Integrity

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My main topic of conversation with both PRs and brands this week has been the same as yours: Coronovirus. But with the wall-to-wall coverage, I thought I’d distract myself and you by writing about something else.

Talking on Monday with a Director of Communications at a high end fashion brand, the word integrity came up.

We met the day after International Women’s Day when there had been a certain amount of kick-back against fashion brands using the campaigning event as a platform to drive their own agenda ie flog some product.

I am not knocking the desire to be benevolent, to give back and do some real financial charitable good. Some brands will believe that these events are a good way to underline their brand values. They may be right, but as my colleague sensibly argued, unless your message is backed up by actions, initiatives and practices every step of the way within your business – in this case, given the number of women who work in the fashion industry, fair wages at every level of production and workers rights – it will ring hollow to journalists and consumers who investigate beyond the headlines and emoji hearts and uncover a brand’s lack of integrity.

Rather than jumping on calendar dates, far better, she said, for a brand to spend time setting up a long-term strategy that pinpoints its values and delivers them.

The gold standard here is US womenswear brand, Eileen Fisher.

Then the PR’s job is to work out how to communicate these values. Perhaps that means immediately firing out a press release and taking over Instagram.

Or perhaps the more confident strategy is to just know that your brand has integrity and when those questions come – from press or from consumers, your response will be good. In all senses of the word.

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