Within every industry, there are going to be times where you have to deal with an unpleasant situation or a crisis. One industry that has had to deal with this occasionally has been the fashion industry.
I have always loved fashion and I had the opportunity to work in the Fashion PR industry when I was working in South Africa with some designer accounts as well as their fashion weeks (Cape Town and Joburg). Within fashion – it is like any business where you have to take the time to prepare your staff and employees about some of the potential situations they may be faced with and how to respond to their audiences appropriately. Leah Eser (PR student at Leeds Metropolitan University) wrote an interesting blog post about the role of crisis communications particularly in the fashion industry.
We have seen some recent crises involving some high profile designers in what they have been reported to have said in the media. Of course, there is the Kenneth Cole crisis that occurred on Twitter during the Egypt crises, which also raised the issue of what designers can say via social media that can immediately be reported in the traditional news as well. Each case has given crisis communicators some best practices and how to be proactive when it comes to conversations emerging in traditional and social media.
However, we have also seen some discussion related to the fashion industry on what they need to do to avoid their own version of FoxConn, which was the factory in China that was related to Apple products. Workers at these factories were showcased in various investigations reported in the traditional media related to Apple, so this was a situation happening in another industry that made the fashion industry think about they would need to do if this happened to them.
In summary, in a time where everyone has the power to record a conversation, film an event from an eye witness account, and report an incident through just a couple of taps on a keyboard on a smartphone to share the information with global community, we have to be prepare ourselves for how we conduct ourselves. We have to be aware of the latest emerging technologies and how others in the industry are using these to share, communicate, and curate information. In addition, we have to be aware of the potential situations we may be facing with each of these new platforms, and form a strategy to address each of these situations in a timely manner. This is the role of the emerging strategic communicator for the fashion industry for the 21st century.
The fashion industry has had its recent crises, but the way to make sure to not do these again is to learn from these experiences and form good proactive reputation management practices.
Hope you all are having a great day.