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10 etiquette rules fashion PRs always break

Words by Bianca O'Neill

Illustration by Twylamae

Consider this my PSA.

There are a lot of great things about being a writer. You get invited to fun parties, and sometimes you get sent little freebies here and there. But in the spirit of #FirstWorldProblems, I have to say the downside is when fashion PRs break the most simple of social contracts.

As someone who has had a series of strict etiquette rules hammered into my brain over the years, I can’t stand it when these important rules are broken. And it seems, according to many conversations I’ve had at those very events, neither can a bunch of other attendees.

So, consider this my PSA for all the PRs out there; if you’re about to hold an event, perform a little due diligence to make it even better for those attending. After all, etiquette isn’t really about rules per se – it’s about helping others to feel more comfortable. And not constantly hangry.

1. Putting the wrong start time on the invite to try and get you there early

Look, I get it, people are always late. Or are they always late because you’re always telling them the wrong time? Don’t say dinner starts at 6pm if you’re actually planning on seating people at 7.30pm. Specify a run sheet on the invite, if you must – just don’t make people stand around for 90 mins wondering when they’re going to be fed. You really don’t want to see me hangry, which is probably best for everyone involved.

2. Starting super late

Further to the above, if you do specify a time, then that means it should start at that time. Not an hour later. People have busy, full lives and we all plan our strict schedules according to the event timings you give us. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to leave a dinner during the entrée because it started a full hour (or two) after it was meant to. And then I have to apologise to the very person who lied to me about when I was getting fed OMG now I’m hangry again, please stop doing this.

3. Not considering the seating arrangements

If you’re planning a seated meal, at least spend a little time to consider where people are seated. In this day and age, it’s really easy to find out from their Instagram who they know and associate with – so seat them together, or don’t use place cards at all. I guarantee you they will have a better time AND stay longer. Plus, we won’t have to make awkward conversations with people we spend most of our DMs bitching about.

4. Saying it’s lunch or dinner, when there’s actually only canapés

Canapés are not lunch. Canapés are not dinner. They are not a meal, they are a snack – and that’s if you can nab any off the platter before the hungry hoards get to them first. There’s nothing that will make me leave an event faster than feeling hangry because you told me there would be dinner there. I’ll eat first, it’s ok – just don’t make me empty (food) promises. Also, I’m not sure if you can tell, but I get hangry a LOT.

5. Saying it’s dinner or lunch, when it’s a stand-up event 

Further to the above, but this time considering my poor feet… if it says ‘lunch’ or ‘dinner’ on the invite, I assume it’s a sit-down event and I dress accordingly. If I knew I was going to be standing for two hours, I probably wouldn’t have chosen these stilettos. Ok, I probably would have, but I would only have myself to blame.

6. Not specifying the dress code

So, speaking of getting dressed – where have dress codes disappeared to? If your aim is to give me a heart attack when I walk into an event severely under- or overdressed then CONGRATS YOU GOT ME GOOD. Please, please, please start putting dress codes back on invites, your attendees will thank you for it.

7. Having a one hour panel with no seating 

If you’re planning on holding a panel at your event, and the guests will be talking for more than 15 minutes, don’t be the blurst and make people stand and listen politely for 45 minutes on concrete flooring in heels. And don’t even get me started on the surprise panel… SURPRISE! You’re trapped now.

8. The last-minute invite

What’s the first thing I think when I’m sent an invite to an event the day before, or even the day OF? Yep, I was clearly on the B list. You’re not fooling anyone, my lovely PR peeps. Not only is this a transparent insight into how unimportant I am to you, it also assumes I have nothing else to do with my life than drop everything I’m doing to fill up some space at your now-clearly-empty event. Yeah, nah.

9. Asking someone you didn’t invite to give your event post-coverage

This has to be the absolute worst one, and yet it happens ALL THE TIME. If you didn’t invite me to your event, please don’t email me the next day and ask if I can provide coverage for it. Why would I?! Honestly, think about it. You’re mainly just ruining your relationship with me.

10. Sending invites that come with mandatory posting requirements

This is a new one that has popped up in the last few months and appears to be gaining traction: an invite to a launch party with the added request that RSVP-ing means you’ll give them a guaranteed free post. I even had an invite recently that requested a screenshot of my analytics post-event (!!!) No, a few champagnes is not payment for my work. YOU are holding an event to promote YOUR product and YOU invited ME. Why would I come if you’re going to slap minimum requirements on my attendance? It’s the height of rudeness.

Follow Bianca’s #FirstWorldProblems at @_thesecondrow, or listen to her latest podcast at @thefashionpodcast.

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