Exploring Fashion PR
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Exploring Fashion PR

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Highlights from the fashion PR paper, From Style to Strategy: An Exploratory Investigation of Public Relations Practice in the Fashion Industry. ...

Highlights from the fashion PR paper, From Style to Strategy: An Exploratory Investigation of Public Relations Practice in the Fashion Industry.

Key findings from in-depth interviews with fashion public relations practitioners suggest that fashion public relations is a dynamic, fast-paced profession. Fashion public relations agencies engage in strategic communication and perform a variety of tasks, from media pitching to organizing fashion shows, based on individual client needs. Practitioners spend the majority of their time working with media, either pitching story ideas to editors, or working to fulfill editor requests. Most participants consider themselves feminists and acknowledge that while fashion can be fun and empowering for many women, it can often be hard to work in an industry that places so much emphasis on beauty and celebrities.

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  • its really helpful for a new pr professional or student to understand the scenario of pr in the field of fashion. wud really like to have more such research papers.
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Exploring Fashion PR Exploring Fashion PR Presentation Transcript

  • FASHION PR From Style to Strategy: an exploratory investigation of public relations practice in the fashion industry
  • INTRODUCTION
    • What is Public Relations?
    • Why Fashion PR?
    • Purpose of Study
    • Key Concepts
    • Methods
    • Research Questions
    • Highlights of Findings
    • Summary
  • WHAT IS PUBLIC RELATIONS?
    • Public relations has been peer-defined as a management function that regulates communication between an organization and its publics, with a focus on developing and maintaining mutually beneficial relationships (Cutlip, Center & Broom, 2000; Dozier, Grunig, & Grunig, 1995).
    • In contrast, marketers often see public relations as part of the ‘marketing mix,’ the part of integrated communication efforts that supports profit-making efforts by using publicity as a promotional tool that creates invaluable credibility for a product or service (Harris, 1998).
    • No matter the specifics of the definition however, most theorists assume that the role of public relations is similar regardless of the industry it is performed in. Very little research has looked at the unique differences within public relations specialties, also known as “niche PR,” like entertainment, non-profit, and fashion/beauty.
  • WHY FASHION PR?
    • Feminist public relations research is declining, and recent efforts have been criticized as “insufficient for attracting a younger and more diverse cohort to feminist research in public relations” (Sha & Vardeman, 2005, p. 30).
    • The field of fashion public relations is a growing specialty popular with female undergraduates (Andsager & Hust, 2004).
    • Practitioners in both public relations and the fashion industry have struggled for professional as well as academic recognition. Both are feminized industries.
    • There is little academic inquiry into the PR specialty. T here is a feeling from the public relations community that fashion public relations, is not seen as “real PR” by scholars and practitioners.
      • Craft vs. Professional
      • One-way communication vs. Two-way
  • PURPOSE OF STUDY
    • The purpose of this study is to contribute to the body of knowledge in public relations, which until this time has not explicitly looked at fashion public relations, despite the popularity of this specialty among public relations students and young professionals.
    • By encouraging and producing new themes for research that are reflective of current industry trends and the career goals of (particularly female) public relations students, this study helps to ensure the continuation of feminist research in public relations.
    • Minimal research out of the UK suggests that fashion PR is a highly strategic, relationship-driven PR specialty.
    • Public Relations research benefits from theoretical inquiry that examines PR from an industry-specific perspective.
  • KEY CONCEPTS
    • In order to explore the concept of a fashion-specific PR theory, this study leveraged existing public relations theories and models, feminism, fashion theory, and fashion marketing.
    • Feminist Waves and Fashion/Dress
    • Feminist PR Theory – Liberal vs. Radical
    • Components of PR – Media Relations, Social Responsibility, Strategic Communication, Celebrity Endorsement
    • The Fashion Process/Trend Cycle
    • Fashion as Communication/Mass Media
    • Counterfashion
    • Dress studies/cultural impact of dress
    • Fashion Marketing/The Fashion Opinion Leaders
  • RESEARCH QUESTIONS
    • 1. How do fashion public relations practitioners define and discuss the various roles and responsibilities of fashion public relations practitioners?
    • 2. How do fashion public relations practitioners manage media and client relationships?
