Given that shoes are not only an everyday necessity, but a passion point for many consumers, media of all stripes find coverage space for the latest footwear trends and fashions.
In general interest media, footwear is usually an extension of another beat, like the accessories coverage in a fashion magazine, or part of the fitness coverage in newspapers and health magazines. But the real media sweet spot for footwear lies in trade outlets, like Footwear Plus or Footwear Insight. Conde Nast-owned trade Footwear News is aimed at retailers and buyers from small boutiques to national chains.
Footwear-focused titles operate on distinct cycles. Leslie Shiers, managing editor at Footwear Plus, says that her magazine works months ahead, as do many other fashion titles.
“We're wrapping up our Fall '09 coverage and beginning to turn our attention to the Spring 2010 lines,” she says. “But we also plan to augment that with service-oriented features, store profiles, and stories on trends like private label shoes.”
Mark Sullivan, editor-in-chief of Footwear Insight, which focuses on the active lifestyle segment, including athletic, outdoor, work, and casual shoes, suggests that what makes covering shoes both interesting and challenging is that the lines between performance and fashion are often blurred.
“For young men, the footwear of choice still tends to athletic or athletically inspired, so you see a lot of coverage of [athletic shoes] in men's lifestyle magazines,” he adds.
Mark Tanno, a freelance publicist representing designer H Williams, notes that footwear coverage
is increasingly found online, with prominent Web sites and blogs, including Shoeblog.com and Shuzsociety.com, providing news coverage and forums where enthusiasts discuss the latest designs.
Additionally, Tanno says, top broadcast outlets, including most of the national network morning shows, cover footwear.
“They usually don't have the actual shoe designers on, but you can work with people like the accessories editor from Glamour when she goes on Today to talk about the best accessories under $200,” he explains.
Tess Morton, senior account executive at Boston-based agency Cercone Brown Curtis, stresses that editors often look for different attributes of shoes, depending on their magazines.
“For performance footwear, if you can get the editors to come and experience the shoe in a natural setting, you're more likely to get a story out of it,” she says. “Fashion tends to be a bit different, so you need to figure out what trend an editor is working on or what's the right color shoe for a particular piece.”
Kerry Hendry, VP at Ketchum sports and entertainment network, adds that pitching shoe outlets is “about personalizing... outreach.”
“That may be taking a few key journalists to a client's headquarters or putting them in touch with the experts and researchers responsible for the design,” says Hendry.
Plan ahead, especially for fashion footwear coverage, as many editors work on stories months in advance
A sampling program can work, but the best strategy is to get journalists to an event where they can find the perfect fit for the shoes they're reviewing
The lines between fashion and performance are often blurred in footwear titles, enabling coverage by a wide variety of outlets