PRESS DAYS : THE PEEVES AND PLEASURES

What is a press day? 

It is an event normally held over one or two days where brands will showcase their latest products or collection to the journalists/prs/stylists/celebs they’ve invited. The PR’s will often take you round the showroom/office/hired space and talk you through the products. When you arrive you usually sign a guestbook stating which publication you’ve come from. Some have food and drink on offer while you are there (and other fun stuff depending on the brand), and you occasionally come away with a goody bag. While you are there you have the opportunity to tell the PR if you are likely to want a certain piece for an upcoming shoot or feature. If the event is held by a PR agency rather than the brand, it will likely be showcasing multiple brands in one space.

After a day of attending press days I was reminded of how much they can vary in terms of quality. I left some thinking very positively about the brands and the people that work for them, while others left me damn right annoyed. Instead of doing a rant about the bad ones, I thought I’d put a slightly more positive and constructive spin on things. During this post I will pinpoint what makes a successful press day in the eyes of an attending journalist/blogger, and what makes it less than a useful/pleasurable experience.

PEEVE: You have RSVP’d to say you are attending the press day, yet other members of the team are still sending you the invite and requesting you reply to confirm attendance.

PLEASURE: Once you have replied, it is always nice to get a response from the PR that acknowledges that it has been received – this doesn’t always happen. When they don’t there is always that fear you’ll turn up and you’ll not be expected.

PEEVE: When you arrive a PR will usually say ‘Hello, I’m “insert name”. This is there way of encouraging you to not only say your name, but where you are from (the publication). Rather than being a simple pleasantly, it seems this is there way of gauging how important you are to them. I have quite often seen their demeanour completely change when they’ve realised I’m not someone from the influential fashion glossies.

PEEVE: You’ve been specifically invited to attend an event, you reply saying you will attend, then you get there and you are not on the list!

PEEVE: You get invited to an event, sometimes they even say because they like your work/site/blog, then you arrive and they look blankly when you say where you are from – which doesn’t make you feel too great! It is also frustrating because you think they would know who they’ve invited, and why they’ve been deemed worthy of attending. It would be great if all members of the team knew the guest list/invite list, and had a bit of knowledge about the blog/websites/magazine etc.  It was also help them in terms of targeting appropriate products.

PLEASURE: Every so often a PR will make you feel incredibly welcome. They are either very good at hiding the fact that they don’t know you or your publication, or they tell you that they keep up to date on what you do via twitter etc,  and proceed to enthusiastically talk you through the collections.

PEEVE: When a PR says I’ll talk you through the collection, and they aren’t able to offer any information other than what you can observe yourself. It makes such a difference when they can tell you about the fabric (if its high tech or vegan for example), where it’s stocked, the price point, who has been seen wearing the brand, the history of the brand etc. Yesterday I only found out a brand might be relevant to me because they informed me they had worked with Kasabian in the past.

PLEASURE: I don’t need a banquet, and I don’t expect everyone to have Candy Floss on offer like Clarks had last season, but some sort of refreshments are nice, particularly if you are on the go all day and need of a quick pick me up!

PLEASURE: Attending press day after press day, and being handed a beverage at each = troublesome bladder. I can’t tell you the relief of discovering a loo at a press day. It’s only on these days you realise the lack of public loos in London. I had to nip into two pubs yesterday. I always feel awful as I have ignored the customer only rule!

PEEVE: I have so many emails stating ‘I should come along – there will be cocktails/prosecco..’. As a non drinker the addition of alcohol isn’t a selling factor. There is a lot of us these days, so it would be nice to be catered for too.

PLEASURE: The amount of press days one can attend is ridiculous these days. It is impossible to please everyone in terms of choosing a handy location, but making it as easy as possible to get to would probably increase the chance of people attending – good transport link or local to the majority of other press days taking place.

PEEVE: You may have gone out of your way to attend a press day, that perhaps is slightly off the beaten track, or interrupts a busy day in the office, and you get there and are informed you can’t take any pictures. I understand if a couple of products are embargoed due to their exclusive nature, but to not be able to take any pictures is ridiculous and actually wastes our time. For a lot of us our content is based on blog imagery and Instagram posts. We want to give our followers and readers and insight into the press day…which is pretty hard if we can’t post anything. If you are going to have this rule it would be really helpful if it was stated on the invite, so it can save some of us the trip.

