For any fashion brand looking to promote themselves through earned media coverage, executing a successful fashion PR campaign is key.
Whether handling fashion PR in-house or working at an external fashion public relations agency, there are some ways to ensure that your campaign is as successful as possible.
Let’s start from the basics, though:
What does someone who works in fashion PR pro do?
A fashion publicist works with all sorts of brands in the fashion spectrum from ready-to-wear, accessories, swimwear, lingerie, and more. A fashion PR specialist’s main job is to promote collections and specific campaigns of fashion brands, as well as build the profile and overall brand awareness of the fashion company.
The specific tasks of a fashion public relations pro can vary widely – on any given day, a fashion publicist could be coordinating sample loans and mail outs to top-tier media, researching top fashion trends and how their clients fit in, as well as updating clients on account activities while brainstorming with the rest of the PR team.
No matter the exact tasks, there are at least a few tips and tricks that everyone in the business of fashion PR should know about.
Best fashion PR tips
Invest in great imagery of both flat shots and lifestyle images
Fashion is an incredibly visual industry, which makes quality images one of the most impactful ways to make a strong first impression among the fashion press.
Ensure that you invest in compelling photography that captures the essence of your brand and the beauty of the designs. It’s worth it to get both lifestyle, on-model shots, and flat lays against a white background.
Many fashion outlets do not photograph products in-house and rely on the brand to provide high-resolution photography for use in stories. If you want to land a coveted placement in key fashion media, having both photographs on a model to demonstrate how the pieces look when worn.
Emphasize any big retail partners or affiliate networks
Fashion brands looking to get press coverage should be highlighting any main retailers that they are sold at, including Nordstrom, Bloomingdales, and even Amazon. Many fashion media outlets give preference to brands that are sold at these retailers as they can earn a commission off of sales generated from their articles.
Don’t have a retail partner? Look into joining an affiliate network such as Share-A-Sale – while it can be cumbersome to set up, many media outlets and influencers will pass over your brand unless you have an affiliate partnership.
Develop great story angles to pitch your media contacts
A good angle that hooks in the editor is key to a successful media outreach campaign. While of course having a beautiful product is vital, being able to effectively communicate key aspects of your brand in a way that will resonate with media is crucial to securing coveted top-tier media placements.
When it comes to fashion PR, there are a few tried-and-true strategies that always tend to garner great traction.
1. Product round-ups and trends
Is a celebrity wearing a silhouette that you feature predominantly in a new collection? Does the Pantone color of the year resemble a shade you currently use? Make sure to keep up with all of the current trends in the fashion industry, as this is heavily what editors pull from when writing their stories, particularly for product round-ups.
2. Brand founder stories
If you have an incredible story behind a brand, highlight it! Editors and writers love learning about the “why” behind the brand – why a founder decided to launch their company, what separates them from the competition, and how they were able to grow a business.
My main tip for publicists in any field is to focus on a very specific and intriguing angle when pitching. This sounds obvious, but I receive many general pitches that are very dry and only detail what the product is without taking it a step further. A good publicist will work creatively and use each pitch as an opportunity to tell a story. – Sydney Kaplan, Copywriter & Freelance Journalist
3. Expert Commentary
Building off of that, if the founder or a team member has insight into new directions that the industry is going (such as with sustainability, manufacturing, marketing, etc.) utilize their knowledge to develop a pitch and inform editors of the state-of-the-industry. They love getting the inside scoop!
It’s competitive out there, and I love highlighting brands that offer inclusive sizing, sustainable materials, or some other unique problem-solving hook that differentiates itself from other brands. – Fashion and beauty editor, style expert, and on-air host Jennifer Chan
Maintain targeted, up-to-date media lists
One of the most important elements of a successful fashion PR campaign is a targeted, relevant media list. It’s important to contact editors that are relevant to the fashion industry – you won’t be pitching a health editor about your new line of shoes! (Unless they provide specific health benefits, of course).
