With over 365 stores coast-to-coast and an 87 year history of dressing more Canadian women than any other retailer, Reitmans certainly knows who they were, and not surprisingly, they were frustrated about the limited success their past public relations efforts had achieved. We weren’t the first agency to tackle Reitmans but we felt from the start that we knew what needed to be done.
Mass market retailers are a challenge for PR agencies; an aspirational fashion press often pays only cursory attention to mid-market merchandise. How would MacKay & Co. put Reitmans in the press? Not with expensive celebrity spokespersons or big events that were more flash than substance. We could see what Reitmans had to offer and we’d do what we do best; mine the company for their knowledge, expertise and their best consumer propositions, and turn what we discovered into engaging stories. We’d capitalize on our rich background in fashion and our clear understanding of how the fashion press operates. And hard work, of course, lots of hard work.
Where Reitmans’ advertising was bold and playful, we wanted our PR efforts to be understated and elegant. From the press releases we wrote to the fashion presentations we developed, everything was designed to bring the press closer to the company and its merchandise so that they would see that much of Reitmans’ fashion was on trend and appreciate the breadth of the company’s understanding of what Canadian women really want. We believed that within a very short time this approach would elevate the brand in the media’s eyes and result in significant press coverage coast-to-coast.
We created seasonal “look books” at the designer level and we developed monthly editor e-blasts where we used our experience to pinpoint the exact pieces from the collections that we knew the press would like. And, of course, there was lots of in-the-trenches communication; the media outreach, phone calls, emails, lunches and coffees where we worked our exceptional media relationships and built new ones as well.
Product placement – a company’s clothes appearing in editorial fashion spreads and on editor’s market pages – are wonderful things, but how do you generate in-depth feature stories about a mass market women’s apparel company? You use your journalist’s nose for a story. For Reitmans, we found that story in “fit.” Reitmans lives by the maxim that they have both the clothes and the in-store expertise to fit anyone, from plus sizes to petites and everywhere in between. We mined the company for their knowledge of fit, interviewing Reitmans buyers, store managers and fashion directors and as we suspected, there was more there then they realized.
With our research developed, press releases written and photos taken, we took the story to the media. Our primary goal was to generate a small handful of in-depth articles in high circulation newspapers and we achieved it. Newspaper editors loved the richness of the story and they filled their columns with Reitmans’ advice to women on how to get the perfect fit.
Of course, we wanted television and we developed Reitmans segments on lifestyle shows in Vancouver, London, Hamilton and Toronto, and have had five Reitmans segments on the coveted national morning show, CityLine. As well, we developed Reitmans TV segments for Steven and Chris and The Marilyn Denis Show.
To up their fashion presence, we strongly encouraged Reitmans to collaborate with well-known or up-and-coming fashion designers to create capsule collections. We brought them a short-list of designers to consider, and as a result, Reitmans introduced Marie Saint Pierre for Reitmans in 2011. The iconic Quebec designer created a collection of exceptional dresses that both media and consumers loved. The initiative resulted in major magazine and newspaper stories, television segments and blog posts.
In 2012 we worked with Reitmans on their second designer collaboration, a dress collection with the most exciting new designers in the country, the team of Martin Lim. We developed magazine feature stories and took top magazine editors to Montreal for the shooting of the Martin Lim look book and we offered exclusive angles to two others. Then we developed two days of interviews with Martin Lim and Reitmans creative executives in Toronto for a broad range of important media. We hosted an intimate blogger cocktail party at a chic Toronto hotel where more than 20 fashion bloggers and online editors interviewed Martin Lim, tweeted about the collection and photographed it for their blogs. The next day we did in-depth, one-on-one interviews with the country’s most important newspapers.
So there’s a glimpse of what we did for Reitmans and the kind of thinking, initiatives and plain old hard work that brought them exceptional results; more than 550 media placements in 2012. We’re exceptionally proud of that.
Click here to see some of the terrific coverage we generated for Reitmans.