From Focus to Fashion: My Final Research Results

Breast Cancer Care 2012 Fashion Show

Breast Cancer Care 2012 Fashion Show

It has a very long yet rewarding process but with successful interviews and research I have completed my area of expertise! My research objective was:

How do public relations professionals promote an organization and a cause, specifically how is this done through breast cancer fashion shows?

I interviewed six professionals in the U.S. who discussed the keys to a successful cause-related program; learned even more while in London. Here are the professionals I interviewed:

After interviewing the London professionals I was amazed at what I discovered. When an organization knows its audience and creates an event that encompasses the values of the company, then they are promoting the cause while promoting the organization. The promotion of the organization comes effortlessly when it is represented successfully through the cause.

Behind the Scenes

Model on BCC Runway

Model on BCC Runway

Claire shared that the Breast Cancer Care fashion show is a prestigious event. Highlights to make the show sparkle include:

  • English men and women who have had breast cancer apply to be models for the fashion show.
  • The show is planned by a committee of models, trustees, and influential English professionals who contact people they know to help with the show
  • Following the fashion show the committee evaluates the success of the show and creates a project plan for the next fashion show.
  • Breast Cancer Care has three media partners for their fashion show: QVC, You Magazine, and Women and Home.

The Big Picture

I asked my U.K. contacts what the keys are to a successful cause-related program. Philipp Engel says your passion for the cause must be conveyed within the final product; the audience must feel that passion as well. When speaking to Gemma Webb about strategies to successfully inform your audience she said that the event must be related to your organization and you must engage your audience to find out what they are interested in. Gemma added:

“You need to think like your audience, you need to know your audience.”-Gemma Webb

What I take away from my research is that passion, knowing your audience, and have a well-planned event strategy and project plan will make a successful cause-related program. By including all these aspects within a show the cause and organization are being promoted as one unit.

U.S. and U.K. Comparison

Breast Cancer Care is very similar to the organization Brides against Breast Cancer that I interviewed back in the U.S. because Breast Cancer Care is also about empowering women. My past interviewees say that there is a balance of promoting and building awareness for the company brand. The U.K. conveyed a different approach. Claire said:

“There isn’t a case of having a balance, it lives and breathes itself these days. You can’t talk about the show without talking about the models and you can’t talk about the models without talking about breast cancer, therefore you talk about Breast Cancer Care.” -Claire Pulford

Because the majority of the breast cancer organizations in the U.S. are research based, there are going to be differences between fashion shows in the two countries. In the U.S. the show is a separate addition to the organization and the cause, in the U.K. the fashion show is a key element of the organization and the cause. As stated by Claire:

“We started the show as a way to make women feel good about themselves. Now it is a core part of Breast Cancer Care.” -Claire Pulford

Organizations in the U.S. can learn from U.K. companies that fashion shows can become a key part of the organization. U.K. organizations can learn from U.S. companies as well by expanding the fashion show to the U.S., making it a globally recognized event.

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Breast Cancer Care Models

For my Future

In my future endeavors I plan to use this research as a gateway towards many opportunities. Even if that means I must develop fashion shows for non-profit organizations at my university I am determined to use my research in a beneficial way. It’s a beautiful day to make a difference, so let’s be the change we want to see in the world.

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London: Home of the Ulitmate Fashionista

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Fashionable Streetwalker

Yesterday I was able to explore Hyde Park. And although I was surrounded by plush grass and luscious trees canopying over my head, I was in awe at all of the fashionable people passing by.

One of the biggest reasons I want to make London my home is because it is a huge fashion capital. Everywhere you look women and men are wearing trendy outfits that widen your eyes with amazement. Luckily while I was in Hyde Park I was able to capture some of the street fashion I saw.

The Smashing Streetwalker

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Fashionable Streetwalker

I believe that street fashion is more powerful than what you see on the runway. Anyone can wear a Donna Karan or Tom Ford designer outfit but a true fashionista can create their own look without expensive designer clothes. Street fashion speaks because it is an artistic way of representing yourself.

I always try to improve and develop my style and I hope to continue blogging about street fashion around the world. With every country and city I visit I hope to find fashionable people who will let me take their pictures, because it was kind of weird asking random people for a photo.

Creeping Out Trendy Citizens

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Fashionable Streetwalker

I felt like a kid in a candy store with all of the street fashion I saw, and I knew that I had to ask them for a picture. My flatmates suggested that I take pictures without people knowing, but I felt that it is common courtesy to make sure streetwalkers approved of me taking a picture of them.