As well as making sure the editors you’re contacting make sense for what you’re pitching, you’ll also want to ensure that your media lists are up to date so that you are always contacting the appropriate person at each outlet. Editors and writers move around quite a bit these so it can be a bit to manage, but using tools like Prowly helps to streamline the process and make things easier.
It’s important for publicists to do their research. I always appreciate it when I get an email from someone who mentions an article I recently wrote or knows the outlets I write for. I think a surefire way to annoy an editor is to say the wrong name of an outlet, especially a competitor magazine (this happened while I was on staff).
I think it’s helpful to understand the number of pitches we get a day. I am someone who tries to answer all of them, but it is hard, and I am just a freelancer, when I was on staff it was a lot more. I think one or two follow-ups are appropriate, but only if it’s something you know I cover. Please don’t follow up with me a few times on prom dresses, I have never covered evening, and I am certainly not doing that now. I think everyone has the best intention on both sides but as always I think kindness and leading with connection is always a win-win! – Gabrielle Porcaro, Freelance Fashion Editor
Samples to shoot and gift – at least a few in a variety of sizes
While fashion editors don’t necessarily always need to be gifted products, in some cases, offering to gift them can be incredibly helpful and work toward building a relationship with a fashion editor (particularly if the brand is new). As with many products, giving the editor the opportunity to touch and try out the product in person can help cement the brand in their mind and keep it top of mind for upcoming stories.
One of the most helpful things a fashion publicist can do is to send samples willingly and often (if they can!). I know brands have different limitations with gifting, but it can make all the difference if I can actually touch, feel, and physically try on a garment versus zooming in on hi-res imagery or flipping through a digital lookbook. I gravitate towards creating content that shows fashion on real bodies (i.e. try-on hauls), and readers do, too, so if you are able to gift products to editors, it really does help us tell a story better. – Jennifer Chan
Another great way to achieve fashion PR coverage is to get your brand associated with celebrities. The best approach is to compile a list of target celebrities that match your brand’s esthetic and find out who their stylist is. Many celebrities have more than one stylist – they might have one in LA or one in NY, or one that they use for street style looks versus red carpet (yes, celebrities do often get styled for those paparazzi pictures!).
Once you find an appropriate contact, either search for a website to get their email or look them up on Instagram. Brevity and respect are key when working with fashion stylists – they are constantly on the go and don’t usually work in a traditional office setting, so no lengthy emails. Send a quick note asking if they’re open to receiving a lookbook/line sheet /line sheet/imagery – you often won’t likely hear back, but reach out with select imagery for any new collections when appropriate.
If you do hear back, you’ll often get a note asking for imagery and what pieces you have available to loan/gift. Send over images of the best of the best and the pieces you’re looking for traction on – if they do request samples, send them ASAP!
Follow the stylist and the celebrities on social media and monitor street style photos – you’ll never know where the piece will turn up. While it can be a waiting game and the pieces, unfortunately, won’t always be used, if they do end up wearing them you now have a great tool to use to your advantage.
Ready to do PR for a fashion brand?
Fashion is definitely a fast-paced, exciting industry. When it comes to fashion PR, though, best practices don’t change as dynamically. By following the fashion PR tips mentioned above, you’re giving yourself the best possible chance to secure media placements for your (or your client’s) brand.
If you need help once you’re at it, you might want to check what PR tools like Prowly have to offer. This includes:
- finding relevant contacts to fashion journalists
- creating visual press releases that do justice to fashion brands
- setting up an online newsroom for all important information about a fashion brand that might interest journalists
- sending your email pitches to fashion media contacts and tracking their performance
About the Author: Lindsey Smolan is the founder of VLIV Communications, a full-service public relations and communications agency based in NYC.
VLIV Communications elevates fashion, beauty + lifestyle brands, transforming them from under-the-radar into coveted cult favorites through their range of services, which includes high impact editor placements, celeb sightings, and influencer endorsements.
Cover photo by Flaunter