Sunday, 21 February 2010

BLOGGING - How to get Invited Back to Fashion Week

London Fashion Week attendees

There's been a lot of talk this year about an influx of bloggers at Fashion Week causing some overcrowding. Bloggers have even been turning on other bloggers which is a bit of a shame. I think there is room at Fashion Week for us all, but that we shouldn't try and wangle an invite to everything going just for the sake of it, rather we should be selective and go to things that really appeal to us.

Personally, my invites were offered to me, most from relationships with PR contacts that I've built up over time. I also work in retail and do some freelance work but I didn't try and get tickets to the biggest shows as I didn't feel I'd earned that yet. I am happy being a part of the off-schedule shows and anything extra is a bonus in my eyes. If you managed to get a couple of invites and want to come back, then here are some of my tips for getting welcomed back with open arms.

Be polite


The industry has a hierarchy and rightly so, so don't be bitter about the people getting waved through as you spend time queuing. I've heard of people slating the shows they are sitting watching, during the show! I think this is atrocious whoever you are, if it's not for you, then you know not to apply for a ticket to see that designer's work next season. You don't have to cover it if you don't want to. If you want to tell your friend how rubbish you thought it was, feel free, but do so out of earshot of all the other attendees - you don't always know who the people are around you and why risk it? Think... would you be happy for someone to come up and tell a crowd of people around you how horrible your outfit is? No. It's rude.

Be grateful

I know how lucky I am to get a ticket for some of these shows, sometimes standing or sitting shoulder to shoulder with far more established journalist or bloggers. I try not to take anything for granted. Remember that some big shows get horrendously oversubscribed so try not to take it to heart if you don't make it in (even if you do have a ticket). If you've been working with PR companies it's a nice touch to send them a thank-you note or email after Fashion Week and to provide links to any coverage you've put up on your blog. It makes it easier for them to see the value in you being there. Many traditional PR companies don't have experience with blogs and social media so show them you can be a source of positive influence for their brands and hopefully they will want you there next time.

Be ethical

Photographers visit the catwalk shows as part of their work and they need to earn a living from it. Yes their photos will be published by many websites or publications, but they will have paid for the rights to use those images. To republish a long list of someone else's images isn't really fair, it's much better to show a couple of your own images and link through to somewhere that shows the rights managed images. Some people don't mind sharing, but if in doubt ask or, at the very least, provide a link back to the source and a give a name credit. It might be that you can get an approved image from the relevant PR company and although it's a bit more effort, at least you know it's legal that way. Read more about copyright.

Be prepared

My Fashion Week must-have is a watch. Arrive to shows on time and be prepared to queue. If you've got a standing ticket, you'll be much more likely to get a spot if you are there early. Plan out your day's schedule making sure you have your tickets with you, business cards (I almost ran out) and a full battery on your phone and camera for tweeting and taking pictures or videos. If you are planning on wearing heels all day you will be in pain by the end of it. Perhaps alternate one day of heels to one of flats to last the distance.

Be constructive

There may be shows that you don't like and it's difficult to know how to cover these, if you should at all. I think that if what you have to say is fair and constructive then it's fine to blog about it. You can also let your readers make up their own mind. If you are going to rant and slate something, I think it's better to not cover it at all. You don't want to end up damaging relationships with PR companies, after all, they almost always represent more than one client. If you have a genuine complaint to make about something, try to make it directly first rather than playing the whole thing out in the public eye via social media.

Be understanding

PR companies don't know everything about blogs and blogging just like we don't know everything there is to know about traditional PR. The two worlds have been forced together and understandably it's not going to instantly make sense to everyone. Can you imagine how difficult it is to make sure the top journalists and buyers get the best seats as do celebrities who potentially have big bucks to spend? I absolutely believe that buyers and established journalists should take priority, so if I miss out on a few shows or have to stand then it's no big deal. That said, those who blog as a hobby are often even more passionate about fashion than those who work in the industry so don't let anyone make you feel guilty for being there if you've got a love and passion for it and can give something valuable back to the designers.

Be a lover of fashion

Don't stand in a queue to a show telling your friend how you're 'not really into fashion', or that you 'don't even know who Alexander McQueen is' (I heard both). Why take up a space if you are not going to enjoy it? Others would give their right arm to be there and will happily promote the designer so if you don't really fancy going and know you won't ever cover it, don't go. I'm a bit guilty of not being talkative and asking questions at the exhibitions as I like to mull everything over once I get home, but if approached it's always nice to chat - they aren't trying to sell you something directly, just raise awareness about their brand - and there really are some amazing brands at the exhibition.

Have you got tips to add or perhaps you disagree? Feel free to comment below.
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