Communicating a brand today: a journey through the most en vogue PR agencies
By ida papandrea
"There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and it is not being talked about." This famous historical quote by Oscar Wilde is as true today as ever within the world of fashion: if nobody knows about your brand, how can you sell it? How can you push consumers towards your style philosophy and create hype and attention towards the products?
The support of PR agencies for growing fashion brands
The most common difficulties found (and the field in which the most errors are often made) among emerging designers and growing brands is identifying the correct strategy to communicate their identity and values in the right way; creating a cohesive brand vision through their actions. Whether it is an event for the media or a social campaign, it is essential to have a clear understanding of who you are targeting and what objectives you want to achieve.This is where PR agencies come into the mix, using their skills and expertise, they help bring brands out from the shadows and gain attention from the media, public, and across respective social media channels.
What does a communication agency do for an emerging brand? How does it work?
Being represented by a communication agency can facilitate the work of start-up brands by eliminating a few key steps and shortening the distance between the brand and the public. Press agencies are generally made up of a team of experts who possess the know-how to effectively communicate the product and, above all, leverage the right contacts, tools and channels to reach the intended public - this could be through working with journalists, stylists, influencers and celebs, who in turn bridge the gap between future consumers by talking about the products and featuring them in reference magazines and blogs.
In many cases, the most popular choice is the use of micro influencers, which are part of the brand's reference world, including artists, creatives and photographers. Micro influencers are capable of enhancing and celebrating the brand's values by leveraging the strength of their communities and sharing the brands’ products and/or attending branded events.
The events in which to involve micro influencers in-person, such as, press days, cocktail parties, presentations, press trips and a new format which is capable of garnering extreme interest amongst both consumers and professionals alike, pop up stores - remain fundamental for the creation of relationships.
By providing users with a real and tangible brand experience, these activities manage to excite, while establishing the brand image and concept. Furthermore, the content generated during these live events (photos, stories, videos) and their sharing potential on social channels and magazines (online and offline), is capable of outlining, defining and spreading the brand reputation on a much larger scale.
PR agencies between classic media and digital channels
With regard to this last step, it should be acknowledged that over recent years public relations agencies and the people who work for them have adapted to integrate traditional communication channels with digital ones.
If for a long time it was the magazine sector to dominate the overall communication landscape, with the advent of new channels online, it is now online publications, bloggers and influencers which are key sources for conveying the brand message and reaching the general public, changing the tide of the classic consolidated strategies of the past.
The use of digital channels is an important aspect of communication strategies. Contact with social media and the identification of the correct reference figures to use between bloggers and influencers is one of the main activities which PR agencies offer in order to create a clear and linear identity.
How to win the interest of a good agency and how to choose one that suits your style and needs?
Nowadays every brand should manage to create and share their own identity which differentiates it from the rest by using some of the best tools available, which in our opinion include traditional media, social media, events and pop up stores.
On this note, we’ve interviewed some of our friends on the "inside", to provide us with their tips on helping designers navigate the world of fashion communication. Let's start with the Milanese PR agency, Probeat, born with a strong orientation geared towards streetwear.
A chat with Probeat Agency from Milan
Paolo Ruffato and Emanuela Schiavone, aka Probeat. One of the most important names in the international fashion, communication and press office landscape. Partners in work and in life, the duo founded Probeat in 2002, and has since firmly established its fame (and that of its managing directors), as skilled spokesmen for well-known brands from all over the world with an unquestionable knack for scouting new talent. What does an emerging designer need to get their attention? Paolo let’s us in, along with a few helpful tips for entering the fashion system in their opinion, with the right step, and maybe at a hip hop beat!
You started with a preference towards street style and sportswear brands which carried a more pret-a-porter style. Now your client list includes names of really quite established and important brands… Why would an already prominent agency choose to represent emerging designers?
To date, among some of the leading brands on the market for which we are spokesman, I can certainly mention the likes of; Amazon Fashion, New Balance, Havaianas, Foot Locker, Timberland and Eastpak. These companies no doubt give us the possibility to be an attractive choice for the press and influencers. However alongside these established names, it is as equally important to balance it out with newer and fresher ones, so as to stimulate and revitalize the agency in the eyes of industry insiders. Having a selection of ‘younger’ brands is a great play for both us and the emerging designers alike. Journalists and influencers, celebs and stylists, all follow us because of our big brands, and at the same time, thanks to the dynamic mix of brands we have, they also discover new names, which when presented next to already established names, are even more appealing.
You have been active since 2002, but your agency image continues to be street, innovative, and a bit outside of the box. What is the secret to growing, while remaining forever young?
The secret which I also believe to be at the basis of communication itself, is to continually renew the formula, adapting to the times, to changes in life, style and trends. Obviously, as well with the use of new technologies. Staying constantly updated makes you stay, automatically, young. And this too is an advantage both for large companies, which in this way always manage to maintain a renewed image, and for small and new companies, which are represented with the appropriate tools for the times.
Let's talk about emerging brands: what is the criterion with which you choose them?
The first step is observation. First of all, by attending dedicated trade shows, but also by keeping a close eye on what is happening on various social media networks: we do a lot of research through these channels, to understand new international trends and the most interesting brands at the moment. Next, we gather advice from cool hunters and trendsetters; figures specialized in sifting and analyzing the market in search of possible new trends and the most interesting new brands on the market, on which it may be worth betting.
What are the characteristics that lead you to believe in an emerging designer, which stimulate your desire to help it grow?
To emerge today in the world of fashion, the first and most important element is the product. It is not enough that it is beautiful, but it must also possess something extra, of which belongs only to you as a brand. It is not easy to possess these characteristics, yet it is essential. My advice? You’re better off representing something for someone, rather than nothing for everyone. Develop original ideas, a soul, a characteristic of your own that distinguishes you from everyone else, starting from the product and then reflecting it through your communication efforts. In saying this, it is also important for you to choose an agency that by way of it’s values, style and above all the brands it already represents, aligns firmly with your vision.