As a specialist provider of media training for fashion brands and clothing, labels and retailers, we’re finding that a growing number of our clients are concerned about achieving sustainable development or at least improving on how they go about sustainability.
With the extensive media coverage given to greenwashing and the increase in stories about companies not doing what they say when it comes to protecting the environment and adhering to good corporate social responsibility and SDG, this is hardly surprising. So how can fashion brands talk about their sustainability records in the media?
The first thing, as always, they need to think about the audience. We stress in our media training workshops for fashion brands – as we do with all of our clients – that the audience always comes first. Once you’ve got them in mind, you can start to think about your key messages. If you’re a fashion label, you need to know whether you’re talking to a journalist from the Guardian, the Daily Mail, Drapers, or the Liverpool Echo – each will take a slightly different angle. The messages you put across, the language you use and the examples you give will need to reflect these audiences – their interests, concerns, and motivations, among others.
Examples are extremely important. We advise all our media coaching clients to introduce examples, case studies, anecdotes and stories to explain and prove their points. If you’re telling me, as a journalist (all of our trainers are working journalists operating under strict non-disclosure agreements), that you have a policy on recycling, give me an example of how it works in practice. If you’re trying to persuade a journalist that you have a robust supply chain regarding sustainability and human rights, then introduce some examples of what this means in practice. Even little anecdotes and stories can help here – look for anything that drills down to prove your arguments.
Your language is also important, as we point out in our media training courses for fashion labels. This is all the more important if you’re talking to mainstream consumer publications. I’ve mentioned “a robust supply chain”, and this might work for a trade publication, but if you’re doing an interview for Stylus, The Times or the Daily Mail, you’ll need to choose more conversational language. “At every stage of the process, from weaving the fabrics to putting the finished product on the shelf,” might work better here. Punchy soundbites are also crucial for grabbing the journalist’s attention and ensuring that your message sticks in the audience’s minds.
You might make a claim about your sustainability as a fashion brand, but you would, wouldn’t you? Including in your interviews, references to independent third parties and official regulators add to your authority. If you say, for instance, that everything you do complies with the Better Cotton Initiative or that you adhere to Fair Trade principles, or you are doing your bit for global warming, then we’re more likely to believe you. Show how you actually go above and beyond these requirements, and your claims will be even more impressive.
You can also introduce a personal element. Why are you concerned about sustainability? Why do you believe that your brand is doing a good job here? Personal testament and experience are powerful in media interviews because they tick the human box and sound authentic and genuine. As always, you should plan these comments before introducing them – don’t just throw them in during the interview.
You can also add a visionary element to your comments. OK, you’ve got a good track record, but where do you go from here? How is your company leading the argument and innovating? Can you include a call to action for the sector as a whole?
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As we explain to the fashion brands, fashion houses and clothing manufacturers that we provide media training for, taking the initiative during an interview helps you gain more control. So, you can add ideas and messages and tell stories that you believe to be important and relevant because, after all, you’re the expert.