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Is a Career in Fashion PR Right for You?

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25th January 2022

Fashion PR is one of the most exciting, fast-paced careers in the fashion industry. With its glamorous image of fashion shows, parties and celebrities, it's unsurprisingly one of the most popular careers in the industry too.

The main role of a Public Relations Officer is to build and maintain a good public image for a brand. PR specialists don’t pay for publicity or media coverage, so they have to find creative ways to get their brand attention. Traditionally, this involved getting products in fashion magazines but over the years, the role has expanded into social media and influencer marketing.

PR! I PR things! People, places, concepts!
Eddy Monsoon, Absolutely Fabulous

It’s a wide-ranging role that can cover everything from press to events management, marketing campaigns to crisis communications and reputation management. Amy Simon, Head of PR at Pretty Little Thing, describes her role as “Head of PR, Influencers, VIP and the Kitchen Sink”

Brands can’t succeed if no one knows they exist. PR helps them build a strong, positive brand image and drives enthusiasm and demand for their products. PR Expert and founder of East of Eden PR agency, Nick Ede, describes PR as ‘taking an object, a person, an item and giving it some space. Giving it a bit of fame. PR educates a consumer and hopefully makes them buy a product!”

A Day in the Life of a Fashion Public Relations Officer

As a PR professional, you’ll plan, develop and implement PR strategies across all forms of media and communication. You could work in-house for one brand, or at a PR agency and have several brand clients. The job is generally office-based, but you’ll probably have to travel regularly for events and parties. Often, these will be outside the traditional 9-5 working hours. In many cases, you might need to travel internationally as well.

It's your job to build positive relationships with people across the industry - fashion editors, stylists, journalists and influencers. You’ll be mingling with some of the biggest names in fashion - and you’ll want to make sure you’re on good terms! Competition is severe, so you’ll sometimes need to use your connections and call in favours to secure the best media coverage.

fashion pr career

You’ll need to create buzz and excitement around your products. Where the Marketing team might have a large budget for a big advertising campaign, you’ll have to generate press without directly paying for it. You’ll want to get your products on celebrities, influencers and public figures with big social media followings. This could be for an awards show, a TV appearance, a music video or for Fashion Week (the most important week in the fashion industry!)

You could be responsible for organising and running events - from press conferences to exhibitions, fashion week parties to influencer trips. “We’re their ambassador to the world,” says Brian Phillips of Blackframe PR in New York, “We find a way of doing that in interesting and unconventional ways sometimes.”

You’ll also need to keep an eye on your competitors and monitor press coverage for your brand. You’ll run regular checks of the daily/weekly/monthly media for any mentions of your brand or potential new opportunities. These will be collected and made into reports to show senior managers at your brand.

The PR team will have their own sample showroom or “fashion cupboard” to store all the sample products. You’ll be sending backwards and forwards across the city to magazines, stylists and celebrities. As well as loaning samples, you’ll also send out VIP gifts to your brand ambassadors in the hope they’ll give your brand some free promotion and create some user-generated content (UGC).

However, you’ll also manage your brand’s image in a potential crisis situation. Negative press or scandals can have a huge effect on brand loyalty and sales, so you’ll need to keep this to an absolute minimum. When disaster strikes, you’ll need to be the voice of the brand when interacting with the media, answering tough questions.

Job Progression

You’ll normally start off as a Public Relations Assistant, earning between £18,000 and £24,000 in a full-time role. Amber, Senior Account Executive at EMERGE PR in London,  described her first PR role as “fairly admin-focused, which is pretty standard for most PR assistants.”

After a few years, you can expect to rise to a Public Relations Officer or Coordinator. At this middle level, you should be earning between £25,000 and £40,000 a year - depending on your experience.

With many years of experience, you can progress to senior management positions such as PR Director or Head of PR. At the highest level, you could be earning up to £100,000 a year.

Key Skills for a Career in Fashion PR

To succeed in the world of PR, you’ll need drive and determination, and a willingness to learn. The job can be hard work with long hours, so you’ll need enthusiasm and a positive mindset to get you through the tougher days! It can be an extremely rewarding and satisfying role, and it’s always rewarding to see your hard work pay off with a great piece of coverage. The nature of PR means it truly is a job where every day is different. You’ll also need to be strong in several key areas:

Knowledge of Journalism and Current Affairs

As you’ll regularly be talking and working with fashion journalists, editors and stylists, it’s important that you understand the world of journalism. You’ll need to know about news release formats, and how to write an effective press release. Fashion magazines are fast-paced companies, so if you don’t give the teams exactly what they need, you’ll miss out on the coverage!

