Is anyone else as addicted to Amazon’s Making the Cut as we are? And not just for Heidi Klum’s #fashun, featuring huge puffer jackets and thigh high boots, but for the truth bombs being dropped on the contestants about the power of PR. We’ve binged the whole season and are bringing you our biggest takeaways.
1. “A conversation can change everything”
If you’ve never watched the show (what are you even doing with your lockdown?) Heidi always tells the contestants during judging that they have the opportunity to change the judges minds – even if they showed a dud on the catwalk. Heidi’s looking for a story – understanding the ‘why’ behind a designer’s collection can sometimes make the difference between progressing to the next stage or not making the cut. Storytelling is what sets a great pitch apart from the 100’s of other emails in a journalist’s inbox. In the words of AFR Fashion Editor, Lauren Sams, “[A great brand story] is very important. For us at the AFR, a great brand story is one that resonates with our financially motivated and highly educated audience. Tell me about a former investment banker who is now making luxury heels, or a management consultant who figured out a way to create mushroom leather.”
2. Stay on Brand
Probably the most repeated message throughout the show – designers can’t just create something beautiful, it has to truly demonstrate what’s different about their brand – and why consumers should care. In a very oversaturated media landscape that’s currently dominated by end-of-the-world headlines, you have to be super clear about what your brand brings to the table in order to get cut through. Jake Halpin, Director of Gloss Communications said, “[I would love to see more PRs] really get into the nitty gritty of the brands they work with. It’s very easy to take a top level view of a brand and cherry pick the easy stories to tell. Where are the interesting stories, what is your brand really doing differently, what are they doing that’s unique only to them that no one else can replicate, because they are the kind of stories that journalists are interested in.”
3. Be Purposeful
Do you really need that full length reversible great coat to make an outfit feel complete? Tim Gunn’s advice to contestants is to always do things with purpose, and this is definitely relevant in the world of PR which can be prone to the promotion of overconsumption. Instead of a spray-and-pray approach, sending smash cakes to every influencer on your list, consider ways to be more purposeful in your outreach. Pull a list of your most engaged journalists from your Flaunter account and think of ways to surprise and delight them with meaningful content or exclusives. Say no to OTT gifting. Make like Hatrik House’s Alice Carrett, who says “As a team we have always tried to enforce that our best export is the strategic experience and creativity of our team. So if there are ways that free up time from our team members we always want to ensure that we invest in it.”
4. There is Power in Collaboration
One of the most impressive runway shows of the season comes from Gary Graham, who collaborates with his model, who is also a poet, to create a campaign video showcasing his live, hand painted designs.
The result is episode-winning, and the lessons for PRs is that it takes a village to make a campaign come to life. PR shouldn’t happen in isolation, particularly when it comes to demonstrating the results of our activities. PR is a top of funnel activity that drives potential customers to websites and stores, where digital marketing activities can take over from an email collection and retargeting perspective. By understanding where we fit in the funnel, we can advocate for PR needing a seat at the strategic table, not being seen as a nice-to-have.
5. Technology is Fuelling our Industry More than Ever Before
Okay, so Making the Cut is a thinly veiled attempt by Amazon to increase its dominance in the fashion space, one in which it’s always struggled to gain cut through, but it’s a smart one. By aligning with up and coming designers and using its considerable bank balance to do so, Amazon is bringing the tech to fashion with instantly shoppable content. We’ve seen similar approaches from brands like MacGraw at Australian Fashion Week this year, and brands all over the world are realising that tech and fashion are synonymous.
However, PRs are lagging behind when it comes to the adoption of technology that streamlines old-school processes. Whether it’s out of a lack of knowledge, or a fear of the unknown, PRs are required to be on the cutting edge of all kinds of trends, and technology should be one of them. Adopting technology, and data in particular, will allow us to position PR as a necessity in boardrooms around the world, not just a nice to have.
6. Thinking Like a Customer = Big Wins
We won’t spoil the big reveal, but the most consumer focussed competitor is the one that comes out on top. This doesn’t just apply in the retail and fashion world, but across industries – especially PR. And we’re not talking about understanding the end consumer of a physical product, but who our customers are – namely the media, and our clients (or stakeholders).
That means thinking about how we can make our customers lives easier, whether it’s killing off the expiring WeTransfer link, giving journalists everything they need to write about your content as soon as they download an image, whether that’s image source, RRP or availability, or having access to on-the-spot data that we can provide to our clients, helping them make strategic business decisions that could shape the way they produce collections.
Have you watched Making the Cut? What PR lessons have you learned from the show, or is there another bingeable series we should be watching? Hit us up at firstname.lastname@example.org with your recommendations.