Industry Spotlight: PR Expert Shares Tips for Building a Successful Fashion Business

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Wanting to be the change she wanted to see in Detroit, Cayce Karpinski, Account Executive at Siren PR, launched a blog and moved down to Detroit to share with the world all of the city’s hidden gems. Luckily for us, she agreed to share with DG3 some of her own public relations-related hidden gems – so business owners, read up! Media tips are always helpful.

Tell us about your Public Relations journey.

I started using social media to interact with fellow Detroiter’s, ex-pats of the city and local news anchors. It was an eye-opening time in my life. I realized how, in this globalized world we live in, people craved that old-school connection of yesteryear, and social media was the commonplace to recreate that bond. Consumers could speak directly to a brand, and the brand could speak back – all in real time. I wanted to help companies navigate and find their place in this new world. I went on to work for a few different local PR agencies in southeast Michigan and found my niche in the consumer sector, working with retailers, photographers, restaurants and magazines. I went on to join Siren PR, a company started by two kick-butt women who, like me, wanted to go out on their own and help companies build their brands and connect with customers.

Not every designer or business owner can afford PR services. What can they do to help promote and grow their business from a PR standpoint?

Social media is the simplest and most cost-effective way for a designer to get out there to not only promote their business, but also connect with other people in the industry and develop relationships with potential brand ambassadors. Brand ambassadors are like customers, but more powerful because they don’t just buy your products, they shout it from the rooftop and tell everyone how fabulous you are. They’re AMAZING and are created through building relationships. To do this, start off small, with one network and then grow from there (I suggest Instagram). Listen to your audience and grow their appreciation by liking, commenting and sharing posts that resound with you and your aesthetic. It’s hard, but try not to pay attention to the number of likes, rather, the number of relationships you build and the meaningful conversations you evoke.

For a business looking to have a public relations company in their arsenal, what can they do for you that will give them the best possible coverage?

Information: Tell me everything! Even the stuff you think will bore me. PR people are paid to know everything that’s happening in the news and what the media is talking about. Sometimes it can be the smallest tidbit of information that can open the door for an entirely different market.

Availability: The media doesn’t wait or reschedule. If you get an opportunity, drop everything and grab it. Once a story’s pitched, consider yourself “on call” in case you’re needed last minute.

Photos: High quality photos can be the difference between a news brief and a center feature story. It also opens the door for countless web opportunities.

Discuss advantages between sending out a press release individually (person to person) versus sending out a press release via a PR newswire-type service – does that ever make sense for an emerging fashion business?

Sending a release individually, person to person, is best for emerging designers because it allows the designer to build a relationship with the media and grow their grassroots efforts. Once a company gains enough local press, regional press begins to notice, then sometimes national. PR newswire is better suited for well-known companies to get their message out all at once. These are companies that already have a presence and that if media see the headline, they’ll immediately recognize the company’s name. Usually these stories are still pitched, individually, to a select few outlets.

In the world of fashion, when does it make sense to put out a press release?

A press release should be sent out when a designer has something newsworthy to share – if you’re having a fashion show, releasing a new collection, entering a new retailer, etc. A good tip is to write the release, focusing on the “why” of the story – why is it important news? It will help direct the purpose of the release.

What's your style?

Timeless with an edge. I tend to lean more classic, but at the same time, can’t resist eclectic items like a gold sequin jacket, a colorful handbag, or a pair of silk slouchy pants. It all comes down to the design. My grandmother was an impeccable seamstress, so I learned to appreciate a well-made garment at a young age. If it’s well-made and flawlessly designed, chances are I love it.

If you could have any movie character’s wardrobe, whose would it be?

Grace Kelly’s wardrobe from Rear Window or, as cliché as it may be, Carrie Bradshaw’s wardrobe from Sex and the City. She’s a closet curator, like me, and I’d be in heaven if left in her closet for a day, just to look at it all.

Kelly Cutrone or OscarPRgirl?

OscarPRgirl. Anyone who wears an evening gown for a run-of-the-mill day at the office has my full respect.

Harper's Bazaar or Vogue?

Vogue. I’ve been a subscriber since I was 14 and have always dreamt of having an entire wall of issues on a bookshelf.

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