You’ll also need to have good business awareness and a strong knowledge of current affairs. Amber recommends “[getting] to know the media landscape and [reading] as many different magazines and newspapers as you can”. You’ll want to be up-to-date with the latest trends; Instagram, TikTok and Twitter will keep you in the loop of pop culture and the news agenda.

how to get into fashion pr

Creativity

It was only when I left uni that I realised there are actually loads of jobs that allow you to be creative that don’t involve designing!
Amber, EMERGE PR

As a PR professional, you won’t be directly paying people for coverage. This means you need to be highly creative and imaginative, coming up with exciting and interesting ideas that will grab people’s attention in a competitive market.

As well as being creative, you’ll also need to be able to think strategically to develop ideas that make good business sense and match your brand’s image.

Excellent Communication and Presentation Skills

“In public relations, you have to be able to talk to anyone and put yourself out there”, says Amy.

In order to build your strong professional network, you’ll need to have excellent interpersonal and communication skills. In the fast-paced world of fashion, you have to get your point across as quickly and clearly as possible.

“In the end what I’m looking for is communication skills. Good copy always gets you – that’s the power of words,” says Melvin Chua, who’s worked in PR for brands including Giorgio Armani, Burberry and Louis Vuitton in China. To be successful, you’ll need excellent writing skills, for crafting the perfect persuasive email or an impactful press release.

Networking

One of the most important parts of the PR role is your network, and your relationships with colleagues, clients and the media. So alongside your communication and teamwork skills, you’ll also need to be good at networking! As part of your job, it’s key to maintain good relationships with stylists, editors and social media managers across the industry. You’ll also be working with many different people every day, so good teamwork and negotiation skills are absolutely vital.

Be good to people on the way up. Never be bad to people, you never know when you might need them again
Nick Ede

Good time management, multi-tasking and organisation

You’ll often have a lot of different tasks on your plate, so you’ll need to be organised with good time management. Every day you’ll have a lot going on; being an effective multi-tasker is absolutely vital. Being able to prioritise your jobs to meet various deadlines is also important.

Good under pressure

As a PR expert, you need to keep a cool head under pressure. You’ll need to be flexible and adaptable because things can (and will) go wrong! Strong problem-solving skills and the ability to think on your feet will also be very helpful in your career.

Another top tip from Amy: you have to be able to “remain very calm and polite in a difficult situation!”

Getting Started in Fashion Public Relations

Fashion PR is a highly competitive field, so it's important to have a strong CV to stand out in interviews. The market for PR specialists focused solely on fashion is growing quickly, so there are plenty of job opportunities available. These jobs are usually found in larger cities, including London, Manchester and Glasgow.

Qualifications

Having a qualification in a relevant field is almost essential for breaking into PR.

Here at the Fashion Retail Academy, we have a number of great courses that can help kickstart your career in fashion PR. Our Level 4 Digital Marketing diploma can set you up for a career in fashion PR in an increasingly digital world. Alternatively, our Level 4 Fashion Business (with Marketing) diploma covers all areas of fashion retail and includes modules on consumer behaviour and marketing.

Our BA (Hons) Marketing & Communications for Fashion degree is another fantastic choice. You’ll study a variety of marketing modules, including Promotions, PR and Communication where you’ll learn how to develop, communicate and manage a fashion brand’s image.

Internships and Work Experience

Practical experience working in an industry PR role is also extremely beneficial. You’ll learn first-hand how a PR office or agency works day-to-day, and you can show potential employers you’ll hit the ground running on your first day! “That’s what really helps you get a job,” explains Carla Filmer, global communications director at Manolo Blahnik.

At the Fashion Retail Academy, all our Level 4 and Undergraduate courses include an integrated industry placement programme. You’ll spend between 3 weeks and 3 months getting experience with one of our fashion retail and brand partners as part of your studies. Over 70% of our students said that their industry experience at the FRA gave them an advantage when applying for jobs!

Amber’s best piece of advice for getting into PR? “Say yes to every little opportunity, as you never know where it might take you. Even if you feel like you’re not quite experienced enough, just take it, run with it, and work it out along the way – you might surprise yourself at what you’re capable of.”

For more information about our courses and the exciting career options available in the fashion industry, please email our Applicant Services team at info@fra.ac.uk - we’d love to help you out!

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