PR is the missing link in RMG sector
"Publicity is absolutely critical. A good PR story is infinitely more effective than a front page ad." This quote is from Sir Richard Branson, British business magnate and founder of the Virgin Group. He knows a thing or two about public relations. Whether one likes him or not, there is no question that he has used the media brilliantly to promote his businesses, and ultimately become one of the world's most successful entrepreneurs.
I've always been a great believer in the power of public relations. When one looks around our industry, PR is a tool which is being used more widely than ever. It used to be just newspapers that were used to spread messages. But now we have social media platforms, which, in many cases, are just as powerful, if not more so.
I see our customers, fashion brands and retailers using PR to a powerful effect. Online-only brands like Boohoo would not have been able to reach the heights they have without employing smart PR strategies. Such strategies have helped these and other new, online brands to break the monopoly of traditional high street retailers. That's the power of PR.
But what about manufacturers? In some countries, I see ready-made garment (RMG) makers now using PR to great effect. They issue regular press releases which are used far and wide internationally. Some of the stories that are better are picked up by dozens of publications. How much would it cost to get this level of exposure via straightforward advertising? The answer is tens of thousands of dollars. Manufacturers simply do not have this kind of money to throw around, so PR is a better, less risky avenue that offers a far better return on investment.
Right now, there is a huge opportunity for Bangladesh garment makers to promote themselves internationally. And the beauty of using PR is that they don't even have to leave the country to do it. In the past two years since the pandemic engulfed our industry, promotion has been a real challenge for Bangladeshi manufacturers. The traditional shows, conferences and events they went to have not been in operation. Many manufacturers have consequently "fallen off the radar" from a publicity viewpoint.
The thing is, lots of people in the know say that, in future, we will see less live conferences and events, because businesses have realised that you don't necessarily need to leave the office to promote your work. A work-from-home culture has developed, especially among our customers in the West. There are talks of offices being closed down for good as businesses seek to cut costs by allowing staff to work remotely. Retailers are also said to have realised how much money they can save by not having their staff fly around the world.
Against such a backdrop, the importance of PR becomes more pronounced than ever. It is time for our garment makers to embrace what PR has to offer.
How can they do this? There are several avenues which they can explore, and none of them need to break the bank. Are manufactures on social media? If not, they should be. Just a simple presence there, even if they are not very active, provides another form of contact with the outside world. That in itself is PR in action.
Manufacturers can also issue their own press releases. They don't need an external agency to do this for them. If a manufacturer has done something new or different, if they have a new technology or product, why not tell the world about it? People would be amazed at how much global interest there is in the fashion industry and what is happening in supply chains.
Journalism—great stories—is always about people. That's why I would urge any manufacturer to tell stories that focus on individuals within the business. The most important people, of course, are garment workers. So why not bring their stories to life?
Ultimately, PR is just another way to make your business more competitive. In fact, I would argue that it is the icing on the cake when it comes to improving competitive advantage. Put another way, you can have the best products in the world, the most sustainable operations around, but they won't mean anything if you don't tell people about them.
I actually know of many great manufacturers in Bangladesh who are doing amazing work. They have some remarkable stories to tell, but they keep quiet about them. Look at all the Gold-rated LEED factories in Bangladesh. We have more such factories than any other country in the world; yet, when do we hear their stories? And be in no doubt about it, there is a wonderful story to be told here.
Of course, if manufacturers engage in better PR, this has a double benefit as it helps with the broader promotion of our garment industry. The promotion of Bangladesh as a brand is in all our interests right now. Pushing this brand is a collective effort, which can be improved considerably via the individual PR efforts of RMG makers across the country. It's time to start banging the drum for Bangladesh.
Mostafiz Uddin is the managing director of Denim Expert Limited. He is also the founder and CEO of Bangladesh Denim Expo and Bangladesh Apparel Exchange (BAE).