    • 3. What are the implications of fashion public relations for a feminist critique of public relations theory and practice?
  • Method
    • Conversational approach
    • Seven qualitative, semi-structured, open ended face-to-face interviews
    • Interviews lasted anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour, with an average of about 40 minutes per interview .
    • Six interviews were completed in New York, one took place in Los Angeles.
    • Practitioners professional experience ranges from over 18 years to less than a year.
    • Sample included three CEO's, a Vice President, one Senior Account Executive, an Account Executive, and one Account Coordinator.
  • KEY FINDINGS
    • Fashion fashion public relations is a dynamic, fast-paced profession.
    • Fashion public relations agencies engage in strategic communication and perform a variety of tasks, from media pitching to fashion shows, based on individual client needs.
    • Practitioners spend the majority of their time working with media, either pitching story ideas to editors, or working to fulfill editor requests
    • Most participants consider themselves feminists.
    • Many acknowledged that while fashion can be fun and empowering for many women, it can be hard to work in an industry that places so much emphasis on beauty and celebrities.
  • RQ1: How do fashion public relations practitioners define and discuss the various roles and responsibilities of fashion public relations practitioners?
    • Daily Tasks:
    • “ You are working on different clients, and they are constantly coming out with new things, and there are shifts in the market, so it is a lot of research and creating stories.”
    • “ Our clients rely on us for our expertise and our guidance, and knowing what is happening from a retail and industry perspective, what is the cycle. [In fashion public relations] you wear multiple hats, and you need to become the go-to person for journalists, the media, as well as for the clients.”
    • “ We work with fashion and accessory collections primarily, and we house samples of those collections in our office. Stylists and editors are constantly coming to pull different items for upcoming [fashion] shoots that they are working on. We also work to get [clients] clothes on hot celebrities and hot TV shows. We do huge gifting programs, where we send out the most popular shoes and the most popular dresses to the top female celebrities in Hollywood. “
  • RQ1: How do fashion public relations practitioners define and discuss the various roles and responsibilities of fashion public relations practitioners?
    • Strategy:
    • “ We consider ourselves media strategists, so there are things you want to accomplish for the client, message points you want to get across during the year. The first year might be developing product awareness, and the second more about getting features, looking for possible brand ambassadors.”
    • “ There is a lot of reactive PR but there is a strategy. [The reactivity] is due to the very nature of the [fashion] business. I think you can pitch The New York Times every single day, and then one day they will come to you and then it becomes reactive because you don’t want to miss out on that opportunity. You never ever want to say no to an editor; it kills you.”
    • “ The idea [exists] that all we do is party with rich socialites, [and] that has given the industry and people like myself a bad name. We are creative strategists: look at the things we talk about and what we do for our clients. This is big picture thinking.”
  • RQ2: How do fashion public relations practitioners manage media and client relationships?
    • Client Management:
    • “ Often in PR, it is about pre-pitching and coming up with ideas after a very brief, short meeting. I think it is a two-step process. From the meeting you come up with some ideas that you think they want to hear, but it isn’t until you actually get hired that you can be most effective, because it takes a good two months to really get to know a company, get to know what works, and what doesn’t. You can do research but until you are really in the trenches it is much more difficult. “
    • “ Number one is getting in there and understanding the product, who the target audience is, where [the client] stands, what their objectives are, what they are looking to get. When I pitch a new client I do an overview of where I think they stand in the marketplace, what I think they stand for, and where I think they should be going forward. I figure out what their goals are and then target a program to their needs.”
  • RQ2: How do fashion public relations practitioners manage media and client relationships?
    • Media Relations/Relationships:
    • “ A lot of the time, you pitch an item and someone calls from the magazine to say they are going to use it and then you open the magazine and it isn’t there. That happens 85% of the time, where just last minute cuts happen, and clients don’t understand that [in that situation] it had nothing to do with PR, that it has to do with sheer luck and timing.”
