Majoring in public relations is certainly not the only way to make it in the fashion PR industry. And that "passion for fashion" (groan) won’t guarantee you’ll be any good at it either. When I first started out in my career, becoming a publicist was not part of my game plan. I spent years working as a journalist, magazine editor and entrepreneur. Little did I know at the time, each of the skills I acquired over the years would help me make the leap into public relations.
If you’re able to communicate effectively, think creatively and not be afraid of rejection, a career as a kick-ass publicist could be yours for the taking.
Making it at a Magazine
I studied English Literature and French and interned for every news outlet I could find. My first real job was as an editorial assistant at People magazine. Then to staff writer at Bop magazine. Sure, I was writing for 12-year-old Backstreet Boys’ fans, but I learned the ins and outs of a monthly publication. After three years, I moved to an editor position at Jump magazine (which folded long ago). I remember interviewing several young successful entrepreneurial girls for the “How’d You Get That Gig” section and thinking, I could start a business! So I did. Twice.
Hands-on Fashion MBA
I created a hair accessories company called Wrap Star and sold my unique headbands to 200 boutiques around the country, as well as a reversible kids’ clothing line. I did not have any formal business training (which eventually led to the demise of both companies), but I was really good at promoting them. As a former editor, I had tons of experience working with publicists who were pitching me products night and day. I knew how to craft a release, contact other editors and get my goods on the page. And from my freelance red carpet gigs and celebrity interviews, I was able to get my products into the hands of A-listers. InStyle, Glamour, Lucky, Parents and Earnshaws were just some of the publications that featured my stuff!
My Next Stop: Fashion PR
Even though I didn’t become the next Tarina Tarantino, I didn’t care. It was a thrill for me to land press. Soon, friends starting their own companies came to me for advice and asked to hire me as their publicist. I thought publicists were annoying (sad, but true), but I was willing to give it a shot.
It’s been eight years now since I started Charmed PR, and to date, I’ve worked with more than 30 clients. Many of them for several years. I’ve placed their products in almost every major women’s and lifestyle magazine, prominent website and national morning show. I’ve also helped create fashion collaborations and establish successful online marketing campaigns.
Did I ever think I could be doing this kind of work when I was interviewing Britney Spears about her Baby One More Time tour? Nope, but if I had, it probably wouldn’t have worked out the way it has.
My time as a journalist and magazine writer afforded me the ability to know how the people I am pitching actually “think.” And my experience as a small business owner gives me a unique and empathetic perspective with my clients.
If you want to pursue a career in PR, but you don’t think your path is heading in that direction, don’t forget that experience has value. Through my experiences in editorial and creating my own businesses, I was able to develop skills that, at the time seemed random, but as I’ve continued in the workforce, have proven incredibly valuable. Whether you’re paying your way through college by waiting tables (read: communicating with customers...sometimes difficult ones), working at Anthropologie (read: landing sales and creatively styling your customers), or brewing coffee for the boss of your internship (read: experiencing the corporate world and learning how to network), you’re acquiring a skill set that, with time, could turn you into an amazing find for some very lucky clients!