The Ultimate PR Opportunity: The Front Row
Heidi Klum coined the fashion industry’s cut-throat reputation with the catchphrase “one day you’re in, and the next, you’re out.” No matter your position in the fashion world there is only one place where being “in” is paramount and that’s fashion week.
Summer is slowing shutting down. The A/W trend reports have been diligently digested and the thrills of leafing through the glossy September issues have subsided – now, we are all looking in one fashion forward direction – Spring/ Summer 2013.
While, the fashion industry’s reputation for embellished ruthlessness continues to reign supreme, it seems when it comes to fashion week the gloves are always off. Top fashion designer, Nicole Farhi, publicly flashed the industry’s dirty laundry earlier this year when she revealed that celebrities get paid to sit in the “frow” (front row.) The London-based designer Nicole Farhi broke ranks to spit venom at her peers, ‘they [fellow designers] will all hate me for [saying] it. I don’t give a s*** because I think it is abominable.’
Cash for celebrity bums, it transpires, has long been standard practice. So when you spot Rihanna or Beyonce sitting in a fashion show front row, what you don’t see is the well-rounded £60,000 they have reportedly benefited in return for the fashion favour. The American actress and red carpet favorite Chloe Sevigny is most likely to receive a slightly neater £40,000. These figures were revealed by the respected website Fashionista and spread like wildfire through a number of mainstream news outlets in the U.S. Fortunately or unfortunately – depending on your standpoint – these revelations are only the tip of the fashion pyramid.
The industry is quickly adapting to pressures from fashion’s online influencers, as more and more bloggers are being allocated first and second row seats at major fashion shows. Some see this advancement with negative connotations, as they do not regard bloggers worthy of such an entitlement. Second to this, for us mere mortals, therein decreases the number of chairs available. For the majority, the blogger revolution at fashion shows is as much a celebration as it is a relief. Apart from a few perfected PR-brewed tweets, celebrities are not going to satisfy the appetite of the fashion hungry. Bloggers, however, will provide us with runway photos, backstage blasts, the who, with whom, who was talking/ignoring who and what the who were wearing, all of which we will be delighted to devour. Furthermore, these online fashion ambassadors are also less expensive and easier to grasp for the more petite PR agencies.
Finding the right candidate and bloggers can be a godsend for fashion PR professionals. Of course, some bloggers have already graduated into the most elite fashion spheres, (cue Miss Klum’s catchphrase) but there are thousands of up-and-coming bloggers eager to throw the elite from their preened pedestals. While the larger agencies will mostly likely cater for the big fashion fish, there are still plenty left in the pond. Fashion’s online ambassadors come with different perspectives and practices, so you should be able to find one to match your brand’s PR criteria. Therefore, when it comes to getting your brand on the center stage at fashion week, only the industry’s most dexterous PR pros will come out on top. This means only perfected PR procedures will suffice.
For the PR petite, start planning for 2013’s fashion shows now. Find out which bloggers attended what fashion shows in February 2011/2012 and investigate if the same bloggers returned to the same brands in September 2011/2012 or “elevated” their position. What was their writing style and did any major fashion publications pick them up? Spot the trends. Not only will you learn the fashion-show-blogger pattern but you will also learn which brands are more receptive to bloggers and what sort of bloggers these brands like. Next step, find some up-and-coming bloggers and begin your PR grooming partnership. Next season your brand will be worn on the front row of the red carpet by the hottest blogger in town.
If you are looking to climb your way to the top of the fashion PR agency chain, you will need to impress your peers. And while they will be shoulder deep in agency procedures, fashion week is your chance to showcase online social-savvy skills. While each company will have their social platform preferences, the winning formula for reporting from fashion week is most definitely live coverage. Your social media live coverage strategy will of course depend on your budget and your brand ethos but fortunately social brand messaging can be tailored to perfection.
In February 2012, The Wall Street Journal deployed nine journalists to cover New York Fashion Week, all armed with iPhones, Twitter and Instagram accounts. They were encouraged to file constantly. For fashion reporters, capturing photos is the newest form of note taking. Their live tweets and images were automatically pulled into the fashion week section of the the Journal’s website. The best photos were featured on Pinterest and re-posted on the Journal’s main Instagram account. This is the ultimate social network threesome.
Every brand wants a little longevity in their social media campaign so this where video content is key. The rapid increase of mobile marketing is generating more interest than ever in video; in fact, an estimated 22 million users interact with video on a daily basis via their smartphone. 15 second video’s are the perfect way to send out a fast and friendly reminder about what was hot at fashion week. 15 second video is the absolute shortest time possible to get a quote or trend across and it’s the new video equivalent to Twitter. These shorties are the right size to easily integrate with Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. As the use of mobile continues its exponential growth trajectory, recent research now indicates that American’s spend an average of 2.7 hours per day socializing via mobile phones. Imagine how much time a fashionista spends on her phone during fashion week?
If you do have the privilege of working at, or attending any of fashion weeks events, – remember that it will never be more important than to dress to impress. Plan, edit and polish each of fashion week outfits. A classic simple silhouette works best with show stopping heels and an I-cant-breathe-without-this-