Four years ago this month, we featured Lindsey Green, then in-house PR at Jill Stuart, in a post titled "So what do fashion publicists do?." This article went on to become one of our most popular posts of all time.
Since then, Lindsey left Jill Stuart and launched her own company, Ti14th. Noting a need in the space for a communications firm that understood digital and could work with young startups, she set out to move PR forward with clients like Of a Kind, Pose, Little Borrowed Dress, Erica Weiner, and Quincy Apparel. During her first year in business, Lindsey was voted by Journalists on MuckRack as one of the top 5 PR's of 2011.
In the summer of 2013, Lindsey merged merged Ti14th with SKDK. As Vice President, Lindsey has spent the last year building a tech and startup division for the traditionally political PR firm, where she continues to work with Of a Kind and other innovative companies pushing fashion tech and digital storytelling forward.
One of the brightest minds in our industry, with a healthy dose of humor and necessary no-nonsense approach to work, I'm thrilled to bring you insight into Lindsey's career path, current clients and thoughts on where the industry is headed (with a few surprises thrown in!).
Name: Lindsey Green
Title: Vice President
How did you break into fashion PR? What were some of your early gigs?
When I first started working in PR, it was strictly fashion. Now I’ve moved to working in the tech/startup sector, and have been very active in the fashion tech space. Getting into fashion was pretty straightforward for me. I applied for two internships on Craigslist during fashion week years ago. One was only a day of gig that I eventually passed on, and the other was with Jill Stuart helping with the upcoming show and then staying on for the semester. I survived that first show, and then became a full time part of the Jill Stuart team. It was an awesome opportunity at a really young age.
It was also the first time I had ever done PR before. So I can credit a lot of my knowledge of the PR industry from my time working there.
What was your proudest moment at Jill Stuart?
Oh man, the closing moment of every single show. So much goes into those few minutes. Usually the last 2-3 nights are sleepless for everyone on the team, you’re in the studio 24/7 (literally, 24/7) hoping everything gets done on time, and that everything will go off perfectly. When it’s over it’s a huge sense of accomplishment and relief.
How does your in-house experience influence your approach with clients?
It influences my style quite a bit. I try to act as an extension of in house PR for all my clients. Not just reacting to the press and requests, but being very proactively involved in the brand, the decisions, the over all communications strategy. I require that all members of my team have just as much knowledge and understanding of the product and company as someone inside the company would have. We don’t just want to be an extra set of hands, we want to be partners in the process.
Tell us a bit about what made Ti14th unique
It was unique in our approach. We brought a very contemporary thought process to our PR practices. I wanted to move away from blasting out tons of press releases and using wires. FYI: It’s time to put the telephone down if you work in the tech PR field. Just be cool, be real, don’t be a slave to structure or rules. Have a good story and tell a good story. My teammate at Ti14th Rachel and myself both had journalism and writing experience. We brought that approach to everything we did.
Relationships you help clients build can be just as valuable as stories. We are very much about media relations. Not just stand alone PR.
I am highly selective of who I work with and that made a big difference when approaching contacts. I have to love the project and believe in it and know I can help them. It was a policy, and still is, that I would not take on a project simply because the client could write a huge check. My contacts trust me that if I’m working with someone, they are probably worth taking a quick look at at the very least.
We also had a dinosaur mascot who was pretty baller, so there’s that.
What made the merger with SKCK the right choice for you?
It happened really quickly. I had a friend working at the firm who approached me and said “Hey, they want to build a tech division here and I think you’d be the right person to do it. What do you think?” I went in for a few meetings, and decided, having never worked at an agency before, that it would be an experience worth having, and that this was a great team and environment to build a new tech division for. SKDK has been around over 20 years, and they have the sharpest minds working on their team. They function almost like a startup themselves, which I loved. The firm is heavily rooted in the political and public affairs world, which is an area very near and dear to my heart and an area that increasingly touching the startup world. Companies like Uber, AirBnB, Hailo, etc, are changing the game for consumers and the laws aren’t moving as quickly as the technology is. SKDK is a place that can help, and I really liked the idea of combining both worlds.
A big factor when you have a small firm is resources. I needed more hands on deck to grow my business, but I didn’t want to join a mammoth firm. SKDKnickerbocker was a way to have the best of both worlds and it’s been a pretty awesome experience having a team again after years of being a very, very, small operation.
What are some of the unique PR opportunities or challenges in the fashion startup space space?
Being original. We saw a real rush of fashion tech startups in 2009-2011. It was like heading west for gold. Everyone wanted a piece of that space, and everyone was creating apps, websites, companies, that were actually quite similar in nature. Being original, and being unafraid to tackle a really big problem and solve a really big problem, that might not be the “sexiest” trend out there is tough. And in fashion tech, there began to be a bit of exhaustion in the space. It’s leveled out a bit now and I’m seeing some really smart technologies pop up again.
From a PR perspective, selling a copy-cat company that offers nothing unique or better than their competitors is tough. Either do it first, or do it the best.
What's the vibe in the office today? What are you working on?
Office vibe is great. I started an “office water challenge” this week. I’ve decided to drink more water (Yay for hydration) but I’m a super competitive person and I need a little motivation to get it done. So, I’ve dragged all my co-workers into it, and we are now all keeping track of our daily ounces of water consumed during office hours. It’s become pretty hilarious fun. Challenge ends in one month, I’ll let you know if I win, but right now I’m way behind.
