The disaster that was my first press launch
5 weeks in, armed with 600 social media followers, I felt confident. Even...cocky. But the disaster that was my first press launch knocked me off my self-proclaimed high horse. In the first 5 minutes, I was addressed as a 'gentleman', hid behind a doorway and morphed into a giant beetroot.
One evening on my daily internet browse, I discovered that Oxford Fashion Week was holding a Press Launch at the glamorous Varsity Club in the city centre. Tickets were free, so I thought it would be a fantastic way to promote my blog in person. I envisioned myself in the midst of catwalk action, conducting high-quality investigative journalism, schmoozing other Oxford bloggers and maybe even featuring in the local newspaper! On the night of the launch, I packed up my camera, threw on my favourite outfit and dragged along my poor boyfriend (who is not adverse to fashion but definitely just came for moral support).
We arrived at the Varsity Club at around 7:30pm. There was not a soul in sight. In retrospect, this was the moment my press-launch dreams began to slip through my fingers. Nevertheless, we soldiered on, trudged up the steep staircase and entered the press launch.
On arrival, an eccentric bald man (who was rushing around with a camera) addressed my boyfriend and I as 'gentlemen' before discovering that I was not, in fact, a gentleman. It was a very embarrassing affair: I was blushing, the man was babbling and my boyfriend looked very confused. After this bizarre incident, we hovered at the bar, planning our next move.
The room was pretty empty and most people were either organisers or scary-looking models hanging around after the castings. Despite my boyfriend's encouragement to go and introduce myself to...someone...anyone...'that girl over there', I was swallowed by my own shyness and the arbitrary nature of my presence there. Could I even introduce myself as a blogger, given my 5-week-old creation and the fact that my 11-year-old cousin has more followers on her personal account than I do?
This is the paradox of being a new blogger. You want to write like you're on top of your game; you want to design your website like you do it for a living; you want to review products like you've been sent them for free and you want to attend events and sing from the rooftop about how engaging your blog is. The reality for most, however, is slow growth and small audiences, which traps the new blogger in a cycle of low confidence. But how can you break out from the crowd if you're too afraid to get your blog out there?
In a parallel universe, I might have come out from the safety of the doorway and embraced this press event with open arms. I might have interviewed models and organisers, networked with fellow bloggers and had my picture taken. The sad reality, however, is that my bloggerxiety took over and the press launch was woefully empty. I don't know if it's just the Devil-Wears-Prada vibe the fashion world likes to perpetuate, but I hadn't been in such an awkward/unfriendly situation for a long time.
Three things I've learnt from my first press launch:
1) The most interesting thing that happened at the Oxford Fashion Week Press Launch was that I got called a man.
2) In-person promotion is so much harder (but potentially more rewarding) than a few Instagram comments.
3) Just. Introduce. Yourself