The Tory Burch Story

tory burch3 150x150 The Tory Burch Story

The PR Verdict: “A” (PR Perfect) for the Tory Burch Story.

Tory Burch is one of  NY fashion’s undisputed darlings. The immaculately presented blonde, previously on the New York social scene, now presides over a $2 billion fashion business with over 2000 employees. The former PR copywriter from Ralph Lauren has carved out an exceptional fashion niche. The media asks on a regular basis; How has Tory done it?

WSJ magazine, the monthly supplement from the Wall Street Journal just gave its readers an insight. Featured in this month’s “Tracked” column readers were whisked through a day in the life of the fashion entrepreneur. Described as the “designer that turned a tiny line started in her kitchen,”she now presides over a “sprawling empire with an unfaltering smile”.

The article traces Tory’s busy 18-hour day while faithfully returning to previously publicised PR messaging. The main points? Tory started this enterprise on a kitchen table. She is not a trained designer. This is a family business, first and foremost. (Why even the needlepoint pillows are stitched by Tory and her parents.)  The PR narrative never changes and even the WSJ describes the designer’s day as “a maddening lesson in maintaining perfect deportment.” Nothing interrupts the flow. The PR message  is always ON even if some of the details might warrant closer scrutiny.

The PR Verdict: “A” (PR Perfect) for the Tory Burch Story.  The PR narrative never changes.

The PR Takeaway: Create your branded narrative and stick to it.  The Tory Burch PR story can’t help but impress and make for great magazine coverage.  But some cynics might claim that some noteworthy details are often overlooked. Yes the business may have been started on a kitchen table but  the kitchen table was equally owned by her husband at the time, a leading venture capital investor with experience in the fashion industry. Small details maybe, but while fashions change, Tory’s PR narrative stays the same and her brand inevitably strengthens.

To read the article click here.

What To Say When Sued?

ELLENPAO What To Say When Sued?

PR Verdict: “C” for venture capital firm Kleiner and its handling of Ellen Pao's lawsuit.

What’s the wisest thing to say when being sued? That must have been the question Silicon Valley’s favourite venture capital firm, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers asked itself when recently probed about its sexual harassment and discrimination lawsuit.  “We will defend ourselves vigorously” was its unimaginative statement to the media.  Ho hum at best.

The NY Times has taken up the pending case of Ellen Pao a junior partner at the firm, hired several years ago to work as Chief of Staff to one of the firm’s higher ups.  Trouble started brewing when another junior partner made sexual advances to her.  She consented a couple of times and then, as they say in the movies, she called the whole thing off.  The claim alleges that as a result of ending the relationship, her thwarted paramour started a five-year campaign of retaliation.

The filing alleges systemic discrimination against Pao and other women, including poorer pay than her male counterparts and the distribution of less lucrative investment opportunities to women in the firm, while juicy assignments go to male colleagues.  In brief the main complaint is that the firm fails to give women the full range of opportunities to be successful.  Presumably this is not the sort of publicity that Silicon Valley’s leading venture capital firm wants or needs?

The PR Verdict: “C” for Kleiner and its handling of this story.  Wasn’t there an opportunity to go further than the standard PR response?

The PR Takeaway:  The power of the archive is strong.  The firm, even if it settles on undisclosed terms, now has a major article in the internet archive that raises many questions. True the article did draw attention to it having more female partners than peers  but being more vocal in defense of the firm might have been a better tactic.  A female partner defended the firm saying  “I was drawn to the firm because of its diversity and have excelled here as have other women. …Everyone has an equal opportunity to succeed”.   Why not say the same thing from a corporate point of view and come out in the media as strongly as the defense planned for the courtroom?  What would have been the harm done?

To read more click here.