Yes we can use their professional shots, but many of us like unique content or have a particular style we like to stick to in terms of our photography, so we won’t want to post the images that you are sending out to various publications.

PLEASURE: When you are allowed to take pictures it is incredibly helpful when the PR offers to hold up the pieces/garments. It can be hard to take pictures of items on the rail, particularly when you are weighed down with lookbooks/press releases/goodies from previous press days.

PLEASURE: When they offer a space or cloakroom for you to put your stuff while you peruse their products. It can be a tiring day lugging all your stuff round, and it is nice to give yourself a break while be talked through the products. It is of course easier to take pictures without all your gubbins.

PEEVE: Sometimes I tweet a brand when I see they have a press day coming up, and ask if I could drop by. It feels very rude when they don’t reply, after-all you are aiming to attend to hopefully give them some press/exposure. If they think I am not big/important enough that’s fine, I’d rather they just said it was full already….or some similar fob off.

PEEVE: You’ve attended a press event, and featured their products in regular posts/videos/content, yet they don’t inform you when the next event is. You can’t help but feel like you don’t want to feature them again because it doesn’t feel like a balanced relationship. A bit like that boyfriend that took advantage, but gave you nothing in return.

PLEASURE: It is always nice to come away with a little gift from an event – a discount card, token gift that represents the brand. These are the things people like to Instagram, so it is definitely a worthwhile addition to your strategy. Of course there is the issue of cost, and the danger that some people only attend to obtain freebies, but if have someone on the door checking the legitimacy of attendees, and don’t go too mad on gifts, it is a nice touch. So many are working for very little if any money in industries like this, so it is also a nice way of softening the blow for them.

If you are torn about this aspect some sort of discount card may be the way to go. People will still be spending money on the brand so its not complete freebie and they may be more inclined to make a purchase than they were before. They will then be walking/talking/instagramming advertising too.

PEEVE: You are about to leave the event and see that the goodie bags are there on the floor by the exit. When you say goodbye to the PR, they don’t pick up the goody bag and give it to you. This is extremely awkward, no one wants to be that person who asks if they can have one….but of course we don’t want to leave without. It’s so nice when PR’s just hand it to you on your way out and says thank you for coming!

PEEVE: When a brand is clearly handpicking who they give goody bags to depending on how valuable you are to them. So many times it has been glaringly obvious they are giving the influential journalists/bloggers goodie bags and holding back with others. It isn’t nice to make people feel inferior or less important. If you’ve been invited you should be made to feel equally welcome, after-all you’ve made the same effort in attending, if not more, than the well known fashion editor with the large readership. I understand the strategic thought processes behind it, of course its common sense, but on a human level it can feel quite harsh.

PLEASURE: It is very helpful to be able to take away lookbooks/press releases relating to the brands you’ve been viewing. It is nice to have a choice of the format too. I know fashion assistant like to have lookbook that they can flick through when putting together shoots, and some of us will prefer the images/info in file form on a compact and easy to carry USB stick.

PEEVE: Sometimes press days are held in unusual locations – warehouse spaces, hidden galleries down side alleys, in a room within a huge hotel. Sometimes they aren’t the easiest to find, yesterday I found myself wondering round various hotel conference rooms trying to find the correct space. Make it easier for us tired souls….put up a sign in big bold font!

PLEASURE: You know when you go shopping and you simply want to browse but an assistant is too insistent that they help you. Sometimes you just want to look through the collections quickly, and it’s great when a PR allows you to do this without giving the hard sell. We have a lot to get through and sometimes we don’t have time to take on the story of the brand etc.

PLEASURE: It is always a nice touch when you receive a personal email from a PR the next day, saying it was nice to meet you, or that they appreciated you turning up. It can be the start of a beautiful relationship….

OK, I think that will do for now!

Before I conclude this post though I also want to make sure that this doesn’t seem like an attack on PR’s…far from it. The majority of you do a great job on these lengthy press days, and make creating regular content easier with what you have showcased to us on the day. I also sympathise with the fact that you have been on your feet all day, talking to tens if not hundreds of people about the same thing solidly. So with that in mind bloggers and journalists, there is a lot we can do in terms of being a good attendee too, which we must keep in mind! We are in the media game together, so let’s make it as easy as possible for us and cultivate some healthy relationship!

P.S I always forget, but bring your business cards with you, great to handover the brands/PR’s plus who knows who you will meet that you may want to stay in touch with!

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