Launchmetrics — a technology platform that operates as a “virtual press room” — has long billed itself as a time-saver for the fashion industry, but the reality is that most users find it lacking.
A re-launched GPS Radar app, debuting on Monday, hopes to assuage some of their concerns. Alongside its original functionalities — invite/event creation, RSVP tracking, sample tracking and requests, and calendar scheduling — it will now allow users to directly request invites to specific shows, search full show imagery that’s been tagged with relevant trends (i.e., floral, denim, etc.) and read exclusive industry content, like short interviews with up-and-coming designers. The app and website have also been redone with sleeker designs.
However, according to various industry figures familiar with the product, these changes may be too little, too late.
“From a database and events perspective, [Launchmetrics] has been the opposite of user-friendly for the past five years,” said one fashion director at a top PR agency. “I could go on for ages about this,” she said, citing its labor-intensive event and invite creation functionalities and lengthy invite send-out process.
“It can take hours for the service to process an invite list, which always leads to frantic calls from publicists concerned that a glitch has happened and all has been lost,” she added. (A Launchmetrics rep denies this ever happens.)
One executive at LaForce agreed, noting they don’t use the platform very often, except as a contact database when Cision, the PR software, doesn’t have the information they need. But since agencies are required to manually input and update all contact information on the site, it’s often outdated. “It would be helpful if [Launchmetrics] had a more active role in keeping the database up-to-date,” she said. What’s more, the technology can’t detect contact duplicates, so contacts are often listed more than once, with both their current and old employer emails.
It’s unfortunate, said the fashion director, given that Cision is by no means a one-stop shop for fashion contacts. “It seems like a miss that Launchmetrics does not provide some sort of media update alert system or newsletter, à la Daily Front Row,” she said, referring to the industry site’s Media Moves posts, which track any fashion-related career moves.
It’s not cheap either, said Clara Jeon, the co-founder of Chapter 2 Agency, which works with brands like Pyer Moss and Made Gold. “As a smaller agency that works with a lot of smaller brands, which have limited budgets for anything outside of bare bones expenses, we have to keep costs at a minimum,” she said. As a result, they’re forgoing the product altogether this season. In the past, it’s cost her and her designers into the mid-thousands just to use it for one event, she said — though a Launchmetrics rep denies that being possible.
The aforementioned fashion director, who uses Launchmetrics year-round for certain brands, said that her company pays $250 per month, per client.
Luckily for those in Jeon’s camp, there are other, cheaper options: “Google add-ons [like Event Manager] and other check-in apps like Snafflz can get the same job done at a fraction of the price,” she said.
The re-launched GPS Radar app is not likely to affect concerns about price, speed or up-to-date information. “One of the main problems [for us] was clarity,” said Jessica Michault, the svp of industry relations for Launchmetrics. “The new app won’t have as many bells and whistles; it will really get down to the functionality of what people need, like their invitations, samples and well-tagged imagery.”
How much that will differ from its previous iteration is a little unclear, and industry folk may be too busy during fashion week to find out.
“Launchmetrics continuously implements changes at this time of year, and it’s an odd time to be making any changes to a program that is so vital to the planning of fashion week,” said the owner of a fashion PR agency. “Bugs inevitably come up and users are not totally familiar with the new program. It would be great for them to implement these changes outside of fashion week for the sanity of publicists.”