Trying to decide whether to concentrate on growing their label’s sales network, or strengthen the brand’s PR presence, fashion entrepreneurs often find themselves at the crossroads. At first sight, the whole dilemma seems to be a classic “Catch-22” situation. But is it?
It’s no secret that buyers are often more willing to invest in collections that already have some recognition in the media and credibility with the market. And that’s where good PR comes in handy.
Creating, sending out and following up on press releases, building relationships with reporters and editors to line up opportunities for media coverage, making friends with famous stylists to get celebrities to wear your garments, organizing events, setting up appearances and interviews, ensuring runway shows go off without a hitch (that is quite possibly the ultimate fashion industry challenge!) – these are only some of the responsibilities that a professional publicist takes on to make certain that the key message of your brand reaches its target audience and strikes a chord with your potential clientele.
By building positive brand awareness and increasing exposure, quality PR has the capacity to drive sales. As Alison Lowe of Felicities, a London-based PR agency, puts it:
“Public relations can play a critical role in achieving a competitive advantage by, for example, opening new markets, attracting buyers, giving more access to funding and investors, creating a high value and helping businesses grow.”
On the other hand, when brands care about gaining recognition more than they do about the business side of fashion, they often find themselves in dire circumstances down the road. Dressing stars, supporting fundraising events, attending glamorous parties, and receiving accolades from popular bloggers does not guarantee that retailers will pick up your line. Unless, of course, it meets buyers’ three major criteria.
#1 – Your line has to be relevant to the market. You must provide aesthetic continuity, as well as listen to consumers and respond to their needs.
#2 – You have to produce and deliver a high quality product, and be consistent in doing so.
#3 – Your label must be able to handle purchase orders – scale production to meet the demand, set up a smooth logistics system, stay on top of marketing to support retailers, etc.
If complying with these industry best practices requires you to hire an additional employee, invest in manufacturing, or buy a new fabric – then by all means do so. Especially if your budget is limited and you’re prompted to choose between strengthening your production base and splurging on PR services (we’re talking $5-10K a month as the current going rate).
The truth is: commercial success depends on your ability to create a product that your target customer won’t be able to resist, and make buying this item both easy and convenient for your consumers. That way, extending your sales network will fuel brand recognition, naturally attracting excellent PR.
“If your product is really good, the PR is going to come by itself. But if the product doesn’t perform, it doesn’t matter how good your press is.”