Getting IN: FIT Student Lands Betsey Johnson Fashion PR Internship

The Betsey Johnson PR department has their hands in every project and works to support every single department – Brianna Saperstein

Brianna Saperstein left her previous university in upstate New York to answer her calling back in New York City. Since returning to the city she has landed several internships, including Michael Kors. Currently, Brianna is  an in-house fashion PR Intern for Betsey Johnson. Brianna is a perfect example of what it means to multitask – working hard to achieve her professional dreams by balancing a demanding PR internship while being a full-time student.

What is your background?

I grew up 20 miles north of New York City in Westchester county where I still live today. Living so close to Manhattan, fashion has always been a part of my life. I still remember the first time my grandmother took me to Saks Fifth Avenue and how mesmerized and inspired I felt at the tender age of eight. After I graduated from high school, I went to school in upstate New York, but after three semesters I was longing to be back near the city. Since January I have attended the Fashion Institute of Technology studying advertising and marketing communications. To date, I have interned at Marina Maher Communications, as Style + Trends editor, Michael Kors, and currently in public relations at Betsey Johnson.

Why Fashion PR?

I have been surrounded by the communications industry my entire life. My father and several other relatives work in the industry, so I have been interested in pursuing public relations since high school. I have always loved fashion so marrying the two was a logical choice for me. Fashion PR is my ideal career because it allows me to work with brands and products that I am truly passionate about.

How did you land your position?

I landed my current internship position through the internship center at FIT. They are extremely helpful with connecting students to great companies to get internships for college credit. Utilizing the connections your school has is extremely important!

What is an example of a typical day in the office?

There truly is no such thing as a typical day at Betsey Johnson, and that is what I really enjoy about working there. Some days can be calm and we can focus on sending out samples and keeping track of press. Other days we can be frantically preparing for meetings with editors, organizing events such as Fashion’s Night Out and Mercedes Benz Fashion Week, or dropping everything to help out with a project Betsey is working on.

What are your responsibilities?

My day usually begins around 9 am and I am often the first person in my department to arrive. I take advantage of this rare quiet time to research, gather, and file press. My other main responsibility is assisting my supervisor with all sample requests for magazines, celebrities, and special events. It is also my responsibility to keep track of where our samples are at all times, especially our runway pieces, many of which are one of a kind.

What is a recent success story that you have been a part of?

One major placement I was a part of was securing Selena Gomez to wear one of our Spring 2012 runway pieces to host the European Music Awards. With magazines, issues are worked on months in advance so I haven’t been able to see any magazine placements that I personally have worked on. With Selena, I  hand-packed the box with the dress and sent it to her stylist. Seeing the dress on her [at the awards] was so exciting, I actually screamed when I saw it on TV!

What challenges are attached to your job?

We are a very small company and department with a lot of responsibility. The PR department ends up with responsibility in almost every project the company does. My bosses are all extremely hardworking able to adapt to everything that gets thrown at them, but it definitely gets overwhelming at times.

What I find particularly challenging on a personal level is balancing a full, 19 credit course load while only being on campus two days a week with interning 3 (sometimes very) full days a week. It definitely was an adjustment but it is an amazing experience and I learned so much about time management and prioritizing because of it.

What aspects of the job requirements were a surprise to you?

I don’t think any daily tasks were really a surprise, but I think I may have underestimated the amount of energy interning while being a full time student would require. There were of course some funny, one-time only tasks that will make for good memories. On my first day, about two weeks before our show at fashion week, my department was trying to brainstorm something the models could hold during the finale of our T&A themed show. If you didn’t see the show, “T” and “A” stand for prominent body parts on a woman. While this was being discussed, I was given the task of researching “tasteful blow up dolls.” Needless to say, we scrapped the idea, but it was a phrase I never imagined myself typing into Google!

In a few words, how would you summarize the PR department at Betsey Johnson?

I would describe our department as the glue that holds the brand together. That is not to say that we do not have brilliant designers and very hardworking employees, but the PR department really has their hands in every project and works to support every single department. Betsey Johnson the company can really best be described as a family. Everyone knows and cares about each other, and actually enjoys spending time together. It has been an incredible place to get a very in depth view of how fashion PR works.

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About This Author

Known as the “fashion publicist’s most powerful accessory,” (San Diego Union-Tribune) and the “West Coast ‘It’ girl of fashion PR,” (YFS Magazine) Crosby Noricks put fashion public relations on the digital map when she launched PR Couture in 2006. She is the author of Ready to Launch: The PR Couture Guide to Breaking into Fashion PR, available on Amazon. Crosby spends her time managing PR Couture and mentoring fashion publicists through PRISM and Instappable, as well as the biannual NYC workshop, Fashion PR Confidential. Occasionally, she opens up limited consulting spots for emerging brands through her signature offering, The Brand Elixir.