At times, cocooned in a little bubble of journalists, bloggers and PR people – fewer air-kissers than you’d think, all told – it’s easy to forget about the rest of the world. You forget, for example, that not everyone knows what happens at a press day: the day when press (journalists from print and online media) and bloggers are invited to peruse the latest fashion / tech / homewares or chow down in a newly opened restaurant, in the hopes of drumming up some much-wanted publicity for said fashion / tech / homewares / newly opened restaurant.
So I’m opening the doors and pulling back the curtains on what seems like a rather standard affair, for those of us in the media – and explaining to you non-media folk what exactly goes on at these much-hyped press days (and why, let’s face it, you’re not missing out on all that much).
These photographs were taken at a recent press morning for Oasis’ S/S 2016 collection, upstairs in the brand’s newly revamped St Stephen’s Green shop.
1. There will be clothes
Or shoes, or tech, or homewares, or beauty products, or whatever it is that you’re being shown – in abundance. The idea of a press day, in the traditional sense, is to show print media what’s coming up, so that when they’re planning their features for the coming weeks and months, it might occur to them to include the brand in question. Things shifted slightly with the advent of blogging; pre-2000, for example, press days were never written about as, “oh, I went to this press day…” – the hope was that you’d write about the products. But with the rapid rise of online commentators, the press days themselves became an event – with blog posts focusing on what happened at said event, who was there, what the clothes were like and, of course, pictures of cupcakes. Which brings me on to…
2. There will be cupcakes
Or cake pops, or macarons, or doughnuts, or whatever it is that’s on trend. At a River Island event, there was an entire Sylvanian Family-sized beach scene made of biscuit cake; Debenhams’ S/S 2016 event had an Aungier Danger doughnut table; Brown Thomas‘ Beauty Blossoms event, the launch of their top-floor beauty garden, came complete with healthy clean snacks by Alchemy Juice. Right now, Dublin’s press event scene is being seriously dominated by healthy, Instagram-worthy granola pots by Blacksheep Foods – but any PR worth his or her salt will surely be looking towards James Kavanagh and William Murray’s Currabinny for future diary dates.
3. There will be air kissing
Forget what I said about PRs – at least Irish ones – not being all that into air kissing. Press events are the one place that you are guaranteed a free-for-all on air kissing, schmoozing and feigned interest in one another’s careers (in the form of barely disguised showing off). The Irish press – being not that numerous, let’s face it – pretty much all know one another, so there’s a lot of that slightly awkward catching up, where you like one another but don’t really know each other all that well, and ultimately you’re competing for work in a saturated market so “God I’m just sooooo busy lately, aren’t you?” becomes an all-too-common refrain. Pass the macarons.
4. There will be selfies
We can’t even blame Snapchat, because the event selfies – evelfies? – were happening way before we all got snap-happy. But yes, there will be selfies, and you’ll find yourself watching someone posing for one, and cringing, before, 10 seconds later, posing for your own. If you’re very slim and self-confident, you may even try something on, and pose for a photograph in it, which you will then upload to your Instagram / Snapchat / Facebook, with an OMG-so-excited-for-the-new-collection caption.
5. There will be jargon
At fashion events, you can be pretty much guaranteed that someone from the design team will show you around the collection. They’ll give you intricate and incredibly detailed insights into the makings of said garment, and you’ll pretend to understand. If the event is beauty-related, this takes the form of a PowerPoint presentation explaining how a team of scientists spent years devising this incredible ingredient. You’ll begin to wonder whether their time would be better spent searching for new cancer treatments. But it won’t matter, because then you’ll be distracted by…
6. There will be goodie bags
Anyone who claims the press day goodie bag is unimportant is lying, but there is a point at which it becomes about a five on a 1-10 scale, rather than the 11 it was at the first 20 press days. Ultimately, the most important things in the goodie bag are the lookbooks and, if the hosts are clever, the USB keys that you’ll take home and then store, for ease of finding the required imagery at the right time. But sometimes you’ll find yourself wowed by a little somethin’ somethin’ in that bag of fun: maybe a wallet (thanks, Cos); a tribal print cross-body bag (cheers, Oasis) or even a particularly Instagram-worthy cupcake…