Since 2011, I have been working alongside mainstream fashion PR agencies in London. Between my two brands – I have close to one million followers, from which I can connect with whenever I want. I am the definition of a woman who has social media influence. I have been on an interesting journey as a reporter for men’s fashion. I am known officially as the female voice for menswear and to attain this, I have gone out of my way through my own time and money to market fashion brands. In return, I can honestly say that in 2017, my connect and rapport with these fashion PR’s in London (especially) has got me thinking.
It is because of this, I felt that it is time to share my frustrations as a social media influencer. Every night, I lie in bed and review how much hard work and sacrifice I have invested within fashion PR’s and fashion brands in London, with the result that each and every time, it leaves a very bitter-sweet taste in my mouth.
I have interviewed countless people, many of which were famous ones, over the previous year’s fashion weeks. It is from the strength of my brands that I achieve excellent exposure within the fashion labels in London with MenStyleFashion being the fourth largest on-line male magazine in the UK.
London Fashion Week: Men PR’s Craving Free Press
Over the years I have found that it is the London PR’s who represent these fashion brands that treat bloggers very poorly. In fact, it’s what I call; not understanding how social media marketing works as a fashion blogger, thanks to these PR’s craving so much free press.
This culture has been created by both the PR and the blogger organically, over the years. I don’t entirely blame the PR’s from a business level because there are a multitude of wannabe bloggers out there who are willing to work for free for an exchange of a catwalk invite, give-away or a goodie bag. Consequentially, this has empowered the PR’s to exploit this form of free marketing whenever and whenever they can.
My frustration is that in 2017, London PR’s do not know how to differentiate between genuine influential platforms and ´wannabe´ bloggers, who have a blog but have very poor ALEXA ranking. This leaves a very bitter taste for people like me who run a legitimate digital media company.
PR’s What Are They Really Worth?
This is a lesson I have learnt over a few years as a social media influencer. London and all their PR’s that represent these fashion labels are always on the hunt to get everything for free. They only contact me when they want a press release to be put on my platforms. Ultimately, these PR’s don’t pay for it and are willing to give you nothing in return for your efforts let alone your time or your digital media space.
When I do ask for something in return, they are masters of ignorance. This has recently got progressively worse over the last few months. It seems that all of these PR’s are happy to give their press releases to any man and his dog (no matter whether their blog has readership or not). In their mind, it’s a justification to the fashion brands they are doing their job – money for old rope.
I feel genuinely concerned for fashion brands, which pay the London Fashion PR’s to use such a flawed business model. Through numerous previous discussions with many fashion bloggers with influence, we always reach the same conclusion; there will always be a love and hate relationship when it comes to London Fashion PR’s. There are certainly some amazing ones out there, but they are few and far between. However, ultimately, they have so much power; there is nothing we can do.
PR’s Catwalk Invites
Over the previous years, I have turned up to catwalks in where the London PR’s have erred fundamentally in ways such as having forgotten to bring their guest lists to the main event -can you imagine the nightmare that creates! It put’s pressure on both the guests and the security at the door, but most importantly, it’s such a disrespect to the fashion designer who invests their money into their so called ´professional services´.
Once again, I feel so sorry for the fashion designers who have invested within these PR´s to ensure and make sure that the right people have turned up to their catwalk. In my quest, I can assure you that many times over, in talking to people who were lining up to enter these catwalks that these so called guests were just gate crashing.
In retrospect, this makes me very angry as I work very hard every day to become impactful on my digital platforms. It makes digital pioneers such as me feel sick to the core that these London fashion PR’s do not take their job seriously enough to validate and verify their invitees.
This LFW:Men 2017 I received STANDING ONLY INVITES. It clearly demonstrates the PR’s in London don’t understand my social media marketing influence. Keep reading as you will see what happens as a result of me e-mailing each PR to explain why I will not be attending.
London Fashion Week: Men PR’s Standing Only Invite
With regards to the future, I am concerned what will ultimately become of the fashion industry with these ´masters ´at the helm of the ship. More and more, I get phone calls from PR’s asking me to attend press days, then after this, I get more e-mails from London PR’s asking me to launch their associated press contents for free on my platforms. I am being told daily that releasing product samples is not possible because they are limited and that this is due to the PR’s allocated budgets being very tight. I do wonder whether these samples were actually available or sent out and how influential these recipients were?
I know for a fact that the London PR’s are looking to work with individuals who have a substantial ´blogger impact´. However, if they continue to treat brands such as myself with disdain and disrespect and not even bother to make the time and effort to make you feel welcome at a London Fashion Week event, then what is the point. (What I mean by that, is not even putting you in a priority line let alone a front row). London Fashion Week: Men starts tomorrow. I have noticed due to a very hectic schedule, they have junior PR’s sending out invites.
This email is to confirm that Gracie Opulanza will have standing accreditation for the Bobby Abley show taking place during London Fashion Week Mens. This season we’ve been unable to issue physical tickets to guests with this accreditation but this name will be on the list upon arrival at the venue. Please ensure that upon arrival at the venue anyone with standing accreditation joins the standing queue to avoid adding undue pressure to our team at the entrance to the venue. This will be clearly signed.
How do you think I feel when LFW:Men PR’s give me a standing invite only?
What a missed opportunity for the fashion designer. Why on earth would I continue to waste my time, effort and hard-earned cash on these conditions? In summary, it is the London Fashion PR’s who don’t take their job seriously and it is at the detriment of the designer’s profile and those who work beside them, often un-noticed and not appreciated.
To the fashion brands out there, take note. Be inspired and make sure your London PR is working hard for your best interests. You’re paying them for this reason, aren´t you? And, to the London PR’s out there, I don’t need any more press releases and I certainly don’t need free content. What I need is a good and fair relationship that shows the respect you have for me as a pioneering woman who has organic social media influence.
I have only been bullied by some London Fashion Week : Men PR’s and Goliath, since 2014! Never by a Fashion designer!
LFW:Men PR & Fashion Blogger Fowl Play
After writing this article. I woke up to find out that a male fashion blogger, during Milan Fashion Week. Tweeted a screenshot, of a private email conversation, I had with a LFW:Men PR in 2017. This fashion blogger gave a deliberately inaccurate picture, of my conversation. Called me a Blagher and as a result. Boy did I get some abuse.
In speaking to the LFW:Men PR, in their own words this is what the CEO had to say.
I found your email particularly ridiculous to be honest so understand why you are humiliated. I screen grabbed this and text it to my team so they knew this had happened should you speak to any of them. I may also have shared this screen grab with a select number of personal friends but would of course never have shared something with media to become publicly available without prior consent.You’ll have to ask him where he got this from. Sorry I’m unable to help.
Fashion Blogger Tweet
Force My Way Into Catwalks
They admitted that they merely could not cope as a LFW:Men PR with the amount of catwalk requests. They, also admitted they should never had included me in a group e-mail. Hence, sadly for the fashion designer. I missed out on one of my favorite catwalks
LFW:Men – Don’t Understand Social Media
— Gracie Opulanza (@gracieopulanza) January 12, 2017
One of my biggest lessons, I have learnt and regret the most since 2012!
¨If you’re good at something and have worked hard to sustain it and maintain it as a woman with real social media influence, then don’t ever give it away for free.¨