling point and maybe something interesting or previously unheard about the supply chain, for example.
They want the business angle; because that’s what their readership want. But to be considered for a placement in the trade press, they also want you to:
- Have stockists.
- Tell them about your ideal stockists as it gives them an idea about your direction, and it adds to your dynamic.
- Chase up in an appropriate time period if you haven’t heard anything – sometimes your press release may be filed away until your story fits in with the features list.
- Book an appointment to meet with them in person when you’re showing a collection, for example at IJL.
- Find out lead times that the publication you’re interested in works to, for example, if you wanted to be in the International Jewellery London edition of Retail Jeweller, their lead-time is at least six weeks.
- Look at what news stories they cover, and find out how you could fit in there. Ask yourself, what is newsworthy about your brand?
The panel candidly expressed the common pitfalls that designers make when approaching trade press editors. They may not appear to be errors, so it’s even more important that you are mindful of these things that can really put editors off:
- Sending low-resolution images, or worse, no images at all. It’s important not to send an email so large that it cannot be delivered to someone’s inbox, but a strong image is required for your pitch.
- Not investing in the ‘proper technology’ for your images – you should not be sending images that were taken on your iPhone.
- Not adhering to the required quality of 300dpi, 10 x 10cm, and a size of 1-3MB – a top tip was to use a white background to showcase your designs
Top Tips for Your ‘Hook’
As it is not enough to just send a really good image to an editor, and just talk about how good your product looks. You need to know how to explain why your brand is so good. You have to appear interesting. The editor of Retail Jeweller, Ruth Faulkner, said: “If you’re going to tell me something interesting, I’ll write about it.”
So, explain what is so unique and innovative about your production process, or why you make your products in a particular way. It is also helpful to keep up to date with the hot topics in the fashion industry, and how your product is related. For example, if sustainability is a hot topic, tell the story of how you keep your carbon footprint low.
The panel gave their advice:
- Use a hook in your pitch that ties in with a particular trend.
- Explain how appearing at a show such as IJL opened doors for you.
- Talk about prizes that you’ve won.
- Mention any recent or future collaborations.
- Make whatever you’re telling the editor newsworthy – it has to be news to be in the trade press.
- Check the publication’s features list for what is coming up. There could be a great opportunity for your products to appear in an issue of the publication that is specific to your brand.
- Think beyond what you’re doing, and aim to build a relationship with the trade press.
- Using PR Agencies.
Sarah and Kathryn of FACETS PR explained that doing PR in-house and on a small budget means that you can lack experience, breadth and a relationship with the press. Although, it’s important to remember that as the owner of your fashion business, you’re the best person to shout about your designs and do the PR as you know your business best – and using PR agencies can be a costly commitment.
There are benefits to using a PR agency, as they’ll constantly pitch you to the press with experience and professionalism, but they need to have a good understanding of what your brand is about. It’s also vital that you choose an agency that specialises in what you’re trying to sell.
If the cost of using a PR agency is a concern for you, Sarah and Kathryn also explained that paying a monthly fee is a good idea, but you do need to budget for it to be sustainable.
You may choose the innovative and modern tactic of approaching bloggers to publicise your products. But it’s important that you speak with them about what service they’ll provide for the money that you will be paying them.
For example, bloggers with huge followings cost “a lot” according to Sarah – a payment of £1000 could buy you a 200-word blog post including three pictures of the blogger and your product, three tweets and two Instagram posts.
Smaller bloggers will be cheaper, but they will have a smaller following. However, if your product is niche and the blogger is popular with your target audience, using them may be a very savvy and lucrative idea.
Using Instagram as PR
Kathryn said that Instagram can be a great place to get the conversation going with your target sales audience and is a great starting point for a PR campaign.
She suggested asking your audience for their opinion on a product, for example: “Which do you prefer, the gold-plated or the silver?”
It should not be a direct pitch to customers asking them why they have or have not bought your products, it should be done less explicitly and more subtly, in order to engage with them successfully.
Related reading: Engage Your Virtual Focus Group for InstaValue!
Overall, it is important that all PR for your fashion brand is executed with careful planning and reasoning, and that the virtues of your brand are clear throughout.
Let us know how you approach the press, or what your experience with PR agencies has been: