fifteen-media is an Austin-based operation that exclusively provides media relations support and training directly to PR agencies operating in fashion, food, lifestyle, health and beauty sectors. NYU Communications grad Rebekah Epstein founded the concept after stints a NYLON, Vogue, and the infamous People’s Revolution. At just 25 years old, Rebekah has found a viable business model, and has contributed to Huffington Post, Young Entrepreneur and the Brazen Careerist about Gen Y in the workplace. Connect with Rebekah at @bekahepstein.
How did you land your positions at NYLON and Vogue?
I landed my position at NYLON by luck. I had just moved to NYC, and I knew I needed an internship, so I started calling the companies that I liked. I happened to call NYLON and ask about internship opportunities at the right time because they were looking for summer interns. That was my introduction to the crazy world of fashion. I will admit that prior to working at NYLON, my notions about the fashion industry were formed by The Hills and The City; in real life, the experience is far less glamorous, but just as exhilarating.
I interned at Vogue the last semester of my senior year at NYU. By that point, I had a bit more experience; if nothing else, I knew not to answer any interview questions with “I have a passion for fashion.” When I applied for the internship, I didn’t think I had much chance; I am not exactly your typical Vogue girl. When the internship director called me for an interview, I was stunned. I have never put so much thought into one outfit before!
Not to sound cliché, but working at Vogue was a truly inspiring experience.
Working at magazines has given me a better understanding of the industry. As a publicist, it is important to be able to put yourself into the shoes of an editor. If you haven’t worked on the editorial side, it can be challenge to understand what editors are looking for, and the amount of pitches they are receiving on a daily basis.
Share a favorite memory from your time at People’s Revolution
I think my favorite memories at People’s Revolution were all from fashion week. I worked there for over a year and a half, so I got to participate in 3 different fashion weeks. There is nothing like it! It is such an adrenaline rush.
I used to admire the designers from the sidelines, so to be front and center was something I will never forget. People don’t realize how many details go into one 10-minute runway show. It was always exciting when the lights went up, the music came on and the models started to strut down the runway; it is an instant high.
How did you approach starting your own agency?
I like to call myself an “accidental entrepreneur”; I never set out to start my own business. When I graduated college, the economy was just starting to bounce back, but people still weren’t hiring full time. Everyday I would scour Craigslist for jobs, and I started applying for part-time freelance gigs. Before I knew it I was working for multiple companies. I told myself I would just ride it out to see how long it lasted, and 3 years later I am busier than ever!
What’s unique about the work that fifteen-Media’s does for clients?
fifteen media is unique in that we don’t take on clients directly. We specifically work with PR firms to streamline media relations. Our specialty is pitching and placement.
What are you currently working on?
fifteen media works out of a coworking space with a variety of other small businesses and start-ups. The mood is very collaborative and celebratory; we are always bouncing ideas off of each other, and celebrating each other’s wins. When you own a small business, a lot of the time it feels like you are against the world. It is important to celebrate all of the small wins along the way.
Right now, we are still doing a lot of pitching and placing for our clients. That is really the backbone of the business. However, we also offer workshops that teach publicists the latest trends and techniques in pitching. For July, we are focusing on improving those!
What is a recent client success story you are especially proud of?
Last week, I booked one of my cookbook authors on The Today Show. That was a pretty awesome win! I can’t wait to see the segment.
How do you get the word out about Fifteen-Media?
Most of my business comes from word of mouth referrals. I have been very lucky to build strong relationships with my clients, so that they want to recommend me to their peers. However, I still try to get out there and go to events that I know a lot of PR firm owners will be attending.
Even though it can be awkward, nothing beats networking.
What excites you about PR these days?
I love working with people that have an exciting story to share and helping to get their ideas into the world.
What are 3 of your PR Girl essentials?
My laptop (it is seriously like another limb), pen/notebook and calendar (I am old school, I still use a paper planner!).
What’s one thing most people don’t know about Fifteen-Media?
I would say that most people don’t know where the name fifteen media comes from. I have this huge obsession with Andy Warhol (how FUN would it have been to hang out at The Factory?!), so the name for my company is inspired by his quote, “in the future everybody will be famous for fifteen minutes.” I had to somehow pay respect to his creativity.