The fashion and clothing sector has always been fast moving and subject to constant change – that’s one reason why people love working in it. With recent challenges such as the financial pressures on high street retailers, the difficulties of managing reverse logistics and a greater focus by governments and customers on the supply chain it’s little wonder that we’re finding that more clothing companies, retailers, manufacturers and fashion houses are approaching us for media training and crisis communications training.
In our media training courses for the fashion industry we look at what journalists, both business and fashion, want to hear from interviewees. We go on to provide some essential preparation tips for those doing interviews and then we carry out authentic role play press, radio and sometimes TV and YouTube interviews. We offer feedback and tips afterwards.
We love media training fashion industry professionals because they’re passionate about what they do and they create something tangible.
Given that all of our media trainers are also working journalists and so they know what journalists are looking for when interviewing someone from a retailer, clothing manufacturer or fashion house. They also know from their experience how those in the fashion and clothing industry can do a good media interview.
We’d love to see you on one of our media coaching sessions soon but in the meanwhile, here are five top tips for fashion industry professionals doing media interviews.
1.Think about the story that you want to see on the page or on the screen. Fashion and apparel industry professionals, like other interviewees, often believe that the journalist should be in charge of the interview. However, this isn’t necessarily the case. As reporters we love it when the person we’re talking to – who is, after all, the expert – takes the initiative and tells us what’s going on, what’s new and exciting and what our audience should be thinking and doing. So, have your key message in mind and make sure that you say it early and repeat it. In our media training courses we look at what makes a story so that our course participants know how to make sure that what they say will tick the newsworthiness boxes.
2. Focus on the audience. When we’re doing media coaching sessions for those in the fashion and clothing industry, we show them how to ensure that they’re thinking about the audience. If you’re doing an interview with a trade publication such as Drapers, for instance, your messages and your language will be very different to those that are right for an interview with the Guardian fashion pages or Femail. Trade journalists will want to know about manufacturing processes, stock control, logistics and sell through rates among other issues. It’s the same with language. “Look book”, “off-the-rack” or even “apparel” might work for Drapers or Retail Week but they’ll mean nothing to the readers of The Sunday Times Style supplement or the Manchester Evening News. Even if your consumer or local media audience can decipher your meaning the danger is that you’ve already alienated them – you’re literally not speaking their language.
3.Use some examples. The other key piece of advice for those in the fashion and apparel industry doing interviews with journalists is to use examples. Stories are the meat and drink of journalism – it’s no coincidence that we call the articles that we’re working on “stories.” These essentials of human communication illustrate your ideas and they prove your points. You might, for example, want to tell us that your new AW range is great for working women. Show the journalist what this means in practice – what is it about the fabric, the cut or the finish that makes this true? You could even include a little anecdote about what colleagues and friends have said about their experience of looking for clothes for the office. Similarly, your new collection might have sustainability at its heart. Well you would say that, wouldn’t you, will be the reaction of the journalist. However, include some examples of the little features and processes that you’ve included and you’re going to be much more persuasive. Not only have you provided us with evidence but, when you described these elements, we can literally see what you mean. Alongside your creative vision and your retail flair, those little human anecdotes – the kind that you might tell your family at home or your friends in a restaurant – are what journalists want to hear. Did the idea for an accessory come from an unlikely source such as an intern or someone from another sector? Did you find a particular supplier or fabric purely by chance? Any stories that you introduce – especially anything human and quirky – will appeal to the journalist and give you greater control of the interview.
4.Identify any difficult questions – and have answers ready for them. It’s not that journalists are out to trip you up or make you look stupid. Honestly, we’re not. We just want a good story from you. But getting that story might include asking for your opinion on a controversial subject, such as slave labour, sustainability or the plight of a competitor. Similarly, we need to ask the questions that our audience will be asking. That’s why we sometimes play devil’s advocate. You would say that wouldn’t you? But what about the evidence against your point of view? Other people disagree with you on that issue, perhaps. Spotting these tricky areas before doing an interview and make sure that you’ve got answers for them. Then, if they come up you can give your answer – or explain that it’s not something that you can comment on – and move back onto your key messages.
5.Promise to shamelessly flog their piece on your social media outlets. Journalists are under increasing pressure to promote their work across social media outlets in order to promote the newspaper, programme or website they work for. Promising to help them here by sharing their story on your LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and even Instagram accounts will incentivise them to include you.
Chat to Communicate Media
In our media training courses we offer some tried and trusted techniques which our participants find useful when it comes to handling difficult questions and getting back on to their own agenda. That way fashion and clothing professionals doing media interviews can get the positive coverage that they’re looking for.
If you’d like more advice on our media training courses or our free media trainer taster session then please just get in touch – give us a call on (0)800 1777080 or send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org