With a self-proclaimed "Can Do"attitude, Kate Labat heads up west coast agency Be Social's PR division, a position she achieved after starting with the company as an entry-level PR assistant. Now she leads the team in navigating media relationships and strategies across print, digital and broadcast mediums. Kate's proficiency in strategic planning, and fresh messaging has contributed to consistent press wins and a competitive edge for Be Social clients.
How did you get started in the industry?
I started at Be Social over three years ago as an entry-level PR assistant. It was my second job out of college. Being at a boutique agency, you quickly learn how to wear a lot of hats to accomplish all that needs to get done and how to take on a "just do it" attitude. At the time, we were a much smaller team so I was helping with everything from crafting social media posts for clients to pitching media in San Diego and national contacts.
How did you get the job you have now?
As time went on at Be Social, I took on more responsibility within the company and my role with clients, strategy, pitching, and managing other team members. I am now the PR Manager and oversee the entire PR branch of the company and all of our PR clients. It's pretty crazy to look back at where I started and see where the company is now. I feel very honored that I have been a part of Be Social's success - I've grown right alongside the company!
What are your primary responsibilities?
My responsibility first and foremost is to ensure all of our clients are getting placed in top media outlets for continued buzz and exposure. Other responsibilities include crafting quarterly strategy guides for our clients, drafting pitches, building media lists, securing coverage for our clients, and overseeing the PR team as a whole. Managing the PR team entails coming up with methods/strategies to work together smarter not harder, brainstorming new ideas, events or pitch concepts, and ensuring everyone on the team feels they are equipped for success.
How is Be Social structured?
Be Social is structured in four different departments: PR, Social Media, Influencer Relations and Be Social Talent. Each department has a lead team member to be the driving force behind each division to keep things streamlined and successful.
What is the mood like in the office? What are you working on right now?
Being at a boutique agency, you quickly learn how to wear a lot of hats to accomplish all that needs to get done and how to take on a "just do it" attitude.
What is a recent job success story that makes you especially proud?
It always feels great when you get kudos from clients for the work you've done. Recently, our client Bzees told us they saw a significant spike in sales as a result from the recent placements we secured and were super excited for the coverage -- that's the goal!
Most meaningful moment in your career thus far?
I think the most meaningful moment would have to be receiving recognition and validation from Ali Grant (Be Social Founder) for my contribution and work. Be Social is her creation so it means a lot that she trusts my judgement to be a leading member of the team.
Most glamorous moment in your career thus far?
Most glamorous would probably be getting to travel to New York a few times a year. Any chance I get to visit that amazing city -- sign me up. The energy is at a whole other level out there. I always love getting to meet with editors face to face on their turf.
Least glamorous moment in your career thus far?
Easy: showing up for early morning news segments. 6am call times are not pretty.
What do you wish more people understood about your job
PR is not cut and dry. Every day is different and the media landscape is constantly changing. There are so many factors that come into play when coming up with a successful strategy for clients. You have to take into account timely happenings, competitors, marketing budgets, branding, etc. There isn't one black and white solution for everyone. It takes time, creativity and experience to understand what works and what just doesn't.
What are you excited about right now in terms of industry trends?
I'm excited to see the convergence of influencers and media. Influencers have earned a lot more respect (remember when "blogger" was almost a bad word?) and are being utilized as resources. At Be Social, we work with influencers and media on a regular basis so I love being able to learn both sides of the spectrum.
Relax! Student loans will get paid in time, you will find a job in your field. Everything always works out when you work for it.
PR can be stressful and full of rejection - how do you deal?
Never be too proud or afraid to ask for help. If I am feeling overwhelmed or stressed out, I tell my co-workers! The point of having a team is to be able to lean on one another. I always feel better after I talk it out, and bounce ideas off each other to come up with a solution. Also, you must always keep your sense of humor. Sometimes when things are extra crazy or seem out of control, it always cuts the tension to have a laugh, then get back to it.
What are three on the job essentials for you?
- Boomerang! How did I survive without this before? You can schedule emails to send out at any date/time you want (amazing for pitching East Coast editors) and even return back to your inbox as a reminder if your contact didn't get back to you. Considering how many emails I send a day, Boomerang helps me make sure nothing slips through the cracks.
2. Google Calendar organizes my life (work and personal). I put everything in my calendar - even down to time blocking out tasks I need to get done.
3. Our client EyeBuyDirect's digital protection glasses. I am at my computer or on my phone constantly. These glasses have a protective lens to protect your eyes from the harsh effects of blue light that come off screens. I can honestly say, my eyes are not killing me at the end of the day anymore with these guys (plus, they look really cute on my desk - bonus).
What's the biggest challenge facing fashion/lifestyle communicators right now?
The media landscape is undergoing major changes lately. Publishing houses are trying to figure out how to cut budgets and still produce engaging content. Editors are BUSY and are expected to produce a lot of content quickly, so being able to cut through the noise and grab their attention is getting more difficult. Not to mention video content and podcasts are on the rise, so understanding and staying on top of all areas of multimedia platforms is very important.
What advice do you have for your younger self?
Relax! Student loans will get paid in time, you will find a job in your field of study and everything always works out when you work for it. I spent way too many nights freaking out over money and wondering where I was going to end up.
Anything else we should know?
Our office in San Diego is always looking for interns! If you're a college student wanting to dive in, email firstname.lastname@example.org.