    • “ PR is like a third-party editorial endorsement; you have no control over how the editor is going to write about it.”
    • “ I really have worked hard to be honest, to be proactive, sensitive to people’s deadlines and busy schedules. [Editors] really appreciate that I will go the distance under very tight deadlines to make sure that they get what they want when they need it.”
    • “ My style of PR is very different than somebody else’s. When I take an editor out to lunch, I don’t necessarily talk about my company or my product. I talk about them, what they like, and I get to know them. A lot of other people don’t do it that way, but I have a very soft sell.”
  • RQ3: What are the implications of fashion public relations for a feminist critique of public relations theory and practice?
    • Stereotypes:
    • “ I think I am pretty intelligent, I did well in college and went to a good school, and studied business and I am capable. But I think people look at me like ‘random blonde chick,’ [and] that fits right [into their stereotype about fashion public relations practitioners].”
    • Lookism:
    • “ I don’t think that your success is determined by your gender. I think that especially in PR you are as good as the last great thing you’ve done. It does allow an individual to shine.”
    • “ Gender [discrimination]? No. Physical [discrimination]? Yes. It really isn’t any mystery why most PR people are fairly young and good-looking. It is no coincidence. In not so many words, I was told I had my job because I am a good representative of the market. We go out, make connections and represent the lines we carry. It was the first time I had ever been told this, and to be honest it felt weird to be objectified [that way].”
    • Feminism:
    • “ Fashion doesn’t mean that you have to go around and be a complete moron who wears minimal clothing. I took a lot of feminism classes in college and that was often the argument. It is very limiting. [Women who work in fashion PR] are very educated and have taken an active role as career women, and if [feminists] are going to go after these women, it is a counter-productive argument because [feminists] are going to be going after women who are going out and getting jobs and having careers which is essentially the goal of feminism.”
  • ADDITIONAL FINDINGS
    • Celebrity:
    • “ It is very important to have celebrities seen wearing your clients’ products. If you can get a picture of them wearing it, or a confirmation that a celebrity has it, then you can take that information to US Weekly , or Life & Style Weekly , and they run stories on that.”
    • Social Responsibility:
    • “ I think fashion has come to a good place in knowing what [fashion] is worth in terms of working with charities and getting a lot of press and big names. Almost every fashion house and designer has a working relationship with a charity. Not to say that we work with charities so we are good, but I think they know what they have to bring to the table, and they are actively being conscious about doing the right thing.”
    • Career Advice:
    • “ I would say that you could easily succeed in this industry if you are a pretty girl that likes fashion, and wants to play the game, you can do well. I think the real question is how to distinguish yourself as someone who brings something different to the table, because there are a million girls who want to [work] in fashion. The question is how do you then establish yourself as smarter, more capable and better than [the rest].”
    • “ You have to have interpersonal skills, be social, you have to know how to network, to have a conversation and be comfortable. You need to understand the media, advertising and marketing, because that is where all your ideas stem from. You should know how to pitch a story. Writing is very important, and email, we do a lot of communicating with the press via email. Being organized. This is a very fast business. You have to be able to multi-task and think on your own.”
  • SUMMARY
    • Media Relations and Publicity are more the result of the consumer goods market, rather than a lack of sophistication in the fashion public relations specialty itself.
    • Securing such media placements requires skills in negotiation, relationship building and maintenance, as well as creativity.
    • Practitioners have used complex strategy, environmental scanning, relationship building, and planning to provide clients with maximum results for minimal cost.
    • Data suggests that the “craft” style reputation is not a particularly accurate descriptor.
  • Implications for Theory and Practice
    • Inclusion of Fashion PR specialty in PR Courses
    • Focus on Media Relations in undergraduate coursework
    • Fashion can be effectively examined through its social, economic, and political connections to academic theory, art and daily life.
    • Importance of approaching the study of PR from an industry-specific perspective r
    • Contributions of fashion public relations practitioners through academic scholarship enhances the reputation and professionalism of the field as a whole.
  • FASHION PR For a copy of this paper, please email [email_address] and visit www.prcouture.com