April is traditionally the month where PR agencies showcase their clients’ fall collections to the media. However, with much of the world on some form of lockdown, circumstances are far from normal.
Global consultancies 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 proprietary Instagram accounts and e-zines.
Smaller agencies are on board, too. Rainbowwave is one of the forerunners in the U.K. market, while more boutique companies such as Paris-based Giorgia Viola and London’s Aisle 8 are looking outside the box for creative ways to showcase their brands’ collections through influencer marketing.
KCD is spearheading the digital press day via Instagram with three dedicated private accounts for U.S., U.K. and French media.
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“We’re all so familiar with Instagram, so we thought it was a much more efficient medium than using a website,” Rachna Shah, partner and managing director of digital, told FN.
The U.S. account went live last week, and the U.K. and French versions were unveiled this week. The accounts highlight key styles and top news for each brand on a regional basis, using both Instagram grid and Story functions. The KCD team plans to follow up with one-to-one calls or video conferencing. Last week, they hosted a team Zoom with GQ magazine.
“Instagram is a great platform to work with, and editors are really engaging with it,” Shah said. Bigger picture, in her agency’s parallel capacity as a production company, the executive is also exploring what a more digitally focused future could look like for fashion shows. “We are actively speaking with clients, platforms and technology experts regarding opportunities,” Shah said.
“We’ve all been talking about this as an industry for some time in any case,” she continued, adding that while the motivation is an unfortunate one, the coronavirus impact could be an impetus for needed change.
PR Consulting is working in partnership with its clients to create a private Instagram account, where the firm will house brand content especially for the media.
“We really wanted to preserve the idea of what press day signifies and the service it provides,” said Parise Sellitti, the company’s VP of digital. She opted to harness Instagram because it’s the platform where everyone is spending most of their time already, 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 build new and meaningful connections, and will continue to communicate through this channel with the fashion community at large — beyond the actual press day.”
Purple is addressing the situation via e-zines, revealed EVP Andrew Lister.
Produced for both New York and London offices, they will launch next week and feature key seasonal trends as well as downloadable runway and lifestyle imagery. Each edition will comprise still life photos and collection shots.
The idea is to make everything easily accessible and broken down into editors’ specific needs and categories.
“This will be a first for us as in-person interaction is key to our business,” Lister said. “However, during these unforeseen times, we are using our full creative force to ensure [that] press and stylists are engaged with our clients and that our storytelling truly resonates with a new digital way of working.”
The e-zines will also feature pre-fall styles. “As pre-collections became more important and long-lead magazines became fewer and fewer, all PRs [had already been] questioning the timing of twice-yearly seasonal press days. So we have considered ways to show see-now, buy-now product,” 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 London press day on March 31 — the same day as the event had been scheduled to take place.
“With more people working from home than ever before, Rainbowwave PR felt it was integral to offer brands a way to showcase their seasonal collections to editors, stylists, influencers and retailers in a new and innovative way,” she said.
Footwear brands include Ancient Greek Sandals and Legres, and the content, which took a week to create, is a collation of editorial and social media imagery, combined with the most important messaging for the season. Songs best representing each brand were also selected and made into a Rainbowwave PR Spotify playlist.
Giorgia Viola PR
Founder Giorgia Viola is collaborating with influencers such as Jessica Wang (736k followers) and Cara Ginola (225k followers), sending them looks from her clients’ fall collections to be posted on Instagram. “I had to think laterally,” she said. “My showroom adjoins my apartment, so I am one of the few companies in Paris still able to send out samples. None of the magazines are shooting, of course, so I came up with this as an alternative.”
Wang, for example, posted a photograph of an at-home look in a Sandra Mansour evening gown and Kat Maconie heels.
Viola also negotiated social media coverage with publications such as Grazia France, Grazia UK and L’Officiel Paris.
Lauren Stevenson, co-founder of London’s Aisle 8, is working directly with clients, such as Superga and Amazon Fashion, to present their new collections to both 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&As and even digital trunk shows to present their collections,” Stevenson said.
Prior to the UK lockdown, her team was also able to send out samples to influencers such as Georgia Martin (80.6k followers), who posted Superga this week.
“As a smaller agency, there is a huge amount of opportunity,” Stevenson said. “Myself and my co-founder Virginia Norris 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 from the start.”