Backstage with Victoria's Secret EVP of PR

Yesterday, I went backstage at the Lexington Armory, where Victoria's Secret (VS) would hold its 14th annual fashion show later in the day, to talk to VS's EVP of PR Monica Mitro.

Yesterday, I went backstage at the Lexington Armory, where Limited Brands' Victoria's Secret (VS) would hold its 14th annual fashion show later in the day, to talk to VS' EVP of PR Monica Mitro. In the thick of it – TV crews, models mid-pedi, headsets, media, hazy pink mood lighting – Mitro discussed the importance of the event and shifts in the company's PR strategy and budget.

“This is the most important event in marketing and PR for the entire year,” she said.

She explained that buzz from the show, and TV feature – this year it airs on CBS, Dec. 1 – spans the entire year.

Months ago, to add an air of newness to the event and reach consumers online, her team launched VS' first open casting contest, as well as vsallaccess.com, a press site that will continue to house VS info.

“With this kind of event, it was about having a tip sheet, sending faxes, making sure that the right person came and they had information,” she said. “Now, so much has gone online.”

The online contest would be a jumping off point for a social media strategy, including a Facebook page which in less than a year has exceeded two million fans, and a YouTube channel that launched two weeks ago. “We saw there was so much VS content out there anyway because people would post things they saw at events like this,” she said. “With YouTube we could control all that content.”

In line with a shifting PR strategy, Mitro said that the company has reevaluated the allocation of its marketing budget. “Our marketing budget has stayed the same in several areas. In other areas we have to cut because magazines aren't as important to us in terms of advertising,” she said. “We're just having to be more creative with our dollars.”

She explained that VS best reaches its consumer on TV and through Web and social media properties, where it's currently pushing its padded “Miraculous” bra.

“We're 50% above where we thought we'd be in sales [for the product],” she said.

She adds that its success is partially a result of the way the company leverages its supermodels as spokespeople.

“Women are really responding to the curvaceous bombshell body,” she said. “I think Victoria's Secret is the only brand that really has made stars of models. We don't use celebrities for our events or launches.”

VS works with KCD on fashion PR, Full Picture on entertainment PR, and handles corporate communications in-house.

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