Industry Experts On: Perfecting the Press Release
A press release is a vital accessory for anything ‘new’ circulating within the industry. Whether it’s a new collection, product launch, or a celebrity dressing, it will be accompanied by an official document outlining the details which might not initially meet the eye.
Not Just A Label asks SHOWstudio Editor, Hetty Mahlich, and Assistant Professor, Julia Robson, amongst other industry experts, on what makes the difference between another A4 sheet of paper left under their front row seat, and a core concept left in their minds long after its hit their inbox.
HETTY MAHLICH, SHOWstudio EDITOR
“There’s not a one-size-fits-all when it comes to the 'perfect' press release, but often enough, less is more. If there’s a story and a narrative behind the collection, tell it, but don’t create one around your clothes for the sake of a press release - it will read as disingenuous. Don’t be afraid of telling the story of the clothes themselves; the craftsmanship and production details you may want people to know that they wouldn’t otherwise.
Does a statement of intent, say a sentence or two, a quote, or a poem, say more than a full A4 page of description? I’d always say avoid describing what we can already see in front of us - that's the press or critics job, not yours - and instead highlight the details and stories behind the scenes so the reader learns more about you, your brand and what you’re offering.”
KRISTINE KILTY, CREATIVE DIRECTOR
“Media professionals receive hundreds of press releases per day, so if you want your press release to stand out it needs to cut straight to the point. The best press releases have eye-catching visuals, that show the collection or the product beautifully, accompanied by a great headline and a few concise sentences that articulate exactly what the USP is. Less really is more! If a press release lands in my inbox reading like a succinct elevator pitch with some fantastic images, then this sparks my interest, and I will continue to read on further granted the information is brief. When a brand distils the message right down to the very essence, it has a greater impact and increases your chances of being remembered by a busy editor.”
JULIA ROBSON, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR AT REGENT'S UNIVERSITY
“I teach a lesson on ‘how to write a press release’ for fashion communication and journalism students. I start off with ‘how not to write one’. It must not read like a manual or – worse - an indulgent trippy blog. A good press release must be short, to the point, informative and focus on one big idea. It should never be longer than three paragraphs or one side of A4. Ten words to a sentence and starting off with an introduction with the 5 W’s - who is in charge, what is the signature of the brand, when was it founded, where is it based, why they have created this collection.
I’d also stress writing a press release is not as easy as it sounds. Any writing is difficult to get the balance. It helps if it’s written by a professional writer who understands you.
Always finish with a pay off line (the final line) which is a quote from the designer saying something to make you smile and bring some hope. You should come away from reading a press release feeling like you’ve learned something that you didn’t know before. The purpose is to inform but ultimately to sell an idea.”
ADAM FROST, DESIGNER
“When I approach my press release I initially develop a working title which then translates into the colour palate, texture, muse, and this combined gives a conceptual message to buyers, stylists and press my overall theme that season. You want the press release to have impact and make people understand the overall image of what you’re creating.”
RY GAVIN, HUNGER MAGAZINE DEPUTY EDITOR
“The perfect press release is often hard to come by. But when one does pop up in your inbox, they seem to land just where you would want them to. Be it a feature, an invite to a show, or announcing a new product, a press release that resonates in the right way never feels generic or misplaced, recycled, or rushed. They rely heavily on clarity, explaining the purpose of the release early on and curating the most eye-catching imagery that correlates with the magazine’s aesthetic.
It’s not just about thinking what press you might be able to get out of the publication, it’s about preempting what the publication might be able to get out of you; promoting a blossoming designer with a story to tell, a meticulous design process, but most importantly a collection, product or editorial that is perfectly suited to that magazine. If they write a lot about sex, make it sexy. If they cover a lot of politics, maybe make it polemical. But most importantly, write it with a confidence and authenticity that proves that the hard work you do deserves a space on their platform.”
PIERS ATKINSON, MILLINER
“The two most important things to remember in a press release are: clarity, and don’t tell the reader how to feel.
Start with a clear, sharp headline, then a short paragraph expanding on it; is it a new range? first time showing cruise? If so, say so. Keep the sentences, short, sweet and to the point. You can add any ‘hooks’ here: upcycled, handmade, provenance, etc.
The last paragraph can then follow with all the detail: fabrics, sizes, colours, availability, price. For young designers its important to ass an ‘about the designer’ at the end - this section will allow a journalist to understand whether there is a ‘story’ to add to a piece to be published.”
READ MORE: Industry Experts On Bringing the Look Book to Life
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