February 19, 2021
By: Peter Gregory
For cash-strapped fashion startups who can’t afford to advertise, PR offers the chance to put your brand in front of thousands of potential customers. Free press exposure doesn’t come cheap, though! You need a powerful newsworthy story worth sharing, and a strategy for winning over fashion-savvy journalists.
In this guide we’ll show you how your fashion business can get free PR! We’ll explain the different types of press you can approach with your news story, and we’ll show you what fashion journalists are looking for. We’ll also give you some valuable tips on how to create a great PR campaign for your fashion brand!
The best PR campaigns start with a suite of press releases (news stories about your business) and a ‘target list’ of publications that you want your story to appear in.
Depending on the story you’ve got and the audience you’re trying to reach, there are 4 main types of publication that you can send a press release to: national, local, consumer and trade. Here are a few examples of the kinds of publications that fit under each heading:
A national press campaign can grow your sales if you sell direct through your own website, but it can also help you to win over buyers in large fashion retailers. If you’re getting talked about in the press, fashion buyers know that you’ve already got a lot of brand awareness out there, and that the burden of marketing your products won’t fall squarely on their shoulders.
National press puts your brand in front of a lot of people, but not all of these people are going to be interested in buying your product. Even so, it’s worth doing if you can. Broadsheet or tabloid newspapers all usually have a style and culture section (especially on the weekend) — try to approach the editors of those sections.
If your press release story has a local focus, then your best bet is probably going to be your local paper. Coverage in local press is a great way to win goodwill close to home. If you’re still a very small business selling in small volumes, it’s the perfect place to start your PR campaign.
Good examples of local press releases are stories of business growth (if you’re going on a recruitment drive or moving offices, for instance), charity support (if you’ve made a donation or organised something in the local community) and tie-ins to sports clubs, schools or other local institutions.
Press coverage in just about any specialist-interest fashion magazine will serve your business well! The people who buy fashion magazines are style-savvy consumers looking out for the next hot thing on the market — they’re the consumers that most of us want to sell to!
The kinds of PR stories that you pitch to a consumer magazine tend to focus more on the product itself, as opposed to your business or brand. Think long and hard about what’s going to excite the wearer and write about that.
In almost every industry (including fashion), there are specialist trade magazines that cater for people working in that industry, and fashion is no exception.
Anybody who reads the trade press is looking for tips and tricks to help them improve their own brands — they’ve also probably been exposed to a lot of conventional ‘fashion PR’ already. Focus your press release on the commercial side of things; innovations in materials technology, industry commentary and new hires are perfect topics for fashion trade PR.
It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in — journalists want to know about newsworthy things. This may sound vague, but ‘newsworthy’ has actually been very clearly defined. For something to be newsworthy, it must possess at least one of the following qualities:
The journalist you’re approaching probably receives hundreds of press releases every week — they’re not interested in flattery or charm — they want a great story. Stick to the facts and let the content of your press release do the talking!
Don’t underestimate the power of a really good image, too. Sub-editors (the people who actually put the words on the page of a magazine) are always on the lookout for a visually compelling image that they can pair with the text, so don’t send a press release without at least one fantastic image … and be ready to send a high-res version at short notice!
If the thought of reaching out to a journalist makes you squirm, just remember that reporters want to know about the latest news. They want you to approach them with good stories — that’s why they make their social media handles and email addresses available to the general public.
The first step is to find out the name of the journalist you want to talk to. Buy a copy of the magazine or paper you’re trying to get coverage in, and make a note of the journalist’s name. Most journalists will include a social media link or email address somewhere in the magazine — it might be on the front or back pages, or it might be on their website.
Next, make sure your press release is ready before you approach your journalist. If a fashion reporter is working to a tight print deadline, they’ll need everything from you in the space of a few hours. You won’t have time to rewrite or finish your press release as soon as you’ve made contact. We’ve got some tips on how to structure a press release in the next section.
When approaching a fashion journalist or editor with a press release, email is best. According to a recent industry report from Muckrack, a whopping 93% of journalists prefer to be approached over email.
The same report shows that these journalists like short emails, too (Nearly 60% of journalists prefer email pitches no longer than 200 words in length), so keep that first enquiry email short and to-the-point. Your enquiry email just needs to get the reporter to read your press release — you don’t have to squeeze the whole release into 200 words — so keep it interesting and brief.
So you know where you want to send your press release and who you want to send it to, and you know it needs to be newsworthy …but what should you actually put in your press release? It’s ultimately up to you what you write about, but the tips below should help you come up with a press release with a good chance of success:
The world of ‘print’ (newspapers and magazines) is the simplest place to learn the principles of good fashion PR, but it’s not the only way to get your brand in front of consumers. Digital PR works, too. You can approach fashion bloggers and social media influencers with your press release; just remember that the same ‘newsworthy’ rules apply. Your press release should be so exciting that an influencer can’t resist sharing it!
You don’t need to hire a PR agency to win coverage in the press. A good PR agency is worth its weight in gold, and fashion PR is a specialist field (you can even get a degree in Fashion PR from the London College of Fashion). That doesn’t mean that you can’t do it yourself.
In the early days of your business, when money is tight and you’re heavily involved in the day-to-day operations of your fashion label, you are your best PR person. Just remember that the story is what counts — make your press release as interesting as possible and the fashion journalists will soon be beating a path to your door!
Thanks for reading!