Now London is a cultural hub in England, there are so many languages and of course I had the problem with asking people for a picture and people not understanding what I was saying. In the future I won’t be so awkward with how I ask streetwalkers. With practice comes perfection of course!

So please tell me what you think, did I find fashionable people in London based off my photos? And also, does anyone who takes street fashion photos have any suggestions for how to ask streetwalkers for a picture of their clothes? I need your help everyone! Help me capture the true fashionista!!

London through the Eyes of an American Tourist

Another video! Now that I have nearly four days left in London it’s time to reminisce on my favorite things so far.

It has been a wonderful experience being in London. I’ve shopped, toured, and got to be a nerd at the Harry Potter museum. What I will miss most is having great experiences with wonderful people and exploring London with my flatmates.

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Photo Credit: luvlondonasf.blogspot.com

What has stood out the most for me is the food; I never expected to try different things like pizza with goat cheese on it, Indian food, and delicious pastries. In Chicago there are unique and different restaurants, but it’s a different kind of experience when you are in another country.

Exploring has been the highlight of my trip. So far I have only done a few things from my top ten video I created back in April, but I’ve still had a great time. It’s an exhilarating feeling when you don’t stick to a schedule and live in the moment. Never did I expect to have a picnic in Hyde Park or take pictures along Abbey Road. I will want to come back to London because this is a huge city and there’s always more to see.

It’s sad to think that I have less than a week in this wonderful city, there are so many things I’ve been able to do. If you don’t believe me, check out my video above!

Walking and Sleeping: This is Paris!

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The Eiffel Tower

This is very overdue everyone, but I wanted to still give updates on my trip. I’m busy wearing out the delicate soles on my feet and being squished like sticky gum against a pavement while riding the underground across the city. And yet, I will still inform you on the one of the greatest parts of my trip so far: Paris!

My first weekend of my trip overseas I spent it in Paris. The last time I was here I was a little girl with decorative braids and a bright, colorful Blue’s Clues backpack. It felt great to see the Eiffel Tower again through new and mature eyes.

How it All Began

I arrived at Paris via bus. And not just any bus, a nearly 9-hour bus ride through Europe. My trip lasted only a day but it was only 50 pounds round trip. The disappointing thing was being on a tight little seat for nine hours and not being able to sleep the whole time because we had to keep hopping off to go through customs.

Riding the ferry was an interesting experience; the last time I rode a ferry was went I made me trip through the U.K. in high school. The ferry from Paris to London wasn’t even a ferry though it was more like a metal train that could fit cars and buses, it was rather odd. The ride to and from Paris was the only the beginning of the exhausting day I had.

Day in Paris

All I can say about my trip in Paris for a day was there was a lot of walking and a lot of sleeping. We walked first to the Eiffel Tower for many candid photos then headed on over to the Arc de Triomphe. The Parisian architecture was beautiful and although I had a mediocre Iphone to take pictures of them I’m glad I did.

The walk to the Louvre was exhausting, my flatmates and I even slept in a park because we were so tired. After going to the Notre Dame we had a nice Parisian dinner and I passed out at the dinner table. That would probably be the 8th time I fell asleep on the day in Paris but I love my sleep!

The thing I love about being in London for two weeks is that it is so accessible to visit other countries in a matter of hours, including Paris!

Research Findings While Lacking Technology

This week I began diving into my area of expertise and, like I expected, the process has been a bit rocky. It hasn’t been as stressful as my interviews in America but I do wish that it was simpler. So far I have realized that technology has a bigger influence on my life than I think.

The Incident

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The Red Light Campaign logo

Earlier I was supposed to have an interview with the founder of the Red Light Campaign, which is a campaign that creates awareness about sex trafficking through fashion shows. When I discovered this campaign existed I was immediately intrigued because it was a combination of non-profit and fashion that I never thought of.

Long story short, I was unable to interview the founder because of changes in schedule and I was unable to look at my email to see that the time for our interview changed. Luckily, I will still be able to have a written interview with him, but this just shows that I must rely on my trusty technology more.

Discoveries so Far

Although my interviews aren’t until this Friday I have been comparing U.S. and U.K. approaches to my area of expertise. For the U.K. portion i have discovered that an extreme focus is outreach and making sure the community understands the programs different organizations put on. For my class we visited different organizations in London and I have been able to hear different representatives from the Department for Business, Innovation, and Skills, Gemma Webb from the House of Parliament, and even someone from We Are Social. Many of the speakers talk about their company’s strategies to inform the community about their different programs; this is key to a successful cause-related program because outreach is what makes programs and services more valuable.

