As someone with a sister with whom I dress nothing alike (yet we both instantly know when we *don't* like something), I love hearing about family powerhouse PR duos like Elissa and Jessica at Kravetz & Company PR. Kravetz is a fashion & lifestyle agency with offices in New York and Los Angeles. Around since 2007, though a more recent discovery on my end, it all started making sense, when I learned that this is not their first time to tea. Elissa was formerly an owner of Spin Shoppe PR and Jessica ran that New York Office. Of particular interest is the firm's commitment to philanthropy; Kravetz has an anti-bullying nonprofit, The Farley Project, inspired by personal experiences and, clients like Steve Madden are encouraged to give back to the community and use their visibility as a platform to encourage altruism.
Did you grow up in a particularly fashionable family? How did you come to find yourselves working together to start a fashion/lifestyle PR company?
We wouldn't say that our family was particularly fashionable; however we've always been into fashion! Elissa actually won the superlative in her high school yearbook for best dressed. Years ago, Elissa owned a fashion/lifestyle PR agency called Spin Shoppe PR, and Jessica ran the New York City office. After my partners and I split up, Jessica and I immediately went into business together! I feel incredibly lucky to be in business with my sister— we always have each other's backs. We are super fortunate, as there are certain aspects of the business that I love and others I don’t like as much, and what I don't like, she's great at and enjoys, and vice versa. So we make a great team!
What makes Kravetz PR different? What's your sweet spot?
We're not just a New York agency; we are bi-coastal, with an office in Los Angeles, and clients love this! Our sweet spot is relationship-building. We are some of the hardest working people the industry, and we’ve been able to develop relationships with editors, stylists, producers, bloggers, and everyone in between to get our clients placed. We are gritty. We don't stop until we get results. Our father has an incredible work ethic and we grew up with this. The people we hire, we train in this way too.
We think a lot of people get into PR because the job seems glamorous and fun, and while it can be those things, it's also a lot of work. We strive to make our clients' businesses thrive and expand.
We truly care about our clients! It may sound cliché, but we want the best for them. We take on brands we love and are passionate about – fashion labels we want to wear, beauty brands that we use, restaurants where we love to eat at. If we don't believe we can do a good job and make a difference for the brand, we will not take them on. We don't believe in representing a client for 6 – 12 months; we work with them for years! There are some brands that we've personally been working with for 10 years! We think this is a testament to a great agency.
What are some of the current projects/clients you’re working on/with?
We are working with some really great brands right now – Steve Madden, Orangina, NOBU, Lisa Blue Swim, Meira T fine jewelry, Rodial and KAPLAN MD skincare, and several amazing indie designers.
Why is it important to you to use fashion PR as a way to engender social responsibility? And how do you do it?
After making several trips to India, Bali and Thailand and seeing such poverty and the faces of such sweethearts in orphanages in these countries, I knew there had to be more than just pitching bags and shoes all day. Working with media every day, I feel that we have a responsibility to talk about these things. There are some amazing brands out there such as Satya Jewelry that literally create their designs solely to help children in Third World countries. We love this. Right now, we are working with Steve Madden in creating some amazing social responsibility initiatives. With our anti-bullying organization, The Farley Project, we are able to use our connections with the media to help get the charity exposure.
Tell us some more about the Farley project. What inspired you to launch it?
I [Elissa] was bullied very badly when I was in 7th grade. It started with one friend, then 5 friends, and then the entire school was against me. I was beat up. I was told to kill myself. I had the words “DIE BITCH” spray painted on my locker, ate lunch alone in the bathroom, etc. I lived the next 20 years of my life a seemingly confident woman, but actually had very low self-esteem.
Recently, I was asked to speak at an anti-bullying assembly at an elementary school with 500 students. I talked a lot about the power of apology and when I was done speaking, about 15 students came up to the microphone and one-by-one, they started apologizing to kids they were mean to, in front of the whole school. It was one of the most amazing and powerful things I have ever seen.
I knew then and there that I had to do something to help. Several months later, I was asked to speak at the overnight camp I went to as a child, and the director of the camp gave me a check. With this check, I opened a bank account and started The Farley Project. Farley was the name of my middle school. Right now, we are working with a charter middle school in Southern California and eventually hope to have programs in schools throughout the country. My mission is for no one to ever have to eat lunch alone in the cafeteria. I know what that feels like and it feels awful!
What are some of the current challenges you face when it comes to securing media coverage for clients? How are you combating these challenges?
It's always a bit more challenging to launch a brand new line compared to a line that has already been to market. Editors want to make sure that the collection is selling and available in stores, and often for new designers, buyers want to see the press before they place orders. There is also much more competition now than ever before, and magazines place their advertisers before anything else.
On a different note, the entire PR and media industry has changed dramatically in the past couple of years. With focus shifting from print editorial to social media and blogs, a whole new category has developed, and this means a different approach to having clients featured on coveted blogs.
We combat these challenges by leveraging our relationships in the editorial and production realm and creating new relationships with the most popular bloggers and digital branches of publications. In the past year, we also hired a Social Media Strategist to focus on social media for our clients. We focus more on blogs and electronic media as opposed to national print magazines when appropriate.
How do you see fashion PR changing/shifting in 2013?
Things go through phases in this industry: first, brands wanted to be in high fashion magazines, then weeklies, and now blogs and top social media outlets are a high priority. We need to make sure that we are able to hit all of them!
What are three tools/mantras/support systems that make Kravetz PR run successfully?
Firstly, we tell our publicists to do their best, work really hard, but at the end of day, take a breath because we are not doctors, we are publicists. No one is going to die on our watch. We get products placed in magazines and on television, and while that's important and exciting and will help a brand catapult to the next level, we need to keep it in perspective! Secondly, we want to help inspire change— change in our clients' businesses and change in the way that we work with brands and editors. Thirdly, we encourage our publicists to be vocal and give us ideas about ways we can grow and improve, not just as publicists in our offices, but as people in society. We are kind people at Kravetz & Company PR, and I think that's a rarity in the PR world.
What do you wish more fashion brands understood about PR?
IT TAKES TIME TO SEE RESULTS!! You cannot be impatient. Often, brands want to see results right away and that's just not possible. It takes a lot of work to get things placed in magazines and to secure a TV segment. Brands think that it's just one phone call, and it's not. It's sometimes 30 phone calls for one amazing fashion feature or TV segment!