What Does it Take to Produce a Press Day?
What Does it Take to Produce a Press Day?
Written by By Hannah Makonnen
In the fast-paced world of fashion, where trends come and go in the blink of an eye, the role of press days are increasingly vital. If done right, press days offer brands the opportunity to showcase their latest collections, connect with media professionals, and gain the industry’s full attention.
But how do you actually go about putting one together? We had the pleasure of sitting down with schuh’s Head of PR, Stephanie O’Reilly and PR Manager, Louisa Jewes to get an insight on how Britain’s footwear ‘go to’ retailer pieces together their successful press events. From the initial concept to the execution, we delve into the strategic planning process that spans over 12 weeks, uncovering their objectives, key partnerships, and initiatives.
Stephanie and Louisa unveil their strategies for crafting compelling stories that captivate journalists and content creators alike. Learning invaluable advice for companies aspiring to create impactful events that explore the importance of accessibility, while leaving a lasting impression on attendees.
Can you tell us about the process of planning your most recent press day at schuh?
The planning phase of our ‘press day’ is probably as important as the actual event itself! We aim for a 12 week period to concept, plan and prep. Right at the start, we make sure we have clear objectives for the event and set KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators) which work as targets to measure the success of the event.
Our objective for our most recent event was to preview our new season footwear collections to press, content creators and industry contacts while also updating attendees on our brand values and Purpose Pillars.
For this particular event, we raised awareness of our Mental Wellness pillar as it was Stress Awareness Month and our Sustainability pillar as we have just launched a charity tote bag with our Sustainability charity partner, The World Land Trust.
To bring this to life, we partnered with inclusive wellness platform thy.self to create an inclusive wellness pop-up space at the venue; offering our guests a space to relax and refresh. We knew that many of our attendees would be going to multiple events on the same day so we wanted to offer a moment to reset and recharge.
Planning how each event can be accessible and inclusive is a top priority. Everyone is welcome at a schuh event, so we aim for our events to be as accessible and inclusive as possible. This includes reviewing all attendee touchpoints, covering things like invites and communication with guests, through to venue search and catering option
When it comes to the actual day, what do you have to do?
Assuming the event set-up is done the night before then it is about making sure the event goes to plan. The team are brand spokespeople for the day, filling everyone in on all things schuh while maintaining relationships with existing contacts and building new ones.
We aim to speak to every guest. We are a team of 5 and 200 people came to our last event so it is non-stop. We bring the footwear collections to life, sharing key info such as what products are exclusive to schuh, best sellers, price points and drop dates.
We share updates on other initiatives like our Purpose Pillars for example, sharing detail on recent milestones and progress as well as goals for the future.
Then at the end of the day, I’d like to say we go off and celebrate a great event. But we don’t. You have to pack everything up and leave the venue exactly as you found it! It’s usually a late finish but there’s always a great buzz after a successful event.
How did the last one go for you?
The event was a success. Hitting internal KPIs is one thing, but building a community that gives honest feedback on your events (and keeps coming back) is priceless. During the event itself, the energy in the room was really special, with guests engaging with the product and workshops throughout the day, which led to open and honest feedback and interactions.
Post-event, our partner, thy.self, also shared positive testimonials from suppliers and guests alike. We received some incredible support from our community across social media, who specifically commented on how useful our communication around accessibility had been. This encouraged conversations around where we can improve next time.
Can you walk us through the steps involved in creating and distributing a press release?
When it comes to press releases, there are lots of different ways they can be structured but there always needs to be a story to tell. Press get hundreds of emails every day so the story should stand out. Key things like data, statistics, images and expert quotes all help to get attention.
Targeting the right audience will please journalists and writers. It can sometimes make sense to distribute a release to lots of press at the same time but a more targeted approach can help reach the right people quickly.
- How do you measure the success of a press day or press release?
As important as it is for us to look at tangible, measurable results (whether that be to generate press or social media coverage), there are some things you can’t measure short-term – it is just as essential for us to use these tools to build lasting, genuine and authentic relationships with media, content creators and industry partners, to build positive brand awareness.
Can you tell us about any challenges or obstacles you have faced when conducting press days?
We aim to make our events as inclusive as possible and consider accessibility upfront in our planning. We are proud of the progress we have made but accessibility and inclusion will mean different things to different people, so we don’t always get it right. We learn from every event and the feedback we receive from our guests and our community is vital so we can continue to learn and improve. Continuous learning and education are key to understanding the issues and opportunities.
How do you stay up-to-date with the latest trends and developments in the fashion industry when preparing what products are featured in the press day?
We collaborate with our branded and own-brand buying teams to prepare the key stories to show a few months before the event itself. We work closely with the teams to present our guests with the hottest, most relevant collections for the season – including sneak peeks of new brand launches and exclusive first looks at schuh’s own brand styles.
How do you think the role of press days and press releases has changed in the fashion industry in recent years?
How people consume news and information has of course changed dramatically in recent years. But post-pandemic we are seeing such a positive reaction to press days. PR events are a valuable tool in allowing our community to connect with schuh in real life.
A journalist might come to our event to get up to speed on our new collections but we also might have a content creator share the event on TikTok or we might connect with a future brand or industry partner who we have been trying to meet for a coffee all year. Our events are open to all our community.
Press materials, such as press releases, are an effective way to build brand awareness and build contacts, not only with press but with content creators, agencies and internally too. Our employees love to see what we are sharing externally.
Can you share any advice for other companies looking to conduct successful press days or create effective press releases?
Allow plenty of time to plan and prep. Everything takes longer than you think and someone is always on holiday!