We’ve been working on some really great stuff. I’m still with Of a Kind, who really became the flagship of my business. I’ve been working with them since four months before their launch in 2010 to today. We work with MEMI, which was the first wearable tech designed for women by women, designed to be jewelry and a part of our everyday wardrobe. They launched via Kickstarter last year, and are now in production. Just wrapped a few projects with Lyst out of London, they are the perfect blend of smart technology and data and classic high-fashion brand. Lots going on.
You have a strict "no press release policy," - why is this and what do you offer instead?
We’ll have short press releases on hand from time to time, because some interested writers will request them as a quick way to get facts. But we discourage them for the most part. I prefer well designed one-sheets that display the facts in a format that matches the style of the company. Or even better, emailing or tweeting a quick link to the company blog with everything written out in a post. We do not blast press releases out. I think it’s a lot of effort for not a lot of return and they can frustrate people. Write a good pitch. Get someone interested and they’ll ask for more.
Press releases are still very functional for big brands and corporations. For young startups they can look a little silly. Very high profile partnerships, fundraises and acquisitions are about the only instances they really make sense.
As a PR professional, if your client is creating something interesting and smart that people want to use, reporters will want to write about them. It’s your job a publicist to find the story, and create the message and make the valuable introductions--and to solve the occasional problems and bumps along the way.
I'm a huge fan of Of a Kind - can you provide a glimpse into how you work with them, and how strong narratives and storytelling have been instrumental to their success?
I actually share the PR spotlight for Of a Kind with an amazing woman named Jessica Allen. For a long time it was just me and we needed more support, especially and the market side. That’s where Jessica came in. She handles all of the product specific PR for the company. Helping Of a Kind’s collabs and designers get awesome pick up.
I handle the business focused, brand specific and Claire and Erica specific PR. Making sure we are a part of the fashion, business, startup, etc conversations and getting Of a Kind a wide range of exposure and opportunities.
In terms of the storytelling aspect: content + commerce is an area Of a Kind really pioneered. They were one of the first to merge the two seamlessly, in a way that offered true value to both consumer and creator. They helped start a shift of focus from fast fashion and ultra high luxury by putting emerging designers in the spotlight.
Storytelling is a paramount part of the brand and Erica Cerulo has created a voice and identity that really carries far. Of a Kind's consumers are not just one type of customer, they are all ages, all professions, male and female, in all 50 states and over 60 countries. Storytelling is not just something they’ve done simply to boost sales, Erica and Claire are at their core storytellers, and it’s a real passion for them.
If you don’t believe me sign up for their “10 Things” newsletter and prepare to have your mind blown.
The death of the press release, the death of the style blogger...where are we headed as an industry and how do you and your team stay on top of it all?
Aw, I don’t think the style blogger is dead yet! I still rely on them for tips to help me pull off my very minimal attempts at looking stylish. I just think that part of the industry is moving forward and evolving. The great style bloggers will remain and evolve what they do as the industry moves onward into digital.
I really like where things are headed. It felt really hectic there for a while and now I think brands and magazines and bloggers and startups are all doing some of their best work in a long time.
What do you see as the single biggest value that working with an agency has to offer a brand, and how do you provide that at SKDK?
Hands. On. Deck. Rapid response. Expertise on many levels and over many areas. And a lot of minds thinking strategically about your company so that you can focus on building the business.
We provide that by building custom teams for all of our clients. Yes, I work in tech, but I pull in experts from our public affairs or corporate PR teams when I feel they’re expertise would benefit the client. I get pulled in to help larger companies understand the digital landscape. It’s the ability to build custom that can really help brands. Oh, and we’re awesome.
What tools/software/products are essential for you to do your best work?
A little thing you may have heard of called Gmail. Google Drive. Dropbox. Uber. Seamless. YouTube (where I stream old gymnastics competitions all day while I work. I moonlight as an Olympic sports writer), Jotnot, Evernote, Hootsuite, The Media ReDef newsletter, Super Calendar which is new from Michael Galpert and basically acts as your scheduling assist, it’s life changing, sign up.
What are three unique or surprising things about you?
Oh, well, see above! I moonlight as an Olympics sportswriter. Mostly gymnastics. I competed for nearly 10 years as a kid, and in fact, I still train today. I do gymnastics once a week at least still.
Lunch is a major event for me. I hate lunch meetings, I find them super awkward and stressful. I like to enjoy lunch by myself either out or at my desk, but I cannot just settle for a sandwich. The days can be tough, you need something really awesome to experience in the middle of it. People in my office regularly stop by office to see what I’ve ordered for the day cause it’s always different and weird.
It’s been my life long dream to become a police officer. I still have time.
What advice do have for other agency CEOs who might fielding merger inquiries?
Take your time. Do not feel rushed into a decision. Think about what you want the next few years of your business to look like and if joining forces will help you get there faster. If you can do better work with another company, do it. Take pride in what you’ve built but don’t be overly precious about it. Keep what is important to you close. If you being your own standalone venture is the number one most important thing for you, then you’ve really got to consider it very carefully, but don’t have too much of an ego about your company, these days, it’s really you personally that is the biggest part of the brand.
Connect with Lindsey on Twitter (and wish her congrats on her recent nuptuals - pretty sure she married a super hero).
Photo Credit: Wen Cheng Liu (Busy)