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Shein’s London listing – what it means for fashion brands’ corporate communications
July 2, 2024

Shein’s London listing – what it means for fashion brands’ corporate communications

Is the flotation of Shein on the London Stock Exchange a boost for London’s financial markets and the City’s international standing or is it an embarrassment? As the leading provider of media interview training for fashion brands and a long-established specialist in media training for finance companies we’ve been interested by the media coverage.

We’ve also been exploring what this means for media relations teams of fashion brands. 

According to Amnesty International Shein’s potential London initial public offering would be a “badge of shame” for the London Stock Exchange because of what the pressure group described as the brand’s “questionable” labour and human rights standards.

More recently, Stop Uyghur Genocide, a human rights charity has alleged that Uyghur people are being used as forced labour at some of Shein’s cotton suppliers in Xinjiang in north-western China.

Corporate communications must be better than ever.

Fashion brands and clothing retailers have never been under such close scrutiny. That’s why their corporate communications must be better than ever. It’s also why a growing number of fashion PR companies and in-house media relations teams are asking us to support their Communications activities. Supply chain and sustainability is particularly important to them – as the media reporting of Shein testifies. 

As a long-time provider of media training for fashion brands, we now often offer interview practice for sustainability teams and supply chain managers. This helps them prepare effectively to address questions on these sensitive topics.

One big fashion brand that we work with a lot, points out, “We don’t particularly want to talk about these issues, even though we feel that we have robust systems in place. It’s just that, whenever we put up one of our team for interview on almost any subject, the journalist is bound to ask about our supply chains and our record on sustainability and the circular economy.”

Our media interview training workshops for fashion retailers.

In our media interview training workshops for fashion retailers and clothing brands we put our course participants through a range of role-play media interviews. Because all of our trainers are working journalists (operating under strict NDAs) they know exactly the kind of questions that they would put in their day jobs, in the real world. This means that the interviews during our media training courses are realistic.

We then review these performances, playing back radio and TV interviews, to analyse not only what the interviewees said and their replies to the questions but to look at how they came across. Did they appear confident or anxious? Did their answers sound sincere and authentic? Or did they simply appear to be parroting the corporate line that they’ve just been given? 

Media interview training courses 

We explain in these media interview training courses that the interviewee should come across as authentic and spontaneous – as if they’re speaking personally and off the cuff. However, everything they say should in fact be in line with the company’s position on this issue.

Many fashion PR companies and media relations teams tell us that they find it useful to have a fresh pair of eyes on a particular line to take on difficult issues. They might have worked out themselves what they want to say and discussed it with colleagues – and this is very advisable. However, having a journalist come in and ask questions can test this message objectively to see if it works for an external audience.

Now, it might sound as if these media training courses for fashion brands are terrifying experiences. Yes, we’ll put participants through their paces and test their messages. However, we’re keen to stress that we do so in a confidential and supportive atmosphere. We aim not to make anyone look foolish but to help them feel stretched, tested, and given an authentic interview experience. This means that they can now feel well equipped to handle difficult questions on any controversial subject.

Media training for CEOs and finance directors of clothing retailers and fashion labels

We provide media training for CEOs and finance directors of clothing retailers and fashion labels, as well as for sustainability and supply chain specialists. Here we might be polishing up their skills for interviews about margins and global expansion plans. How, is the cost-of-living continuing to bite for consumers what effect is the ongoing geo-political and economic uncertainty having on the world of fashion? These are tough times for any business. Fashion company leaders must ensure they have clear, credible answers when questioned about margins, e-commerce, or global expansion plans.

We recently helped a major global fashion retailer identify stories and case studies for their senior teams. These cover sustainability, training, development, and technology to improve customer service. As we say in our media coaching sessions, if you haven’t got an example, you haven’t got a message. 

You might want to convince a journalist that you’re ahead of the game when it comes to sustainability but if you can’t provide specific examples then you’re not going to get very far. It’s worth stressing that we’re not talking about anything particularly complex and technical here – it’s just a few little references.

A lot of the language about understanding is related to vision

We point out in our media training courses that a lot of the language about understanding is related to vision. Do you see what I mean? Do you get the picture? Is that clear? Journalists will respond well if you can show them as well as telling them something. That’s why having these illustrations or proof points is so important. 

Shein’s London listing – what it means for fashion brands’ corporate communications

How well Shein’s London listing, if it goes ahead, is remains to be seen. One thing is clear: in today’s challenging market, fashion brands and clothing retailers need a strong narrative. They also need spokespeople who are able to handle difficult questions and manage controversial issues with confidence and authenticity.

That’s why more and more fashion brands and clothing retailers are coming to us for media training.

Media Training courses for fashion retailers and clothing brands

Come and talk to us about our Media Training.  You can follow us on LinkedIn here.

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