Date Posted: Monday 6th March 2017
Michael commenced his role in fashion PR in 2011 working for Savile Row tailor Ozwald Boateng. Michael joined River Island as Senior Press Officer (Menswear) in 2012 and was with the brand for over two years before he was appointed Junior PR Manager for luxury e-tailer Mr Porter. He then returned to the high street retailer last year, leading the menswear team on PR & Communications strategy. Michael is also a regular contributor to menswear site FashionBeans.com.
How did you get into PR?
Mine wasn’t a traditional route; to be honest I didn’t know a great deal about PR in the beginning. My background prior to this was purely retail. I did always know that I wanted to work in fashion though. I studied Fashion Buying at university and was set on following that path, however, I got a job in personal shopping at Topman and it was there that PR first sparked my interest. I was dealing with a lot of stylists and magazine editors and someone recommended me for a role. The rest, as they say, is history.
What are your thoughts on the ever-changing PR landscape?
The communications landscape is in a state of flux at the moment and the role of the PR is evolving in response to that. There are so many elements to consider; content, social media, brand partnerships – it’s a really exciting time to be in this line of work. On any one launch, I could be working with a journalist to run a print exclusive, a network of influencers to get the word out on social media, a talent manager to collaborate with a celebrity on video content...the list goes on. Brands have to adopt a much more 360 degree approach when it comes to promoting a product launch or campaign, just bunging out a press release every now and then doesn’t quite cut it.
Talk us through your relationship with influencers..
We cultivate long-term relationships with influencers, just as we do with press. It’s not just about sponsored content and one-off projects although they do have their place. Across both men's and womenswear we work closely with a varied list of bloggers, vloggers and talent with anything from 5k right into the millions of followers. When it comes to how we decide with whom we work it’s not just a numbers game - engagement is crucial. There’s a lot of value in working with someone that might have a 10k following, if their followers are really interested in what they do and genuinely want to buy in to products they’re promoting.
How much time do you focus on print vs online?
Print media will always play a very important role but we always consider online press too, it’s a combined approach we rarely think of one without the other. With all titles, we work with on any one story we always look to place it in both their print and online channels to reach the widest audience possible.
What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve ever received?
"It’s PR, not ER” - some people can really get swept up in the drama in this industry. We’re very lucky to be doing what we’re doing and when things get a little stressful I try to remind myself of that. It is just clothes after all!
Most enjoyable and challenging aspect of your job?
It’s a bit of a cliché to say this but no two days are the same at River Island. Because it’s family run there’s a sense of creative freedom that you don’t get in other big companies. The challenging thing about working in communications is that the game is always changing. What it meant to be a PR when I first started out compared to what it means now are very different, which keeps things interesting but means you have to really work hard to stay clued up.
What I’m loving from River Island at the moment:
I’ve worked on some exciting collaborations in recent seasons. We just launched a capsule collection with British designer Tourne de Transmission and it’s been really popular. We’ve recently launched our own line of training gear, an affordable performance alternative. We got to work with We’ve recently launched our own line of training gear (pictured left), an affordable performance alternative. We got to work with Roger Frampton, fitness expert to the stars on the campaign, he’s such a pro.
Who/What has been your greatest fashion influence?
I wouldn’t say there’s one celebrity or style icon that I try to emulate. My time on Savile Row probably influenced my style the most though, I fell in love with the heritage of British tailoring and for years I wore a three-piece suit and tie every day. My style has relaxed a little since. I still wear suits but it tends to be with a knit, rather than a knot.
What’s the worst thing a journalist has ever said to you?
Honestly – the menswear press are all pretty laid back, I’ve never been on the receiving end of any majorly diva-ish behaviour or outlandish demands. The fashion industry, particularly menswear, is quite a small community so we’re all friends really.
Most extravagant purchase?
Obviously, I wear a lot of River Island and I always have an eye on the high street, but I do like to mix things up with some luxury pieces too. Shoes are probably what I spend the most money on. My most recent purchase would be a pair of oxblood Cheaney boots. Dries Van Noten is probably my favourite luxury brand at the moment, their print pieces are bang on.
I love YMC, they get the balance between trend and timeless style just right. River Island collaborated with them last year to celebrate their 20th year and it’s one of our most successful collabs to date. I’m really getting into wearing more relaxed trousers over the past year or so and YMC are always the go to for that silhouette.
Fave grooming products/anything new you’re loving?
I’m not overly fastidious when it comes to grooming, but I do use one of these Clinique sonic cleaning brushes. As I approach mid-thirties I’m conscious of the eye bags too so Aesop is my go product!
Michael Dale in 'PR contacts'
The DIARY directory platform provides fashion, beauty and lifestyle industry news, interviews, dates, vacancies and contacts. Our huge database of contacts includes thousands of digital influencers, media titles (UK and overseas) and their editorial teams, freelance journalists and creatives, PRs and brands and representative agencies. Live and sortable social media stats for entries allow comparative analysis and insight within filtered sections, plus additional engagement metrics for industryINFLUENCERS.
Get in touch to discover how DIARY directory membership would benefit you.