If a special event or PR stunt receives massive coverage, it’s good for the company, is not it? Actually no. PR just for PR’s sake should not exist, as in long-term perspective it does not lead to sales, reputation improvement or any other benefits for the company, and the massive attention, conquered with a lot of affords and money, may lead to nothing.
I will give you just a few examples. Look at recent fashion shows. In London Fashion Week the guests and celebrities, sitting in the front row, have become much more important than the shows itself. “For a designer, the more star power in the front row, the more social media sharing opportunities you present”, explains Amber Graafland from Daily Mirror, and it’s obviously true. Chief editors, fashion bloggers, celebrities and endorsers get the places in the front row, pose for paparazzi and make show late for additional 15 minutes till each of them would be happy with their footage and seating. The other case is celebrity endorsement on the runway: two latest collections of Tommy Hilfiger were made in collaboration with Gigi Hadid, and the major part of media buzz was around her name, her outfits and her dancing on the runway rather than any single item from the collection. Channel aw17 show at Paris Fashion Week goes even further. While all front-row celebrities and fashion editors post the pictures from the event, I have not seen a single look: all they are amazed by real space shuttle built on set and flying up 10 meters above the runway during the show. I agree, it sounds cool and fascinates, but was not the new collection a main part of the event? If I’ll follow the recent coverage in the media, seems like garments do not matter anymore. “The clothes should be paramount, and the press and retailers need to see the detail and how the clothes breathe and move”, said Ralph Lauren two years ago and he stays true to this statement. However, such houses as Channel, Dior, Gucci, Prada, Tommy Hilfiger, and some others try to substitute the fashion with spectacle.
“Designers’ creativity is compromised, journalists are running on empty and we — the famous consumers — are bombarded day and night with the ‘latest thing we must have’ if we want to be cool’”, admits Livia Firth from brand consultancy Eco-Age to WWD. She points out that while some media still treat this shows as the stories, the system does not work properly and the public may be fed up with such content quite soon.
The other industry, which uses such catchy PR-stunts for the promotion of new items is tech. Remember any recent Apple or Samsung presentation: the media and users discuss the presentation itself, special guests of the shows, leaks of the information and special preparations, the products rarely go on the first place in coverage of this events.
“Apple’s much-hyped product demonstrations used to end with an emphatic “wow!”” mentions Nick Bilton in his blog at New Your Times website, and other bloggers and experts agree: media events by Apple become too predictable and similar, so the journalist got bored – and the company aims to entertain them – with the show, not with gadgets.
The reason why it happens may be quite simple: the companies have nothing new, their products are not so innovative and creative as they promised, and PR machine starts to spin to create the newsworthy cases for journalists.
Do these attempts have any positive results? We’ll see soon. But I believe that PR events should provide to media and public the real products and services, not spectacular shows and PR stunts.
Amber Graafland (2016). What is a FROW? Why fashion show front rows are more important than models, clothes or catwalks. Daily Mirror. Available from http://www.mirror.co.uk/3am/style/celebrity-fashion/what-frow-fashion-show-front-7426425.
Nick Bilton (2013). Longing for the ‘Wow’ at Apple’s Product Showcases. New Your Times Blog. Available from https://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/10/23/the-repetition-of-apple-keynote-presentations-feel-boring/?_r=1.
WWD. (2015). Overheated! Is Fashion Heading for a Burnout? WWD.com. Available from http://wwd.com/fashion-news/fashion-features/fashion-designers-karl-lagerfeld-marc-jacobs-10269092/.
Yoni Heisler (2013). Have Apple media events become boring and all too predictable? engadget.com. Available from https://www.engadget.com/2013/10/30/have-apple-media-events-become-boring-and-all-too-predictable/.