just a thought – pr for pr

When I interviewed Crosby of PR Couture, I touched upon one of the ironies of fashion PR – just how superficial and negative its reputation is to those outside of the fashion industry’s inner circles.  Given that fashion PR is responsible for moderating access and perceptions, the state of its own reputation is remarkably bad.

Try to think of examples of fashion PR in pop culture.  Lauren Conrad and Whitney Port on The Hills give the impression that the job is mostly downtime for gossiping.  Their boss, Kelly Cutrone, actively casts herself as the antagonist – manipulative and opportunistic.  In Lauren Weisberger’s novel Everyone Worth Knowing, the ingenue lead is gutless and her bosses are bitchy – the less than satisfying “happy” ending has the protagonist abandoning PR.  Even the positive historical example Crosby gave hasn’t held up to the test of time given that the symbolism for cigarettes has gone from “liberating” to “poisonous”.

My own mis-perceptions of PR were pretty poignant as a fashion student and beginning fashion blogger – two occupations that also struggle to manage their reputations against public opinion.  That said, given that its PR’s job to manage public opinion, you would think they could do better by themselves.  I think the main reason for that is because fashion PR is a lot more difficult than it looks.  Just like fashion blogging (and fashion journalism for that matter) the top of the class can get overshadowed by the vast amount of sub-par work out there.

Since my more ignorant early days blogging I have since learned a lot about the PR profession – and how completely integral it is to fashion.  Fashion designers do not have the time to manage their own events and publicity – they hire professionals to do it.  Sponsorships don’t just happen – PR is often the connector between big businesses and up and coming designers.  Relationships between fashion PR and the fashion media are usually productive and professional, and only occasionally venture into the more interesting gray areas that either get overblown or underrepresented by pop culture.

True, there are plenty of women PR out there who live up to the stereotype of the attractive girl at the party, and they make it look so much easier than it is.  To be competitive, they have to know who everyone is, and see the value in making connections between people.  They have to be personable, empathetic, discerning and above all entrepreneurial.  To illustrate that last point, in my experience, smart fashion PR was more open to fashion blogging, earlier, and saw the value in it faster than most of the “mainstream” media did.

Too often they get all of the hassle and none of the credit: so this is just a post to give appreciation, to all the great publicists out there who have given me invitations and introductions, and brought me opportunities I would never be able to broker on my own, being kind and helpful, friendly and cool.  You read my blog – so you know who you are.  Thanks.

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One thought on “just a thought – pr for pr”

  1. Hi Danielle,

    I love this theme of conversation and found similar evidence among the fashion PR’s I interviewed during my research – I wonder if I happened to gain access into that world from more of a “smart PR” perspective because it was an academic study – many of the agencies I contacted couldn’t be bothered. hmmmm…

    I just wanted to clarify that the Bernays example I gave was in no way meant to be a positive, but a reference to the great power and responsibility I feel all forms of mass communication have to their audience. Dismissing fashion as vapid or superficial and therefore not worthy of study or deeper inquiry, as I’m sure you agree, a huge dismissal of the role it plays in our lives, whether we watch the Hills, identify as fashionistas, or draw a big line in the sand between fashion and our identities.

    Thank you for recognizing the role fashion PR plays in the industry and for seeing it as more than a reality show filled with gossiping blondes.


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