What does it take to secure a media pass for a major event such as MasterCard Toronto Fashion Week? Presumably a following of 4 million engaged followers and an established level of influence that’s been recognized by social media websites such as Buzzfeed should do the trick.
So then why was Toronto-based Paula Coop McCrory, ranked one of the top 25 pinners in the world on Pinterest, rejected from attending this year’s MasterCard Toronto Fashion Week? Bloggers and journalists who have not yet been able to use the word ‘million’ to describe their own audiences were most certainly granted access, but because of the platform on which she reaches her fans, Paula was denied. Even though the visual nature of Pinterest, and Paula’s well-loved curation of all things fashion, make her a uniquely perfect fit for this particular event.
As the lines between journalist, blogger or social media influencer have blurred, assessing qualifications for accreditation and access has become more complex.
“Pinterest is a new platform that gives immediate international exposure to fashion designers.” said Paula when we spoke this week at the Felicity ‘Social Social’. “It was surprising to hear I hadn’t been accepted given that I’ve had such a positive reception working with other fashion brands, companies, designers and events. I know my audience would have really enjoyed a real time view into Toronto Fashion Week.”
As of July 2013, Pinterest boasts over 70 million users and just this month was recognized as the second most effective social media platform for referrals. They’ve also successfully partnered with global fashion week initiatives such as those in New York, Milan and Paris. Still, it’s an emerging platform and it is certainly possible that those evaluating who should or shouldn’t be allowed in aren’t aware of the potential reach they are missing out on by denying Paula entry this year. Despite her enviable audience numbers and professional attitude about providing as much context and information about her Pinterest following – and the success other brands have seen in working with her – Paula won’t be there next week.
Influence, both online and offline, is evolving too fast for brands and organizations such as MasterCard Toronto Fashion Week to dismiss a someone with a significant following just because they happen to engage people in a way that’s slightly less familiar or established. Hopefully next year – or better yet, this year – MasterCard Toronto Fashion Week will realize this and let Paula and her 4 million fans experience the show.
It certainly begs the question: what would the designers, who pay hefty fees for the exposure participating in Fashion Week can bring, think of a potential 4 million people left at the door?