Today, Mashable posted an article about how fashion labels and their publicists are embracing social media.
Basically, writer Hitha Prabhakar states that brands are learning how to harness the power of the web and recognizing the value of bloggers at Fashion Week.
The first part is true. Prabhakar writes:
“Ignoring the Internet [and social media] is madness,” says designer Diane von Furstenberg who has been advocating for transparency in the fashion industry for years…With her following at over 22,000, von Furstenberg is one of the most beloved and popular designers on Twitter….The viral marketing capabilities of re-tweeting by this targeted group is something an advertising budget cannot buy. Within the last year of having a major online and social media presence, von Furstenberg’s online traffic has increased by 13% and sales “have been great” according to a source in the corporate offices of DvF.”
However, in terms of PR reps allowing bloggers the same access they do for traditional media at Fashion Week…You can hear it from the horse’s mouth, I can tell you they are not. (Bryanboy and Tavi are the exceptions here.)
I am a perfect example of how publicists still value print over digital. Let me elaborate.
After sending a request for a backstage badge and a seat to 75% of the designers’ publicists to livestream their collection to the world, I was denied by over half. Let’s examine my pitch and explore reasons for this response.
My coverage is THE ONLY CONTINUOUS live broadcast from Mercedes Benz Fashion Week. THE ONLY ONE. The stream doesn’t stop between shows; we don’t stage encounters; the camera follows me every moment; there is absolutely no editing. It is truly authentic and respectful of everyone involved. Plus, we can guaranteed eyes on their collection and allow designers to communicate their message to their customer personally. In traditional media, a reporter backstage chops up their interview, and a editor sitting front row can’t promise inclusion in their publication. (Keep in mind that if you enter the tents, you are consenting to being photographed and recorded so people are on their best behavior.)
As this is only my second season to stream, distribution has been limited, but our audience is solid and engages in chats via a feed connected to twitter.
Yet publicists deny us access because we don’t have a platform they recognize/value.
Until now….The Huffington Post has embeded our livestream player on their website and is promoting our coverage because of the continuity and quality. Our schedule is already set to stream a certain number of shows and is not flexible. So, how do think a publicist would respond if their client asked them, “why is my collection not being broadcast live to a worldwide audience that is now on one of the web’s most popular platforms?”
As you saw above, Diane Von Furstenberg has seen the translation to sales due to her presence online, yet her people declined to have us at the show. I don’t think she would be pleased to know she’s missing out on this unique, free publicity. However, my readers requested to see the collection live, so I will be there streaming it.
THE TRUMP CARD
So now you wonder, how and why I do it. My access comes from a media credential (provided by IMG that produces the event) that allows me entrance into every show within the “Mercedes Benz” schedule. Front row seats are actually easy to come by because most of the magazine editors, buyers, and celebrities rarely attend so the publicists are then eager for fashionistas to fill them.
MORE THAN ME
For a head-strong, independent entrepreneur, the “why do I promote a brand that doesn’t value my work” is a more difficult question to answer. First of all, my career in blogging started at Fashion Week with Julia who was covering the shows for Star and TimeOut New York. As a designer and woman, I loved seeing the ensembles grace the runway, and I knew my readers would too. The Fall 2008 collections were my first to live blog via my iPhone, and the response was overwhelming. Readers applauded the constant uploads of blurry pictures because it gave them a sense of being at the event. NYFW then became the cornerstone of my blog.
As others picked up on this liveblogging trend (Racked was the first to follow in my footsteps), I had to come up with ways to keep my coverage on the cutting edge and my readers engaged. Enter Livestream that uses a mobile technology not readily available to bloggers.
Even though my blog has grown beyond fashion, I continue because I am still ahead of the game when it comes to coverage of NYFW. As I said, NO ONE ELSE streams continuously with the degree of quality as I do with Livestream. This is beneficial for both you and me. I am looking to grow MTM into a profitable business, which means I need to offer my readers a unique experience. I believe there is value in the stream for 3 key reasons: viewers get an all-access pass they would never have in real life to an event they are passionate about, brands can sponsor the stream and interact with the viewers in a new way, and I can continue to publish MTM and grow the brand.
Just as The Huffington Post did today, other media will pick up on this organic experience we are providing designers with our livestream. Designers and their publicists will then value the unique communication they can have with their customer. Our presence on blogs and news sites will entice brands to sponsor the stream so we can grow the experience for you. Streaming fashion week is fun and exciting, but the system requires a traditional network and dynamic in order for us to build it out.
Perhaps Paris is in our future…..keep your fashionista fingers crossed!
Also, check out “What Will We Do With Influencers” by Chris Brogan. Josh Levine, of Rebel Industries in LA, makes a great point in the comments section as well, noting that by brands having “a goal of getting influencers to talk about your product as if they were magazines [they] greatly undervalue the opportunity.” Read his comment here.Tweet this!