Fashion: the business of image


This is an article by Jessica North.
You could write for Behind the Spin too. Find out how here.

The fashion industry creates hype with everything it does, whether it’s London or New York Fashion Week, the Naomi Campbell Blood Diamond scandal, Kate Moss on cocaine or the size zero debate.

Fashion gets headlines

One of the most celebrated figures in fashion, Coco Chanel, was named as one of the 100 most influential people of the 20th Century. Responsible for the fashion staple, the little black dress, Coco Chanel is still the talk of the town and idolised thirty years after her death.

“Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening.”

It’s hard to argue with that, even if you don’t consciously follow the fashion trends, you’ll be aware of the issues surrounding size zero and no doubt, blame the health of young women aspiring to it, on the fashion industry and their models. Everyone has an opinion on it. People are even cashing in on it.

Take Kenneth Tong as an example, the ex Big Brother contestant who developed a pro-anorexia campaign on Twitter. Whether or not you choose to believe his reasons for endorsing such an issue – it’s still an issue. It caused a stir provoking reactions from superstars like Rihanna: “Girls are dying all over the world because of ignorant individuals like this.”

So how does PR work in the industry today?

Fashion PR is notoriously one of the most competitive sectors of PR. The lifestyle the essence of public relations that people strive for: parties, celebrities, alcohol, freebies, sample sales and the use of Red Pages (the celebrity database).

Is that strictly the case?

A DAY IN THE LIFE OF A FASHION INTERN

So what can you expect in the average day of a fashion PR?

  • Starting the day at around 9 the first port of call is to check and respond to any messages.
  • You then trawl through all the daily newspapers, the weekend newspapers and magazines for the current trends and any coverage etc. All coverage needs to be filed in press portfolios.
  • Meetings run throughout the day, for which the press portfolios need to be up-to-date and refreshments need to be ready and waiting.
  • Samples are in and out of the office all day and need chasing up for return from magazines.
  • Releases need to be pitched to journalists, sent out and chased up on.
  • And if you have enough hours left in the day, the showroom has to be kept up to date at all times with the latest magazines, trends and samples from clients.
  • All with the aim to leaving the office at around 6pm and fitting in an hour for lunch somewhere along the line.

Still interested?

GETTING INTO FASHION PR

So how can you make yourself the one the top fashion PR agencies and organisations want to hire? Experience.

Hannah Dick from Push PR, London explains that: “the most important thing you can do for your career is work experience. We look for people with at least one year of experience before hiring them. A lot of interns get offered a permanent job, so it’s definitely worth making that extra effort.”

There’s been a lot of negativity recently around unpaid work experience so how should you act? As much as you’re there for your CV and to learn the trade, you’re there to make their lives easier. Don’t ever lose sight of that.

Many agencies aren’t in the position to offer wages at the moment, but will offer to pay travel and lunch expenses.

TOP TIPS

  • Prepare for the best and worst in people. You’re entering PR and fashion combined, you won’t get along with everyone. Don’t let it put you off.
  • Quite simply, be polite! Your telephone manner could strongly influence whether they wish to interview you or not. Speaking rudely could get your email deleted – even with the best CV in the world.
  • When completing your work experience, there’s always more work to be done. Don’t assume when you’ve finished that particular task that your time is your own, ask for MORE to do.
  • Don’t take everything as the be all and end all; the fashion industry is about people wanting to LOOK nice.
  • Use social media. Social media is becoming an everyday part of campaigns, if you can’t use it to represent yourself, how do you expect to use it to represent a brand? This doesn’t just include Facebook – use Twitter, LinkedIn, blogs etc.
  • Enjoy the experiences given to you.

There are two types of client in the fashion industry, the clients that appeal to niche markets and are almost unheard of in the high street. When working with clients like these, you need to gain as much coverage as possible to increase awareness, association with the brand and generally boost sales. The other type of client is already established and more often wants coverage as a luxury and part of a portfolio than a necessity.

“When you think of the blur of all the brands that are out there, the ones you believe in and the ones you remember, like Chanel and Armani, are the ones that stand for something. Fashion is about establishing an image that consumers can adapt to their own individuality. And it’s an image that can change, that can evolve. It doesn’t reinvent itself every two years.” Ralph Lauren

With either type of client, the goal is simple: Your brand needs to be the one people think of in that sector.

PushPR are currently recruiting interns, if you’re interested please email Hannah: Hannah@pushpr.co.uk

Comments

  1. I’ve always wondered what is the appropriate amount of time to dedicate to an unpaid internship? I’ve seen a few that are 12 months or even longer. For many, it’s simply unaffordable. What is the right amount of time to gain work experience without a salary?

  2. The CIPR has some guidelines on internships. In brief, unpaid placements should only belong as part of a degree course. Other than this, the minimum wage should apply.

    http://www.cipr.co.uk/content/training-development/pr-student/work-placement-charter

    We will be publishing an article on this very topic over the next day or so.

  3. Thank-you for the link! Looking forward to the upcoming post.

  4. This is from Push PR –
    You either have one month placements, 12 weeks, 6 months or very rarely 12 months.

    I would say 12 weeks is the best, as its long enough to get really stuck in. What I did was for two years – I was at uni, had a part-time job but also interned on every single day I had free. So I would be part time for a month, then full time for a month, then part time for 3 months somewhere else etc. It doesn’t have to be SOLID work experience – it can be stints at different agencies for 3 month sections throughout your uni career.

    I hope that helps Whitney.

  5. Thank you very much Jessica for your reply. I was worried about the importance of consistency because (like you did) I’m doing quite a bit of internship ‘hopping’. I’m glad it paid off for you!

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