April is traditionally the month when PR agencies showcase their clients’ fall collections to the media. However, with much of the world in some form of lockdown, the circumstances are far from normal.
Global consulting firms such as KCD Worldwide, PR Consulting and Purple are turning to technology to navigate this new normal, with digital press days in the works via owner Instagram accounts and e-zines.
Small agencies are also on board. Rainbowwave is one of the forerunners in the UK market, as more boutiques such as Paris-based Giorgia Viola and London-based Aisle 8 are looking for creative ways to showcase their brands’ collections through marketing by ‘affecting.
KCD in the world
KCD is the spearhead of the digital press day via Instagram with three dedicated private accounts for the American, British and French media.
“We all know Instagram so well, so we thought it was a much more efficient way than using a website,” Rachna Shah, partner and chief digital officer, told FN.
The US account went live last week and the UK and French versions were unveiled this week. The accounts highlight key styles and top news for each brand on a regional basis, using both the Instagram Grid and Story functions. The KCD team plans to follow up through one-to-one calls or videoconferencing. Last week they hosted a Zoom team with GQ magazine.
“Instagram is a great platform to work with, and editors really care,” Shah said. From a broader perspective, in her agency’s parallel capacity as a production company, the executive is also exploring what a more digitally-focused future for fashion shows might look like. “We are actively discussing with customers, platforms and technology experts regarding the opportunities,” said Shah.
“We’ve all been talking about this as an industry for a while anyway,” she continued, adding that while the motivation is unfortunate, the impact of the coronavirus could be an impetus for the needed change.
Public relations consultancy
PR Consulting is working in partnership with its clients to create a private Instagram account, where the company will host branded content specifically for the media.
“We really wanted to preserve the idea of what press day means and the service it provides,” said Parise Sellitti, vice president of digital for the company. She chose to operate Instagram because it’s the platform where everyone already spends most of their time, she added.
“Staying connected with our community of editors, stylists, influencers and creatives has never been more important,” Sellitti said. “We see this as an opportunity to forge new and meaningful connections, and we will continue to communicate through this channel with the fashion community at large, beyond press day.
Purple is addressing the situation via e-zines, executive vice president Andrew Lister has revealed.
Produced for the New York and London offices, they will launch next week and feature key seasonal trends as well as downloadable images of catwalks and lifestyles. Each edition will include still lifes and collector’s photos.
The idea is to make everything easily accessible and broken down into specific publisher needs and categories.
“This will be a first for us because face-to-face interaction is key to our business,” said Lister. “However, in these unforeseen times, we are using all of our creative strength to ensure [that] the press and stylists are engaged with our clients and that our storytelling really resonates with a new way of digital working.
The e-zines will also feature pre-fall styles. “As pre-collections have become more important and long-term magazines have become less and less, all PR [had already been] questioning the calendar of the six-monthly seasonal press days. So we looked at ways to show the product see now, buy now, ”Lister said. He added that the company is still planning a physical press day for its Los Angeles office later in the season.
Rainbowwave founder and director Bianca Fincham distributed a digital video alternative to her canceled press day in London on March 31 – the same day the event was scheduled to take place.
“With more people working from home than ever before, Rainbowwave PR felt it was essential to offer brands a way to present their seasonal collections to publishers, stylists, influencers and retailers in a new and innovative way,” said she declared.
Footwear brands include Ancient Greek Sandals and Legres, and the content, which took a week to create, is a compilation of editorial and social media images, combined with the most important posts of the season. The songs that best represent each brand were also selected and put into a Rainbowwave PR Spotify playlist.
Giorgia Viola PR
Founder Giorgia Viola collaborates with influencers such as Jessica Wang (736,000 subscribers) and Cara Ginola (225,000 subscribers), sending them looks from her clients’ fall collections to post on Instagram. “I had to think sideways,” she said. “My showroom is next to my apartment, so I’m one of the few companies in Paris that can still send samples. None of the magazines run, of course, so I offered that as an alternative. “
Wang, for example, posted a photo of an at-home look in a Sandra Mansour gown and Kat Maconie heels.
Viola also negotiated social media coverage with posts such as Grazia France, Grazia United Kingdom and L’Officiel Paris.
Lauren Stevenson, co-founder of Aisle 8 in London, works directly with clients, such as Superga and Amazon Fashion, to showcase their new collections to media and consumers using Instagram and digital channels.
“More than ever, the direct-to-consumer model is coming into play, and brands are creating virtual product presentations, master classes, Q&A and even digital shows to showcase their collections,” Stevenson said.
Before the UK lockdown, his team was also able to send samples to influencers such as Georgia Martin (80.6,000 followers), who posted Superga this week.
“As a smaller agency, there is a huge amount of opportunity,” Stevenson said. “My co-founder Virginia Norris and I both came from pure player e-commerce backgrounds. So when we launched the agency in 2014, we created a digitally remastered experience for our brands right from the start.