At some point, most designers will ask themselves the same question … “Should I hire a publicist or PR agency?”
The role of a publicist is often misunderstood and difficult to define. Our function is constantly evolving to stay current with the times and are distinct to the needs of each client. Commonly my services are sought out to plan a fashion week event or presentation to attain media exposure for various designers and artists. Typically, I’ve found that key components are indiscriminately overlooked that are absolutely essential to even begin the process of press outreach. Here’s the good news: the benefits of adding PR to your business extend beyond seeing your creation on the cover of a magazine or on the red carpet of your favorite celebrity.
Here are a few reasons designers can benefit from the guidance a of public relations professional, including pointers to see if you’re in the right place to get started!
The nitty-gritty of strategic planning is one thing, but ultimately it all boils down to your story and what sets you apart – i.e. your signature. A level of consistency is key to develop your name as an established brand and if you have a story, tell it. A friend recently told me that her favorite movie was the 1980’s film “Baby boom” featuring a young, Diane Keaton. This was definitely surprising to me, but her adoration lies behind the heartfelt storyline of a city girl turned country bumpkin who created a successful baby food company. The moral of this story is that there’s something in this film that my friend can relate to that has stuck with her over the years.
When developing your company, keep your target audience in mind and think about the intricacies behind your collection that can be shared with consumers. If you’re already in the process of bringing your brand to fruition and there’s a piece that has garnered immense feedback, recreate it in your next collection with a slight twist. Every brand is unique and your audience should be able to discern this fact – as a result, developing you into a reputable brand. A publicist can help you identify what sets you apart in your market and how this message can be communicated.
Social Media & Online Presence
Sometimes social media can feel a little overwhelming for designers. This is completely understandable with the number of resources at our fingertips, but it shouldn’t be. Social media is affordable, easily accessible, and vital to every brand. Having a PR professional to set-up, manage and educate you on these platforms relieves these stresses so you can be connected with your target market and then some. Think of it more as an extension of yourself and let this side of your personality and craft shine! It’s never been easier for individuals to have a direct path to share information about their brands to gain a following. The by-product being an increase in revenue and eminence for your line to keep your brand going.
Likewise, the importance of a good website that is representative and informative to the identity of your collection shouldn’t be neglected. An awesome site builds your credibility. Then there’s the oh so necessary, Google search ability. Publicists also provide feedback on details that could be missing from your site and potentially connect you with graphic artists/designers (if need be), to make this step happen.
Gather the tools that you need to bring exposure to your brand
Linesheets, lookbooks, and hi-res images of your collection (and logo) are imperative for press outreach. Even outside of PR, every moment that prolongs a potential opportunity bears the chances of losing it altogether. It isn’t all-important for linesheets to be fancy (ensuring pertinent info is there) and lookbooks must, must, must clearly depict each piece of your collection. Save yourself time and money. Express creativity in the layout and mood of your lookbook without compromising the visibility of each design. Because budget concerns are often an issue, consider holding off on printing large quantities of these materials until they’re needed (thus keeping overhead low). While great to have a small qty on hand, lookbooks and linesheets are often requested digitally and shouldn’t be a pain to print. Picture this scenario: a box of 1000 or even 500 (seasonal) lookbooks that will cost you a fortune or pre-planning a trip to kinko’s before your next meeting? Which would you choose? You’ll also need a set of samples that you can part with for short amounts of time for editors and stylists to pull for shoots. If your product isn’t in stores and you’re working on sales, consider setting up an e-commerce site. Buying schedules can be difficult to adhere to for emerging designers and this gives you complete control and is also cost effective. If you’re seeking press, editorial placement is rarely possible and counter productive if items are not available for retail sale.
It’s incredibly beneficial to have an expert who can identify areas that you may not have considered for your brand, outlets that need to be established and the ability to connect you with the right people. With the tremendous amount of hard work and focus that goes into creating a brand, it’s useful to have someone to strategize the business side of things for you.
Regardless of your next steps, in the end remember to set realistic goals, pay attention to your budget, be patient, and have fun!