The fashion industry is always way ahead of the game. Every year in early March, couture fashion designers dazzle us with their Fall/Winter designs during Paris Fashion Week. Yes, Fall/Winter 2018. It’s hard to imagine, when most of the U.S. is still wearing sweaters and winter is still very much a threat (ask anyone living in New England).
But this future forward type of thinking is also something we all should emulate in other industries. Especially in public relations. Take a step back before diving in. A designer would never rush to design a ruffle sleeve or V-neck without carefully pouring over past trends or carefully contemplating their creative theme of the entire line presentation.
According to the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), ideally, all campaigns use a four-step process:
- Research — Analysis of the situation or define the problem
- Planning — Goal/objective setting
- Implementation — Execution/communication (taking action)
The first two, Research and Planning, happen way before your first model can have their turn on the runway. Even when the line is finished and they’re ready to show it off, would designers shouldn’t even think about tactics like reaching out to social media influencers, before having done adequate research on who’s hot or emerging in the digital realm. Research for all businesses should include analyzing the situation or defining the business problem.
PRSA says to ask questions like, “Who do we want to reach?” “What do we want them to DO?” “What messages do we want to communicate to each public that will encourage desired behavior, increase knowledge and change attitudes?” So — no gut feelings or assumptions! By beginning with research, you’ll reduce uncertainty in later decision-making.
In other words, like the iconic fashion houses of Chanel and Ralph Lauren, you’ll do best to see what’s worked in the past, but also reinvent it for your business goals.
Planning is when you set those goals, objectives and decide the best tactics based on research findings. What would success look like? How do we differentiate between organizational or operational goals and strategies from communication goals and strategies? Make sure they’re in sync every step of the way. Set measurable objectives that are grounded in your research (and meet your budget), and you’ll be able to easily evaluate the return on investment once the show is over.
And if you couldn’t make it earlier this month to Paris (and if you were able to go, kudos to you!), here in Tennessee, Nashville Fashion Week is April 3-8. If you’re local, get out there and see the latest from designers, right here in your backyard. Including fashion icon Anna Sui, as well as innovative newcomers Eileen Kelly Nieser from Nashville, who will be launching her whimsical Eileen Kelly custom clothing line along with other emerging designers on April 6 at OZ Arts Nashville.