Is is also interesting that there are less organizations that do breast cancer fashion shows in the U.K. compared to the U.S. Based on my findings I determined that is because in the U.K. there is usually one large organization instead of many separate ones so that there can be a consistent message. I may be wrong, but hopefully with my next interviews I will be closer to finding the answer. I’ll be posting my final research findings soon!

Hey London…I’m Home!

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Fish and Chips!

I made it; this is officially my third day in London! Well majority of my time here was spent in Paris, but that will be talked about in a later blog post. It has taken awhile to hit me that I am actually in London, where there’s a double-decker bus on every corner and the streets are paved with fish and chips. It’s been four years since I’ve been to this marvelous city and I am ready to once again explore!

First Impressions: Welcome Home! 

My first impression of London is simple: welcome home. One day I will live in the streets of London and each moment I am here allows me to paint a better picture of what my life will be like. One day riding the underground will become a habit and I won’t be constantly mesmerized by the mechanical beast that zooms through the lower parts of London. I am home. One day I’ll be more than a tourist, I will be a resident. London isn’t everything I expected, it’s so much more! I love seeing buildings that are older than Illinois itself. Being able to rub my hand against the rugged restaurants and homes makes me feel honored to touch so much history. I can’t wait to explore more of my future home.

The Beginning Journey

Although I didn’t spend a lot of time in London this weekend there were still fun things I got to do around my neighborhood in Clerkenwell. Here’s a few:

  • Had fish and chips (the image above was my fabulous meal)
  • Rode the tube and the night bus
  • Breakfast at Via-Agra on Goswell Road
  • Much more to come!

Later this week I’ll be making tourist stops to places like Big Ben, Parliament, and the Harry Potter museum! Let’s just hope I can remember which side of the road the cars drive on!!

Part 1, We’re Halfway There!

In my opinion, the American portion of my AOE was a…success! The most important thing I’ve learned is that persistence is key. Overall I contacted about 30 people; six people got back to me and gave me very insightful information. Words cannot express the joy I felt that my American research went well. I am going to be extremely corny and say that it was like the gray clouds above drifted away and the intense sunlight is now beaming against my face. Not only did I look at how to bring awareness though breast cancer fashion shows but also cause-related programs in general.

Most Highlighted Findings

  • Must have proper messaging- When there is a clear message your audience will have better understanding of your cause-related program.
  • In addition to putting on a breast cancer fashion show companies had other cause-related programs. The more programs an organization has, the more they are educating and creating awareness.
  • For breast cancer fashion shows a common thing is that organizations like to use breast cancer survivors as models and use speakers to establish an educational message.

Carli Cichocki: A Kent State Alumni Media Guru

With Carli I nearly had a 45 interview that was awesome. As I intensely typed the insightful knowledge she was providing I was grateful I didn’t decide to change my AOE. A few important things Carli said is that in order to have a successful cause-related program you need to have a strong connection with the media. She said you need to find reporters and bloggers who will write about your program because it caters to their audience. When I start a career in fashion PR and do a program I need to find reporters who write about fashion.

              “A press release is a tool that aids reporters….the more information you can give them and the better it is written, the more likely they are to write about your event”- Carli Cichocki (Spitfire Agency, Do Good Bus)

News releases are also important and it is a very tedious process. I commend Carli because she was a one-woman-show. She had a very short amount of time full of sleepless nights and loads of coffee to submit a news release to the press. When Carli sent me the news releases from her work with the Do Good Bus I had the widest grin on my face that I looked like the Grinch Who Stole Christmas.

Summing it Up

I learned two things from Carli Cichocki and Caitrin Cardosi, a graduate student at Kent State University, that can be used for any cause-related program. Organizations must find the balance of promoting their brand and the cause they are creating awareness for. Also, the brand must match the cause. This is the only way a company can truly have a successful cause-related program.

              “If you do it right, then not only are you increasing awareness for both brand and cause, but the brand is getting some good PR out of it and goodwill”- Caitrin Cardosi (Graduate Student, Lupus Foundation)

Plans for U.K.

While in the U.K. I plan to interview PR professionals from companies that have done cause-related programs or put on breast cancer fashion shows. I expect it to be a long process finding people who will let me interview them, but it will all be worth it. I plan to ask similar questions like the ones I asked the American professionals, especially how organizations interact with the media and develop a fashion show. Here’s a list of people I am very hopeful will let me interview them.

Fingers crossed I hear from them. Next time you hear from me, I’ll be in London! Have a great day everyone, it’s a beautiful day to make a difference!!