Anne Diagne - PR Girl #5
This month's PR girl is Anne Diagne, former long-term press agent of The Kooples Paris. She has now left France and settled in the United States where she is now working in Hollywood celebrity product placement.
Read as she tells us about the gap and differences between regular press agents and celebrity PR!
how did you become a press agent?
I studied communication in a school specialized in advertising : Sup de Pub. Then I followed the regular path of a future press agent and attended EFAP School of communication.
I had many internships, including HAVAS and PUBLICIS, always a part of influential departments, then the ELAN-ALDEMAN Agency, ZMIROV communication as far as fashion was concerned and my end-of-study internship at The Kooples.
It was obvious for me that I was cut out for this job, I was 18 and loved working with the press and the media, with the constant evolution of communication tools – being able to create the fame and image of a brand – be it a food, technology, lifestyle, or fashion one.
I am a true fan of my job and of communication in general, I am curious about all the new techniques available for brands. Fostering them, helping with their evolution, this is what really matters to me.
You worked as The Kooples’ press agent for five years in Paris, tell us about it!
A great part of my career has been with The Kooples. I began there as an intern ; this relatively small brand back then expanded while I was growing up. The brand’s initial communication seemed so intelligent. The whole brand' concept, besides its creative part, is based on communication and marketing. It was obvious to me that I wanted to be a part of it. I am still grateful for everything the people I worked with have given me, from the Elicha brothers to all the company’s contributors.
Giving young people a chance, and trusting them, was very important for me. I’ve met incredible people from the press, fashion, but also from the film or music industries.
As I developed the brand in PR for 5 years, I also saw how the job evolved: working with digital partners, celebrities, and, more important, developing the brand on new markets. The challenge was on a daily basis and that was exciting.
Could you tell us more about the everyday life a press agent?
It is a rich and constantly evolving kind of job. The goal is to create a strong image and to develop a brand’s fame using different tools such as press releases, press files, or events like product launches, press days, or even the relationship with journalists, celebrities and digital key figures. The core business is the relationship with the media. When you work in fashion, your days are filled with meetings with journalists and designers at the showroom, the famous “shoppings”. Press lunches are important too, they help create a real relationship with fashion key figures, and are a good opportunity to discuss what's new for the brand, they also help set up a privileged time to think about topics together.
Press days also represent a high point to show new collections and to create a true storytelling around it. Inventing a story, making the buyers want it, arousing people's emotions, that's what it is about. At times it is also the perfect moment to reveal collaborations or capsule collections. We create the event around the brand.
Obviously, all if this is orchestrated with the creative, communication, and marketing teams. Everything is though of in advance, and a real strategy is set up according to the company's development.
What will remain your greatest success as a press agent ?
My greatest success while working for The Kooples? To satisfy the brand's founders. It was very important to me that they be happy about the team work. A true relationship based on trust, and real exchanges. Being involved in the various conception steps of a collection and in the global communication strategy.
You then joined the Wetherly group in Los Angeles to work with celebrities, Hollywood designers and American trend setters. How is this job any different from working as a more regular press agent?
I left for Los Angeles because it seemed to me that brands were very eager to work with celebrities and trend setters. With today's tools such as Instagram, snapchat and the digital world in general, I thought it was interesting to be able to develop this limitless aspect.
We target globally, while respecting each brand's DNA when we select the celebrities and trend setters.
The work is different in that the result has a more global impact, and instead of talking to the press or having ad placements in magazines, our main contacts are with designers, managers, or personal assistants for celebrity placements.
The results are not on a print medium but rather on a person.
Are targeting celebrities instead of magazines and VIP product placement really efficient?
Yes they are, because we reach so many people when targeting internationally. An American star for instance helps brands establish themselves in the US market – with consumers very sensitive to the celebrity’s culture – and helps to make sure that conquered markets are not forgotten.
Celebrities also personify the brands and make them more lively. They are real and worn by people. Brands are also positioned according to the chosen celebrities. Benefiting from a star’s fame to increase the brand’s fame. We really have several objectives: fame, visibility, and image.
How different is working with celebrities?
The process is quite similar to working with an agency specialized in the printed press. The contact and material are just different. We do not have to be an announcer or not, it's only a question of taste, look, and if the brand is there at the right moment. Showrooms work with a lending system and, if the brand agrees, we are also able to offer the items worn. Sometimes,the celebrities themselves ask to keep the items or ask for a specific personalized one. I've never had to pay a celebrity to wear one of my clients' brands. I really wish to do influence work, not business. It is important for me to create this emotional bond between the VIP and the designer.
Do you remember a memorable celebrity faux pas towards one of your clients?
A faux pas... one that comes to mind : a celebrity tagging the brand's competitor instead of tagging the brand on Instagram. A rectifiable mistake!
What about your greatest professional mistake?
Calling a celebrity by another name, she really looked too much like some other actress.
What are the Dos and don'ts of a press agent doing celebrity product placement?
DO treat assistant designers and assistant managers with as much respect as the celebrities. Always adopt a low profile. This I've taught to all my assistants. Respect for all before anything else.
DON'T be a fan!
Could you tell us about something completely crazy you've done for your job ?
Something crazy? I've done a lot of things I was not meant to do : sewing, designing, running from one end of the city to the other for a fitting in a celebrity's hotel room – a celebrity who waited for no one else but me – dealing with whims. But this is all part of the game.
You have since set up your own agency, what is your objective?
I have set up my own consulting agency in order to help brands develop in different ways. My aim is always to help young designers. While working at The Kooples I always loved young talents, whether in music or in movies. Now, helping designers and new entrepreneurs in the beauty and fashion industries is my main objective. May the fashion economy still exist with young talents, and may they always go further. If I may be a part of it then that would make me happy.
I am still doing PR, I am passionate about this job and I hold conferences on this topic. I guide brands with their desire to be a part of the American market and include specific pieces of advice on how to establish themselves in the American market. Giving credibility to the brand by making it famous. I really listen to my clients and to their needs. I find it is important to bring them my whole expertise!
Any pieces of advice for a brand still hesitating about PR? Regular press relations or VIP?
Almost 10 years in press relations, today, without a doubt, investment in VIP services in the first place. It is so obvious to me. It means reaching the
maximum number of people for the same investment, and internationally speaking.
In the second place, going with regular press relations, as I will always be the first to defend the printed press I am still so attached to. In term of image, it means quality, but it is a regional target when a VIP is international.
They complement one another, but at the right time.
Extra question : Who do you nominate for Pressday's next interview? Which questions would you like us to ask him or her?
I wish to nominate Patricia Bitton and Raphael Pierre, designers of the brand new brand OUD that I love.
My question is : What prompted you to start a brand? What is your objective? Your dream as young entrepreneurs and designers?
PR is about “inventing a story, making the stylists want it, arousing people's emotions”.