One of the greatest omissions in my fashion education as a design student was the incredible influence that public relations has on almost every aspect of the industry. Graduating with very vague, biased perceptions of PR, I was unprepared for the extent that it would become a part of my life as both a fashion blogger and an entrepreneur.
PR Couture is the only website of its kind that I know of. Crosby Noricks, a publicist and educator, has managed to bridge the gap between fashion blogging and fashion PR. The site is a bit like a trade magazine – informative and entertaining. I asked her a few questions about her industry and her career.
Do you have any heroes or mentors in the fashion PR business? What have they taught you?
This question kind of throws me because I haven’t really had any professional mentors, most of the time it’s me just fumbling through trying to do my best. There are certainly practitioners I respect, and through PR Couture I now count myself lucky to have a community of practitioners I can ask for feedback or advice, but it’s really been quite the solo climb.
What are your favourite fashion blogs, websites and magazines?
Ah! This question is much easier. Let’s see – for print Lula and Bust are my favorites. Online I read a ton – Independent Fashion Bloggers, Fashionista, The Business of Fashion and The Daily Obsession are current must-reads, for inspiration I like Garance Dore, Lookbook, NotCouture, and for a quick pick me up I check out Think Simple Now.
Public Relations has a very superficial image in popular culture and its characters are not often remembered outside the industry. Can you tell me of any anecdotes, names or events that define the best of fashion PR, either fictional, historical, or recent?
Originally, garments were advertised for their function and durability. It was through the influence of people like Edward Bernays (often referred to as the Father of PR) who understood how to tap into human desire and leverage the human condition, that PR was used to help companies promote goods – no longer based on function but personal expression, cultural affinity (or a reaction against it), etc. I like the example of how Edward Bernays got women to smoke in the US (when previously it was completely culturally unacceptable), by making it seem that by not smoking, women weren’t supporting suffrage. He did this (I’m glossing over the particulars a bit) by having a bunch of pretty lady suffragettes light up during a big parade. The power, influence, and ethics of PR are worth examining and addressing. In terms of fashion PR, I think a lot about our responsbility to share messaging that makes women feel good about themselves, that is respectful of both the industry and the individual.
What has been the proudest moment of your career so far?
I think that’s still to come. What’s most meaningful to me are the emails, requests for coffee and anecdotal stories I get from young women intersted in fashion PR who tell me I had an impact on them and that they appreciate what I do and what I have to say, or practitioners who let me know that PR Couture inspired them to start their own agency.