For almost 30 years, Graduate Fashion Week has been at the heart of the UK’s fashion industry; helping to provide a showcase for emerging designers and seeking out the “next big thing”. Proud of our Birmingham heritage and passionate that talent lies beyond the M25, we were excited to be brought on board by Midlands Fashion Awards for two consecutive years, to manage the PR for the event and showcase the designer-maker talent taking part.
Founded by Jenny Eason over 13 years ago, the annual event has now established itself as the leading platform for “discovering, encouraging, promoting and increasing the visibility of the very best of the region’s innovative fashion and accessory designers, stylists, make-up artists and fashion and beauty photographers.”
We worked with the MFA team for the 2014 and 2015 awards, leading the PR for both events in the eight months leading up to the show. Our mission was to give the awards a bigger share of voice and help provide a stronger platform for the region’s emerging talent in the world of fashion.
This started by developing a strategic plan, which covered PR and social media activity, as well as looking at building key relationships with potential partnerships and sponsors. Ensuring that we were able to provide a new level of media and influencer engagement was key to the success of the first year’s campaign, which would then provide a great starting point for the following year.
In addition to securing regional, and where possible national, media coverage we also supported with sponsorship and partnerships for both events.
With the campaign plan in place, we had a timeframe set out to ensure that we were promoting key milestone and pushing for entries, and later ticket sales. Kicking off with an announcement about the event and the International Showcase element, we used case studies of previous winners to highlight the impact of entering and winning MFA. This gave us a great starting point and allowed us to promote the local talent uncovered via the event.
As the campaign progressed, we focused on key milestones to help generate media interest, including the Independent Designer Catwalk Show, venue announcement and ticket on sale, and finalist unveiling. This was also complemented by pitching interviews with both Jenny, the founder, and that year’s finalists. We also focused on local press for the finalists in their respective towns and cities across the Midlands region.
Alongside this, we also sought out local fashion influencers to engage with the event; offering guest blog posts on the website and tickets to the event itself, in return for promotion to their followers. To support the finalists and help raise the profile of MFA, we also held a free social media workshop for the designers to help them make the most of digital marketing leading up to and after the event.
In addition to creating a hitlist of potential sponsors, both regional and national, and creating a sponsorship pack to approach them for support.
Our target with the Midlands Fashion Awards was to help spread the word to applicants of the past, present and future, as well as creating a high media to raise engagement for the profile for the awards. This was achieved through the use of targeted features sent to press, while also building a solid following across its social media platforms.
With a wealth of contacts across the region, we were able to secure coverage in a number of regional publications including Birmingham Mail, Express & Star, Birmingham Living, Sixtynine Degrees and Dluxe magazine. As well as more local titles including Hereford Times, Nottingham Post, Leicester Mercury, Coventry Telegraph and Staffordshire Living.
Our total media coverage for the 2014 event was 1,411,510 and 1,246,591 for 2015.
Further press engagement also included a competition with Style Birmingham in 2015 and leading local fashion influencers attending the events in both 2014 and 2015.
Our support also helped MFA secure event sponsorship from Bitters ’n’ Twisted, Grasiosa UK and Uber. We were also able to secure a guest catwalk slot for the 2015 winner at a high profile fashion show held at Malmaison Hotel.