Best practice from MCG PR
Skillfast-UK is the Sector Skills Council (SSCs) for fashion and textiles - a sector worth £10 billion to the UK economy.
SSCs were established by the Government, tasked with changing mainstream training and education to suit employers’ needs.
Its diverse range of key audiences includes employers, learning providers, qualifications bodies, trade unions, government departments, economic development agencies, students and employees.
Around 3,000 students graduate from fashion courses each year without the skills that the fashion industry needs, resulting in talented graduates failing to get a job and leaving the industry leaving the fashion sector facing a skills crisis.
Skillfast-UK wanted to publicly challenge the Government on policy issues around skills training in the fashion industry and show opinion formers and key stakeholders that the organisation is a powerful agent for change
MCG created the “no skills, no fashion” campaign with Skillfast-UK in order to:
· Petition the government to re-assess the way in which Higher Education fashion courses deliver technical training
· Create ‘hype’ and a platform to launch an on-going campaign
· Capture the imagination of employers and universities
· Improve the level of understanding of Skillfast-UK’s role and political importance
The campaign was launched on the eve of London Fashion Week at St Stephen’s Green in front of the House of Commons, with six striking models.
A number of different journalists were targeted from news desks and fashion features to education and political writers and a pre-piece was secured in the Independent, containing all key messages.
MCG also contacted key politicians and government departments to highlight the protest, the petition and ask for their support.
The campaign was given a boost when David Lammy MP and Minister for Skills confirmed his attendance and offered a quote, which was included in follow up press collateral.
David Willetts MP, the shadow Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills, also offered his support.
It was equally important to enthuse employers within the fashion industry and secure their support, so MCG contacted all the Sector Advisory Board (SAB) members, receiving a number of emails from prominent, well-known brands throwing their support behind the campaign.
The photoshoot was staged with the models wearing toiles (a fashion designer’s first technical “mock-up” of a garment) holding placards with phrases such as ‘fashion takes more than passion’ and ‘no skills, no fashion’ in front of the House of Commons.
The models were joined by Linda Florance, chief executive of Skillfast-UK, David Lammy MP and David Willetts MP.
The ‘no skills, no fashion’, launch was extremely successful and there was a clear shift in awareness of Skillfast-UK among key political figures.
David Lammy MP and his office are fully aware of Skillfast-UK and this has given Linda Florance the platform on which to email David and progress this campaign to the next level.
Skillfast-UK has also received a number of calls and emails from prominent civil servants, a number of universities wanting more information, employers and freelance journalists, all showing their support.
The photocall attracted photographers from the Press Association, Getty Images, Telegraph, Times, Daily Express and the Evening Standard, along with a broadcast journalist from PA who interviewed Linda Florance, a fashion student and employer
Imtaz Khaliq, who spoke about the lack of technical training graduates have.
Positive coverage was achieved across national news media and vital fashion trade specialist publications, including the Independent, Fashion Monitor, The Guardian, Times Higher Education, Drapers and Glamour.com with radio interviews on LBC and BBC Radio Leeds.
Chief Executive of Skillfast-UK, Linda Florance, said, “As a Sector Skills Council (SSC) we tend to work in a very traditional way, typically working in collaboration with the government, the education sector and our employers but we wanted to add new impetus to our efforts at a crucial time.
“The ‘no skills, no fashion’ campaign offered Skillfast-UK an edgy and unusual campaign. It was slightly out of our comfort zone but we were prepared to take the risk and we’re thrilled with the results.
She added, “We are now looking at adopting this model in other areas of our work and are hopeful that we have inspired other SSCs to take a risk in a bid to voice their opinions and be a catalyst of change.”
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