Industry Spotlight – Miranda Likeman of Coco PR

This week Lou Draper talks to Miranda Likeman of Coco PR who sheds some light on what makes a PR company tick and gives some helpful advice to fashion designers who are thinking about being represented by a PR company.

About Coco PR’s backgroundShideh & Miranda
Coco PR was set up in January 2007 as a go-between for fashion labels and the media by providing a wide variety of liaison and PR services including press releases, advertorial, season launches, event organisation, website management, advertising negotiation and placements, photo-shoots and red carpet VIP celebrity dressing. Our showroom provides a one-stop-shop for stylists, wardrobe buyers and fashion editors to browse sample garments for features, shoots and editorials. Our media and fashion experience ensures an extensive database of contacts that allow us to take advantage of a wide range of opportunities on behalf of our clients.

Why did you choose to get into the industry?
My business partner and I met while she was the Fashion Editor and I was Deputy Editor of a magazine. We found dealing with other showrooms difficult, time consuming and at times, frustrating. One day she said to me ‘Why don’t we start our own Showroom and PR agency?’ Two months later we opened our doors. We have clothing, accessories, jewellery and we’re able to write up anything to suit anyone at short notice.

What is the most exciting and rewarding aspect of your business?
Coco PR really likes to be like a big family and treat our clients as friends. They consider us friends too, and that makes our job worthwhile. Many people think that what we do is all parties and sipping champagne at Fashion Events. It is actually a lot of hard work – just hard work in stylish clothes!

How have you helped your client base achieve success?
Clients come to us because they want to take their label to the next level, and we take them through the process of how best to do that. This means something different to each client – maybe improving their look books, updating their logo, suggesting what direction they take their collections in. We are very realistic in what is and isn’t possible. Having such a strong media background we know that editors can change their minds at the last minute, shoots can be pulled without notice and write up can get cut very short. All of our clients are also aware of this because we make it stick. The best advice we give our clients is to let go of that side and have faith in us. This is our full time job – not theirs. We tell them simply to let us make their brand bigger the best way we know how while keeping to their briefs. The other advice we give – have patience – like one very intelligent famous Kiwi once said, “It won’t happen over night, but it WILL happen”!

Discuss a milestone in the two years CocoPR has been operational.
One of our clients has a design company that is only 3 months old, but is already stocked nationwide and has a sales agent in Australia. We have many success stories like that – it truly makes it worthwhile for us when two years ago we were talking about a label of ours and people would say ‘Who?’ and now they say ‘I love them!’

At what stage do you suggest a designer sign up with a PR company?
As soon as they want to raise the profile of their brand through editorial placements and have the marketing of their label taken off their shoulders by experts.

Why should a designer sign up with a PR company, what are the benefits?
It’s not a designers job to know marketing or PR – it’s their job to design great clothes. They employ a PR company to answer the never-ending emails, get placements for their clothes, write the press releases and put them in front of all the people they need to be in front of. They don’t have time to do any of that, but PR is such a vital part of getting a label out there they need someone to handle those aspects of the business. Some designers have in-house PR, but it is very beneficial for smaller labels to band together with a company like Coco.

Are all PR companies the same? How do I know which one is right for me?
No, not all fashion PR companies are the same – and you should shop around until you find the one that provides the services you require for a price you can afford. There are other a couple of other companies that provide services to fashion labels but their accompanying strengths lie in styling and events in addition to having a showroom. Coco’s point of difference is that we have a strong journalistic bent and have been in the shoes of many of the people in the media, so can provide them with everything we know they need.

For designers on a budget or those at the seed/startup phase what advice can you offer for self promotion?
I still say consult someone in the business, even if you pay a one off consultation fee or discuss an emerging designer rate. There is nothing less professional than a designer calling editors and stylists themselves and touting their wares, and it is easy to get discouraged if your efforts aren’t deemed worthy of a response, which will so often be the case if you are doing everything yourself.

What are some of the PR no-no’s for designers? What will sink a designers ship in terms of PR?
See above – and the most important thing to realise in terms of fashion labels is that you
need PR. Labels that struggle do so because they aren’t in front of consumers and the media’s minds – and it is so easy to slip off their radar and is very difficult to get back there. Especially during a recession there is nothing more important than getting your brand out there, and it is an ideal time too, as so many others are pulling back on those kinds of services.

For more information about Coco PR’s services please visit their website directly


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