The fashion industry as a whole was slow to embrace the Internet, but these days everyone from independent designers to big chain stores is looking to grow their presence online. Fashion public relations firms have been especially challenged, as they try to manage the flow of information in an increasingly complex cyber world.
A Tweet from Oscar PR Girl
Imran Amed of The Business of Fashion recently spoke with a few high-profile PR reps to see how the Web is changing their business model — and the responses he collected were very interesting.
Brian Phillips, president and chief executive officer of Black Frame (which represents labels like Acne, Band of Outsiders, Nike, and Rodarte), explained that the job is now 24/7: “Temporal boundaries on news no longer exist because of the possibility to feed and fill websites, blogs, and Twitter with information at all times. We determine with clients what comprises their stream, and these decisions are happening around the clock.”
As such, platforms like Twitter and Facebook have democratized fashion, and made it easy for brands (and the companies that represent them) to speak directly to consumers. Rachna Shah, senior VP of public relations at KCD, is particularly interested in social media: “As we move forward, Twitter and other social mentions will become widely accepted as legitimate PR value, so we’ll continue to research tools that give us more accurate figures in terms of social reach as these only strengthen and diversify our impact as publicists.”
Starworks on Vimeo
There’s also the matter of bloggers.
The Internet has cracked open the door of a very exclusive club — as little as five years ago, PR companies operated very differently. Few reached out to bloggers, who were typically excluded from fashion shows or appointments. The only people who mattered were magazine editors, who were taken out to breakfasts, lunches and dinners, sent lavish gifts, and offered invites to parties and events. Now, PR agencies are working hard to court online press — both KCD and Starworks have created digital divisions that focus on bloggers. PR reps are signing up for Twitter, creating their own Tumblrs, and uploading videos to Vimeo. As Amed concludes, they see “digital PR as a huge opportunity for their clients, and a significant opportunity for their own agency growth and survival in the digital age.”